Monday, January 12, 2015

When you're in a casino and you blow $50 on the slot machine, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, each and every time you're hoping that this will be the one that hits, and once in a while you get a little something-- it is the randomness, the suddenness, the unpredictability of that even tiny reward which keeps you pulling through your bankroll. "Variable ratio schedule."  Sound right?  Well, none of those $50 have anything to do with the cab ride.

But then you're done, tapped out, and you turn to go but.... wait a minute............................ you have one token left.  Stop now, look at that one, look carefully at it, it is your contract with the Devil, it is the selling of  your soul.  What is its value?  Look at it, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters what you think-- which means what you are about to do has already been decided.

You could pocket that last one.  Go home with something other than nothing.  Or, you could  play that last one with superstitious hope, praying and bargaining that if you hit you'll X/Y/Z.  But neither of those are what you think, right?  Instead you think, "whatever" and you put it in the machine-- NOT because you think this time it will pay off-- be honest with yourself, you know that that initial optimism of game play is gone-- you do it precisely because you know it will fail-- you are throwing it away, on purpose, so you can walk away from the machine "clean", finished, so you can play-act at catharsis.  "This is the last one!" you cry, like you're yelling out "it is accomplished!" The final suffering, look for a brand new me in a few days.  And unlike Amy's cab ride, you are turning this experience into a story in real time, you are writing the ending as if someone else is watching, as if it were a reality show or you were offering a voice over, you are constructing that experience, saying your lines, as the last Act of a story being told to an imaginary audience, a god, your future self, the balance of energy in the universe-- The Big Other.

And you think you're done but what you don't realize is you're only done with Act III.

That's the last chip in the bag-- "whatever, might as well."  That's the last swig, "I'm never drinking again."  That's selling your stocks into a downturn, that's your sexual history, throwing it away one more time not because this time the guy is going to be great but because it's not going to be great, it's a sacrifice to the volcano.

You throw it away, on purpose, because it's not worth holding on to it, you've already disavowed it as useless, evil, pointless, hopeless-- it is the last remnant of a part of you you want gone.  You play that last coin, drink that last drink, eat that last chip and throw your vagina at a billy goat-- all of those are the splitting off of a piece of yourself that you then can leave behind.  The act is the "physical expression of an intrapsychic process"-- you are acting out what you wish were true, like a rape victim scrubbing herself clean.  "That's not me---  anymore."  If only it were that easy.  I sympathize, you have no idea.

What's most sad about it is that you might have been right-- it might have worked-- except that instead of making that be the end of the story you drag it out for one more Act, and ensure that the pattern repeats, ad nauseam.  You don't want the story to end. It's not a great story, but it's the one you know, the one you understand.

- The Last Psychiatrist