06 September 2020

A Spiral Staircase, Phantom Memories & Insanity's Bouquet ("YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE PROOF")

 

ADDICTION: A blind man descending a spiral staircase leading to nowhere.

**********

Phantom Memories

***

I still have phantom memories of my drinking past, euphoric recall. It's as if one of my legs were amputated, but that I can still sometimes, somehow feel those toes that are not there. Triggers are phantom toes wiggling. Don't take the bait. Don't bite. Use your good leg, the sober leg. The bad leg is gone. Let it go. Say your eulogy. Mourn this death and move on. Addiction is a beast that lives within you. You cannot kill the beast. Denial, anger, fear will not kill it. Begging, pleading blaming will not tame it. Depression, self-pity, doubt: they only feed it. Confront it. Accept it. The beast will never die.

**********

Insanity's Bouquet

***

Insanity's bouquet is not of different colored roses, or different flowers of various sorts.

It's a bouquet of weapons, destruction, defense and offense, all wrapped in lies and gin-soaked tears, false laughter, hollowed out bones. This is insanity's bouquet. Hot steel. cold steel, nothing. I will fill the black holes of my memory with a retrained brain. Live my way sober or lie my way drunk, powerless victim or sober victor. One foot in front of the other.

**********

"YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE PROOF"

***

The Court of Public Opinions will convict me.

"You Can't Handle the Proof."

The Masquerade of Time will dispel recovery's urgency.

"You can't handle the proof."

I'm addicted to self, a lifetime of self.

"You can't handle the proof."

My disease trails me like a slug praying to catch up.

"You can't handle the proof."

What is my disease and what do I have left?

"You can't handle the proof."

Sobriety is my long-last act of love.

I can almost handle the truth.

**********
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
**********
The above quotes are all excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
5 Influencers' 5 Star Reviews of All Drinking Aside: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-most-helpful-star-reviews-all-drinking-aside-jim-anders/






13 August 2020

Be BAMBOOZLED By BOOZE Or BUY-IN To RECOVERY!

 


(sherwin-williams.com)

BROKEN: "I'm Never Drinking Again!" Was Not a Lie When 
SPOKEN
*****
Refusal is Crucial for Boozers and Other Drug Abusers.. 
Removal is Crucial Where Refusal is Futile.
Relapse Happens when Rhymes Without Reason
Harpoon You. 
Buy-In to Recovery or Die in Addiction.
*****
The words above have been given sounds beyond their meanings.
Intriguing. 
But be sure to listen with care.
Do not be deceived by sounds when they don't have meaning.
"Sounds Good!" can destroy you.
Stick with meaning.
*****
Talk is cheap and may not make it go away, but in early recovery, talk with others in my recovery meetings was about the only glue I had to hold me together as I sought another day sober. 
Dive deeper into my school of thought. Fish for your own meaning (in semi-random order):
*****
1. "I accepted being powerless over alcohol when I was drunk because being drunk killed the pain of being powerless."
2. "The instant my blackout would start, I was feeding my disease and nothing else."
3. There was a time when the Trouble and Pain caused by Addiction would almost have felt worth it except it always got Progressively Worse. Progressively Worse was the Treadmill that was killing me.
4. Sins of Omission were so easy to ignore because they were things that could not happen because I was in deep. Deep in my Addiction, I missed out on much. My life had become an Omission of Living.
5. In retrospect, "Maybe my childhood seemed so great, not because I was a child, but because it preceded the onset of my Alcoholic Catastrophes." What preceded my first drink was childhood itself.
6. [What is your # 6?]
7. [Don't be afraid. You will grow through this.]
8. [Strive On! Others have gone through this.]
9. [Shared Courage. I know we can do this.]
10. Participate.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 







07 August 2020

BLACKOUT: He Couldn't REMEMBER that He'd Spent the PREVIOUS NIGHT with Me!

