31 July 2020

HIGH-FUNCTIONING ALCOHOLIC? It was my degree of DYSFUNCTION that I never questioned.....

(sandiegoaddictions.com)

High-Functioning Alcoholic?
I was high, alright. I was functioning. To a degree.
But it was my degree of dysfunction that I never considered. Not for years, anyway. Not until the downward progression of my addiction had me totally non-functioning did I even begin to consider the possibility that I had been dysfunctional to varying degrees - for years.
You see, for years "I thought that there were two different kinds of alcoholics, those who did function (have a job, a place to live, friends, relationships), like me, and a second kind of alcoholic who was quite unlike me [like the brown-bagging beach bum I eventually did become!]. I was unaware that there is only one kind of alcoholic and that they are all 100% alcoholic and that if they are functional at present, it is only a matter of time until that progressive, downward spiral jettisons them from whatever functional path that they may have thought that they were on."
As I progressed on my downward slope, denial of my worsening condition was easily glossed over. I could forever blame my failures on bad breaks or dumb luck and the undulating hills and valleys of addiction could convince me for a time that things would get better and that I could continue being the high-functioning alcoholic I imagined myself to be.
"What will I become?" slowly turned into "What has become of me?"
"By the time I had a reason to stop drinking, reason no longer had anything to do with it."
*****
I don't mean to discourage anyone who identifies as a high-functioning alcoholic except to suggest one simple little question to ask yourself: How much better might you actually function if you were to delete alcohol from your life? And I might proceed to add that perhaps your alcohol use (which you describe to yourself as an aid to your performance) is actually a hinderance to your performance.
*****
Try sobriety and you just might find that it suits you better than you might ever have imagined.
In sobriety, I am high-functioning. I am an alcoholic who is in recovery. But, truth be told, high-functioning alcoholic was not ever in my portfolio, although I could have sworn it was.
*****
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

25 July 2020

10-ONE-LINERS: Unrelated or Inextricably Intertwined?*

(constitutionalcanadian.com)

(In random order, alphabetically by the first word of each):

1. Being drunk allowed me to deal with the drunk in me.
2. "But when he turns his back on empathy, he turns his back upon himself."
3. Diplomatically searching for others equally high, we (my disease and I) would manufacture memories out of blackouts like free-range intoxicated chickens.
4. "His sobriety, at first, was like a bad translation."
5. How many keys did I have to lose before I would learn that alcohol on longer opened doors?
6. I measured my life in pints instead of hours.
7. "If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we could not." - Emerson Pugh
8. "It's not trespassing when you cross your own boundaries." - Anonymous
9.. When I thought I could stay sober alone, I wound up drinking alone.
10. You are what you eat, but what are you when you are only what you drink?

*For what it's worth, all 10 One-Liners popped up within a dozen or so pages of a book I'm re-reading.





24 July 2020

A DRINKING MAN'S GUIDE TO BAR EXERCISE


There was a time when no one could have convinced me that I would ever stop drinking:
*****
"I sort of imagined myself as some ancient, noble Eskimo, wandering off into the northern lights with bottle in hand to die some unknown, tragic, heroic and drunken death.
I romanticized my disease when I was drinking until the reality got so bad that the romance had to die, with me following on its coattails.
At each step in my slow, downward progression, I would tell myself that it couldn't get any worse and that however bad I was, it wasn't anything that another drink couldn't fix.
But it did and could and would always get worse. Never would I think to stop drinking. Attempts to modify my drinking to a more reasonable amount of consumption failed on a nightly basis.
My resolve dissolved [with each and every drink until eventually my ideas for...] A DRINKING MAN'S GUIDE TO BAR EXERCISE lost all momentum on the stillness of my barstool."
*****
You see, drinking replaced everything.
Now, Recovery is my Everything.
*****
Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more.
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

20 July 2020

"MAN, I REALLY WISH I DIDN'T GET SOBER," said nobody ever.


