29 October 2018

Alcohol Wanting to Kill Me & Me, Dying For a Drink



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The Snake Pit of Addiction

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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 them back to sanity. Failing that treatment, the insane could then be abandoned to die.
Waking up in the hospital (coming to, really) and not knowing how I got there should have scared me sober too, but alcoholism "is a subtle foe." I would not be scared sober so easily, despite addiction being a snake pit of insanity, too.
"If I had know then what I know now" is an old refrain. But my experience has shown me that the stigma of addiction perpetuates 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 likely 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 addiction by any means, so, naturally, I would drink again.
Deep in my addiction, I knew no people in recovery. Furthermore, the stigma of addiction would contribute to the silence of many of those who had found recovery before me. Stigma would be self-perpetuating. Ignorance would continue. Suffering would continue. Recovery would have to be a longer and more drawn out process that it might have to otherwise be.
For me, recovery has become my life-long calling.
Silent sobriety is dead. I can remain silent no longer. So I keep my sobriety alive by sharing far and wide, expressing as best I can that I am an alcoholic in long-term sobriety and not only is it possible to find and maintain sobriety, but it is worth every effort to pursue the sober path.
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SOBRIETY IS A GIFT
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I had reached a tipping point by around the second decade of daily drunkenness. Periodic binges seemed to only end in hospitalization. Coming to in the hospital repeatedly was my snake pit. How did I get there? I was a blackout drinker who would continue drinking long after my ability to form memories had dissipated. Presumably I would have died from my blackout drinking had my physical body not given out before my brain's desire for more alcohol. You see, my brain wanted more alcohol than my body could survive consuming. The ultimate hamster on the ultimate wheel, destruction or death were the only end alternatives (or 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 too numerous cases. The gift of near-death survival. Survival by luck, not by choice.
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RECOVERY IS EARNED
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I learned 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 many changes.
Sobriety is a gift. Recovery is earned.
The air around me today is such that I breathe recovery on a daily basis. Fourteen-plus years of daily holding onto my life with a gratitude for each accumulated day of sobriety. Action. Recovery has become a way of life, of living, of doing, of action.
Sobriety was a gift.
My recovery has been earned.
Snake pit, a European Legend, lived and learned.
*****

#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
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"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
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27 October 2018

Familiar Pain VS. Fear of Change in Early Recovery

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"Better the devil you know than the devil you don't"?
For some, that's a statement. For others, a question.
Many relapse because they're so familiar navigating the dark waters of addiction that the road to recovery ahead of them seems unknown and unknowable.
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(a short look back):
People, places and things. Not only am I an alcoholic, but I am also part and parcel of the culture of addiction. More than alcohol would have to go were I ever to stay sober. Part of who I was lived in the thoughts of those around me. Some people can remain sober when their spouse still lives in their addiction. Some, other alcoholics in recovery, can tend bar in sobriety. I tended bar my first year in recovery and it was the culture of addiction I was surrounded by which was my downfall finally. One day a drink found its way into my hands and I drank it without thought.
That was that... a nearly instant return to my previous patterns of consumption.
Several years went by, drinking, drinking, progressing and progressing, backwards, downwards and out.
*****
Here's where I can get a little bit crazy!
The last line of the original King Kong movie came to mind: "Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes, it was beauty killed the beast."
In a very similar way, it wasn't the alcohol upon the shelves from which I poured drink after drink that led to my downfall, it was the culture of addiction in which I was immersed that gave permission to that subtle persuasion and that first sip.
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Truly (I'm not playing the Blame Game here), but weak-willed as I unknowingly was in that first sober year, I could only have moved forward successfully in recovery (after that first relapse) by acknowledging that bartending and sobriety could not be on the same plate for me.
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The Culture of Addiction remained very seductive in my early sobriety, the return to a most familiar pain an easier choice than facing the responsibility, the struggle and the fear surrounding the formation of a productive and satisfying sober life.
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Familiar pain or the unknown and seemingly impossible possibility of a sane and sober life.
Drunk, I knew all-too-well.
Sobriety? Only time would tell.
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Eventually, TIME Did tell: Every day sober is better than any day drunk. Let that sink in before you're sunk!
Ba-dunk-dunk!

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

21 October 2018

The Downside of Optimism... Re-Blossomed in Recovery

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"It is hard to get enough of something that almost works." - Dr. Vincent Felitti

"My drinking was broken and could not be unbroken." - My visceral response to Dr. Felitti's quote
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Eternal Optimism was part of my 50,000 drinking history and part of my 8 years of Perpetual Relapse. My hope would have me believe that after brief periods of sobriety, I would become the master of my drinking and not its slave.
Vivid early childhood memories are not my experience, but the adults around me as the years passed on always described me as the happiest child. Can optimism be inherited in your genes or is the environment the more determining factor? I don't think it matters much in my case, but optimistic seems to describe me to a T.
I carried my natural born optimism fully into my drinking career. And optimism prolonged my descent even as my life became a living hell. You see, each bad outcome from drinking had me optimistically determine 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 would eventually learn to control my drinking and conscientiously improve in my ability to reign in adverse consequences.
Where might a more realistic hope begin then? For me, it began in recovery. Sustained sobriety renewed my broken hope, transforming it into something other than an unrealistic pipe-dream. The hope of an addict deep in their addiction is unrealistic, deceived into thinking that MORE will somehow make it all better. False hope. False life. Nothing 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 fruitful outcomes will slowly arise in those who learn in whatever ways they must (staying connected with the recovering communities was my must).
Hope works best when Under the Influence of Recovery. In my addiction, hope was always defeated by the next drink or drug. Accepting the many responsibilities necessary for a sustained recovery were, are and will continue to be the conditions necessary for hope to remain alive, to grow and to flourish.
Now I have true hope, known it and felt it. Hope is lived. Recovery is possible, doable, irreplaceable.


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HOPE: Our Most Human, Truly Renewable Natural Resource
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"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
Explore ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
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20 October 2018

The Insane Logic Inside Addiction

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"Whoa" means nothing to a Swedish horse. (Stacy at onesentence dot org)
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There is a certain internal logic to the Language of Addiction.
"Would you like one for the road?" certainly means that you should have so many more that you won't be able to find the road that heads you home and you won't know for sure where you are when and if you come to. 
"Yes, just one, please. Better make it a double." Then the usual more than one and more than more. And the next day, or the day after that, when you do finally find your way home, you swear to yourself that you'll never let that happen to you again. Your promise not to means that you will do it again, probably the very next night.
These are not lies when spoken aloud or thought to yourself. They are full of promise and intent, but they become lies and broken promises when the craving for a drink returns full-force. You regret that your promises end up meaning nothing or next to nothing, yet you resent that the world thinks of you as as a liar. The world thinks you're having your way, but really, addiction is having its way with you. Addiction is your ruler. Despite that inevitable fact, you tell others to not tell you what to do, how to act, when and where to drink and a thousand other things until they wonder why they asked, what they asked and why they even cared in the first place. 
You know exactly what I mean, of course, because you know "'Whoa' means nothing to a Swedish horse" or to a lush like me, if you are much like me. Promises broken by the language of addiction. Nothing means quite what you want it to mean. Every dream is a broken dream. 
Disgust, contempt, hatred all around. Internal, external and everywhere in between. Alcohol is your combustible. What will it ignite next?
I lost count how many times and ways I hated myself, how many promises broken. No clue that it was alcohol I hated. Hated what it did to me. Hated that I could not do without it. Guilt. Remorse. More broken promises and lies. There was only enough of me left to despise. 
The lies stack up. The lies were the debris I found myself in each and every morning. Drunk talk. The alcohol talking and the addiction talking. "Blame it on the alcohol," yet through a wall of denial, an alcoholic like me finds a way to drink again. Immediately, if not sooner.
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When I finally got sober, stopping the flow of alcohol took but a few days to end all traces of it in my brain, but the momentum of a 30 year life-style would be harder to change. Change would be slow and over a long period of time. My Booze Cruise could only change direction but slowly. No 180 degree, stop on a dime, about-face would happen here. The momentum kept me going long after the booze stopped flowing. Drunk without the drink for a long time coming.
Recovery, to me, meant learning to live sober by means of incremental changes in the habitual behavior that had been ingrained in me. Everything used to mean another drink to me. The tiniest of incremental changes began to accumulate until eventually I found myself transformed, my brain changed. My life began to flow forward and not be the life of an alcoholic stuck in their drink. Sorrow with no real tomorrow ended slowly.
The lies that had been part of addiction and denial, the ice in every drink, the touch, the smell, the all of everything would change as I changed in my sobriety. Slowly.
*****
The language and life-style of recovery is learned and earned. No denial there. It is so difficult at first to make life easy without the drink. Things become better slowly. 
For me, forming good, sober habits has helped keep my life in balance. Moderation in all things, plus abstinence from substances and certain people, places and things.
Funny, and a little bit not funny at all, in Recovery I got to rewrite my life, free of the addiction that had become written all over my face. It seemed like fate would have me dying in a drink. But Recovery evolves into a life more solvable, doable, livable without a drink.
Recovery suits me well. It became a language I learned through time to understand. There is sanity within the sanity, clean, serene. My Booze Cruise has been turned around. Smooth sailing ahead (minus active addiction, the roughest seas are smooth by comparison). Yes, Recovery suits me well. 

*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
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#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
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This post by the author of ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
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14 October 2018

Alcoholic-in-the-Making: "The Good Ole Days"?

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If not an alcoholic-in-the-making, perhaps this excerpt would reflect what I could never now call "The Good Ole Days":
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"Shortly after graduating from college, my housemate, Gene and I would catalog our discussions on the relative merits of various wines, domestic vs. imported, Spain vs. Chile, the similarities and differences between Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, all this and more, until we would have the inevitable ‘after-dinner drinks’ and discussion of this glass and that glass and this corkscrew type vs. that corkscrew type, until in an eventual drunken stupor, I would blackout, pass out and suffer through my next day hangover. Hangover preventions. Hangover cures. The ins and outs of drinking. How to become a really, really, really good drinker. 
"Alcohol was taking over my life in each and every form and I didn’t even know it. I had learned more and more about scotch and wine and beer and cocktail recipes and this glass and that glass, boiler-makers and hot toddies and which garnish goes with which drink and on and on. More and more knowledge about alcohol and no real knowledge of alcoholism. Generally speaking, as I got more and more entrenched in alcoholic behavior, the more I felt sophisticated, the less sophisticated I must have appeared. Who could see the forest? All I saw were trees.... "


*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
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Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
150+ Recovery Posts from LinkedIn: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

13 October 2018

My 5***** Star Review of MEDITATIONS ON SELF-DISCIPLINE AND FAILURE by William Ferraiolo

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In the Introduction to MEDITATIONS ON SELF-DISCIPLINE AND FAILURE: Stoic Exercise for Mental Fitness, William Ferraiolo asserts that "you may have a very different experience than another reader of the same text." Well-stated and true, I read this 300-paragraph volume of meditations through the lens of a recovering alcoholic and addict.
My own early recovery placed me on the square fuzzily marked 'Cynic' (in the Modern, twisted use of the word cynic, not the classic Cynicism of Ancient Philosophy). My emotional detachment was a direct result of addiction and of hitting bottom, not a part of my essential nature before or after. Years of recovery have helped me to rejoin the human race and brought me to the doorsteps of Stoicism and the Ancient Philosopher Epictetus. The Serenity Prayer, which is part of the last chapter of the last book of MEDITATIONS ON SELF-DISCIPLINE AND FAILURE: Stoic Exercise for Mental Fitness, is for me a great summary for most of the content of the preceding 29 Books.
Ferraiolo's use of language is polished, the truths exposed, unvarnished. His brilliant use of italics and exclamation points acts to heighten a reader's appreciation of the Narrator's voice. Truly, this book sounds best (My use of italics, pun intended) when read aloud. In fact, it was nearly impossible for me to read from MEDITATIONS... without reading passages aloud to whomever was in earshot!
"Just about anything could (His use of italics, spot on) go wrong" (Book V, Chapter 1) and (Book VI, Chapter 1) "Grow up! Admit that you are no one special" are two short examples of his italics and exclamation point use and brings the Narrator's voice upfront and personal to great effect.
Each reader will find their own quotable clusters of brilliance in MEDITATIONS.... I'll cite "Genuine gratitude is incompatible with arrogance" (Book VI, Chapter 9) and (Book XXI, Chapter 6) "Gratitude must never be far from your mind" as two of my favorite short examples worthy of further Meditation.
This book's prescriptions for a good life, "a life governed by reason," maintain a consistent voice throughout, a string of 300 pearls of wisdom masterfully constructed and delivered with a drumbeat's measured, rhythmic cadence. The Meditations found herein fit snugly into the Self-Help category. As author William Ferraiolo notes, "Stop whining and get to work (Book XXI, Chapter 10)."
Book XXVII, Chapter 6 notes that "Human character has not improved over the ages" and I must insist on adding that this 5***** Star Book is among my favorite reads in a dozen years. I hope that will be YOUR experience, too!
*****

You may also want to read ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO  
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
150+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

10 October 2018

DRUNK WITH POWER!!!

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No, not really. But it got you to read these 2nd and 3rd lines, for starters!
"DRUNK WITH POWER," to me (and if you're someone like me), is one of the most ridiculous expressions I have ever heard. It makes no sense to me! One drink makes me powerless over the second and BAM!, Domino Effect, I'm swallowed up (pun intended) by the next and every other drink to follow.
It doesn't matter how hard I try or how long I've been abstinent, I cannot drink under any and all circumstances and after 14+ years of continuous sobriety, I wouldn't drink if you paid me and do not want to.
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But back to the expression, "DRUNK WITH POWER," and what a Tripping Stone (vs. Stepping Stone) it can be in Recovery, especially Early Recovery. "DRUNK WITH POWER" suggests an Ego Trip and I have found, in my own Recovery and the Recovery of others, that "Ego is not my Amigo," that Ego, in all of its Glorifications, can Trip You Up (hence, Tripping Stone), will Trip You Up and has Tripped Me Up (ha!). 
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"DRUNK WITH POWER" and Humility have never been on the same page, with the possible exception of False Humility, a commodity so common, I'm surprised it's not on the New York Stock Exchange!
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In an attempt to end cheerfully (and not digging myself in any deeper), let me quickly end with Think About It (Drunk with Power) and... 
"Don't Forget Where You Come From, Bum!" and "It's Nice To Be Important, But It's More Important To Be Nice!"




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You may also enjoy this author's Autobiographical Fiction, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
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150+ Recovery Posts: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b