30 April 2019

*_*_*_* Suspension of Disbelief: The Use of Fictional Characters in an Autobiography *_*_*_*


(nytimes.com)

Suspension of Disbelief: a common literary device whereby a reader is asked to suspend their critical faculties and logic for the sake of enjoyment. In this case, the reader is asked to suspend their disbelief, fully knowing that the three fictional characters in All Drinking Aside discuss my prospects for recovery among themselves but go unnoticed by me. These three fictional characters help to interpret my words and actions and provide temporary relief from my brutally intense narrative.
One of the fictional characters, Vatchi, reveals my use of humor as a tool, a weapon and a defense mechanism.
*****
(Vatchi): ... His progress in recovery is slow and tedious and now you're mocking and oblivious. He'll hold up the truth for all eyes to see and then hide himself behind a joke. Jim's still in the holding cell. He's still hurting. He still lives in fear. He still uses ego as a weapon. Sotto [the three fictional characters names are Sotto, Vatchi and Surimi], look behind his words.
*****
[Oblivious to these three fictional characters' words, I continue my autobiographical narrative here]: "I couldn't stop drinking. Who in their right mind would wake up after spending a fortune while in a blackout and continue drinking? The 'Fucked Up Stops Here' never happened. The instant my blackout would start, I was feeding my disease and nothing else. If alcoholism is insane, blackout drinking is even more insane. It's so easy after a few years of sobriety to wonder why I didn't stop drinking. And it became so easy after a few years of sobriety to forget how insane it was. That is why, for me, connection with other alcoholics is so key to my continuing sobriety.
'Staying stopped' - that's the trick.... "
*****
Looking back at all this now, I see how I did not fully realize the importance of others in my recovery. I knew I couldn't do it alone, but part of me still under-valued the immense help given to me by everyone else in recovery. I also truly did not realize how my asking for help aided them in gaining another day of sobriety. Many lessons of gratitude were to follow.
My life revolved around alcohol and in recovery, I discovered that the world does not revolve around me. All of this world's people are a part of the interconnectedness of all life. I am a grateful participant and observer of this daily spectacle called living.
The events of the past are frozen in time, unchangeable. But my understanding of the past surely evolves over time as the fog lifts and my recovery expands.
The progress of early recovery is slow and tedious, but it is well worth the struggle. Recovery eclipses the pointlessness of addiction's dizzying, vacuous lack of direction. Every day is a new day, made brighter by my deeper understanding and appreciation for how I was and how I am evolving as a sober person. What was broken heals with time. A new, sober person comes into being.
Who the hell would want to drink? Not this new, sober person I have become. But that other person, the person I was for 30 years most certainly did want to drink, whether I wanted to drink... or not.
Insanity.
The past informs the present. Lessons have been learned. I do not wish to drink today. Today, today, today, today. I will not drink today.
Suspension of Disbelief? I dare not suspend my disbelief that all that happened happened. It all happened. It's all true. The three fictional characters in my book were a big help in keeping me sober. Suspend your disbelief, too. Perhaps they are talking to you. If only you will listen.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
The passage spoken by Vatchi and those in quotes are from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-anders-89b1a876/detail/recent-activity/posts/

26 April 2019

*_*_*_* "There is No Way to Recovery. Recovery Is the Way." *_*_*_*


(bu.edu)

I can't truly claim the headline to this post as mine ("There is no way to recovery. Recovery is the way.). It is derivative in nature and more or less a direct steal from Thich Nhat Hanh ("There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.")
*****.
"Monkey See / Monkey Do" fairly well captures my early recovery. I knew nothing of recovery. The drink was all I knew.
Early in my drinking career, alcohol was the icing on the cake of my social life, something added to make all things somehow better. Down that long road alcohol began replacing things, subtracting, destroying, nullifying.
Surimi, one of the fictional characters in my book, describes how alcohol takes on the villainous role to the exclusion of all else like this: "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" is gut-wrenching to me now. It's easy for me to forget how pathetic I became, how much it hurt, where it took me. In my early sobriety and after several relapses, I finally realized the importance of others. Today, I realize that most of the insights that inspire me to write come from others in recovery meetings, on-line, from many books and in person-to-person contact. Today, the inspirations of others are a real source of joy, but learning that was a stubborn lesson back then.
Addiction was my disconnect and recovery, my re-connection. Here's how I phrased it, almost apologetically, a few short years ago: "The loneliness of an alcoholic death. That's what many of my recollections boil down to.... 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 my past life. Recovery has changed all that. I'm leading a fairly normal, happy, sober life now. But I must never forget the loneliness of an alcoholic death, where that first fatal drink might take me.
*****
Don't go back there. There's nothing there. Not even you. There is nothing but emptiness there.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Recovery in. Addiction out.
Each breath renewable.
"There is no way to recovery. Recovery is the way."
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-anders-89b1a876/detail/recent-activity/posts/

