14 June 2019

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) TODAY (short & simple): My 15 Years of Continuous Recovery Celebrated :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

(etsy.com)

Actually, it was Facebook that reminded me of my short post last year when I marked 14 years.
This was that:
*****
Barely remarked by me, the rear view mirror exclaimed that my Anniversary of the 14th Year of Continuous Sobriety had come and gone.
I've sort of stopped counting the days I've gained when stacked against the monumental losses of loved ones all around.
There is sadness in a happy time, by any measure.
My Anniversary, a small, significant pleasure.
A sad time, with greater meaning deep within.
Fifteen beckons in its own meandering way.
Peace be you day, whatever day it is.
A Happy Sobriety has Won, again, today. 
*****
I was taken aback (pun intended).
Thank you, Facebook.
I responded by sharing my post from a year ago with this additional short note:
*****
Each day passes without the thought of a drink, but like riding a bicycle, I will not ever forget how to pedal.
Another year, now 15 continuous years of sobriety, has passed by. This last year has been marked by my cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival, and Recovery Coach training.
Survival, suffering, peace, joy and gratitude are in the mix. Such an odd meatball (!) Life is.
Please find your best way to thrive another day.
Smell the coffee, tend the roses, lend a hand.
Tears of Joy and Sorrow in the Mix.
Strive on!
*****
Nothing deep or profound there, but when carefully unwrapped, deep and profound joy was found within.
Time to reread my book again.
It's good to take a long look back & a short look forward once in awhile, who I was and where this road may lead.
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-)


12 June 2019

*_*_*_* Street Drugs, Quality NOT Controlled vs. Alcohol, the Deadliest Drug *_*_*_*


The quality of street drugs is NOT controlled.People die every day and hour from ingesting, snorting and shooting up different substances than what they presume they had just purchased.
Alcohol IS a controlled substance. In my home state, Pennsylvania, liquor is sold by the state and monitored by a Liquor Control Board. You are certain of the quality and purity of every substance you purchase.
So alcohol is safer than street drugs, right?
Absolutely.
Except for me.
It's not safe for me.
Not safe.
Presumably never was. A long, hard lesson had to be learned.
A 30-year look back on my drinking experience has proven to me beyond doubt that it is not safe for me to drink under any circumstances or conditions. Ever. No matter how many decades between sips. Alcoholism and its attendant consequences have always been progressive for me. My life has always gotten progressively worse each and every time I have picked up a drink.
No matter the purity and proof of the alcohol I might ingest, it's me who is out of control whenever i drink. I'm a blackout drinker who continues to drink well after my ability to form memories has evaporated. My brain's desire for all else dissipates.
Alcohol replaces what alcohol displaces.
Illusion, delusion and insanity ensue. The only gain is loss. And loss is all.
After years of sustained sobriety, all street drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs (except as prescribed by a doctor) are off my Wish List, Bucket List and a List of other Lists. With no illusion of control over addictive substances, my recovery continues to flourish in their absence.
Period.
Pretty Poison, Sweet Poison, My Alcohol is the Deadliest Drug of All.
Recovery is my substance.
Period.
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

08 June 2019

*_*_*_* I Turned into a Real Mister Thirsty *_*_*_*



"Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't," the TV jingle for Almond Joy & Mounds candy bars sings out. I find that so relatable, like the Insanity illustrated here. It seems to virtually run up and down my Family Tree and onto the far branches.
The nut doesn't fall far from the tree, as it were.
Once alcoholism had me in its evil clutches, it hardly seemed relevant which part of the Nature / Nurture Controversy rang truer.
Bells rang and like Pavlov's dog, I was off to the races.
My barstool nickname was Rusty, named after my beverage of choice, Rusty Nails. That heyday lasted a decade before being converted into plastic pints of the cheapest vodka available in a plain brown wrapper.
Not to be a Debbie Downer (of SNL fame), but if Insanity wasn't a little bit familiar to all of us, this Stroll would not be in the least bit Droll.
"We are not a glum lot" by a far shot!
Here, then, Rusty, Mister Thirsty and I Wish You All a Sane, Sober & a Little Bit Silly Weekend, All Drinking Aside.
*************
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 


30 May 2019

*_*_*_* FETAL Alcohol /FATAL Alcohol *_*_*_*

(internationalbluecross.org)

Let's take a whirlwind tour of the effects of Alcohol from BEFORE Birth to AFTER Death. Much will have to be glossed over, twisted and ignored to make it all conveniently fit into this short, sweet, easily digestible post for Social Media.
*****
BEFORE Birth: Alcohol affects the unborn in a wide variety of ways, but fits comfortably under the umbrella of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Vision, hearing, heart defects, brain changes, problems with kidneys and bones, deformities of joints, limbs and fingers, reduced birth weight and height - ALL may be in some way damaged as the result of alcohol intake during pregnancy. No amount of alcohol consumption while pregnant is without risk.
All of this potential damage in the womb may be carried into the newly born and result in conditions that may, and likely will, last a lifetime. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) cause physical and mental damage enough to last the life of the child. It is considered incurable, irreversible and may result in a lifetime of shortened attention span, hyperactivity, poor coordination, speech impairments, brain damage, antisocial behavior and more.
Because the fetus metabolizes alcohol through the umbilical cord at a slower rate, the pregnant mother is sometimes putting her unborn child at greater risk than herself. In the ideal world, a future mother should stop drinking alcohol before she gets pregnant....
That about covers BEFORE Birth.
(Hardly. Whirlwind Tour. Remember?)
*****
AFTER Death will come crashing into us momentarily, but let's take a look at that brief period BETWEEN Birth and BEFORE Death. This is the period we call LIFE (you may have heard of it).
*****
"A fish does not know the water. A bird does not know the sky " I did not know how much alcohol was in the cultural air I lived and breathed as I was growing up."Everyone drinks. Everyone drank. Everyone got drunk." That could have been my cultural mantra. My cultural mantra today is Recovery. I eat, breathe, drink and sleep Recovery.
*****
Alright, alright, alright, alright.
This is too big of a story, this Alcohol BEFORE Birth to Alcohol AFTER Death. Too big of a story. Bigger than I am. I know. But here's how I got to this point: Today alone, on the Social Media, I was confronted by several deaths from alcohol and drugs, the opioid crisis, the drug crisis, binge drinking, drunk driving, and on and on.
Several deaths around me, surround me, on this one day alone. It is dizzying.
None close to me. No names I can remember. That hardly matters. Unless the death is of someone you know or knew or loved or lived with or... or... or... A life, many lives have been cut short.This is Alcohol AFTER Death, my heart drawn to the survivors of those who died today, their families and friends. Take a breath. The Aftermath. Take a breath. And another. And another.
*****
From before Birth to after Death, the effects of Alcohol and Drugs are everywhere around me. "Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly," I know that's true  But I also know this: It is NEVER TOO LATE to stop, NEVER TOO SOON to live free of... all of this. Never a time to lose hope, always the time to move forward.
Wherever you are, whomever you are, however you are, life will go on.
Breathe in, breathe out.
My whole damned point I guess is this: I did not drink today.
Reach out to whomever you have to, however you can.
I'm coming up on 15 years clean and sober this June.
30 years drunk.
Almost 15 years sober.
Always...
Almost...
Half-Way...
There...
Join us. Join in. There's room for everyone in this fine air.
*****
FETAL Alcohol / FATAL Alcohol. From Before Birth to After Death.
"Everyone drinks. Everyone drank. Everyone got drunk." It was a cultural thing.
My cultural thing today is Recovery. I eat, breathe, drink and sleep Recovery.
Take a breath.
We Are Always...
Almost...
Half-Way...
There...
Join us. Join in.
There's room for everyone in this fine air.
*********************************
Also, by this same author, you may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

28 May 2019

*_*_*_* A Silly, Happy, Little Poem *_*_*_*


(Music Radio Creative)

We are the poorest among you.
We are the richest among you.
Whatever your yardstick or metric is,
We are those things and more,
At both ends of measurable and
Immeasurable.

We are Recovery,
Blessed and cursed,
Extreme, at the center,
Straight forward, reversed,
The Topsy in Turvy,
The empty in full,
The fool in the wise man,
The sparkle in jewel.

We are Recovery,
In Recovery immersed.
Thank you for listening to our little verse.

We are among you,
Silent no more.
*********************************
[This and other poems of Addiction & Recovery by the author of ALL DRINKING ASIDE are to be found on LinkedIn, here:

"A Universe of #Recovery Verse... "​ (13 favorites in order by title)

 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/universe-recovery-verse-jim-anders/?published=t ]

15 May 2019

*_*_*_* PTSD & The Tomb of the Anonymous Addict *_*_*_*


(hope found: on pinterest.com)

In 17 short sentences, here, combined, my heart opens to expose my pain for those who suffer, survive and sometimes die from post-traumatic stress and addiction. Because both posts are spare in words and similar in sincerity, I share them both here for any and all who allow themselves to feel and share with me the multiple traumas briefly laid out here for all to see.
*****
PTSD
(In a few short sentences, 154 years of history are traced by the different names we have assigned to PTSD... and how it has changed us):
*****
A Soldier's Heart is what they called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the U.S. Civil War (which ended in 1865, 154 years ago). They did not know what else to call it. It was at the core of what they felt. "He's suffering from a Soldier's Heart," they said.
Time marches on (and did march on) and during World War One the same sick soldier would be called Shell-Shocked. The munitions changed and the positions changed, the diagnoses altered slightly from the Soldier's Heart to the shell-casings of bombs dropped too near.
The concentric circle of war overlapped once again in World War Two and combat stress reaction and a spray of other diagnoses erupted as the medicalization of symptoms evolved and the prescriptions changed.
Today we call it PTSD and for a second we may look upon that same soldier as if under a microscope whose magnification may bring us closer to the truth found possible through advanced scientific methodologies, yet somehow far further from the man, the man an echo beneath a barrage of symptoms...
Do Not Forget a Soldier's Heart...
*****
[Please note, when I had first heard about Soldier's Heart, I was immediately reminded of PTSD and of how I had felt when I first hit bottom in 1996... lost in terror.]
*****
.
.
.
*****
THE TOMB OF THE ANONYMOUS ADDICT
(No words minced, the hope for change is submerged here, emptied out by deaths too soon in addiction's wake.):
*****
Sometimes walking down the street you think you hear the sound of leaves scuttling along, but these are the plans, hopes, dreams of the dead. Wind barely whispering over the green lips of empty bottles, syringes puncturing the silence in their stillness. Sentences gasping for a last breath, forever unfinished.
The Tomb of the Anonymous Addict is really many tombs in many doorways, further down anonymous valleys than any still alive have ever ventured.
No such monument truly exists. It's undedicated, the dead remains unidentified. It is truly unnamed and unguarded.
It tires me, this Tomb of the Anonymous Addict. It exists in my mind only.... And it makes me weary.
*****
[Truly, I do have hope today, but for however briefly, it had been eroded here. Hope is Our Renewable Natural Resource. Give yours to those in whom you find it lacking.]
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

08 May 2019

*_*_*_* #Addiction: Reptilian Stairway to Nowhere *_*_*_*



(mc escher lizards ixora.pro)

Alcohol was certainly not the only drug I used. True, it was center stage, but co-conspirators often stole the show, beyond over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and including prescription drugs, street treats and sundry hallucinogens. 
It was only after I had come off this one particular LSD-like trip that I realized I couldn't have climbed a staircase in the jailhouse I was being held in because there were no stairways in that one-story building. No basement. No second floor.
Trust me though, some reptilian (me, so very high) had climbed that stairway that was not there.
*****
"Climbing an invisible, hallucinated staircase, high on organic belladonna plucked fresh off the tree by me hours earlier, high in the Guatemalan mountains, Gene and I were arrested on suspicion of substance abuse, awaiting release through bribery. Some memories, like this Guatemalan belladonna one, bring flashbacks" of me being not fully or even partly there, melted into a drug-induced haze. Sometimes I have to remember these moments to fully appreciate that I have surrendered to recovery, that I am savoring the present moment and that I have survived all of it.
*****
All the other drugs involved in my 'other' life were dissolved by alcohol, always alcohol. It took me half my 30-year drinking career to understand, fully to understand, that alcohol was both set and setting in the unreal play being acted out in my addiction. Drugs dissolved in alcohol, my universal solvent. So smooth. So soothing. I did not know until I, too, had become dissolved in alcohol and the curtain had begun to draw closed that I was a chronic alcoholic nearly beyond help.
Such a romantic-sounding dying it seemed to be, until the too-real catastrophes began exploding around me, all-the-while my life imploding until there was nearly nothing left. I, a spitball on some mad scientist's floor. I, too small, the door of recovery too large, too large. It would not seem to budge.
That I am alive today seems mostly luck, some hard, hard work and a reptilian brain learning, unlearning, relearning. 
A wild animal, unleashed from addiction's cage, takes years to tame.
I am free. I am human. I am me again.
I built a stairway to recovery that had not been there. 
Shared courage opened the door to recovery. I could not have done it alone. 
Gratitude unbound for all who helped me find a way, my way.
Reptilian stairway to nowhere... nowhere to be found.
Recovery built on solid ground.
Shared courage.
No way.
Yes, way.
*****
#alcoholism #addiction #recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO

30 April 2019

*_*_*_* Suspension of Disbelief: The Use of Fictional Characters in an Autobiography *_*_*_*


(nytimes.com)

Suspension of Disbelief: a common literary device whereby a reader is asked to suspend their critical faculties and logic for the sake of enjoyment. In this case, the reader is asked to suspend their disbelief, fully knowing that the three fictional characters in All Drinking Aside discuss my prospects for recovery among themselves but go unnoticed by me. These three fictional characters help to interpret my words and actions and provide temporary relief from my brutally intense narrative.
One of the fictional characters, Vatchi, reveals my use of humor as a tool, a weapon and a defense mechanism.
*****
(Vatchi): ... His progress in recovery is slow and tedious and now you're mocking and oblivious. He'll hold up the truth for all eyes to see and then hide himself behind a joke. Jim's still in the holding cell. He's still hurting. He still lives in fear. He still uses ego as a weapon. Sotto [the three fictional characters names are Sotto, Vatchi and Surimi], look behind his words.
*****
[Oblivious to these three fictional characters' words, I continue my autobiographical narrative here]: "I couldn't stop drinking. Who in their right mind would wake up after spending a fortune while in a blackout and continue drinking? The 'Fucked Up Stops Here' never happened. The instant my blackout would start, I was feeding my disease and nothing else. If alcoholism is insane, blackout drinking is even more insane. It's so easy after a few years of sobriety to wonder why I didn't stop drinking. And it became so easy after a few years of sobriety to forget how insane it was. That is why, for me, connection with other alcoholics is so key to my continuing sobriety.
'Staying stopped' - that's the trick.... "
*****
Looking back at all this now, I see how I did not fully realize the importance of others in my recovery. I knew I couldn't do it alone, but part of me still under-valued the immense help given to me by everyone else in recovery. I also truly did not realize how my asking for help aided them in gaining another day of sobriety. Many lessons of gratitude were to follow.
My life revolved around alcohol and in recovery, I discovered that the world does not revolve around me. All of this world's people are a part of the interconnectedness of all life. I am a grateful participant and observer of this daily spectacle called living.
The events of the past are frozen in time, unchangeable. But my understanding of the past surely evolves over time as the fog lifts and my recovery expands.
The progress of early recovery is slow and tedious, but it is well worth the struggle. Recovery eclipses the pointlessness of addiction's dizzying, vacuous lack of direction. Every day is a new day, made brighter by my deeper understanding and appreciation for how I was and how I am evolving as a sober person. What was broken heals with time. A new, sober person comes into being.
Who the hell would want to drink? Not this new, sober person I have become. But that other person, the person I was for 30 years most certainly did want to drink, whether I wanted to drink... or not.
Insanity.
The past informs the present. Lessons have been learned. I do not wish to drink today. Today, today, today, today. I will not drink today.
Suspension of Disbelief? I dare not suspend my disbelief that all that happened happened. It all happened. It's all true. The three fictional characters in my book were a big help in keeping me sober. Suspend your disbelief, too. Perhaps they are talking to you. If only you will listen.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passage spoken by Vatchi and those in quotes are from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-anders-89b1a876/detail/recent-activity/posts/

26 April 2019

*_*_*_* "There is No Way to Recovery. Recovery Is the Way." *_*_*_*


(bu.edu)

I can't truly claim the headline to this post as mine ("There is no way to recovery. Recovery is the way.). It is derivative in nature and more or less a direct steal from Thich Nhat Hanh ("There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.")
*****.
"Monkey See / Monkey Do" fairly well captures my early recovery. I knew nothing of recovery. The drink was all I knew.
Early in my drinking career, alcohol was the icing on the cake of my social life, something added to make all things somehow better. Down that long road alcohol began replacing things, subtracting, destroying, nullifying.
Surimi, one of the fictional characters in my book, describes how alcohol takes on the villainous role to the exclusion of all else like this: "Gentlemen, we are pack animals, like wolves. Separated from the pack, the chances of survival diminish. Alcoholism is this disease of separation. The alcoholic needs alcohol to the exclusion of all else. Recovery is largely about rejoining the human race. Connecting with self, reconnecting with self. Connecting with others, reconnecting. Overcoming alcoholism, the Great Excluder...."
"This disease of separation" is gut-wrenching to me now. It's easy for me to forget how pathetic I became, how much it hurt, where it took me. In my early sobriety and after several relapses, I finally realized the importance of others. Today, I realize that most of the insights that inspire me to write come from others in recovery meetings, on-line, from many books and in person-to-person contact. Today, the inspirations of others are a real source of joy, but learning that was a stubborn lesson back then.
Addiction was my disconnect and recovery, my re-connection. Here's how I phrased it, almost apologetically, a few short years ago: "The loneliness of an alcoholic death. That's what many of my recollections boil down to.... Reciprocity is keeping me sober. Sharing with another alcoholic. It really is that simple. I used to drown the loneliness caused by alcohol with (what else?) more alcohol. Solitude seemed an impossibility when a bottle of booze sat next to me.... Loneliness, inescapable. Solitude, unattainable. Sobriety, unimaginable."
That was my past life. Recovery has changed all that. I'm leading a fairly normal, happy, sober life now. But I must never forget the loneliness of an alcoholic death, where that first fatal drink might take me.
*****
Don't go back there. There's nothing there. Not even you. There is nothing but emptiness there.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Recovery in. Addiction out.
Each breath renewable.
"There is no way to recovery. Recovery is the way."
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-anders-89b1a876/detail/recent-activity/posts/

18 April 2019

*_*_*_* "Let Addiction Die First (Recovery, Let Us Live)" *_*_*_*

(nytimes.com)

"Let Addiction Die First." The words seemed to come out of nowhere. I wrote a note to myself so I wouldn't forget them as I went about my business. Later, on the way home from picking up the Sunday newspaper, I found myself singing a never before heard melody out loud (not caring what passersby might thing). It went, "Da... Da-Da-Da... Da" (I don't know where that came from either). Suddenly I realized that "Da... Da-Da-Da... Da" stood for "Let Addiction Die First."
It stood for that and nothing else. 
*****
Whatever could that mean?
*****
I had reached the tipping point many years earlier... that point where addiction affixed itself to the part of my brain that told me I would need alcohol to survive. My survival instinct itself stood imprisoned. By that point, "I" barely existed anymore at all. I had come to believe that I would need a drink to persevere the very pain that my drinking had caused. My brain had reached the point where it needed more alcohol than my body could endure. Multiple hospitalizations escalated. I crashed upon the walls of death repeatedly, nearly crashing through.
The drinking would stop when my body gave out....
*****
How odd that "Let Addiction Die First" had not really been my thought or experience. Delirious on sidewalks and in gutters, emergency rooms had become my interventions. 
*****
Somehow, I turned the phrase, "Let Addiction Die First," into "Recovery, Let Us Live." For it was in recovery that my addiction died and it was in recovery that I learned to live. A stern warning, like so many epiphanies, appeared as afterthoughts. As Gertrude Stein once said, "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." I express that here by sharing with others in recovery that the desire to pick up a drink dies slowly, over time, replaced by the new and healthy habits that recovery will instill. The will to live without a drink returns to its rightful place in a drug-free brain, survival instinct cleansed, addiction arrested, the natural order of the brain restored.
*****
"Da... Da-Da-Da... Da... ,"  "Let Addiction Die First" (or surely I will die). That was the drumbeat that kept repeating in my head. But, eventually, "Let Addiction Die First" slowly morphed as my melody continued. Now, "Recovery, Let Us Live" is the tune I hear, sing it how you will, your song. 
"Recovery, Let Us Live." It will blossom. It will thrive.
Excuse the rhyme, for here I add, I'm glad to be alive.
"Recovery, Let Us Live. Recovery, Let Us Live. Recovery, Let Us Live."
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-anders-89b1a876/detail/recent-activity/posts/