30 January 2017

Worried by Alcoholism? I Wasn't....


"Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
- Anonymous

For at least the first decade of my drinking career, calling myself an alcoholic, at least to the people sitting on the barstools next to me, was not a problem. Bragging rights. "I don't know how I got home, I was so messed up." Expressions like these were commonplace. But by the second decade, I started losing coats, keys, apartments, jobs. The progression of alcoholism with all its subtle and in-your-face changes is not a straight downward descent. It is marked by peaks and valleys. My third decade of drinking was littered with lapses in employment and housing. That new normal required that I drink at home, alone, when I had a home. By that time, I was not worried by alcoholism, I was worried about the next drink. Increasingly I drank more. My blackouts would occur around the end of the sixth drink and I would continue to drink until I passed out, usually two or three hours later, by my recollection.

"The further alcohol took me away from myself, the less I understood that I was losing my foothold. From the outside, I am sure it looked like I was becoming more and more selfish, but increasingly, I was not feeding myself, i was feeding my disease. The more selfish I may have appeared, the more my disease had dissolved my self away."

Not worrying in my addiction was really a form of defeatism. In recovery, not worrying is a positive thing. 

Recovery: Do the next right thing, the next right thing. 

No worry.

End of story.


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passage in quotes, above, is from All Drinking Aside. 
I hope that this post will serve as a bridge, a window and a door 
to what you will find there....
*****
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 

Find some recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of my writing style on LinkedIn here: 




29 January 2017

The Snake Pit of Addiction


"Alcoholism isn't a spectator sport. Eventually the whole family gets to play."
- Joyce Rebeta Burditt

Morning Meditation: Sobriety is a gift. Recovery is earned.*
*****
A snake pit is a place in European legend where those considered insane were placed. It was thought that being lowered into a pit filled with snakes would terrorize one back to sanity. Failing that treatment, the insane could be abandoned to die. "The Snake Pit" is also a 1948 Olivia de Havilland drama in which  she finds herself in an insane asylum but can't remember how she got there. Waking up in the hospital (coming to, really) and not knowing how I got there should have been my snake pit, scaring me sober, but alcoholism "is a subtle foe." I would not be scared sober so easily, despite addiction itself being a snake pit of sorts.
*****
If I had known then what I know now is an old refrain. But it is my belief that the stigma of addiction perpetrates further victimization of addicts and alcoholics. Stigma = Silence = Death. I could not hear what was not spoken. Suffer in silence. I learned to accept that I was an alcoholic and would probably die an early death and that would have to be good enough. It is an odd acceptance of a condition when it is not fully understood. I did not understand and I would drink again. Deep in my addiction, I knew no people in recovery. The stigma of addiction would contribute to the silence of those who had found recovery. Stigma would be self-perpetuating. Ignorance would continue. Suffering would continue. Recovery would be a long, drawn out process, still taking place in my twelfth year sober. I would help break the stigma of addiction by refusing to remain silent in my sobriety (I did not fully understand that this would be a major underlying reason for writing my book, odd as that may sound).
*****
I felt such a sadness when I first read Joyce Rebeta Burditt's "Alcoholism isn't a spectator sport. Eventually the whole family gets to play" quote. I felt it on many levels. The havoc that addiction has played out in the families of everyone around me as the decades have passed would have been impossible to ignore. I was a spectator of how addiction played out in others' families, although it played out fairly in silence in mine. 
Addiction is everywhere. Few are untouched by it. Addicts, so anesthetized, are not keenly aware of the burdens and pain afflicted by them upon their families . All suffer, certainly not only the addict. But addiction is sometimes a silent killer. We don't talk about it enough and keeping it from the light of day worsens and protracts its deadly effects.
***** 
"Eventually the whole family gets to play" is a dark humor which forced me to confront addiction's heavy toll upon the very fabric of social construction. Families can only sweep so much under the carpet before a corpse is found there. Stigma is a corpse of sorts, a half-alive zombie, a major contributor to a future addict's death or at the very least, prolonged suffering.
For me, an almost perverse sense of humor has been a defense against the stark realities touched upon here. I'm happy to say that much has changed in my lifetime, but the change has been excruciatingly slow. There is little patience in this snake pit either.
*****
In the Morning Meditation beneath Burditt's profound quote, I say that 'Sobriety is a gift' because it was for me in this sense: I had reached a tipping point by around the second decade of daily drunkenness. Periodic binges seemed only to end by hospitalization. Waking in the hospital repeatedly was another snake pit. How did I get there? I was a blackout drinker who would continue drinking beyond the scope of memory's possibility. Presumably I would have died drinking in a blackout had my physical body not given out first. My brain wanted more alcohol than by body could survive consuming. The ultimate hamster on the ultimate wheel, destruction or death were the only alternatives (so I once thought). I would never have willfully chosen to stop drinking in these instances.Imminent death put a temporary hold on my downhill slide. Sobriety was truly a gift in these cases. 
The gift of near-death survival. Survival by luck, not by choice.  
*****
The "Recovery is earned" part of this Morning Mediation was my realization through repeated relapses that sustained sobriety would require a concerted effort by me with the help of many others. I would have to take action, make changes. Recovery is not a gift. The air around me today is such that I breathe recovery on a daily basis. Twelve plus years of daily holding onto my life with a gratitude for each day accumulated sober. Action. Recovery has become a way of life, of living, of doing. Action.
Sobriety was a gift. My recovery has been earned. Snake pit, a European legend lived and learned.



*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This post is written by Jim Anders, the author of All Drinking Aside: 
The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 

Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 

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*Both the Burditt quote and the Morning Meditation beneath it open the 67th Chapter of All Drinking Aside. This juxtaposition is an intentional stark contrast. Addiction is complex. It would be an injustice to think that solutions would be simple.

24 January 2017

"Surrender to Win!"? Are They Crazy?!?


Before I first got sober, I'd never had I heard the expression "Surrender to win." Over the years many different people had made subtle suggestions to me. "Slow down. Slow your roll," etcetera, but no one outright ever suggested I should consider quitting altogether. They knew I wouldn't and couldn't. Alcohol had increasing become a symbol of my freedom. It was my stated choice long after I ceased being free to choose. "It's a free country..." all that, lots of that. Even as I increasingly became a walking hot mess, I'd learned it best to attempt to diminish the appearance of what others correctly perceived as my perpetual state of drunkenness.

***** 

To surrender would signal defeat. Like most addicts, I was defiant in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary. "Daily surrender to my alcoholism always meant another drink." I'll only have one... maybe two. Today would be different. Then I'd have a third and another. Then more. I won't black out today, yet I would continue drinking until I did. I would and I did. "Daily chipped away by my disease. And what was left when the chipping away stopped? ...  My brain fragments on this sculptor's floor. The dust of my disease. The oxygen masks, the intravenous drips,  the sedatives. How, having barely survived all of this for years on end, can I have come out on this other end today, feeling whole, joyful, alive?... "

*****
How did I survive? 
I would surrender to sobriety instead of the next drink. I would surrender or I would die. The subtle (and not so subtle) accumulation of experience of decades of drinking led to what seemed like the inevitable epiphany that active addiction would not allow: I could, would and must surrender to win. 
This is how I would die: Death by Alcohol, an avalanche of alcohol would seem to comfort as it killed. But it did stop. The hammering away of the addiction machine sputtered to a stop and finally when there was no juice left, neither a drop of strength, nor an ounce of courage, I surrendered. 
I surrendered to win. 
They were not crazy.
*****
That jackhammer called addiction has been stilled and silenced.
At the end of that long, dark and finally silent tunnel, the beginnings of a sober gratitude took shape. There would be no peace without surrender. Alcohol had proven that I could not beat it by joining it. I could only beat alcohol by surrender to sobriety. My un-joining alcohol and rejoining life.
No social drinker ever thinks such thoughts. 
I lift my Sparkling Cider glass in a toast to all the alcoholics out there who have not yet found sobriety, to all of us in recovery who have and to all the social drinkers out there undaunted by either cider or champagne! Cheers!
Surrender to win.
The end...

"...  end result. Gratitude."



*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Only the passages in quotes, above, are from All Drinking Aside. 
I'm in hope that this post will serve as a bridge, a window and a door 
to what you will find there and how my recovery was uncovered....
*****
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal by Jim Anders is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 


Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 


18 January 2017

A Prescription for Alcohol???


Dr. Jim (that's me) prescribed alcohol for every symptom in the world, in that world I lived in for all those 30-odd years. It seemed that alcohol would make anything better... until it made everything worse. 
If my prescription for alcohol had been in pill form, that little prescription bottle would have had a label with this warning attached:
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WARNING: Side Effects may include Denial, Anger, Fear, Depression, Self-Pity, Doubt. Occasional Hospital, Detox and Rehab visits may occur. Discontinue use if Chronic Chemical Dependency Swallows You after You Swallow It. After you put All Drinking Aside, remember...
NO REFILLS
*****
ENDLESS REFILLS is actually how the cookie crumbled, until I was unrecognizable on the kitchen floor, in the gutter or in a hospital bed. I once loved the effects of alcohol, but it was these undesired side-effects and negative consequences that did me in.
Continued use despite catastrophic consequences. I was a textbook case. Diagnosis: Alcoholic.
My Twitter post today concluded, "Die or stop was the last house on my block." I almost did die, several times, in fact. After several relapses, recovery became my home, my last house on the block.
*****
Others are free to drink as much alcohol as they wish. They are free.
There is no freedom in alcohol for me. Freedom for me is in the infinite possibilities of recovery.
My NEW PRESCRIPTION: UNLIMITED REFILLS OF RECOVERY
Home, at last.



*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This post is not from All Drinking Aside, 
but has the same author. All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, 
Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
by Jim Anders is linked here: https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 


Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 

17 January 2017

An Almost Silly (?) Little Post


I just friended a guy on Facebook and in the matter of a few seconds he sort of dismissed me, explaining that his substance was cocaine and mine was alcohol. End of story?
Not really. I sent him this quote from my book:
***** 
"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."
*****
Then I asked him: "Was Cocaine your poison, your 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? Was Cocaine your insanity?"
*****
Our differing addictions, mine to a legal substance, his to an illegal one, led us to identify with each other. 
His Unicorn was Turquoise. My Unicorn was Purple.
We could have argued apples and oranges, but our common purpose in maintaining and sustaining our Recovery is the common thread in the fabric of our lives. 
I could easily delineate a thousand and one differences in our addictions, but that is not the purpose of this post (read some of my other posts). 
We are United in Our Unicorn-iness!


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This almost silly (?) little post is not from All Drinking Aside, 
but has the same author. All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, 
Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
by Jim Anders is linked here: https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 


Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 


16 January 2017

"Separated from the Pack, the Chances of Survival Diminish."


As odd as this may sound, one of the fictional characters in my book express it better than I could (at least better than I remembered):
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(Surimi): 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" - that's gut-wrenching to me now. It's easy for me to forget how bad I got, how much it hurt. In my early sobriety and after several relapses, I finally realized the importance of others. Most, if not all my inspirations, come from others, in recovery meetings, on-line and in person. Today, the inspirations of others are a real source of joy, but learning that was a stubborn lesson back then. Camaraderie. There. I said it!
Here's how I'd phrased it, almost apologetically, a few short years ago:
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"The loneliness of an alcoholic death. That's what many of my recollections boil down to. Is it too early to be this honest? 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 then, but now my life is changing."
*****
The loneliness of an alcoholic death....
Don't go back out there. There's nothing there. Not even you.


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passage spoken by Surimi and those in quotes are from All Drinking Aside. 
Hopefully this post will serve as a bridge, a window and a door 
to what you will find there....

All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal by Jim Anders is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 

Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 


15 January 2017

The Daisy Chain of Recovery


One Alcoholic Helping Another. One Addict Helping Another. This is the Daisy Chain of Recovery. One Day at a Time. One Moment at a Time. One Life at a Time. One Day, Two Months or Thirty Years Clean and Sober. All are the Same. All Benefit from Each. One Flower equals All Flowers.
This is not the Chains of Addiction. The Chains of Addiction are Treacherous, Slavery to a Substance. This is HOPE: Our Most Renewable Natural Resource. This is Living. This is Doable.
"Nothing Matters More than that we remain Sober because when we remain Sober Everything Matters More."
Addiction Disconnects. Recovery Connects, Reconnects. Recovery is Expansive. Addiction is Restraints.
This is the Daisy Chain of Recovery. Everybody's Recovering from Something, so the Daisy Chain refers to Each and All.
It's Child's Play once we work ourselves beyond the Insanity of the Chains of Addiction.
This is the Daisy Chain of Recovery. Pass it On! Pass it On! Pass it On!


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This almost silly little post is not from All Drinking Aside, but has the same author. 
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal by Jim Anders is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 

Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 






14 January 2017

Self-Discovery Obliterated


Again and again I return to this. That addiction obliterates self-discovery. I almost lost what now to me has become essential to my sustained recovery. Here, "This is very interesting. The very process of writing... has increased my self-discovery. In my notes, typed in without asterisks, italics or exclamation points, I found this simple entry, a note to myself: 'Alcohol replaced self-discovery.' Like that was an insignificant afterthought, interesting, but of no real importance. And yet, there it was, brushed over, cast aside, almost ignored."

Alcohol replaced self-discovery... REPLACED IT! There is the horror of addiction, to me, to me. Self-discovery obliterated. Those who do not know ask questions like "Why is he being so selfish, so self-centered?" WOW! It didn't feel that way to me as I sped to my bottom, still decelerating in early recovery. I had almost missed this most basic of facts. 

For me, recovery has become political. Why? Because I did not die. Because I lived to have the opportunity for self-discovery in a sober and very real world. 

"... there it was, brushed over, cast aside aside, almost ignored"
Alcohol Replaced Self-Discovery.
Here it is: Meditate or Medicate?
I rest my case.




*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This post is not excerpted from All Drinking Aside 
(with the exception of the short passage in quotes), 
but it is a bridge, a window and a door to what you will find there....
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal by Jim Anders is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 


Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 

10 January 2017

High-Functioning Alcoholic?


I once thought of myself as a high-functioning alcoholic, never admitting to what degree I was dysfunctional. Not knowing I would have performed better free of my addiction. High and barely functioning would have more aptly described me.
Today, I function well because I am in long-term recovery. Strong roots, a solid foundation and flights of fancy keep me free and unfettered. On my best days, gratitude is a walking meditation.
I am high (alcohol-free) and I am fully-functioning. 
I was a chronic substance abuser.  But today, I am in long-term recovery.
The drinking life is over. Sober living is my one and only way.


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This post is not excerpted from All Drinking Aside, but it is a bridge, 
a window and a door to what you will find there....
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal by Jim Anders is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 

Find his recovery Tweets here: 


Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: 

Responsibility Set Me Free...


In order to justify my drinking, those oh-so-many years ago, I would sit on a barstool and tell myself that I was free to have another drink or two (or three or more) before heading home (how I got there usually not known). In order to defend my drinking, I told myself that freedom allowed me to choose to have one more for the road.

Addiction is far more than a substance. A complex system of behaviors eventually evolves as the progression of addiction propels one forward (and down and out).

Freedom without restrictions was the only freedom I knew. Freedom without restrictions defined me, became a wall behind which I defended my addiction. Breaking every rule eventually broke me.

I went from feeling powerful behind my addiction (until my tsunami hit) to being a total victim in my addiction. Eventually I reached the point where I had no choice but to not drink until I felt well enough to believe that i had both the power and the right to drink responsibly. The chains of victimhood once again confined me. Eventually I got it right and chose to live an alcohol-free life-style.

The confines of recovery are boundless.

Responsibility set me free.



*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
This post is not excerpted from All Drinking Aside, but it is a bridge, 
a window and a door to what you will find there....
All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction
of an Alcoholic Animal by Jim Anders is linked here: 
https://goo.gl/ycu5jg 

Find his recovery Tweets here: 

Explore the flavor and texture of his writing style on LinkedIn here: