I grew up listening to all the great classics, thanks to my Dad’s love for Rock ‘n’ Roll. Hotel California was one of those songs I had the pleasure of listening to as I was growing up. It was also one of my favorites. It wasn’t just the long guitar solos that I loved, it was the depth of the lyrics that really had me hooked.
I’ve heard in the past that this song has a lot to do with drug and alcohol addiction, and while I haven’t done any type of extensive research on what exactly it was that they intended to convey, I definitely can see the similarities, whether that was their intent or not.
I’m sure most people can see the similarities as well, because if we are being honest with ourselves, almost everyone has experienced the painful effects of alcoholism or drug abuse in some way or another. Whether it has affected you first hand, you have seen it in your family or friends, or you were in a relationship with an alcoholic. Nobody is immune to it.
I personally have had the “pleasure” of experiencing all three scenarios. I’ve seen the devastating effects it has had on relationships in numerous family members. I’ve seen people become entirely different people when the alcohol starts running through their blood. Angry. Bitter. Cutting. I’ve seen the failed relationships and divorces, and the impacts it’s had on my loved ones.
Ive also seen friends in toxic relationships. Witnessed them being treated like shit, because the person they love has suddenly become a monster. I’ve seen guns pointed at people I cherish dearly. I’ve had those guns pointed at me. All because alcohol is coursing through their veins. And yes, I’ve been in that type of relationship as well.
There was also a time when I used it to numb my own pain. Something I very rarely speak about. Partly because I grew up in a family that did not drink. My mother and father saw the affects of alcohol on the people they loved, and chose not to go down that path, and those lessons they tried to instill in us as well.
However, I would be lying if I said I’ve never used alcohol in an unhealthy manner. Binge drinking when I was depressed was my style. Especially when I was in a toxic relationship with an alcoholic. When he’d break up with me (which happened often) I’d buy a six pack and drink alone crying in the tub. Or I would drink in the kitchen, until I was slumped over on the floor, sobbing, with a blade in my hand and blood all over myself. Or when he would invite me over, and I knew the girl he had spent all of Christmas week alone with at his house, was going to be there, while he couldn’t even text me a simple “Merry Christmas” I would chug a bottle of vodka before he picked me up, so I didn’t have to be fully present.
*cue the following lyrics:*
“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”
Truer words have not been spoken when it comes to alcohol and substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs can definitely provide a temporary escape, or a way for us to “checkout,” but when morning comes, whether you were “dancing to remember” or “dancing to forget” life is still waiting. . . The good and the bad. Whatever false sense of security, or illusion alcohol gives us, this fact remains . . .You can’t leave.
The sad thing is, when we are “checked out” whether it’s with alcohol, drugs, or some other poor coping mechanism, we’re missing the good things as well. We’re missing the laughter. We’re missing the joy. The beauty that life has to offer.
If you are one of those people who struggles with being fully present, when you decide you’re done “checking out” there is going to be a lot of bad things you’re going to have to face, a lot of broken relationships, missed opportunities, and things you took for granted that you can’t get back. But there will also be beautiful opportunities to mend relationships. Chances to create new ones. And the greatest gift of all…You will have a greater appreciation for every day going forward, because you know how much you’ve already missed.
So please, stop “checking out.” Be present. Allow yourself to feel the good and the bad.
It’s worth it. I promise.