07 August 2020

BLACKOUT: He Couldn't REMEMBER that He'd Spent the PREVIOUS NIGHT with Me!


I'd already sold my car a year or two before the episode I'm about to describe occurred. Moving from Pennsylvania and away from a failed relationship brought me to the Jersey Shore in my mid-twenties. I could remember the anxiety I used to feel at last call when the bars closed at 2 in the morning back home, so bars open 24 hours at the Shore was my definition of heaven at that period of my life. I experienced no "last call anxiety" because there was no last call with my new, free lifestyle. And no car meant that I could pursue my drinking career any time, day or night, without worrying about killing myself or someone else in a drunk driving accident.
A little drunker than I was at that time, some guy from Philadelphia asked me one night if he could crash at my place, knowing he was too drunk to drive an hour and a half back to Philly in the middle of the night. No big deal. No problem. Sure.
Surprised to find him already gone from my third floor apartment when I woke up the next morning, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and went about my business.
When I went out again that very next night to the very same bar, after a bit, I noticed that the guy who'd stayed at my place the night before was already there across the bar from me. After a few minutes, I figured he hadn't yet noticed me, but would surely come over momentarily to thank me for the hospitality I'd shown him the night before. 
Eventually a conversation struck up and as we talked, I began to realize that he didn't remember that he'd met me the night before and in fact had spent the previous night at my apartment about as drunk as he seemed to be at that very moment. 
I didn't attempt to refresh his memory.
Obviously, you already know "He Couldn't REMEMBER that He'd Spent the PREVIOUS NIGHT with Me!"
Long story short: 
We ending up climbing the steps to the third floor of my apartment building again, for the second night in a row. As I put the key into my door to let us in, I remarked, looking back at him and grinning sheepishly, "You were here last night, too, remember?"
"You're kidding?"
"I'm serious." The conversation went something like that. Never saw him again.
Decades later, other details of the story are unimportant.
But if you drank like I did, perhaps you have blackout stories of your own.
It wasn't until I finally got sober that I learned what blackout drinking truly is. You're so ossified that although you are nearly fully conscious, your brain has become incapable of storing some or all of what is going on around you. No memories formed. Nothing to remember, no matter how conscious you may appear at the time to yourself and to others.
By now, I don't have to tell you that I'm not trying to show you what a fool that guy was. I'm describing the kind of guy I became. 
My life eventually progressed into a kind of Blackout Drinker's "Groundhog's Day." I would wake up the day after the night before and could never fully answer for myself or others, the who, what, when, where or why of the last dozen drinks. 
I did not blackout today. So I guess you know I also did not drink today. I can think today, focus today, remember today.
Now, finally, I know that "Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
That concludes this episode of "A Day in the Life of a Blackout Drunk."
lol, Sober as Hell!
Happy day.
Enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO
5,500+ Recovery Tweets: twitter.com/jimanders4 

05 August 2020

MOST of my "DRUNK" was AFTER I First Got "SOBER"!


As difficult as this may be to believe, my 8 years of relapse and 16 years of continuous recovery have resulted in an epiphany that I had literally just moments ago.
I had to turn off the TV, stop eating my homemade vegetable soup and sit down to my keyboard.
My epiphany was this (as if you didn't already know): MOST of my "DRUNK" was AFTER I First Got "SOBER"!
This epiphany unfurled with another little epiphany inside of it: MY 30-YEAR DRINKING CAREER TAUGHT ME DIDDLY-SQUAT!
Moments ago I finished a separate post titled "CHOICE: Life SOBER or Life DRUNK," whose second sentence is "But I had to learn how to crawl before I could walk." That, I guess, is the precursor to all that follows:
I used to think in my drinking days that I would have to suffer for my art, a common belief, based on cultural myths, I guess. Drinking would be the burden I would have to bear in order to be able to produce my art (I was an advertising copywriter for a dozen or so years).To paraphrase a line in my book, "There was art produced by children in concentration camps, but that art was produced despite the living conditions, not because of them." 
The illusion that addiction to alcohol was my burden to bear because it allowed me to produce my volumes of work followed the same equation as the concentration camps, above. Denial, stigma, addiction, bad luck and gravel rolled up into the hard candy crunch that my life had become and how my life would remain until I finally got sober.
Granted, I would not have necessarily had to relapse repeatedly during those first 8 years, but those final years of drinking between intermittent periods of sobriety taught me more than the 30 years of drinking that preceded it.
Those 8 years included disastrous failures at helping and being helped by others in recovery, a lesson in auditory hallucinations, fraudulent bank transactions, being the intended victim of murder, accusations of witnessing a murder, friends and former friends' suicide attempts and tragic successes, lives lost and never found. And on and on.
Viktor Frankl said that "To live is to suffer. To survive is to find meaning in suffering." This is the concentration camp analogy again. Viktor Frankl was a victim of such. I was a victim of alcoholism. 
Those last 8 years (after I finally got sober for the first time and the relapses that were part and parcel of my first sobriety), were my concentration camp. I learned that it would some day be possible to be sober, to be productive and to live happily. But I wasn't there yet. 
My 30-year drinking career merely prepared me for the suffering that would come AFTER I first found sobriety.
Of course, it is different for everyone, but much of the differences are in the details.
The meaning of my suffering has been found. Victim no more, responsible and free, today, I live sober.
Today's hard candy crunch is bearable because I am sober and my life is bearable because of my sobriety, not in spite of it.
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
Enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO 


Admittedly, I relapsed on again and off again for 8 years before accumulating 16 years of continuous sobriety. Those first 8 years were instrumental in teaching me how to crawl before I could walk. Today, I stand tall, a realistic humility replacing a 30-year drinking career that with peaks and valleys was heading in one direction only: Downhill, defeated.Alcohol took from me most and more of all it ever had promised to give (a sense of belonging) It was like a bad loan from an unscrupulous pawn broken. It resulted in Destruction on the Installment Plan.Many of my posts, I know, are too long for many seeking recovery to read from beginning to end, so I'll cut to the chase: LIVE SOBER or LIVE DRUNK comes down to Freedom (and its attendant responsibilities) or Death & Destruction.

Admittedly, 8 years of relapse preceded my current 16 years of continuous sobriety. But I had to learn how to crawl before I could walk. A 30-year drinking career did little to prepare me for living sober. I lived alcohol and was addicted to the culture of addiction. I had much to learn, unlearn and relearn.
Shared courage pulled me through.
My brain knew the Grand Canyon of Addiction through which the alcohol flowed. When the alcohol river ceased to flow, my brain didn't know which way to go. A serious blackout drinker, my eventual hospitalizations, detoxes and rehabs (which is where drinking repeatedly took me) were dark and deep experiences.
While still drinking, I listened to no one, not even to my own best advice. Alcohol was in the driver's seat. Let me spare you the details here (find all that in my book, if interested). Let me cut to the chase:
Crawl, as I crawled, if that's what it takes for you to learn how to stand tall and live sober.
Know that recovery is doable, sustainable and irreplaceable.
And if you should ask yourself: "Do I want to live my life sober or drunk?" I would suggest, firmly, that you already know the answer to that question.
Do the work. You are worth no less than whatever it takes to get there.
Sobriety is the only way to fly. Stick with the winners. Share your story and your courage as you journey forth.
Life is precious.
Live sober.
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
Enjoy ALL DRINKING ASIDE: The Destruction, Deconstruction & Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal
On Amazon.com. Book it here: http://amzn.to/1bX6JyO