(thesunmagazine.org)

I'd already sold my car a year or two before the episode I'm about to describe occurred. Moving from Pennsylvania and away from a failed relationship brought me to the Jersey Shore in my mid-twenties. I could remember the anxiety I used to feel at last call when the bars closed at 2 in the morning back home, so bars open 24 hours at the Shore was my definition of heaven at that period of my life. I experienced no "last call anxiety" because there was no last call with my new, free lifestyle. And no car meant that I could pursue my drinking career any time, day or night, without worrying about killing myself or someone else in a drunk driving accident.
A little drunker than I was at that time, some guy from Philadelphia asked me one night if he could crash at my place, knowing he was too drunk to drive an hour and a half back to Philly in the middle of the night. No big deal. No problem. Sure.
Surprised to find him already gone from my third floor apartment when I woke up the next morning, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and went about my business.
When I went out again that very next night to the very same bar, after a bit, I noticed that the guy who'd stayed at my place the night before was already there across the bar from me. After a few minutes, I figured he hadn't yet noticed me, but would surely come over momentarily to thank me for the hospitality I'd shown him the night before. 
Eventually a conversation struck up and as we talked, I began to realize that he didn't remember that he'd met me the night before and in fact had spent the previous night at my apartment about as drunk as he seemed to be at that very moment. 
I didn't attempt to refresh his memory.
Obviously, you already know "He Couldn't REMEMBER that He'd Spent the PREVIOUS NIGHT with Me!"
Long story short: 
We ending up climbing the steps to the third floor of my apartment building again, for the second night in a row. As I put the key into my door to let us in, I remarked, looking back at him and grinning sheepishly, "You were here last night, too, remember?"
"You're kidding?"
"I'm serious." The conversation went something like that. Never saw him again.
Decades later, other details of the story are unimportant.
But if you drank like I did, perhaps you have blackout stories of your own.
*****
It wasn't until I finally got sober that I learned what blackout drinking truly is. You're so ossified that although you are nearly fully conscious, your brain has become incapable of storing some or all of what is going on around you. No memories formed. Nothing to remember, no matter how conscious you may appear at the time to yourself and to others.
*****
By now, I don't have to tell you that I'm not trying to show you what a fool that guy was. I'm describing the kind of guy I became. 
My life eventually progressed into a kind of Blackout Drinker's "Groundhog's Day." I would wake up the day after the night before and could never fully answer for myself or others, the who, what, when, where or why of the last dozen drinks. 
I did not blackout today. So I guess you know I also did not drink today. I can think today, focus today, remember today.
Now, finally, I know that "Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
That concludes this episode of "A Day in the Life of a Blackout Drunk."
lol, Sober as Hell!
Happy day.
*****
Enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
5,500+ Recovery Tweets: twitter.com/jimanders4 



05 August 2020

MOST of my "DRUNK" was AFTER I First Got "SOBER"!

(pinterest.com)

As difficult as this may be to believe, my 8 years of relapse and 16 years of continuous recovery have resulted in an epiphany that I had literally just moments ago.
I had to turn off the TV, stop eating my homemade vegetable soup and sit down to my keyboard.
My epiphany was this (as if you didn't already know): MOST of my "DRUNK" was AFTER I First Got "SOBER"!
This epiphany unfurled with another little epiphany inside of it: MY 30-YEAR DRINKING CAREER TAUGHT ME DIDDLY-SQUAT!
Moments ago I finished a separate post titled "CHOICE: Life SOBER or Life DRUNK," whose second sentence is "But I had to learn how to crawl before I could walk." That, I guess, is the precursor to all that follows:
*****
I used to think in my drinking days that I would have to suffer for my art, a common belief, based on cultural myths, I guess. Drinking would be the burden I would have to bear in order to be able to produce my art (I was an advertising copywriter for a dozen or so years).To paraphrase a line in my book, "There was art produced by children in concentration camps, but that art was produced despite the living conditions, not because of them." 
The illusion that addiction to alcohol was my burden to bear because it allowed me to produce my volumes of work followed the same equation as the concentration camps, above. Denial, stigma, addiction, bad luck and gravel rolled up into the hard candy crunch that my life had become and how my life would remain until I finally got sober.
*****
Granted, I would not have necessarily had to relapse repeatedly during those first 8 years, but those final years of drinking between intermittent periods of sobriety taught me more than the 30 years of drinking that preceded it.
*****
Those 8 years included disastrous failures at helping and being helped by others in recovery, a lesson in auditory hallucinations, fraudulent bank transactions, being the intended victim of murder, accusations of witnessing a murder, friends and former friends' suicide attempts and tragic successes, lives lost and never found. And on and on.
*****
Viktor Frankl said that "To live is to suffer. To survive is to find meaning in suffering." This is the concentration camp analogy again. Viktor Frankl was a victim of such. I was a victim of alcoholism. 
Those last 8 years (after I finally got sober for the first time and the relapses that were part and parcel of my first sobriety), were my concentration camp. I learned that it would some day be possible to be sober, to be productive and to live happily. But I wasn't there yet. 
My 30-year drinking career merely prepared me for the suffering that would come AFTER I first found sobriety.
Of course, it is different for everyone, but much of the differences are in the details.
The meaning of my suffering has been found. Victim no more, responsible and free, today, I live sober.
Today's hard candy crunch is bearable because I am sober and my life is bearable because of my sobriety, not in spite of it.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

CHOICE: Life SOBER or Life DRUNK

Admittedly, I relapsed on again and off again for 8 years before accumulating 16 years of continuous sobriety. Those first 8 years were instrumental in teaching me how to crawl before I could walk. Today, I stand tall, a realistic humility replacing a 30-year drinking career that with peaks and valleys was heading in one direction only: Downhill, defeated.Alcohol took from me most and more of all it ever had promised to give (a sense of belonging) It was like a bad loan from an unscrupulous pawn broken. It resulted in Destruction on the Installment Plan.Many of my posts, I know, are too long for many seeking recovery to read from beginning to end, so I'll cut to the chase: LIVE SOBER or LIVE DRUNK comes down to Freedom (and its attendant responsibilities) or Death & Destruction.

Admittedly, 8 years of relapse preceded my current 16 years of continuous sobriety. But I had to learn how to crawl before I could walk. A 30-year drinking career did little to prepare me for living sober. I lived alcohol and was addicted to the culture of addiction. I had much to learn, unlearn and relearn.
Shared courage pulled me through.
My brain knew the Grand Canyon of Addiction through which the alcohol flowed. When the alcohol river ceased to flow, my brain didn't know which way to go. A serious blackout drinker, my eventual hospitalizations, detoxes and rehabs (which is where drinking repeatedly took me) were dark and deep experiences.
While still drinking, I listened to no one, not even to my own best advice. Alcohol was in the driver's seat. Let me spare you the details here (find all that in my book, if interested). Let me cut to the chase:
Crawl, as I crawled, if that's what it takes for you to learn how to stand tall and live sober.
Know that recovery is doable, sustainable and irreplaceable.
And if you should ask yourself: "Do I want to live my life sober or drunk?" I would suggest, firmly, that you already know the answer to that question.
Do the work. You are worth no less than whatever it takes to get there.
Sobriety is the only way to fly. Stick with the winners. Share your story and your courage as you journey forth.
Life is precious.
Live sober.
Share.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
.

31 July 2020

HIGH-FUNCTIONING ALCOHOLIC? It was my degree of DYSFUNCTION that I never questioned.....

(sandiegoaddictions.com)

High-Functioning Alcoholic?
I was high, alright. I was functioning. To a degree.
But it was my degree of dysfunction that I never considered. Not for years, anyway. Not until the downward progression of my addiction had me totally non-functioning did I even begin to consider the possibility that I had been dysfunctional to varying degrees - for years.
You see, for years "I thought that there were two different kinds of alcoholics, those who did function (have a job, a place to live, friends, relationships), like me, and a second kind of alcoholic who was quite unlike me [like the brown-bagging beach bum I eventually did become!]. I was unaware that there is only one kind of alcoholic and that they are all 100% alcoholic and that if they are functional at present, it is only a matter of time until that progressive, downward spiral jettisons them from whatever functional path that they may have thought that they were on."
As I progressed on my downward slope, denial of my worsening condition was easily glossed over. I could forever blame my failures on bad breaks or dumb luck and the undulating hills and valleys of addiction could convince me for a time that things would get better and that I could continue being the high-functioning alcoholic I imagined myself to be.
"What will I become?" slowly turned into "What has become of me?"
"By the time I had a reason to stop drinking, reason no longer had anything to do with it."
*****
I don't mean to discourage anyone who identifies as a high-functioning alcoholic except to suggest one simple little question to ask yourself: How much better might you actually function if you were to delete alcohol from your life? And I might proceed to add that perhaps your alcohol use (which you describe to yourself as an aid to your performance) is actually a hinderance to your performance.
*****
Try sobriety and you just might find that it suits you better than you might ever have imagined.
In sobriety, I am high-functioning. I am an alcoholic who is in recovery. But, truth be told, high-functioning alcoholic was not ever in my portfolio, although I could have sworn it was.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

25 July 2020

10-ONE-LINERS: Unrelated or Inextricably Intertwined?*

(constitutionalcanadian.com)

(In random order, alphabetically by the first word of each):

1. Being drunk allowed me to deal with the drunk in me.
2. "But when he turns his back on empathy, he turns his back upon himself."
3. Diplomatically searching for others equally high, we (my disease and I) would manufacture memories out of blackouts like free-range intoxicated chickens.
4. "His sobriety, at first, was like a bad translation."
5. How many keys did I have to lose before I would learn that alcohol on longer opened doors?
6. I measured my life in pints instead of hours.
7. "If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we could not." - Emerson Pugh
8. "It's not trespassing when you cross your own boundaries." - Anonymous
9.. When I thought I could stay sober alone, I wound up drinking alone.
10. You are what you eat, but what are you when you are only what you drink?

*For what it's worth, all 10 One-Liners popped up within a dozen or so pages of a book I'm re-reading.





24 July 2020

A DRINKING MAN'S GUIDE TO BAR EXERCISE


There was a time when no one could have convinced me that I would ever stop drinking:
*****
"I sort of imagined myself as some ancient, noble Eskimo, wandering off into the northern lights with bottle in hand to die some unknown, tragic, heroic and drunken death.
I romanticized my disease when I was drinking until the reality got so bad that the romance had to die, with me following on its coattails.
At each step in my slow, downward progression, I would tell myself that it couldn't get any worse and that however bad I was, it wasn't anything that another drink couldn't fix.
But it did and could and would always get worse. Never would I think to stop drinking. Attempts to modify my drinking to a more reasonable amount of consumption failed on a nightly basis.
My resolve dissolved [with each and every drink until eventually my ideas for...] A DRINKING MAN'S GUIDE TO BAR EXERCISE lost all momentum on the stillness of my barstool."
*****
You see, drinking replaced everything.
Now, Recovery is my Everything.
*****
Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more.
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

20 July 2020

"MAN, I REALLY WISH I DIDN'T GET SOBER," said nobody ever.