"There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way." - The Tao
*****
"Alcohol is my poison, my prison. A brick wall, a trap door, a cancer, a bad joke, an empty bottle, an excuse, a leaky faucet, a loan shark, a broken promise, a cracked mirror, an earthquake, an avalanche, a train wreck, a recurring nightmare. Alcohol is my insanity."
I didn't know when I wrote this that a decade later I would be diagnosed with cancer and that I would survive it. One lesson in recovery serves another (your own recovery from whatever else may come down the pike or someone else's recovery from addiction or anything else).
Also, I could have added something about the epidemic proportions addiction has taken in our world, "an epidemic" [not sure where exactly I'd insert it in the quote] suggestive of our other epidemic, this whole Covid-19, Whole-Earth event.
*****
"MAN, I REALLY WISH I DIDN'T GET SOBER", said nobody ever.
*****
"There was a time when I was not there, but I did not know it yet. I would drink to forget, forgetting what I did not know. Not yet. I did not know yet. Where was I then, when I was not there? For years I lived somewhere between myself and the next drink. I would drink to forget what I could not think, halfway to nowhere and another drink. I was grieving and I did not know it. Someone was dying, but I could not feel it, feel my own dying. I could not own it because it owned me. Denial is so hard to feel, yet, there it is, standing next to you. You: Halfway to nowhere and another drink."
*****
"MAN, I REALLY WISH I DIDN'T GET SOBER", said nobody ever.
*****
"Addiction is godless, headless, insane. It rejects faith, reason, feelings. Addiction is heartless, the blackest night. No light. No sun. No stars. In its nothingness, we feel nothing and accept that nothingness is acceptable and true. 'Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.'"
*****
I'll stand by my words because "nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

18 July 2020

FACT: "Jim's Not Drinking" Evolved into this CONTAGIOUS RUMOR: "He Must Be Dying of AIDS"

(decurions25.rssing.com)

Remember, as you read this account, that I first got sober in 1996. 
And that rumors can be as contagious as any disease. 
The caverns of my mind had their own conspiratorial thoughts.
I had mostly been the solitary drunk at the end of the bar that nobody much noticed. 
When I did finally stop drinking, I stopped going to bars altogether. It felt like the whole world was plotting against me and any pains I felt were served up by an unjust universe. Why can't I drink? Why am I being punished? 
Why me?
Gratitude would be a long time coming.
Anyway, here's how this episode went down:
*****
"No one could believe that I had stopped drinking when I did finally stop. Of course, I couldn't have known this, because for the first few months [this 2nd or third time] I had severed all connections with the 'Bar Scene.' In retrospect, they must have guessed that something catastrophic had happened to me. This was borne out much later when after a sustained period of sobriety I entered a bar just off the Boardwalk on South Carolina Avenue called Reflections, one block from Resorts International, Atlantic City's first casino.
An old drinking buddy and pool player, Donald, came up to me there and asked me how my 'prescription regimen' was going. I must have had a fairly perplexed look on my face, because, to tell the truth, I had not an idea in the world what he was talking about. It turned out that since I had suddenly stopped showing up to take part in the local bar scene, the rumor mill wrongly deduced that since I had been such a hard partier (and every other euphemism for drinking that ever existed), and that I had quit drinking, I must have AIDS.
I guess that when you are confronted by a bar crowd whose regulars are fully in denial of their own alcoholism, it shouldn't be surprising that they would have to concoct some outside reason for anyone quitting drinking. After all, who in their right mind would quit drinking for drinking's sake? Wouldn't that be insane? 'Cunning, baffling and powerful' is how the rooms of recovery describe the insanity of alcohol. How odd that the reason for picking up the next drink is rarely for the simple 'I am an alcoholic.' There are always reasons, people, places, things."
*****
I guess I had become so adept at holding my liquor and so often appearing to be loving the Drinking Life that no one could know the pain the addiction was causing me hidden from the public's view and the way the progression of the disease had sped up.
Truly, I was beyond QUIT OR DIE. That thought never occurred to me.
I would have continued drinking each and every time I hit bottom, but for emergency rooms strapping me down after being dumped off by ambulances. 
The Bar Crowd never got to see all that hot mess happening.
They were right about one thing though, I did stop drinking because I was dying. 
But I wasn't dying of AIDS.
I was dying of drinking.
*****
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

17 July 2020

ALCOHOL, MY KRYPTONITE



(cuur.com)

I could not suspect or know that I would diverge from all the social drinkers in the world about me in my early years of drinking. By the time my kryptonite, Alcohol, had taken hold, my long, slow death spiral had already begun. 
Suspicion, divergence, insanity, brick wall.
"Pride goeth before the fall."
This I did not know. 
I drank that knowledge away.
*****
Drink tonight?

(Alcohol is my Kryptonite...
My Krypt Tonite.
No Crypt Tonight.)

Drink tonight?
No.
(Know NO!)
NO, not tonight.
*****
Fly seamlessly (like Superman) through ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

16 July 2020

ABSORBING LESSONS FROM THE PAST AS I PADDLE MY CANOE INTO THE UNKNOWN FUTURE

(travel.report)

How often must I visit the past before it becomes a repetitive obsession, a nightmare in its own right?
I do not know. And equally clearly, I am sure that at some point I must let go.
There are lessons to be learned and behaviors to be unlearned.
I paddle my canoe into my past, explore that land of half-memories, collecting and recollecting.
Surely, quietly, I take this oar and push off that shore and paddle, presently, into the unknown future.
I am so glad I did not even think to drink today.
*****
"Life is a wonder to behold." - Emerald Rose Whipple
*****
This, though true, Emerald Rose, for me, at least, Life is a greater wonder to behold when I am not holding alcohol in my hand, when the Grand Canyon in my mind has been drained of the flow of alcohol, when a steady hand let's go of my oar and sober, silent and still, I behold.
*****
Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more.
*****
Glide seamlessly through ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 

15 July 2020

"YOU CAN HAVE DRUNK DREAMS SOBER, BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE SOBER DREAMS DRUNK"


(blogs.psychcentral.com)

"He has to relive his past sober to forgive his past drunk." - All Drinking Aside, p. 43.
*****
Once, when I was about 3 years and a few months sober, I had a drunk dream that was so vivid that I broke out in a drunken sweat. Stumbling to the bathroom, I careened off the walls in the hallway like a pinball, nearly falling. 
Needless to say, sometimes these drunk dreams are so real that it takes time to comfort myself. Like a mother to a child, I say to myself "It's okay, Jim. It was only a dream."
*****
The Great Houdini, world-renowned magician, had promised his wife that should he die first, he would attempt to communicate with her from the Other Side. He even created a code for her that would prove his success. 
He failed in his promise, but I have not failed, we have not failed, we, the living who have survived the many nightmares of addiction, who have survived to tell the tale, who dream in personal nightmares, who live in proof that addiction is still alive, still existent long after it has dissipated from our physical being, walking, we dead, the dead reborn, walking, drunken, careening down hallways, struggling to awaken, please, please, please wake us up.
The previous run-on sentence is my failed attempt to show how dreams, drunk or sober, are their own state of being.
lol
OR NOT, drunk dreams seem very real. Are very real.
*****
"He has to relive his past sober to forgive his past drunk."
*****
Use them as a tool, a lesson in living sober. Do not live the dream. That nightmare is over. 
Breathe deeply.
You are not submerged in alcohol, like Houdini, chained and locked in a box dropped into the Hudson River.
Like Houdini, you can and have escaped the chains. Holding your breath, you rise to the surface, free of these chains.
Exhale.
You have found this sober air.
You have survived. No need to repeat the magic trick.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
That Drunk Dream is DONE!
*****
Glide seamlessly through ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 



11 July 2020

LIVING HAND TO MOUTH WAS ALWAYS ABOUT ALCOHOL

(garythomas.com)

Whatever I made in tips bartending was immediately consumed in alcohol when my shift ended. For me, living hand to mouth was always about alcohol and never about food. I was never really starving to death until two or three relapses ago. Living hand to mouth over alcohol. Alcohol. Borrowing money for alcohol. Living on borrowed time. For alcohol. I would seemingly never grow up. For alcohol.
Psychotherapy, as the joke goes, works so well for many alcoholics because delving back into early childhood is such a short trip.

08 July 2020

Covid-19's Effect on My Recovery from a Substance Use Disorder (& Vice Versa)

(futureoflife.org)

Covid-19, in untold ways, is potentially robbing the futures of those who today are called asymptomatic. Science does not yet know the lingering side effects in the near or distant future that may appear within them, physically or psychologically.
Beyond unwittingly (or without care) spreading this contagion far and wide, they, and we (none of us) do not know what the future brings.
AS IF WE EVER DID.
Unintended and unknown consequences.
I circle the wagons around myself. The reasons for caution are many.
My gratitude for simply being alive (after surviving my addiction to alcohol, pneumonia, cancer and my encroaching old age) is fairly self-explanatory.
And now we are all faced with surviving Covid-19.
How odd that I am grateful for all of this. Viktor Frankl explains it well for me: "If there is meaning to life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.... Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation."
In Alcoholics Anonymous one often hears another call out that they are "a grateful recovering alcoholic." I did not understand that 'grateful' part clearly for the first dozen or so years of my recovery. Now, after surviving that and pneumonia and cancer and the world today as depicted by Covid-19, I'm beginning to understand that I did not know what I did not know back in my early recovery, but I'm beginning to know now that whatever the outcome, whatever the suffering that may ensue, I will get through all this as I did before again and again.
Finding strength in one recovery prepares one for the next.
Covid-19 is but another lesson to be learned and for this I must say I'm grateful. I've spent another day alive.
Infinite outcomes await.
I will not speculate.
I wait.
I'm in recovery (and am grateful).
It turns out that Life is Good.
I did not know that I did not know that I could and would pull through.
Imagine that.
Imagine.
*****
May you also enjoy my Autobiographical Fiction, ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 



06 July 2020

[OVERDOSE ACCELERATION]: STORM, HAROLD JAMES, - 15, of Pine Hills, PA., passed away unexpectedly on July 3, 2020.

(medicalpress.com)

The name, of course, has been changed to protect the innocence of the young man, now dead of an overdose. Let the drug be anonymous, too. And the family, friends and future of this boy-man.
Let it all be anonymous. The future that died with him. Anonymous.
"Suspected overdoses nationally jumped 18 percent in March, 29 percent in April and 42 percent in May, data from ambulance teams, hospitals and police shows." - The Washington Post
The blood from June (and now July) will trickle in slowly, too. 
Let an intravenous drip measure all of this, like an ancestral method of measuring time, of lives lost. 
All this. All of it is prelude to a post I wrote some time ago and completes this post for me. It really says all I have to say about this matter. Draw your own conclusions. 
I have to stop, but here it is anyway:
*****************************
“The Tomb of the Anonymous Addict”

Sometimes
walking down the street
you think you hear the sounds of leaves scuttling along,
but these are the plans, hopes, dreams of the dead.
Wind barely whispering over the green lips
of empty bottles,
syringes puncturing the silence in their stillness.
Sentences gasping for a last breath,
forever unfinished.
The Tomb of the Anonymous Addict
is really many tombs in many doorways, further down anonymous valleys than any still alive have ever ventured.
No such monument truly exists.
It's undedicated,
the dead remains unidentified.
It is truly unnamed and unguarded.
It tires me,
this Tomb of the Anonymous Addict.
It exists in my mind only. 
And it makes me weary.
*******************
Rest in Peace, Harold James Storm, whoever and wherever you are.

05 July 2020

BECOMING UNBROKEN


Sometimes habits are hard to break until you yourself are broken.
That is the past, the past that is in your head.
The future is in your hands and you are becoming unbroken.
Breathe in. It costs too much to do nothing. Breathe out. You cannot live your life in these trenches. Breathe deep.
Breathe in, then slowly out.
You did not drink today.
Success is at your fingertips.
And in your footsteps, your heartbeat.
You can do this. Others have.
Millions have.
Life is change, all about change.
You have changed since the start of this paragraph.
*****
"No man steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." - Heraclitus
*****
And there.
You have changed again.
Habits are hard to break.
But you are becoming unbroken.
Breathe in.
Breathe deep.
Then slowly out.
We did not drink today.
*******************