The Fasting Unicorn

You have all the power you need, if you dare to look for it.” ― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

bathroom scale

They say that when it comes to addictions, such as alcoholism, drugs, or food, will power is useless.

Now I am not a doctor or a shrink. Anything I say in this post is my personal opinion. Take it with a grain or two of salt.


In my personal experience, the self-dealing “recovery” eco system of paid drug counselors, for-profit rehab centers, judges, cops, jails, and the rest of it, is based on the proposition that addicts are powerless over their addictions.

This is of course inherently biased.

A 12-step program like AA will tell you that can’t save yourself through will power alone.

That you are an ego maniac if you think otherwise.

That the central truth of your addict life is that you’re impotent against mighty Demon Alcohol or fentanyl or smack or sex or food or whatever.

Ok; I thought so for a long time, including during decades of sobriety in what are generallly considered primo drinking years.

But then I came to notice the people in AA didn’t actually stay sober that long.

If truth be told, in most cases most who drink alcoholically do so as a personal choice, while tacitly accepting the consequences.

Based on my observations from attending thousands of AA meeetings (and maintaining continuous sobriety) over extended durations, I have concluded that drinking alcoholically is fundamentally a conscious decision based on available alternatives.

People drink alcoholically usually because it makes them, like the song goes, forget their troubles.  It enables them to temporarily put off facing some unpleasant reality, or to fantasize that they are something they are not.

It is usually no more complicated than that, at least before the catastrophes begin, and they are trapped in a completely predictable addiction pattern.

I believe that — unless you are emotionally or mentally challenged, or have become physically addicted, or have some vicious disaster befall you through no fault of your own very early or late in life  — that you are in fact able to achieve self control in most things, despite the luring calls of the everpresent sirens.

Drinking is a conscious decision that you take:  nobody forces you to drink, usually, and nobody over the long haul is going to save you from being a dunkard.

Making a decision to stop drinking does not have to involve prostrating yourself before some imaginary deity and begging for redemption.

That is the fatal logic flaw of religious programs like AA:  they tell you that you are powerless, that only God can save you from your addiction, while asserting that you are solely responsible for your actions  — including the crucial initial decision to seek help.

This is the underpinning of the endlessly self-absorbed, tortuous discussions in thousands of AA meetings around the world every night.

How about simplifying the equation?

Accept first that a pickle can’t be turned back into a cucumber.

Then disintermediate.

Cut out the middleman.

If you are, more a less, a “normal” person, that is to say, if your brain is still more less intact, and you are truly serious about confronting your addiction, then the tools  you will need to recover are already within you.

Just like it says in The Last Unicorn.

Last August, for example, after a 20-year period of aperiodic benders, mixed with various durations of seemingly in control drinking and going on the wagon, I decided to quit booze cold turkey — after I realized that getting continually soused was leading nowhere fast.

Yes, I did go to a nearby AA meeting in Westchester county, which helped keep my motivation up and strengthen my resolve during the first early days.

They even asked me after a month to lead a meeting, which I declined, explained that is still in early sobriety, and did not yet have my 90 days — which surprised them.

So I guess I improved quickly to seem to have it together on the surface.

Then winter came, and it was time to leave.

I remained sober when I returned to Florida, where I refuse to attend AA meetings, because of the types of people AA tends to attract in here —  to me, AA in Florida is not AA.

But I remained sober.

Despite a variety of stressors that were making me sick in other ways.

Anger and obesity were the two main symptoms.

Now I am trying to get some kind of a reasonable handle on both.

Losing weight is more of a challenge than quitting drinking, IMHO.  You don’t have to drink alcohol to survive; but you do have to eat, if you desire to continue living.

Anger is deeper, more difficult; but finding a way to deal with my anger at the world is a precondition to  not dying an embittered, lonely old man, perpetually raging at windmills he can never control, resentful at those who do not afford him the respect he thinks he deserves, infinitely jealous of those who seem to enjoy a vastly more successful life.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I contracted a serious illness some time ago, the treatment for which caused my body to balloon and gain 60 lbs.

After unpleasant results from my latest annual Medicare physical, I decided to immediately take action.

I immediately went on controlled but not overly strict diet, one where I made sure I was getting the nutrients I need to remain healthy — but cutting as much sugar and fat as possible, while exercising portion control as well as actually exercising, which I of course loathe.

I lost 12 lbs in two weeks.

But now I’m stuck on a 260-pound plateau.

I can’t seem to budge the needle under that number.  This has been going for several days, no matter how I moderate my food intake.  The cortisol my body is pumping out from the stress of trying to sell my late Mum’s house up in NY in a down market ain’t helping.

I could say… now is not the time.  Maybe I should wait till the house is sold, or maybe I should wait for this or that or the other thing to happen.


I’m going to do whatever it takes — again, without endangering my health of course — to lose another 10 lbs by April 15th.

I’ve had enough of being an old, fat Florida fuck.

The eventual consequences of obesity are too severe.

The choice is starkly simple.

The Higher Power plumage don’t enter into it.  That is merely a sidestepping evasion.  It is ducking, as it were, personal responsibility in my own recovery.  It is pining for the non existent fjords.

It boils down to one very simple and direct question:  do I have what it takes to achieve this specific intermediate goal?

Yes, or no?

New flash: life is full curve balls; look at how things turned out for Peter Beagle, who magically wrote The Last Unicorn in his 20s, then was screwed in his dotage by a duplicitous snake-in-the-grass posing as a friend.

Trust no-one completely but yourself.

Rely on no-one completely but yourself.

The next 30 days will be tough.

Losing serious weight is hard, especially for a schmendrick like me.

But the rewards are fucking marvelous.

smiley with glasses