Tool - “The Grudge”
As of today, I have officially been sober for ten years. This album came out before I had that last drink—the remains of a half-full bottle of beer in a Pennsylvania hotel room at six o’clock in the morning—and finally rolled the listing ship of my life, but in those early months of floating in wreckage and trying to figure out where shore was I spent a lot of time listening to this album (usually while driving to work and crying which is fun to try to hide at red lights) and feeling like I was really hearing it for the first time. The messages of destructive grudges, torn relationships, the hopeful wonder and rebirth of the title track, felt clear to me for the first time and were one of the few things that made me feel comfortable and optimistic in what I can say without a doubt were some of the worst days of my life and hopefully you can’t identify with that but if you can you know what I mean.
In ten years my life has become more amazing and rewarding than I ever could’ve dreamed and certainly better than what I was planning it to be when I was hugging a bottle of Jack Daniels night after night. Today I’m way more pleasant to be around, I’m a nicer person, things aren’t such a huge catastrophe anymore (except for last week when I shattered my iPhone screen by dropping the phone but let’s forget that happened and how upset I got over okay?) and even when life is a shoebox full of dog shit it’s better than it was back then and I am certainly better at handling it than I was back then.
Everyone gets angry, everyone gets jealous, everyone feels resentments towards people. And many people choose to have some drinks or take some drugs to ease their way through those feelings. But not everyone has the compulsion to continue drinking until they wake up from a blackout pissing in their laundry basket like I have. And in the past ten years I am proud to say I have pissed in exactly zero laundry baskets.
So every year on this day I listen to this album and remember what it was like and how great it’s been since, and that the reason we keep coming back to the music we love is because like any great friend it eases us through the bad times and celebrates the good times along with us. Our lives are filled with benchmark records and songs that we keep going back to so we can reconnect.
This is the most honest blog post I’ve written ever, and it’s terrifying. I absolutely do not talk publicly about the things I’ve talked about here and it makes me uncomfortable to do so. But so let me say that if you are experiencing similar things good for you and keep going, and if you are struggling with any kind of addiction, even if that addiction is that you just can’t tear yourself away from this blog, you’re not alone and there are a billion different ways to find help even if it’s just talking to a friend and saying you need help. I’ve found that one simple action of opening up to a friend to be the most powerful tool I’ve learned in ten years. Hell, send a friend a text message if you’re uncomfortable talking out loud. Just, you know, you’ll be okay. We’ll all be okay. One of the goals of life is to go from one end of the day to the other without maliciously hurting ourselves or someone else. If you can do that, give yourself a lollipop. A hilarious thing that many of us love to do to ourselves is play that game where we say, “No one likes or cares about me” and come on now we all know that’s bullshit. More people like us than we think.
You don’t have to to piss in anyone’s laundry basket today. Take that away from this if nothing else.