From The MAD (Misguided, Anxious, Deranged) Scientist Files: If You’re Framing It As “An Experiment,” It’s Probably A Poor Decision
Sober for 3 months? Time to call my dealer and test out if I can use just a little, here and there.
Bored of monogamy? Time to flip through the options on Tinder and hook up with whoever materializes, just to see how it makes me feel.
Jobless with no prospects, having had virtually no legal employment for years? Time to not do anything at all!!!!
Though I may fancy myself a vindictive, empowered mad scientist set to rid the world of useless skater boys by exacting medical revenge on their supple bodies, so far the only “experiments” I’ve carried out have been self-destructive ones that blew up in my face a la the classic science fair volcano. It’s invariably when restlessness sets in that I’ll have the brilliant idea to launch an exploratory expedition into what I think is “the unknown” — but is actually “the already visited” and “the previously unsatisfying,” albeit tweaked just enough so that I can delude myself into thinking it’s uncharted territory.
I guess everything I write until January 18th — my one-year sobriety date — is going to be primarily about that shit, so here I go again. Despite all the relapse horror stories and subsequent warnings I heard in rehab (“an addict can’t ever use ‘just a little,’ sorry”), I figured I could moderate my use post-outpatient because I wasn’t an addict; I was just depressed, and the persistent ketamine coma was merely a side effect. So I tried using only on weekends. Or only at night. Or only during sessions. Or only during sex. Or only… always. Dramatically flushing my remaining drugs down the toilet was a surrender and a relief, finally admitting to myself that I am, in fact, an addict — a textbook one, really. This doesn’t mean that I’ve accepted that I’ll never ever use again. But I’m also not clinging to the possibility that I will someday be able to.
However, I have begun to notice that this very common relapse justification of deluding myself into believing that I’m an external researcher conducting a meaningful experiment is a long-standing pattern for me. These very important, scholarly investigations spring up — without fail — in areas or circumstances only where other, more rational reasons for deciding to try something are mysteriously absent.
The most prominent example of this, besides substance abuse, is sex. I’ve really only ever been in open relationships, so I’ve never before had to choose between being with someone I truly care about and being free to [compulsively] pursue whoever I could hypothetically be “missing out” on. It’s around the three-month mark of any relationship that I tend to become quite overwrought and distressed by the oppressive possibility that there is someone else out there — somewhere — perhaps on a barren tundra — who is my true soulmate. With this conviction, I re-establish myself on a host of apps and dating sites to make myself available to this hunky enigma, should he mosey along. Also, I’ll often think it’s wise to set up my very sophisticated and professional Laboratory of Lust, so that I can drag some hapless dude in and find out — only with the strictest settings and foolproof control variables, of course — if I am actually satisfied by this genre of sexual encounter.
When it comes to the sorts of things, however, that are, you know, more objectively worth focusing on — health, work, cleanliness, etc. — I find that that resolute researcher is entirely dormant. And that’s undoubtedly because steady employment, a fiber-rich diet, and an organized pantry are not all that enthralling to me.
But being able to at least begin to learn how to slow down the progression from impulse to follow-through — and recognize why my brain has decided to choose the framework of “vital experimental research” as opposed to “logical task to complete” — can hopefully curb some of these more self- and livelihood-eviscerating tendencies.
Now hand me my scalpel so I can cut off this male model’s testicles.