"There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way." - The Tao
*****
"Alcohol is my poison, my prison. A brick wall, a trap door, a cancer, a bad joke, an empty bottle, an excuse, a leaky faucet, a loan shark, a broken promise, a cracked mirror, an earthquake, an avalanche, a train wreck, a recurring nightmare. Alcohol is my insanity."
I didn't know when I wrote this that a decade later I would be diagnosed with cancer and that I would survive it. One lesson in recovery serves another (your own recovery from whatever else may come down the pike or someone else's recovery from addiction or anything else).
Also, I could have added something about the epidemic proportions addiction has taken in our world, "an epidemic" [not sure where exactly I'd insert it in the quote] suggestive of our other epidemic, this whole Covid-19, Whole-Earth event.
*****
"MAN, I REALLY WISH I DIDN'T GET SOBER", said nobody ever.
*****
"There was a time when I was not there, but I did not know it yet. I would drink to forget, forgetting what I did not know. Not yet. I did not know yet. Where was I then, when I was not there? For years I lived somewhere between myself and the next drink. I would drink to forget what I could not think, halfway to nowhere and another drink. I was grieving and I did not know it. Someone was dying, but I could not feel it, feel my own dying. I could not own it because it owned me. Denial is so hard to feel, yet, there it is, standing next to you. You: Halfway to nowhere and another drink."
*****
"MAN, I REALLY WISH I DIDN'T GET SOBER", said nobody ever.
*****
"Addiction is godless, headless, insane. It rejects faith, reason, feelings. Addiction is heartless, the blackest night. No light. No sun. No stars. In its nothingness, we feel nothing and accept that nothingness is acceptable and true. 'Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.'"
*****
I'll stand by my words because "nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

18 July 2020

FACT: "Jim's Not Drinking" Evolved into this CONTAGIOUS RUMOR: "He Must Be Dying of AIDS"

(decurions25.rssing.com)

Remember, as you read this account, that I first got sober in 1996. 
And that rumors can be as contagious as any disease. 
The caverns of my mind had their own conspiratorial thoughts.
I had mostly been the solitary drunk at the end of the bar that nobody much noticed. 
When I did finally stop drinking, I stopped going to bars altogether. It felt like the whole world was plotting against me and any pains I felt were served up by an unjust universe. Why can't I drink? Why am I being punished? 
Why me?
Gratitude would be a long time coming.
Anyway, here's how this episode went down:
*****
"No one could believe that I had stopped drinking when I did finally stop. Of course, I couldn't have known this, because for the first few months [this 2nd or third time] I had severed all connections with the 'Bar Scene.' In retrospect, they must have guessed that something catastrophic had happened to me. This was borne out much later when after a sustained period of sobriety I entered a bar just off the Boardwalk on South Carolina Avenue called Reflections, one block from Resorts International, Atlantic City's first casino.
An old drinking buddy and pool player, Donald, came up to me there and asked me how my 'prescription regimen' was going. I must have had a fairly perplexed look on my face, because, to tell the truth, I had not an idea in the world what he was talking about. It turned out that since I had suddenly stopped showing up to take part in the local bar scene, the rumor mill wrongly deduced that since I had been such a hard partier (and every other euphemism for drinking that ever existed), and that I had quit drinking, I must have AIDS.
I guess that when you are confronted by a bar crowd whose regulars are fully in denial of their own alcoholism, it shouldn't be surprising that they would have to concoct some outside reason for anyone quitting drinking. After all, who in their right mind would quit drinking for drinking's sake? Wouldn't that be insane? 'Cunning, baffling and powerful' is how the rooms of recovery describe the insanity of alcohol. How odd that the reason for picking up the next drink is rarely for the simple 'I am an alcoholic.' There are always reasons, people, places, things."
*****
I guess I had become so adept at holding my liquor and so often appearing to be loving the Drinking Life that no one could know the pain the addiction was causing me hidden from the public's view and the way the progression of the disease had sped up.
Truly, I was beyond QUIT OR DIE. That thought never occurred to me.
I would have continued drinking each and every time I hit bottom, but for emergency rooms strapping me down after being dumped off by ambulances. 
The Bar Crowd never got to see all that hot mess happening.
They were right about one thing though, I did stop drinking because I was dying. 
But I wasn't dying of AIDS.
I was dying of drinking.
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO