31 January 2017


I drank long enough and hard enough that eventually there was no bar big enough to hold my emptiness.

All ??? Aside




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: 

*****
*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.

28 January 2017

Mystery & Greed (Humanity & Alcoholism)


"There are three mysteries in the world: the air to the bird, the water to the fish, and man to himself."
Hindu expression
"Alcoholism is the disease of greed. Its progressive desire for more is its own punishment."
All Drinking Aside
*****
Serenity and Addiction cannot coexist.
Unquenchable thirst on a sinking ship with not a drop to drink
(Yet drunk, yet drunk, yet drunk, yet drunk).
Serenity includes a keen awareness that drunkenness evades.


Delve deeply (click on the blue): goo.gl/D00vsd
Recovery Posts inside.

*****
#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: 

25 January 2017

Wordless Addiction Video


No words, no sub-titles. Just a simple soundtrack and line drawing.
The lack of words was not a lack at all and silenced me. Enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUngLgGRJpo 

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: 


23 January 2017

Alcohol is... "That Kind of Murderer."


Okay, all you Perry Mason & Agatha Christie fans out there. Shall we call this episode "Murder on the Ordinary Express" or maybe "The Case of the Silent Partner"? Don't forget to dress up the story. Make it glamorous, seductive, poignant.
*****
Truthfully, death by alcohol is not glamorous. I have become deadened by loss, its emotional impact sullied by sheer repetition. Today, for example, with the coming of the new year, I removed three friends' names from my Facebook page. They'd been a large part of the reason I'd decided to retire early. Too many deaths all around me, all related to alcohol and addiction. It gave me pause. Life is too precious.
*****  
We, we who are addicts and alcoholics personify it as the beast within us. It is not uncommon for someone to say something like "Alcohol is out to kill you." Addiction seems to have had a life of its own within us. We were not in control. We were powerless against it. It separated us from ourselves and from others.
*****
"Just short of paranoid. I felt alcohol was out to get me when I first got sober. I would meditate to block the beast, to find peace..."
*****
It took time for me to separate the chemical from the chemist, the doer from what had been done, the catastrophic effects from the emptiness left in its tracks. C2-H5-OH (the chemical symbol for alcohol), betrayed me (at least, I felt betrayed). I felt like a jilted lover, alcohol, my first love. "I loved you and you ending up trying to kill me." That's what I wanted to say to my dearly beloved alcohol.
Murder in the first degree, premeditated murder. That's how it felt it would all end. "Alcohol is out to kill you." That kind of murder. That kind of murderer. How does one separate the chemical from the chemist?
*****
Oh, if only it WERE so "elementary, my dear Watson!"
*****
It took time and love, understanding and hard work, patience.
I'm a dozen years sober and a drink will always be within my arm's reach.
And, yes, one never forgets one's first love!
I just don't drink over it.


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
This post is written by Jim Anders, author of All Drinking Aside: 
The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal:

Find his recovery Tweets here: 


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





21 January 2017

AFTER RELAPSE: What seems impossible becomes possible.


After my first relapse, early recovery was like the repeat of a TV show I really didn't like the first time. 
Why bother? 
I may as well drink.... 
WRONG!
***** 
I didn't fit in.
***** 
My old self seemed unable to assimilate into this radically different altered state I kept hearing called normal. Dramatically contrary to my customary under-the-weather life, the climate called sobriety did not feel like the greatest thing since sliced bread for an eternity. Mentally, I ran the gamut from an occasional sense of acute awareness to seemingly endless and excruciatingly numbing lows. My brain mimicked the extreme effects of alcohol, even in its absence, until the momentum of 30 years of addiction slowly subsided. As I've heard it expressed in recovery meetings, "when I finally got the monkey off my back, the circus was still in town."
*****
For me, for some, for many, for most, relapses are like the building blocks that eventually strengthen one's foundation in recovery. Truly, I had to learn to crawl before I could walk. The sober life becomes livable, doable... strong!
Many die trying to find their way in what to them is an extraordinary, uncharted landscape. That's true.
But don't give up if you falter and fall. Stand up. Dust yourself off. Get help. Move forward. For me, for some, for many, for most, recovery becomes the only imaginable way to truly live.
The seemingly impossible becomes possible. As Dr. Ron B. says, "You alone can do it, but you can't do it alone."
Strive on! 
Strive... STRONG!


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
This post is written by Jim Anders, author of All Drinking Aside: 
The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal:

Find his recovery Tweets here: 


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




20 January 2017

P.T.S.D. (Peace, Tranquility & Serenity-Desire)



We are all seekers in one fashion or another, alcoholics and addicts more so than others, so I've heard. After the struggle with addictions, sobriety brings with it the desire for calmer waters. Chaos rules in active addiction, no matter the drug. The unintended consequences of having to have the next hit, shot or rush is the broken road which leads to recovery, a road littered with corpses. Peace, tranquility, serenity. Were I not an alcoholic, could this P.T.S.D. (Peace, Tranquility & Serenity-Desire) have been predicted? Certainly, not by me! But I do remember...
*****
"My Grandmother sits counting her rosary beads. I am ten years old. She whispers a prayer in Latin as each bead slowly moves on.
She appears calm in my memory. The light appears to pour out of her as easily as it falls upon her. Her breath is quiet. Her voice is low and calm. There is a unison of sensations going on. Sight is sound is smell is touch. The pause between her inhaling and exhaling lies in some state of eternal evaporation.
Watching her calms me.
She could not translate into English a single sound of Latin that she had memorized. The sounds took her out of herself...."
*****
I am not making light of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder here, in fact, I liken the parallel symptoms of hitting bottom in my alcoholism closely akin to PTSD. 
Part of my sense in being an effective writer is to describe things in such a way that each reader is left to fill in the blanks with their own experience. Let me end simply here....
*****
... Meditate or Medicate?
*****
P.T.S.D.: Please, Thank-you, Sincerely, Decide!


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The short passage in quotes, above, is 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: 

Shunned... a White Emptiness


Imagine the lightest and brightest of white rooms, no window, a closed door, you and nothing else for seemingly endless days. Avoided, ignored, rejected. This is you in solitary confinement.
You have learned to despise yourself.
Isolated, you are in the holding cell called Self. Who you were is not who you will become. This is the Funhouse of Addiction. What could never be did become this insanity.
I was there once, too. In the beginning, even others did not see it for all the horror it grew into, as illustrated by remarks by one of the fictional characters of my book, early on:
*****
(Sotto): Some imagined future vision of our selves. We hold it up to the light like a snifter of fine cognac. And yet, we’re judged by others by our past..... For the most part, others view us and judge us only by our behavior. Our own sense of self includes our as yet unfulfilled potential. Jim thought that one day his drinking could become more manageable.
*****
In actuality, I could never manage my drinking. Endless nights of sitting in bars saying to myself that I would leave after I had just one more drink, then staying hours beyond endurance. And excuses which were really elaborate inventions to whitewash the truth.
The lines of cause and effect become blurred as you travel further and further down the rabbit hole of addiction. My past and future were simultaneously disappearing as I was disappearing in the present. There was no one there.
*****
Shunned? Yes, real or imaginary, I felt shunned by the world, a disposable, meaningless scrap. Alcohol took it all and wanted more. I wanted more, to further kill the numbness that had caused it all. Eventually, I shunned myself, walled in by alcohol, close to brain dead. Shunned. Nothing but a white emptiness.
*****
To any happy social drinker reading this, are you now beginning to see why I would never again risk a drink, to think that I, like you, could be a social drinker?
I never was and I will to never try.
Today, I shun. 
I shun alcohol.
And opt for sober fun.
Recovery is my sum.





*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Only the passage spoken by the fictional character Sotto, above, is from All Drinking Aside. 
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: