28 March 2018

OXYMORON: By Reason of Insanity


"For years I never had a reason to quit drinking and by the time I had a reason to quit, reason no longer had anything to do with it. I drank for escape and I ended up being unable to escape from drinking. Now, years sober, I have found many of the tools of recovery. There are those who have inspired me, motivated me. Slowly, patiently, I must carve the frustration, self-pity and despair out of this block of wood. Carve out the envy, anxiety and intolerance. File down the burrs of hatred, jealousy and resentment. Chisel out the suspicion and sarcasm, the mistrust. Get rid of the apathy, the remorse, the self-deception. Cast out the doubt, the blame, the fear. Scrape out contempt and cynicism. Smooth out the rough edges...."
(from Chapter 78 "This Is Where We Find Ourselves," All Drinking Aside)
Read the reviews, here:  http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO.
Follow my tweets, here: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

25 March 2018

"When "i" is replaced with "we" even illness becomes wellness." - Malcolm X


Even now, 13+ years into continuous sobriety, I am shocked and amazed at the emotional imbalances of my early recovery. I'm so grateful that I have a written record of much of those early years. I was so broken and I need to remember how shattered I was. In early recovery, I wrote:
*****
"Now, when I cry for others, why do they feel like the tears that I should have had, but never did, never did shed for myself? Is empathy a rear view mirror? A way to not cry out alone? A backlog, a log jam of tears. Why am I now bleeding where once I should have scarred? Why are the tremors I am now feeling the sober echoes of my unfelt, drunken, painful past?"
***** 
Geez-o-whiz! 
Emotions in the bottleneck, years and years later, continuing into my early recovery. Addiction sucked the life out of everything and I am still recovering. Still the drunk dreams, the drug dreams. "You can have drunk dreams sober, but you can't have sober dreams drunk" continues to ring true today. I, for one, will not, must never forget the way it did not have to be. 
Addiction fed itself on me and I was consumed. This is a new and better life for me now. My clarity increases with time, even as my slow decline from age slowly takes over. I don't really feel that yet, but it is as inevitable as December following the Fall. Life is for living. Sober. Serene. In Recovery. Today.
Emotions anesthetized by decades of booze took years to reach their equilibriums in recovery. Balance, finding balance took so much time. The harmony in me uncovered, discovered, recovered. 
It took time for my rollercoaster of my emotions to come to a full stop. The momentum of thirty years slowly become a glass of Recovery filled to the brim with gratitude.
Truly, I do not wish to repeat the past... again!
Sincerely, The (former) Relapse King
P.S. When I first got sober, it felt like my life would be forever leafless and dull. Instead, my life went from NEVER green to EVERGREEN! New life replacing the old.

*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
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

The Alcoholic Fox & The Grapes of Recovery (in 11 short sentences)


An urge submerged leaps forward in this fox. A hunger overcomes him seeing a cluster of grapes glistening in the sun. Out of reach, out of reach. He can not attain them alone, sly as he may be. "They're probably sour anyway," he says aloud, turning around, looking down. Sobriety will not be his today. "They're probably sour anyway." A victim of familiar pain, afraid to choose the path that only help can help attain. "They're probably sour anyway." Sobriety will not be his today. Another drink will come his way.


*****
You may also enjoy reading ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

23 March 2018

Addiction Morphs Celebration into Destruction, Fireworks into Gunshots


Stark, vivid and intense contrasts came to mind recently. I recollected sitting in the exit booth of the parking garage where I work part-time in my retirement. We have a new heated and air-conditioned booth now, but for many years it was warmed only by a space-heater that sat on the floor by my feet. The shoe leather would become near burning hot, yet my hands froze when customers exited and I slid open the window to collect their parking tickets and money. Severe heat at my feet while frigid, ungloved fingers stuck out of my thick coat. 
One would only seem to cancel out the other. 
Here's the Tweet I wrote to express these extremes: 
"FEET in a Tub of Hot Water... HANDS in a Bucket of Ice... BODY TEMP? 98 point 6... The extremes of addiction belie the casual eye...."
Oh, how very different it felt from the inside.
*****
In my addiction I would strive to normalize the drastic thoughts, actions and consequences that alcohol produced. My experiences averaged out to normal (which, of course, it didn't, because addiction is not a normal state of affairs). This and other rationalizations were part of dozens of examples of my denial in what had become the new normal.
Consider the similarities of perception in these two real-life experiences: the celebration of fireworks and the destruction of gunshot, two similar sounds at cross-purposes in intents, purposes and outcomes. They only sound the same....
*****
"There was a time, living in Atlantic City, early on, when anytime I heard a gunshot, I would automatically assume that the sound was from a firecracker (remembering the experience of my youth in Bethlehem). Time taught me otherwise. Learning, learning what a gunshot is, what a gunshot sounds like, until one Fourth of July after years in Atlantic City, I mistook the sound of firecrackers for gunshot. Sometimes the only news from Now I have is what's inside me.... Bang. Bang."
*****
Here, again, my thoughts collide and reveal the thoughts inside the thoughts inside:
My alcohol was both fireworks and gunshots, celebration and destruction. 
Addiction changes everything. Addiction robbed me at gunpoint. There would be no celebration of living. I did not, could not, would not see it coming. Addiction snuck up on me. Celebration and destruction. Fireworks and gun shots, opposite sides of the addiction coin. Flammable and inflammable. Sanity and insanity become synonymous for the shell-shocked. Appearance and reality become interchangeable inside the beltway of addiction's insanity.... Bang. Bang.
"By the time I had a reason to stop drinking, reason no longer had anything to do with it."
Extreme celebration turned into extreme destruction. How I was perceived from the outside by others for this same decades-long turn of events no longer mattered. What mattered was the next drink. All else be damned. Bang.
There was no way to level the playing field because it morphed from play to war to insanity with no way out in what seemed like no time....
Recovery? That is another story. Sorting all this out sober took many years.
*****
The gunshots, the fireworks. They are no longer inside me. But they were. I was all of that until I was none of that. Shots drank. Shots fired. Destruction. Same damned bang inside the beltway. Bang. Addiction left nothing to celebrate, but now, but now, but now... "nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Not to be funny (yes, to be funny), Recovery gives more bang for the buck than addiction's insanity. Recovery gives. Addiction takes. Bang-Bang!



*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from All Drinking Aside: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

21 March 2018

From Addiction to Recovery: 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.
Freedom without responsibility is chaos.
Recovery is boundless. Addiction is chaos.
Responsibility set me free.



*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
You may also enjoy reading ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

19 March 2018

Addiction Steals SELF-DISCOVERY / REDISCOVERED in Recovery


Again and again I return to this...
... That addiction obliterates self-discovery. Behind an opaque wall protecting my addiction at any cost, my sense of self devolved in the flask of alcohol consuming me. I almost lost what now has become essential to my sustained recovery.
Yes, it may have occurred to me later, had I lost my voluminous notes, but here it is as I rediscovered it:
*****
"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?
*****
The decision is yours. I have made mine, moving forward toward my true and future self.
The loss of lives is one thing. The loss of life within, for each and every addict, the inner-selves consumed. That is another. I could and should and may and might stop right here, unfinished, detached, weary.
But I, we, we in recovery who have survived, must move forward, with crystal clarity move on, knowing through meditations and actions that in Recovery discovery, rediscovery and reconstruction of our lives is beautiful and green, joy and sorrow intertwined, strengthening our resolve, providing ground for fertile growth, hopes unhampered by our newfound clean and sober potentials unfolding. In short, now, life is so good. Life is so good.
Meditate on this until it lets you go: Life is so good. Let the words melt until all that's left is the very goodness of this here and now.
Let it go and part of it remains. Song of Recovery's sweet refrain. Carry it with you and let it go: the same.



*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

18 March 2018

In Addiction, HOPE worked AGAINST me getting HELP (a liability, not an asset)

In addiction, hope is a masquerade behind which denial often sits.
*****
When you're using and hoping, you're dreaming that things will get better, but face it: That's not how addiction and alcoholism work. Hope will not alter the progressive nature of addiction.
Save your hope for your recovery, when you have ceased using and you wish to get on with a recovering life-style.
*****
"It is hard to get enough of something that almost works.: - Dr. Vincent Felitti
That quote became a Tweet which I immediately followed with "My drinking was broken and could not be unbroken."
*****
My 50,000 drink history and 8 years of on again/off again sobriety were filled to the brim with boundless hope. My hope had me believe that after a brief period of sobriety, I could again become the master of my drinking and not its slave.
Growing up, the adults around me described me as a child model of optimism. My optimism seemed so ingrained that it was natural for me to carry that natural-born optimism fully into my drinking career. And that optimism prolonged my addictive descent even as my life became a living hell. You see, each bad outcome from drinking had me optimistically determine that the consequences would be different the next time. As denial slowly crept in and took over, the inner parts of my essential self would continue to believe that I could and would eventually learn to control my drinking and conscientiously improve in my ability to reign in adverse consequences. Certainly, won't my experiences with alcohol improve with age (like a fine wine - Ha!)? Hope sprung eternal. And when my world crashed in, HOPE was smashed and part and parcel of the debris of my descent. The deadliest outcome of my crash was, in fact, that the eternal optimism of my youth had evaporated. My life felt not worth living without my precious alcohol.
How, then, does one reestablish a secure footing in reality after so many plummets? Where might a sober hope begin? Sustained sobriety renewed my broken hope, slowly transforming it into something other than an unrealistic pipe-dream. The hope of an addict deep in their addiction is unrealistic. They have become victim of the deception that somehow MORE will make it all better. False hope. False life. The life that's lived, little more than lies.
The naive hopes of my childhood morphed into the unrealistic hopes of addiction protected behind the myriad fortresses of denial. In recovery, a realistic humility and a hope based on achievable outcomes had to be learned. Staying connected with the recovering communities was a must for me. Patience with the progress of recovery would replace living for the next drink.
Calling hope (or optimism or a string of other positive words) an eternal hell is now almost laughable to me. Eventually we become "Living proof that recovery works." That recovery is possible, doable irreplaceable.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
HOPE: Our Most Renewable Natural Resource!
*****
Strive on. Hang on. Only sobriety can and will make your life better. One good day will become a string of good days. Yes, a sober life is possible, doable and irreplaceable.
In my addiction, HOPE was a dead end, always.
In my recovery, HOPE sustains. HOPE lives, no mere masquerade behind which denial once reigned supreme. In recovery, HOPE is no longer just a dream....


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
The passages above in quotes are excerpted from All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal, a Sobering Autobiographical Addiction Fiction by Jim Anders, linked here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Find some Recovery Tweets here: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

17 March 2018

RELAPSE AHEAD: "It Couldn't Have Been That Bad."


"When someone gets sober, the mind wants to forget the bad parts. The alcoholic past can seem like a dream, like it didn't happen, like it couldn't have happened, that it couldn't have been as insane as it seemed. Like a bad dream. This is one dangerous door, the door of 'it couldn't have been that bad.' Relapse remains an insane possibility. Wake the fuck up, Jim. It wasn't a dream."
I did not hear that voice, those words. Other voices, alcoholic voices, drowned them out. Relapse was my revolving door for eight full (and empty) years.
This, too, I must remember: What I heard and what I did not hear. What I did and what I did not do. How I felt and all I could not feel.
I must let the drumbeats from my alcoholic past reverberate. Reconstruction of a life after the destruction, the debris left behind from an empty life subsided, is the groundwork for the next step forward. The hopes and dreams of a sober future start somewhere, the past and future reconciled in the present moment.
"I did not drink today." That is the ground I walk upon, deep roots forming for a future I don't know. From today, new branches grow. Upon those branches unknown birds, called freedom, take flight.
Responsibly, I say "I did not drink today. You did not drink today. We did not drink today."
It was that bad, way back then. I dare not forget. "It couldn't have been that bad" is dead.
But that's okay.
We did not drink today.


*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
The passages above in quotes are excerpted from All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal, a Sobering Autobiographical Addiction Fiction by Jim Anders, linked here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
Find some Recovery Tweets here: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

16 March 2018

153 Years of PTSD: What We Called It & How It Changed Us (in 9 Short Sentences)


A soldier's heart is what they called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the U.S. Civil War (which ended in 1865, one hundred and fifty three years ago). They did not know what else to call it. It was at the core of what they felt. "He's suffering from soldier's heart," they said.
Time marches on (and did march on) and during WWI 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 circles of war overlapped once again in WWII 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 further from the man, the man an echo beneath a barrage of symptoms.
Do not forget a soldier's heart.


*****
(Please note: When I first heard about Soldier's Heart, I was immediately reminded of PTSD and how I felt when I first hit bottom in 1996 - lost in terror.)
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
***** 
You may also like: ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

15 March 2018

Alcoholism Fed an Unhealthy Relationship with Food


I'm sure I'm not alone in this and paid no particular attention to it at the time, but multiple mutations occurred over the course of my addiction to alcohol. The progress was steep and downward over time with short rollercoaster periods of seemingly manageable control followed by binges and ever-worsening lack of control. One or two good days would sustain my hope that I would and could get a handle on it. But I never did and never could.
*****
Food.
*****
Somehow my relationship with food changed:
"Thirty years later I finally see the irony. By the time I had my Friday night TV news segment, 'Time to Dine,' my days of 'dining' were clearly already over. This raging alcoholic did not 'dine' anymore at all by that time. I only ate after I was already fucked up.... Food screwed with my 'alcohol delivery system.' Most of the time I did not eat a single bite until I had already administered the proper dosage of alcohol, unencumbered by food. This was normal. On an empty stomach I could more easily control my intake. I had power over my alcohol and it was manageable. That, of course, was one of alcohol's biggest lies, the illusion of control...."
*****
My relationship with every single thing changed (including my relationship with relationships). Yes, alcohol changed everything until it was the only thing. Until it was the no-thing, like the black holes described by scientists where the gravitational force is so strong that light cannot escape. Yes, alcohol was that no-thing.
*****
Food, like the very air we must breathe to live, took a backseat to alcohol for me. I had maintained a weight of 138 pounds on my 5 foot 9 inch frame for 30 years. My major caloric intake for 30 years was alcohol. Food, always an afterthought. It was alcohol that motored this 138 pound car. 
Something is very, very wrong when everything is wrong. A little levity is needed here: I once passed out on a plate of eggs, eyeballs firmly planted in the egg yolks. Eyeball to egg yolk, alcohol took precedence over food. Always.
When your whole life is in disarray, everything is a disorder. Hence my Alcohol-Driven Eating Disorder. 
It is not that way today. Chain reactions of addictions... done.
Recovery... one good day leads to another.



*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
***** 
You may also like: ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

14 March 2018

Endless Refills Prescribed Here


Dr. Jim (that's me... ha ha) used to prescribe alcohol for every symptom in the world for 30 continuous years, including hangovers! It seemed that alcohol would make Anything Better... until, that is, 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 firmly affixed:
*****
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 have 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 and other undesired side-effects and negative consequences that did me in. Job loss, homelessness, legal problems, physical problems, Yada, Yada, Yada.
Continued use despite catastrophic consequences. I was a textbook case of chronic chemical dependency. Diagnosis: Alcoholic.
A recent Twitter post 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: ENDLESS REFILLS OF RECOVERY
Home, at last.

*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Also enjoy reading ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4

13 March 2018

"Alcoholic? No Problem!" Up to Death's Door, Alcohol, Comforting as it Kills


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. Marked by peaks and valleys, the progression of alcoholism with all its subtle and in-your-face changes is not a straight downward descent. 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 how I would get the next drink. Drinking accelerated, a time-bomb with one inevitable end. Blackouts would occur around the end of the sixth drink (sometimes not until, what, the 16th?) and I would continue to drink until I passed out, usually two or three hours later as the evidence showed upon coming to.
"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, giving up, giving in, passing out. In recovery, not worrying is a positive thing, actions backed by responsibility, consideration of consequences. Addiction is a state of perpetual victimhood. I only appeared to volunteer. "Alcoholic? No problem!" I would proclaim up to death's door. 
Alcohol, comforting as it kills.

*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO