I was a blackout drinker. And I certainly looked like the guy in the grainy hallway videotape they showed me much later. How the detectives on the murder case cajoled me into going to their offices to view that tape still mystifies me. They only told me that I might have some information that might help them and I was so naive and only too willing. I had no idea what was to come. They picked me up after work and we proceeded a few miles to their Northfield offices. I had no thought of asking for the presence of an attorney until much later.
In due time, I found out that I was known to be a frequent visitor to the beachfront high-rise where a murder had been committed. Somehow, they knew I was a blackout drinker. I freely admitted that fact to them.
My friend, Ada, who I visited frequently, lived in that building, but she almost without exception would pass out before my visit ended. I would tiptoe out after she closed her eyes and pursue my drinking binge elsewhere and alone. I would continue, persistently increasing my intoxication to the point of blackout drinking late into the night as usual. I repeated this pattern countless times after partying with Ada earlier in all those nights.
"Those two detectives were trying to torture a confession out of me (just like when alcohol had me down for the count and tortured an admission of powerlessness out of me). They were trying to find a way of making me contradict myself, catch me in a lie, get me to admit. Let a name slip out: the name of the murdered, the murderer or his accomplice. But I didn't have a clue. Mr. Green in the Laboratory with a Rope? I really had no clue. Finally they gave up and released me. But alcohol did not release me. Alcohol did not stop torturing me, punishing me, hurting me, then helping me get over that hurt. Insanity. I should have stopped sooner. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
Jim Anders, in his Life, with a Bottle. Stop."
And of course, you know, the story does not end there. I did not stop drinking because of this or any other incident of my drinking career. A dozen forms of survivor's guilt have not escaped me. Never did I find out the name of the man murdered or if the suspects were ever found and brought to trial. The survivor's guilt I'm talking about does not include that particular man on that particular night. The guilt of waking up and not knowing where I was, what I had done, might have done, if I got home, how I got home and on and on. "Why me?" is a question that had plagued me from time to time in my drinking days and sometimes still crops up in my recovery.
Men and women sit on death row who in a blackout state killed someone in a drunken rage with a knife or gun (no worse or different from my cavalcade of drunken blackout nights and days and three-day binges). Or worse yet, and more frequently, death by a drunk driver. I am sure that there are many deaths by auto and the drunk driver is never discovered (and perhaps not even remembered by a blackout drinker like me).
I survived all of that. My blackouts never led to unremembered deaths or murder victims, but who among us in recovery has not at one time thought "That could have been me"?
I have survived my addictions and now live a grateful life in recovery.
Survivor's Guilt lives on in various forms. I have been an accomplice to Silence. Stigma: The Silencer on Addiction's Gun. Another victim falls. Survivor's guilt.
I complied with our culture's habit of silence. Excuses die hard.
Accomplice still, striving to become free. I have lived to see this Conspiracy of Silence taking its last breaths. My long sighs continue here in hopes of a happier ending's approach.
I am complicit to this Conspiracy of Silence no more. Stigma slowly dissolving. Recovery moving forward. Gratitude grounded. Strong foundation in Recovery reaffirmed. I am not the man I once was. Nor am I yet the person I am becoming. Becoming a person, recovering.
Our stories continue, sober and strong.
Complicit in murder? No more.
Stigma: The Silencer on Addiction's Gun. Done.
Our stories continue, sober and strong.