28 November 2018


Imagine the lightest and brightest of white rooms, no windows, a closed door, you and nothing else for what seems like endless days. Avoided, ignored, rejected. This is you in solitary confinement. Eternal emptiness, no longer caring that you do not care.
You had learned to despise yourself somewhere back before the drinks could no longer count themselves. A victim of substance abuse, you were frayed, hurting until it could no longer hurt. You shared adjoining rooms with desolation in this Funhouse of Addiction. Co-occurring disorders became the order of the day even when they didn't start out that way. Definitions were assigned to you with sharp pins. Maybe you felt them, maybe you didn't. Cluttered, dirty, cornered, you could no longer focus. Your strength was waning. All that was left was one last drink. The glass was too, too heavy. You could not pick it up. 
Hospitals. Detox after detox. A thousand means of exit from this insanity. Yet you stayed. Shunned, shamed, you felt as if you deserved no better....
I was there once, too. 
In actuality, I could never manage my drinking. Endless nights of sitting in bars saying to myself that I would leave after I had just one more drink, then staying hours beyond endurance. And excuses which were really elaborate inventions to whitewash the truth.
To any happy social drinker reading this, are you now beginning to see why I would never again risk a drink, to think that I, like you, could be a social drinker? Social drinker, beware, you may be heading to a thousand dead ends, like I did, before I surrendered and the war finally ended.
I never was not an alcoholic or so it seems. My will is to never try to be like the social drinkers of this world.
My drinking days are done.
Surrender. Surrender. The only way this addiction war may be won. 
Lay down your sword, your chalice, your armor. Surrender.
Sweet freedom. 
Can you taste it? 
There is enough for everyone.

"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 (An Autobiographical Fiction) http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
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10 November 2018

VETERANS DAY: A Remembrance of PTSD & Death by Addiction

In remembrance of Veterans Day, below, find what were once two separate posts. I've put them together here, next to each other, as fitting companions reflecting two of the horrific outcomes our Veterans too often face, PTSD & Death by Addiction.
Here they are, in order, in honor of the living and the dead:
PTSD (in 9 short sentences, 153 years of history tracing what we called it and how it changed us):

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.)


Sometimes walking down the street you think you hear the sound 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. 

[A short note on the author: Jim Anders is also the author of the Autobiographical Fiction titled ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO ]

09 November 2018

RECOVERY: The Stranglehold of STIGMA Realigned

"... He is talking, but I cannot hear the sin. The sin is inside of him.... The sin is emptiness. Vatchi, this makes me... sad. Alcoholism. His disease is emptiness." - (Sotto in All Drinking Aside)
No admitting nurse in my many and various emergency room visitations ever diagnosed me with emptiness. The truth is in the feel of it, the emptiness of finally knowing that I would drink no matter what. I had become an emptiness that only alcohol could fill. The emptiness that came when it had failed to fill. Of ever-wanting more.
My early recovery had many roadblocks. Stigma encompassed my inward-turning emotions, much as alcohol had become a stuffing, a deadening of feelings. Disorientation, shame, self-blame, an empty warehouse of my worthlessness. I hated myself for being an alcoholic. I felt I could never remain sober and didn't really deserve to be. Like a victim of spousal abuse, addiction left me with nothing and feeling I deserved no better.
It seemed that all the world scorned in alcoholics and addicts, I scorned within me.
Saying "I am an alcoholic" changed meaning as time passed. It would take time to remove self-hatred from the mantelpiece of recovery. I would need to realign all definitions of myself newly substance-free. Stigma, thriving on my silence, would be broken. The metamorphosis from self-hatred to an honest and balanced sense of self-worth would evolve slowly, unencumbered by stigma left to drift silently to the floor.
If addiction were a simple thing, people would simply quit on their own and recovery would be a moot point. Help would be needed and faith-based recovery tents and evidence-based recovery tents would line the opposite banks of the the river of lost bodies and souls drifting by, in isolation, seeking help, some dying while they claimed that they did not need help.
Now in recovery for the long haul, my hope is that my experience, as best as I may express it, may open windows and doors, create bridges. One alcoholic to another, one addict to another, one human being to another.
Hope has often sustained me until evidence has been unearthed. I am most happy with what works best for you. Alcohol, for me, was its own proof, a world of relentless insanity in which I was swallowed up in for thirty years and have now found release.
Recovery is my truth.

#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
"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 
Recovery Tweets: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4
99+ Recovery Posts on LinkedIn here: https://goo.gl/fmzt9b

06 November 2018




Looking back over one's life can be thorny and negative, but stuffing memories and the emotions attached to them may bring worse. "Don't cry over spilled milk" will not solve or resolve anything. As Pearl S. Buck said, "One faces the future with one's past." 
In my recovery, I had to start somewhere. When I got sober, I had nothing, was nothing. Every choice started with, finished with and always included alcohol until alcohol left nothing in its wake. 
Like seeds scattered in the wind, some of my memories sprouted within and blossomed in what became changes in my thinking, feeling and living in the present. Sustained sobriety has borne fruit from the wreckage of my past. To quote Viktor Frankl, "Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning in the way in which we respond to it." 
Here are 7 Looks Backward, Forward, Inward  & Out:
1. Then... 
"Jane's addiction decided for her that she had suffered enough.... The pain of being unable to feel the pain was enough. The unbearable pain of the struggle to be free of her addiction was a giant wave whose undertow drew her back to the ocean of her addiction. She could no longer live free. No longer free. Under she went. The undertow of addiction drowned her. Jane's addiction could not undecide her death."
& Now... 
I am still sad at addiction's toll seen all around me. The world-at-large is finally beginning to see it, too. Can those who are lost or who once were lost be the only ones who understand? Can empathy be learned and hatred unlearned? Can new connections form once we surrender our swords?
I have seen people suffer permanent brain damage who are left with complete and utter hopelessness in addiction until finally they take their last breath in suicide or accidental death.
But I have seen change, too. The possibility of change. The reemergence of hope after the smallest hope seemed nothing less than foolish.
I have seen, too, that recovery may miraculously spread outward from the human pool, purifying the waters.
We may all begin to heal. Shared Courage is powerful, transformative. Find it. Keep it. Use it.
2. Then...
"Cocaine was one of many forces which drove me to my bottom. Less blackouts, more binges. I might have died a horrible death years and years later from alcohol alone. Cocaine and other drugs sped the progression of my alcoholism. Thanks Cocaine & Company!"
& Now... 
The flip-side of that coin is that even with double-digit sobriety, I'm prone to believe that just because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool alcoholic, any and all other drugs could still return me to my Substance Use Disorder no matter how long I have sustained my sobriety. 
More twisted than a swizzle stick, insane and true, I reaffirm my gratitude for today, able in earnest to say in remembrance, "Thank You for Helping Keep Me Sober Today, Cocaine & Company!"
3. Then... 
"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 nothing is acceptable and true. 'Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.'"
& Now... 
After the artificial extremes addiction seemingly provided, in recovery, my balance has rebounded. Alcohol, in a class by itself, each day elevated me for the first few drinks, then, after blackout drinking for untold hours, crashed me down and out. All the while, I was separated from reality. Recovery heals. Can and will heal. Recovery is life itself to me, pure and simple. Living. Connected, reconnected, alive.
4. Then... 
"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."
& Now... 
Today, I am more fully present, not always, but long enough, sometimes, that the yearning that is addiction has faded into the distant horizon, no part of today. Living in the absence of the pull of the glass brings me peace. I have neither thought of, nor need for the substances of addiction. Sobriety is peace, its own reward. The punishment is over. That punishment I had called desire is done, for this and many days to come. Sobriety, fine-tuned, is a succession of feelings that you have arrived, breathing the sober air, vibrant. It is not a destination. My lips whisper, "Yes, nothing... is enough. I,,, am enough." 
There is a certain music to recovery, a harmony. 
Addiction is nothing but silence and strident discord....
5. Then... 
"Addiction is a beast that lives within you. You cannot kill the beast. Denial, anger, fear will not kill it. Begging, pleading, blaming will not tame it. Depression, self-pity, doubt: they only feed it. Confront it. Accept it. The beast will never die."
& Now... 
Gratitude fans out, multiplying itself. Today I know that Addiction is treatable and that Recovery is possible, doable, irreplaceable. Enough is enough is enough. Sobriety is enough. I am enough. Gratitude.
6. Then... 
"An avalanche and then forgetful snow. This is how I would die. Death by alcohol. It would seem to comfort as it killed..."
& Now... 
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
7. Then... 
"Insanity's bouquet is not of different colored roses, or different flowers of various sorts. It's a bouquet of weapons, destruction, defense and offense, all wrapped in lies and gin-soaked tears, false laughter, hollowed-out bones. This is insanity's bouquet. Hot steel, cold steel, nothing. I will fill the black holes of my memory with a retrained brain. Live my way sober or lie my way drunk, powerless victim or sober victor. One foot in front of the other...."
& Now... 
The absolute desperation then, finally, was knowing I was dying and knowing that the only way I could survive addiction was with help, without alcohol and with a boatload of hope in my sea of doubt. Fear. So much fear. 
This took many years. No "21 Days to a New and Better You." Alcohol had hijacked the survival part of my brain. Relapse. Relapse. Relapse. Sober roots. Sober wings. Of this I sing, finally. Today, bursting with life, not battered and broken by decades dragged and drugged downwards.
The many seeds that sprouted as a direct result of dealing with my tumultuous past have finally borne fruit. And from that fruit future seeds will soon be formed and on and on the future unfolds, generation upon generation of recovery flowering, going to seed and flowering again. Such is the nature of this good and sober life. Drink after drink after drink after drink only killed. Every desperation suffered greater losses under addiction's spell.
The taste, smell and touch of recovery is unmatched by the numb dumbness of the damned next drink. Recovery is looking backward, forging forward, pungent, palpable, doable, livable, lush.
LOL... not that kind of lush!
And yes, I remember it well!
#Alcoholism #Addiction #Recovery
Passages in quotes are excerpted from ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
Available on Amazon, Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
5,800+Recovery Tweets here: http://twitter.com/JimAnders4