The Querilous Condition of Dissonant Cognition

So often, and I mean I swam in this fugue for years, I told myself I’d dry out. I’d be walking home through east Portland, down Hawthorne to the one bedroom place I shared with another actor. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t buy that beer. That one that I could already taste, that I could already feel trespassing my lips and rushing through my chest like the purifying slider that it had become. Yeah. That one.

Sometimes I’d make it through that gauntlet of brewpub after taproom, past Fred Meyer for the cheap stuff or New Seasons for something more precocious. If I took the bus all the way down the line, I knew if be in the clear. Not always, but if my conviction was true that night, that evening, that afternoon, I’d slip inside and settle in, take a proud sigh of relief, and begin the next cycle of pangs.

More often though, I’d say it all, even vocalize my rationale, even as I Skywalker over to the store of choice, or to my night’s saloon. I’d pass the modest Pabst display, toward whatever snack or facade of need that lured back in this joint. Some nights I’d roam the aisles waiting for that sign that’s its ok to give in, or wait for my good judgement to lapse just long enough to have that icey bomber in my hand.

On those evenings I was able to succeed, and had some time to relax long enough to decompress the days events and sort through the emotional data over two or four tall glasses of water to calm my nerves the way a glass of wine and a cigarette might, the voice was already working on my conscious mind. My unsteady and already wavering mind. That mind that feels exhausted already by seemingly futile desire to stop drinking, at least, to stop on this day rather than the next.

My nights in Portland were plagued by this routine, with sometimes a subroutine that would catch my off my guard, unaware, and send me back out through the rain, often for a mile in the night, to 7-11, before the ball dropped for the night. Before 2:30 struck, at least. They had Pyramid and PBC, and I could make it through the whole night, maybe prattle on in sober confidence with my unimpressed but engaging roommate. Just as long as I could make last call. Just in case. In case of what? I didn’t need to drink it. I didn’t need to go. But I knew, if I did, it would be a little half success, and they add up if you don’t mind only half thinking of them. And the walk down Lincoln in the dark, precipitation in the air, that conical glass neck in my fist, against my lips, always gauging its remaining contents by the resistance n my wrist. Time slipping away, aimless.

And by the end of the evening, feet flat on the floor, alcohol having worked its magic, taking a positive night, turning upside down nd tragic, already filling me with the guilt and he dread that I will ever be free from that bottle, being so close to that moment of surrender, still able to feel how powerfully compelling that control to make me do he exact and only thing I swore and argued that this is the one time I’d uphold. So close to the moment when I was in that moment of decision, and how firm I was against giving in, and then, without any battle of will, I just agreed to give an inch. Just one inch at a time.

Cognitive Dissonance: is the psychological stress that develops like condensation in the mind, when we harbor two or more conflicting intentions, values, or ideas. The desire to sober up and get right with the courts, stay out of jail, get back your kids; and the compulsion to call your hookup, just drink one beer, go chill with a friend but not hit that bowl.

Its the feeling of impending doom if you miss the window of opportunity, simultaneously with he ear that if you can’t stay sober tonight, what hope can you have that tomorrow will be harder, or worse, just more of the same.

Cognitive Dissonance. It can be cleared though. But not by any complex measure. Simply make the decision, and to that choice, adhere.

Step one.: make a decision

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