18 April 2019

*_*_*_* "Let Addiction Die First (Recovery, Let Us Live)" *_*_*_*

(nytimes.com)

"Let Addiction Die First." The words seemed to come out of nowhere. I wrote a note to myself so I wouldn't forget them as I went about my business. Later, on the way home from picking up the Sunday newspaper, I found myself singing a never before heard melody out loud (not caring what passersby might thing). It went, "Da... Da-Da-Da... Da" (I don't know where that came from either). Suddenly I realized that "Da... Da-Da-Da... Da" stood for "Let Addiction Die First."
It stood for that and nothing else. 
*****
Whatever could that mean?
*****
I had reached the tipping point many years earlier... that point where addiction affixed itself to the part of my brain that told me I would need alcohol to survive. My survival instinct itself stood imprisoned. By that point, "I" barely existed anymore at all. I had come to believe that I would need a drink to persevere the very pain that my drinking had caused. My brain had reached the point where it needed more alcohol than my body could endure. Multiple hospitalizations escalated. I crashed upon the walls of death repeatedly, nearly crashing through.
The drinking would stop when my body gave out....
*****
How odd that "Let Addiction Die First" had not really been my thought or experience. Delirious on sidewalks and in gutters, emergency rooms had become my interventions. 
*****
Somehow, I turned the phrase, "Let Addiction Die First," into "Recovery, Let Us Live." For it was in recovery that my addiction died and it was in recovery that I learned to live. A stern warning, like so many epiphanies, appeared as afterthoughts. As Gertrude Stein once said, "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." I express that here by sharing with others in recovery that the desire to pick up a drink dies slowly, over time, replaced by the new and healthy habits that recovery will instill. The will to live without a drink returns to its rightful place in a drug-free brain, survival instinct cleansed, addiction arrested, the natural order of the brain restored.
*****
"Da... Da-Da-Da... Da... ,"  "Let Addiction Die First" (or surely I will die). That was the drumbeat that kept repeating in my head. But, eventually, "Let Addiction Die First" slowly morphed as my melody continued. Now, "Recovery, Let Us Live" is the tune I hear, sing it how you will, your song. 
"Recovery, Let Us Live." It will blossom. It will thrive.
Excuse the rhyme, for here I add, I'm glad to be alive.
"Recovery, Let Us Live. Recovery, Let Us Live. Recovery, Let Us Live."
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-anders-89b1a876/detail/recent-activity/posts/

13 April 2019

*_*_*_* "The #Stigma of #Addiction" & The #Stigma of #Recovery *_*_*_*


(seniorservice.co.za)

"The stigma of addiction - the price that even those in long-term recovery can pay in disclosing this aspect of their personal history - leads many recovering people to 'pass' as a 'normal,' scrupulously hiding their recovery journey from members of the larger community. Some recovering people live a socially cloistered existence, interacting almost exclusively with others in recovery.... " - William L. White, "Recovery Rising," p. 340 
*****
"Flying rivers, that's what some scientists call the massive clouds of moisture over the Amazon rain forest. They contain more water than the Amazon river below in all actuality, simple dispersed in the vapor trails we call clouds." - from the introduction to "Flying Rivers of Hope," part of "A Universe of Recovery Verse," linked here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/universe-recovery-verse-jim-anders/
*****
I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble....
... but, of course, you know, I do.
*****
We, in the Recovery Movement, like the massive clouds of moisture over the Amazon rain forest, are ready to burst, have been ready to burst, are already bursting on the larger community below. "Some recovering people live a socially cloistered existence, interacting almost exclusively with others in recovery.... " 
It's time (long overdue) to come out of the Recovery Closet.
First, do no harm, to yourself or others, but where you can, how you can, whenever you can, the time has come.
I've already dubbed 2020  the beginning of "The Roaring Twenties of Recovery" (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/welcome-new-roaring-twenties-recovery-2020-2029-jim-anders/).
Lead. Follow. Join. Rejoice.
Add your voice.
The silence has been deafening.
A new voice is forming, has been forming, is formed.
Listen carefully, it is not a whisper.
It's a ROAR!
*****
The Recovery Movement has surely already begun. Each of us will play a part in it by the actions we take and by the actions we have not yet taken. I most certainly hope that the decade about to start (2020 - 2029) becomes known as "The Roaring Twenties of Recovery."
Join.
Rejoice.
The Choice is Yours.
Add Your Voice of HOPE (Our Most Renewable Natural Resource) to the Reign of Recovery (pun intended - "We are not a glum lot.")
Recovery Rules!
*****
P.S. Have a Nice :-) Decade!



08 April 2019

*_*_*_* WELCOME the NEW! "Roaring Twenties of Recovery" (2020 - 2029) *_*_*_*

(eventions.gr)

"My thought at the time was that we had to act like a movement until we became a movement." - "Recovery Rising" by William L. White, p. 331
***
"To refer to people who are addicted as alcohol, drug, or substance abusers misstates the nature of their condition and calls for their social rejection, sequestration, and punishment. There is no other medical condition to which the term 'abuse' is applied. If we truly believe that addiction is a serious health problem, then why do we continue to have departments and centers of substance abuse? The terms abuse and abuser should be now and forever abandoned in discussion of people with severe and persistent alcohol and other drug-related problems." - "Recovery Rising" by William L. White, p. 338
**********
The historic era following World War I and leading to the Great Depression is, of course, known as the Roaring Twenties. War-weary Americans saw the world through new eyes. Modern conveniences and leisure activities won out over hard work and self-denial. That, the Roaring Twenties of the 20th century, is being quickly eclipsed by the NEW "Roaring Twenties of Recovery" of the 21st century (2020 - 2029).
*****
On a personal level, 1970 marked the halfway point of my college years. Fifty years before it, the 1920's were just getting started and 50 years hence the bells of 2020 are about to peal. "Substance Use Disorder" was a term not yet in vogue in 1970. But the substances that I had used (in substantial numbers and varieties) were to be found midway through my brain and extend to the far fringes of my skull, thoroughly filtering through every cell of my body.
A large cache of psilocybin mushroom powder sat on the dining room table, right next to a finely graduated metric scale. Marijuana smoke and the smoke from cigarettes filled the air in equal measure. Psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs were dissolved in half-gallon jugs of cheap wine and sat out openly for any to imbibe. After all, we were quasi-sophisticated quasi-adults half out of our quasi-minds on pot and pills, pipes and other paraphernalia scattered about everywhere.
My thoughts (also variously scattered about) had no clear sense the I would one day (years later) be called a chronic alcohol and drug abuser by a staff of doctors and nurses whispering among themselves "Do you think he'll make it?" with me strapped on a gurney less than half-conscious, DT's (delirium tremens) moving in for possibly the last time as the sedatives (Librium, more than likely) began to grab hold.
They wondered if I would make it.
And so did I.
*****
Fifty years later and 2020 is nearly upon us. The Recovery Movement has surely already begun. Each of us will play a part in it by the actions we take and by the actions we have not yet taken. I most certainly hope that the decade about to start becomes known as the new "Roaring Twenties of Recovery."
HOPE is Our Most Renewable Natural Resource.
I stand at the ready.
One day at a time rushes towards us.
Take off your masks.
2020 is upon us.
Now... ROAR!
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more." 
*****
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
*****
You may also enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal 
Find it on Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 
88+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn