24 April 2018

"There Is No Safe Harbor When The Sea Is Alcohol"


There is a certain fleeting sadness within my recovery at times. Reflecting back on the way it was and how it was the necessary and only way that I could be where I'm at today merely softens the blow. So many today are where I was back then and that seems so unnecessary. Addiction doesn't really have to be a part of growing up now, does it? And yet for so many it is. How many stigmas have to be unknotted for different possible paths to unfold in our seemingly increasingly complex world?
I'm not here to prescribe behaviors or create solutions. All I seem able to do is present the feel of it, the real of it, from my perspective, with the hope that it may help others untangle their lives, to fall more gently and recover more smoothly than my particular experiences have allowed me to.
Here, Surimi, describes my progress to his fictional friends, unnoticed by me, at this one uncertain juncture....
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(Surimi): ... Water lifts all boats, but apparently not the same can be said for alcohol. There is no safe harbor when the sea is alcohol. His extremes, his drunken fire and ice. Sobriety, and all that comes with it is more balanced, more centered and less extreme than his active addiction was. His cadence and his rhythm are more clearly a reflection of his life. Addiction is chaos. Sobriety will eventually have a calming effect on almost anyone.
*****
Of course, I heard none of this as I droned on with my story.... "I drank myself sober sometimes. My mind would seek to find some equilibrium. Despite my drunkenness, my mind stood at cross purposes with my substance of abuse. I couldn't have known that then, or at least, I didn't know that. Did not know that. In the most strange of strangest ways, I finally drank myself sober."
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On the one hand, on a daily basis, I drank to return myself to what had become my level of addiction to feel normal and for brief moments it sometimes felt as if I were sober. About this time, I remember drinking beer to sober up, to drink beer in the shower while getting ready for work, adding more ice to my drink rather than more vodka.
All of this was sort of a fine-tuning of the thermostat in my alcoholic house of horrors. Drinking myself sober and drinking myself drunk, often just one drink off from whatever that insane alcoholic thermostat was set at.
On the other hand, by this point in my story, the life I found myself living became unsustainable. This became the other "I finally drank myself sober." The fabric of my life was tearing apart and no more jumps on the alcoholic trampoline could last. I fell through, time and again and again and again.
I was dead, but by a single thread, survived.
*****
True, "there is no safe harbor when the sea is alcohol" and I had somehow survived it all. And there remains a fleeting sadness about the whole thing. Life can be suffering at times and addiction absolutely more so and needless, but life sometimes finds a way to flourish beyond all obstacles. Save what you have left and do something with it. That was about all I was left with.
Life can be so good and addiction is not an answer for anyone.
My life of drunken fire and ice has ended and I have reached the far shore. Recovery on dry land with much more living to do.
Connection. Balance. Peace.
Everybody's recovering from something.
Life is good.


*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passage spoken by Surimi and those in quotes are from my book. Explore More ALL DRINKING ASIDE Here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
140+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

"A Walking Miracle... 'How Does He Do It?'" (That Didn't Last Long)


The trajectory of addiction, no matter the substance(s), is remarkably similar for many, many of its victims.
I am but an example.
The excerpt, below, contains many pinpoints of the ensuing downhill slope that addiction usually takes. The high points that are predictors of the rock bottom(s) to come, the illusion of power over substance, control over outcomes, ego over reality, emotional distance from the truth, sadly, all here.
I thought I could, but I couldn't.
Addiction is insidious.
The illusion of control nearly universal....
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"At some point in what I thought would be later described as a glorious drinking career (I had accepted that I would never stop drinking and I would never let it get worse), I had to up my game by introducing other drugs to improve my skill, my cunning, my power, my control. Once, I was so proud of being admired for being totally annihilated and yet, like a cat thrown into the air, able to land on my feet again. I was a walking miracle. I was the baffling magic man. 'How does he do it?' Everyone asked that. I did not know then that my drinking career would soon make me implode and that eventually, once I got sober, my ego would have me implode again and put a new, first drink into my hand."
*****
The illusion that a period of abstinence will return the possibility of control over substances (in my experience) is laughable.
For me, every drink is the first drink and no drink is the last drink. Experience has proven to me that abstinence is what works best for me. Controlled drinking is my oxymoron.
Today, I am "a walking miracle" of the sober kind....


*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Passages in quotes are from my book. Explore More ALL DRINKING ASIDE Here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
140+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b


23 April 2018

The Nerd in me, the Yearn in me, wants MORE than A.A. offers


Others may not have found it so, but one aspect of A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) that has been consistently a thorn in my side is expressed here:
*****
"One persistent complaint I have about my 12-step meetings is a very anti-intellectual mindset so prevalent there. 'Don't think. Don't drink. Go to meetings.' That's a commonly heard anthem. Religion is talked about in a roundabout 'spirituality' kind of way. Psychiatry and the medical community are not wholly admonished. But at no 12-step meeting have I ever heard anyone recommending going to a library to learn from a book about this disease called alcoholism.
"Knowledge may not keep you sober, but ignorance most certainly may keep you drunk.
"Done. Another burden has been lifted."
*****
Having written an Autobiographical Fiction about my descent into alcoholism and continuing recovery has been looked at as a Mortal Sin by many of the stalwarts in the recovering communities.
A.A. to the omission of all else has not ever been my way. The nerd in me, the yearn in me, the seeking of evidence and support from the worlds of art and science are part of my cloth before, during and after my addictions.
A.A. has been vital to my recovery, but never my one and only source.
A.A. may be the only way for many, perhaps for most, but for me, never was, never will be.
*****
To each, their own.



*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Passages in quotes are from my book. Explore More ALL DRINKING ASIDE Here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
140+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b


22 April 2018

"Pause When Agitated"? GOOD.... Better... ? Pause... When... NOT Agitated!


Time and again I've heard the advice, "Pause when agitated."
That makes much sense.
Prevent what reaction you might later be sorry you blurted out.
But pause when NOT agitated also makes sense. Preemptive sense. Lifestyle-changing sense. Meditation is the pause I'm referring to here. Pause, in meditation, in practice, in repetition, in calming. Calming that helps you open the doors to a new and better you. Contemplative, rather than explosive. Sober, rather than the bad side of unpredictable.
Meditate on meditation, if it comes to that.
But do.
Meditate.
It works when you don't work it (If you know what I mean). 
Meditation, the medication of presence of mind. 
Prescriptions filled in the renewable NOW.
"Pause When Agitated"? 
GOOD. 
Better? 
Pause When NOT Agitated!
Pause.... Pause....
... Applause.





19 April 2018

Jim's Song for Joe Frazier ("Storm Warning")


"Rich man down and poor man up - they are still not even." - Yiddish proverb

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following lyrics, eventually modified for Joe Frazier, boxing champion turned vocal performer, are from Jim's only recording contract]:

"Storm Warning"

Now I say hear me out and hear me loud and clear.
I say I'm storming out and I'm gonna make you hear....
I say I'm storming out, storming far and wide.
I say I'm storming out and there's no place left to hide....
There's no use crying out, crying out with pain.
There's no use screaming out that love's a crying shame.
There's no use running out, 'cause you're running out of time.
There's no use holding out, 'cause I'm gonna make you mine....
Storm Warning....
*****
(Sotto): Vatchi! Dig this: Joe Frazier, struggling to remain in the limelight. Struggling to get back on his feet. Not in the boxing ring. On his feet, in the limelight, singing, performing. And Jim, going down, knocked out by the alcohol, not even knowing he's down for the count....


*****
This post is excerpted from Chapter 55, "Down For The Count," ALL DRINKING ASIDE: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
130+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

18 April 2018

How Odd, a Fictional Character Looking for the Facts in this Autobiography....


(Vatchi): ... that is not where the fear starts, Sotto. That is where the fear is buried. In that dumb numbness. Like the child beaten by a punishing father.... A child's forgiveness. The alcoholic, too, forgives the punishments that Alcohol metes out. "I will forgive you, Alcohol. I am the bad one. Give me now your love, your forgiveness, your soothing. Numb me now with one more drink." That is part of what is behind Jim's words, Sotto.
*****
The above text is an excerpt from All Drinking Aside, an Autobiographical Fiction. As I describe my descent into alcoholism (unnoticed by me) three fictional characters (Sotto, Vatchi & Surimi) discuss my prospects for recovery.



*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Explore More ALL DRINKING ASIDE Here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
130+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

17 April 2018

"I... Did... My BEST... When I Was DRUNK" Exemplified!


"My un-defining moment was being plastered and bowling a 276. Seven drunken strikes in a row in my bar's bowling league. At that time, I really did do my best physically when I was drunk because drunk had become the new normal. My brain was used to drunk. My brain needed drunk to be in familiar territory. The liquid I had become used to navigating through was alcohol. Liquid me in a liquid dream swimming through alcohol. Alcohol bathed each and every cell in my body, separately and lusciously. Caressing each cell like a little warm oil rubdown at an expensive spa. Alcohol, the ultimate masseuse. I bowled a 276, plastered, shortly blacked out and still drinking, swimming through alcohol like Marlee Matlin [Children of a Lesser God] swimming in stunning silence. There was no before or after, only this oblivion."
*****
Scary, isn't it? How I romanticized it! Christ, are addicts "Children of a Lesser God," too? Haunting. To say the least, I was incomplete without my alcohol back then. Today, "Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
If I were to bowl today and got seven gutter balls, I'd still be happy because my head would not be in the gutter like it used to be. 
Alcohol, a perfect zero. Recovery, a perfect score!


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
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The passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
140+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

14 April 2018

The Only World I Knew Was Alcohol


Frankly, I'm almost speechless when I read those 7 little words, "The only world I knew was alcohol."  The utter emptiness of that world spilled out, leaving me with nothing. Alcohol, my everything. The animal I became. Sadly best expressed below, seeking, at that time, neither sympathy nor empathy, somehow, I came to in a sober world of which I knew nothing, a clueless, hopeless alien.
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"When I drink, the only world there is, is alcohol. I will drink until I blackout and I will continue drinking until I pass out. More is the only word I know. More, until I blackout and then still more until my body shuts down and I pass out. And somehow, even then, more is not enough. My disease cannot ever be satisfied. When there is nothing else, there is always more.
More is everything... and nothing.
I will never be like most normal folks.
When I drink, the only world there is, is alcohol."






*****
No wonder that I learned to say "Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
140+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

12 April 2018

ADDICTION: "Trapped in the State of Being" (and a Confession)


Unintentionally, in the 6-year process of writing my book, I often found myself waxing poetic, despite the fact that this was to be a work of prose. Accordingly, many of my favorite verses made it into print, but disguised as prose.
Here is one passage as it ultimately appears. Beneath that, for edification, the reconstruction of how it originally flowed from my pen.
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"Trapped in the state of being, everything is as it seems. You cannot find your dream. You want to turn the wheel on which you're turning. You want to become. You want to be real, but find it disagreeing, really so unpleasing, when everything is as it seems. You cannot break the seal, it's so unceasing, trapped in the state of being. You cannot find your dream. You want to turn the wheel on which you're turning. You want to become."
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"Trapped in the State of Being"

Trapped in the state of being,
Everything is as it seems.
You cannot find your dream.
You want to turn the wheel on which you're turning.
You want to become.
You want to be real,
But find it disagreeing,
Really so unpleasing,
When everything is as it seems.
You cannot break the seal,
It's so unceasing,
Trapped in the state of being.
You cannot find your dream.
You want to turn the wheel on which you're turning.
You want to become.
*****
Truly, I'm not sure if that will clarify or act to muddy the waters.
A bit of both is my best guess.
*****
P.S. Speaking of STRUCTURE, prose vs. poetry, here, I have a confession to make about the structure of All Drinking Aside. The subtitle is The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal. The word STRUCTURE is the root word from which all three key words in the beginning of the subtitle are derived. Recovery has many elements of structure about it as well. Forming new habits to replace old habits. That's changing the structure of a life of addiction into a structured life of recovery that will sustain itself. A strong foundation, structure, upon which change may occur.
*****
In addiction, I was an ANIMAL, the proverbial hamster on the wheel. "You want to turn the wheel on which you're turning. You want to become." In my addiction, I was powerless over alcohol. It was alcohol that turned the wheel. And as for "you want to become," I was becoming nothing more than more of an alcoholic and less human at every turn of the wheel. I am restoring my humanity in recovery and I am becoming, reclaiming, a sober me, to the beat of a sober drum.


*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
130+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

11 April 2018

If I Couldn't Have Smoked Cigarettes, I Would Have Relapsed & Died


"So much is known and so much unknown about addiction and recovery. But I do know this much: If my very first rehab had not allowed me to continue my addiction to smoking cigarettes as I tried to remain sober, I most likely would have bolted out of there, no fourteen day stay. I would have left. I would have smoked. I would have had a drink, and I may have died. Trial and error is frightening when you confront the fact that one small error can change the entire course of your life. Today, not drinking and not smoking are mutually reinforcing. Lose one and I would most certainly lose both.
I did not drink today."
*****
That was me 22 years ago. Much has happened since then. I relapsed off and on for the next 8 years and today have accumulated nearly 14 years of continuous sobriety, ten years nicotine-free. Besides being 22 years older, I am not the same person today. I have changed.
*****
I hate when a politician says that they've evolved. It sounds so uppity and false. But since I'm not a politician, truly, and with a realistic humility, I can say, yes, I have evolved since 1996. Had to... or I'd be a drinking, smoking corpse, cowboy!


*****
Glad to be alive to tell the tale!
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#alcoholism #addiction #recovery
*****
The passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
130+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b