29 November 2020

BELIEVE YOUR EYES (and Believe THEIR "I's")

 

(cheap3dtricks.wordpress.com)

Believe your eyes when you read the Reviews of ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal.
Below, from the 50+ Reader Reviews of All Drinking Aside on the Amazon page for it, you will find a Condensed Listing of Some of Their "I" Statements.

BELIEVE YOUR EYES. (and Believe THEIR "I's")

"All Drinking Aside is clearly not a book to miss and certainly not one I will soon forget. I will take it with me in my academic circles and in my work with future patients, My thoughts are often with Jim as he continues his recovery through interaction with the learned community and I am grateful to be part of it." - Vilma Reyes

"I couldn't put this book down. I highly recommend it for those suffering with addiction as well as their families and friends." - Linda S.

"I have worked in the field of addiction treatment for quiet some time and 'All Drinking Aside' touches on a whole new perspective to alcoholism that didn't exist in this space before." - Scott Brand

"The book was so good that I found myself starting to bend the corners of certain pages and finally broke down and started high-lighting many passages... I highly recommend it." - David W. MacDonald

"I am sure his book will save lives but it is in his examination of life, of any kind of life where the nature and purpose of his book becomes not more universal (this reader tends to shun such claims) but artistic." - Sandy

"I wholeheartedly recommend this book." - Margaret Check 

"I thought I knew everything there is to know about alcoholics, however, your book revealed more relevant information, which was valuable to me." - Sue from Jackson NJ

"I highly recommend 'All Drinking Aside' to anyone going through it, who has been through it or related to the situation in any capacity. I am happy to recommend this book for so many reasons." - Michele Lanfrank

"I recommend it to everyone." - Mark Lansaw

"I appreciated his sharing of what is a intense and frightening story." - Scott H.

"I recognized my insane self in this insane book by an insane author." - Roger L. Dupont

"I do highly recommend this book to anyone!" - Eloise

"I ordered another one for my friend. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have made notes for myself and underlined things that pertained to my alcoholism." - John Bradley

"I wholeheartedly recommend this book." - Nessa

*****
Read all the Reader Reviews of ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 

On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
5,900+ Recovery Tweets here: twitter.com/jimanders4 










26 November 2020

RECOVERY'S ENIGMA: Anyone can make it, Yet many don't.

All of us, together and separately, have said of others and of ourselves, that anyone can make it. But in our hearts we doubt we can, at times each of us has doubted, been filled with doubt. Because we know, too well we know, that many can't. 

All we are left with, sometimes, is hope and puzzlement: Recovery's Enigma.

(public domain)

A certain faith and an uncertain doubt are intertwined and from it a fabric both coarse and fine is woven.

So much of life a mystery and difficult and sometimes impossible to understand. Yet in moments distant and too close to us, at times we understand the very fabric of our lives and others can be torn apart.

We must work together to repair the damaged sail when the storm has calmed and we have taken measure of our losses and our gains. A thousand generations have brought us all this far. And by now we have learned that beyond the far horizon, soon another day will appear. We do our best to keep this ship in good repair, even knowing every day a multitude will die and a birth of plentitude will provide new menders who will tend to right our course.

Recovery's Enigma, that anyone can make it, yet many don't, becomes a good thing, not because in itself that it is good, but in our knowing we can make it right. Through learned strength and shared courage we continue to long, endure our struggles and to make life good. Move on. Move forward.

I don't know why I awoke in the middle of the night and felt compelled to write this. Somehow, the far horizon had become today, half a thousand years behind us and untold futures lie ahead. 

I won't drink to that, to all of this, but I will pause.

Give thanks, be kind. There are many storms ahead. This is but one day for thanksgiving, with many more ahead. Give thanks. I'm going back to bed. 

11 November 2020

Recovery's UNVARNISHED TRUTH: Do nothing, stay trapped. DO GOOD, GET WELL SOONER

(getoutofdebt.org)

Thanks to a Jan T. (I will protect her Anonymity), today I was reminded of my last Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsor (someone who, like you, is in Recovery and offers a helping hand and Guidance so that you may find another sober day). He lived a long, productive and honored life and maintained and flourished with over 60 years of continuous sobriety. He died sober and thanks to him, that is my best intention.

When I first got sober, the first 8 years were endless repetitions of relapse and recovery. One man did for me what a battery of doctors, therapists and psychiatrists were unable to do (partly, of course, due to my inability to following their best advice).

My Sponsor, M.M., after a deluge of discussions, one day, when I was completely perplexed and didn't know what to do next, offered me a small bit of advice that changed and likely saved my life. To paraphrase, he offered that when I don't know what to do next to gain another day of sobriety, I should help someone else. It's a Win/Win situation. Helping them in whatever way possible helps both of you. 

My experience has confirmed this to be true. In a larger sense, each generation passes the mantle on to their successors. And so, life goes on.

*****

Back to Jan T. (from the first sentence of this post): Jan got to know me through one of the many Recovery Groups I belong to on Facebook. She liked my posts and is currently reading the book of recovery I wrote, despite the fact that I've never met her in person. Today, she sent me a personal message saying verbatim: 

"Page 125 

He's talking to his disease

That is insane.

I declare myself insane - [smiley face, laughing till you cry face]"

I replied to her: "It's an eye-opener for people who have never had a substance use disorder!

HERE'S WHERE SHE KNOCKED ME OVER with a flood of memories of the life of the man who had saved my life. She shared with me that she had sent a passage from my book to a friend this very morning. If I understand correctly, the passage she sent her friend was about people who shut others out of their life simply to see who might persist to open that door.

Jan told me that her friend contacted her within minutes.

She concluded with a "Thank you, Jim."

When Jan reads this post, I'm hoping that she will understand that helping someone else is a Win/Win situation and in this case, a Win/Win/Win/Win situation (if you get my drift).

JAN! THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME FIND ANOTHER DAY SOBER.

I say this truly, thanks!

*****
Do nothing, stay trapped. 

DO GOOD, GET WELL SOONER.

*****

"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." - All Drinking Aside, p. 269. 

*****

ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
5,900+ Recovery Tweets here: twitter.com/jimanders4 




30 October 2020

PUBLIC DRUNKENNESS: It's Halloween, so We'll Allow It

(Pinterest)

Holidays are glorious excuses for public drunkenness. 
It's a little easier coasting through almost any Holiday where many others are nearly drunk as you. More lampshades are worn by budding alcoholics and social drinkers on Halloween than any given Saturday night. For many, the occasional state of intoxication on Holidays is looked at as an apparition in which one is merely cloaked, a joke, a Roman holiday. But don't worry, a cultural carte-blanche, anything goes passport to inebriation will be given to you at the Bar Room door.
"What are you going as?"
Never the reply "my future self."
Ill-fitting at first, drunkenness stopped being a costume and I became accustomed to it. A daily dousing deemed delicious. See how one can dress one's words to sounds almost poetic? Of course, you know, I'm being antithetical.
Word drunk. I think I'm being found a word drunk here.
Sentence Use Disorder or Substance Use Disorder (SUD). It's a game, oh-don't-you-know.
"Sorry I thought your outfit was a Halloween costume," she says.
"Of course it is, Blanche. Of course it is," comes back the reply.
*****
My Built-in Holiday excuses are over.
Every day's a holiday now, you see, so long as I remain sober.
If anyone reading this should take offense, remember Dear, I'm talking to myself, The Ghost of Halloweens Past.
End of Scene. Lampshade returned beneath its finial. 
Fade. 
Fini.
Gracias.
*****
If you prefer something less obnoxious, try ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
5,800+ Recovery Tweets here: twitter.com/jimanders4 

22 October 2020

CHEMICAL BETRAYAL & HUMAN TRUST

 


(facebook.com)


