Going out and drinking kind of makes me sick to even think about right now. Yeah, I love drinking. Yes, I am seduced by the mere smell of a lit cigarette. And, that makes me hate it even more. And I hate that no matter where I go, or who I’m with, there has to be liquor somehow involved. Again, I like the taste of bourbon, and i love good beer. And it’s now apparent that I have an apparent love/hate affair with alcohol. And I feel like a little junkie when it comes to nicotine.

But, in the process, I learned a lot about myself and unfortunately, a little about the people around me. More on that in a moment.

I’m not anti-fun. I’m not even anti-drinking. I mean, I love to laugh, and I love life, for the most part. There is so much i want to do, and so much I have to be excited about, both in the present as well as the future. I’ve actually just given up smoking, and I know that drinking makes it ten times harder for me, so I had to give up two things i liked at once, in order for it to work. Maybe eventually I will be able to drink a beer or sit down inside a bar, and not be tempted or bothered by other people’s choices. I just know that right now it’s the worst possible thing I can do to myself - putting those things in front of my face, it’s just making me severely angry. You may as well shove a needle in my arm, because if I don’t stop these addictions now, it’s all going to eventually ruin any chance I have of getting out of the awful mess.

I worked my ass off to graduate high school on time, being so far behind my Junior and Senior years. My own fault (I started partying, and stopped going to class). Well, I finished on time, and I worked my ass off to buy my first vehicle. It was a piece of shit, but I earned it. Soon after, I worked my ass off to get into college. I didn’t have a single person walk me into school, or sign me up. My mom and dad weren’t there to hold my hand, that’s for sure. But I did it on my own.

At some point, it was a good idea to sacrifice college for pursuing a dream of being in the music business. I’d like to think I came within a year from accomplishing this goal before life had it’s way, and it was proven that it wasn’t meant to be. I kind of spiraled down, completely out of control for the next few years. Drinking, experimenting with this and that, and of course indulging myself with women. Being in a constant state of bliss of alcohol and women, it’s so easy to downplay what it is we’re really supposed to be doing. Call it responsibility, or “God’s Plan.” Call it whatever you want, just don’t expect to take it too seriously when you’re rockin and rollin.

Over the course of the years of 21 to 24, I had began to drink myself stupid, and smoked the life out of every cigarette I could afford. I started to lose track of everything I had planned on doing, and the hole in my heart widened more with each blackout, and drunken “did I really do that?,” moment.

It took two years to rebound from the failure of my first band, from which point I was given a second chance at it. Within another year, I was back on my way, when I was faced with the biggest decision of my entire life (so far). I again sacrificed, and packed up for California.

You have to understand, this is also where everything began to change, and my new habits were beginning to form. I started to realize that I was miserable, hated my life, and most importantly, that nothing was ever going to change unless I did it for myself. At the time, I didn’t even know where to begin. I remember staring at this giant mountain, and feeling helpless over all of life’s problems.

This is where everything gets confusing. I stopped being me. I became a machine. I worked 50+ hours a week at a factory, saved almost three grand, and was able to move to Los Angeles. And then I stopped drinking and smoking, because I began to feel real happiness.

I can’t explain why I did it. Maybe it was the endless hours and daily dollars spent. Maybe it was the vacuum it had created in my life. Perhaps it’s just because it wasn’t fun anymore. Maybe I just don’t want to fall in deep like so many around me. I know I left for California and quit everything. Drinking, smoking, etc. And I found that there is so much more out there, outside of this small city we live in, and it doesn’t all involve drinking and smoking until we’re wrecked.

Then I moved back to Kentucky, wound up tangled in an emotional mess, and slowly began to fall right back into the same awful cycle that equals your typical weekend in Cincinnati. It’s hard to notice when you’re right in the middle of it, but trust me, it exists. It has a pulse, and it thrives off of the lonely, the dire, and the lost. When it’s finished, we’re all left jaded, and even worse, some in denial.

I remember the absolute worst part. It was my 26th birthday (and also St. Patrick’s Day), where we celebrated in Louisville. Some of my closest friends and I had gone out drinking, had a blast (from what i recall), and we wound up at a strip club, where I was getting lapdances. I remember staring at this sexy body, being barely able to hold my head up from so much liquor, yet feeling her body grind so hard and smooth into mine, and the entire time, in the fucked-up disaster thought-process I had, thinking of how badly heartbroken I was from missing the girl I had just ended a relationship with. It only made me want more of the lapdance, and more alcohol. I wanted to overdue it. I wanted to pass out and be carried away.

As we left and headed back to the house we were staying in, two of my buddies started fighting, and wound up outside of the car, getting physical, and the cops arrived. Everyone was piss-wasted, somehow the cop let us go (thanks to our driver being somewhat coherent). As we were back on our way, the fighting inside the car continued, and I remember hating it all. I remember screaming as hard as I ever have at whoever would listen, as we almost wrecked, and then jumping out of the parked vehicle, throwing my keys and cell phone as far as I could, walking away, and collapsing into a wet field.

I remember one of the best friends of my life following after me, as I lied there, tears streaming down my face, into the wet ground I was laying face down in. Nothing was right. Everything was wrong. I had been carrying a severed heart, split in two. I wondered what my ex-girlfriend would have thought if she could have seen me right then, what she was doing at that exact moment, and wondering if she, in fact, even cared at all. Finally, my body began to reject the poison I had been putting into it for so long.

It wasn’t always bad. I also began to form very positive habits, to go along with falling back into the night life. I started going back to college, and actually pursuing my dreams of earning a degree, and establishing myself as a professional artist. And this is the biggest blessing I’ve been given.

Not a single day goes by (or night), that I’m not invited to go out and drink. This is what worries me. Is it really that empty in this town that we have to all go out get liquored up, just enough to forget about how bad we hate our jobs, or just enough to numb or appease our unhappiness? Is it possible that some of us are so badly hooked on the lifestyle that we’d actually swear we weren’t? It’s not for me to figure out anymore, I already know how badly I’m damaged. But I wonder about those around me now.

You see, all I wanted was to quit smoking because the girl I’m with went on and on with the guilt trips, until I started to feel like a disgusting person around her for being a smoker. It’s not just her, because I really didn’t need anyone to remind me just how bad smoking cigarettes was for my body. It’s been eight years, and only God could save me from whatever damage I may have done to my body. I never smoked a single cigarette without feeling some sort of guilt about it. Maybe her bitching could be what saved me, in the end. We’ll never know I guess. But, it happened. And I fight it every day, and it’s harder than I could ever begin to explain to not smoke. I wish to God I’d never started smoking, because I feel seduced by it, and it actually hurts me inside to not satisfy that craving. Going out is especially hard, when it’s all around me, right in front of my face.

All I know is I was going to quit smoking, and then I realized that every time I drank, my three and four day non-smoking reigns would be ruined, not long after I finished my second beer, or my third shot. So, not only did I quit smoking, I *temporarily* decided to quit drinking… just until I had the smoking out of my system.

Well, then I realized that not only could I not be around it, but also my entire life had somehow become revolved around drinking. And here’s my proof: Not one day has gone by since I’ve stopped that someone hasn’t asked me to go to a bar or party, or something involving alcohol, (which actually pisses me off, more than anything). Not only that, but suddenly, many of the people I thought were my friends have disappeared like clockwork. So here’s my new theory: People in this city know nothing beyond drinking. And it doesn’t take long to get these people into bed with drinks.

All I know is that this is where I’m currently at. I work my ass off in school, five days per week. I get up every morning at 6am, and I work hard to maintain my 3.91 GPA. I no longer want any part of the miserable, disgusting lifestyle that I’ve somehow managed to create for myself. I really don’t care what others do with their lives any more, at this point. I’m so disappointed in so many that I can’t spend another minute worrying about it. There is a big difference between having a good time, and just being plain reckless. And I suppose there is a time for both. Now is not the right time for me to be around recklessness.

I have fought and fought, and fought. I have had my heart ripped out too many times, (sometimes by others, sometimes my own fault, and sometimes it was just “life”). I have been wronged and taken advantage of, and worse of all, came close to giving up on myself. And that’s about all I’m going to take. I don’t care if you love me or hate me, or could care less. If you have a problem with me, or don’t support what it is I’m doing, then I have no room in my life for any of that.

I’m not going to give up and let myself begin to rot away without accomplishing the goals I have set out. So, I guess what I’m saying is I’m done playing games, and I’m not sorry if that ruins anyones plans. If I don’t know you, I don’t know you. And that’s that.

I don’t care anymore what people might think of me. And I’m not totally sure who would really be there for me if it really came down to it. I know a few who claim they are, or say they would be there for me. But I definitely see better than I hear, and I think I’ve seen quite enough.