Immediately, before I had a chance to even think or feel, I read "Learn the difference between the sound of your intuition guiding you and your traumas misleading you" (as pictured) and I was stunned. 
Intuition had already fallen off the face of the earth when I first got sober. Alcohol, when stuffing any one emotion or a cluster of emotions, succeeded in pounding all emotions beyond sensation.
Call it numb, if you will, but that doesn't really capture the desperate  and anesthetized nihilism that somehow evolved by itself within that separate universe that is addiction.
Chemical Betrayal. My brain sat like a brain you might see in a jar in a laboratory, unceremoniously embalmed in whatever chemical bath is necessary for its preservation.
My brain was not so much chemically preserved as betrayed. Yes, I felt betrayed by this chemical compound we call alcohol. The feeling at this particular intersection was no different than if I had been betrayed by a lover, only more numbing. And insane. Insane and insensate.
After Betrayal, How Could There Be Trust?
Alcohol would have to be made dead. This chain of words in English (and presumably all human languages) may not suitably capture the separation of subject and object, welded together as alcohol and I were after 30 years and 50,000 drinks. 
If I could not kill it, I would, at least, make alcohol dead to me. Alcohol, you must be made dead. You must die if I am to live. So ever sorry to see you go.
And still, and yet, and soon, I would relapse again and again. 
*****
Human trust? (Intuition) We're back to the intuition part of the opening quote, which I'll repeat again here: "Learn the difference between the sound of your intuition guiding you and your traumas misleading you." Human trust? I would need intuition to bring me back to humanity, like an amoeba inching towards light. This alcoholic animal would need to move me back from that chemical precipice. 
I would have to rejoin the human race. After the chemical betrayal wore off, I would have to once again learn and relearn a human trust.
*****
Trauma, unfeeling.
Trust, unyielding.
Intuition fed by frayed nerves.
Somehow, I cobbled together what can be assigned meaning only as a new life.
Trust.
Trauma. Addiction. Betrayal. 
Trust. Eventually I learned that Recovery is Possible, Doable, Irreplaceable.
I came to believe that "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 
5,800+ Recovery Tweets here: twitter.com/jimanders4 


15 October 2020

AGING SOBER & DYING SOBER [alternate title: SOBER BUZZ-KILL]

 

(pinterest)

(pinterest)

(pinterest)

(searchingforbalance11.blogspot.com)

Aging Sober & Dying Sober may not seem like the most optimistic topic to choose to write about, but I am sure of this one thing: Doing so may increase my quality of Living Sober.

In less than a month I'll be 70 (October 24th, to be exact). 

That's 21.1111 in Celsius (Do you like my new coffee mug?). Which makes this valid point for me: It's all a matter of perspective.

When I was in my twenties (NOT my Celsius 20's!), way before my catastrophic downward slide, I already knew I was an alcoholic. At that time, I considered alcohol and drugs as sources for inspiration. The Tragic Hero had to have a flaw, an Achilles heel. Mine would be Alcohol, with a Capital A, a source of inspiration and the cause of what would surely be my Heroic Demise.

In my most vivid imagination, I couldn't imagine living past 40 (human years, not Fahrenheit or dog years). 

Imagined pain was inspirational and real pain was to be handled by increasing my dosages of drugs and alcohol. The real decade of my 40's was the unimaginable pain induced by addiction, by losing everything time and again. Loss. The hospitals, detoxes, rehabs, intravenous drips, jobs lost, relationships lost, repeated periods of homelessness. Total loss, you get the picture, just this side of death, an impoverished life. 

Pneumonia, Cancer, Addiction - I've survived giant clumps of physical and psychological hurdles since my 40's. Stages of my life. The final stage will surely come. "Past is prologue," so said Shakespeare. No matter your interpretation, one thing is certain: There will be a final curtain.

*****

Adapt. 

That's the word I'm looking for. I want to learn how to best adapt to the changing circumstances to come as I inevitably trudge forward.

Sober. 

That's the second word I need. I want to do it all sober, to be aware until all awareness is drained from me. 

Grit. 

Word Three. I must have Grit (I feel like I'm playing Charades! First Word :-) Two Syllables). 

*****

I have found Recovery to not only be possible, but supremely doable and ultimately irreplaceable.

Aging and dying are both inevitable too. I'm doing both sober, so far. Aging and dying are both there, no matter what else I may do. I imagine I will become part of whatever world I emerged from when I was born. Today, at the very least, when I die, I wish to rejoin whatever may come after in that state that was before my ever, ever, ever first drink.

Aging Sober & Dying Sober. Sounds about right (a drink would change none of this). No Buzz-kill at all. Release. A final letting go. A sober parting. Happy to end each day sober now. Aging is unstoppable. Dying is another sober day. 

I can speak only how I feel today.

Today. Today. Today, the days stack up. With any luck, they will continue to do so.

Life is good. 

Sober. 

*****

May you also enjoy this Autobiographical Fiction, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal

On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
5,800+ Recovery Tweets here: twitter.com/jimanders4 


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/






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 
.