Set On High

If I Get Too Excited, Hose Me Down

The most irritating thing about me? Hmm, there are so many…

i guess i’d have to say my good mood.

One thing i’m starting to recall in my sobriety is that i’m naturally happy. It was easy to forget because during the last few months of my drinking, i woke up sad and got progressively worse as the day wore on. i had no energy and each early afternoon saw me crash and burn. i was plagued by paralyzing fear.

Now, mornings start off well and get better. i wake up with faith in the day and it usually doesn’t disappoint. Sure, some days are harder than others but even during the roughest ones, i have an optimism that it will get better. And then it does.

BTW, you know how annoying young love is when you’re not the one in it? My new found love of life really bugs the crap out of others!

About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on January 20, 2012, in Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I think the best thing to annoy people with is happiness….not intentionally of course, but if you must, do it with happiness!

    • LOL, i couldn’t agree more!

      Thanks so much for the visit, Maggie Mae I, and especially appreciate the comment. See? The days just keep getting better and better!

      Keep Coming back,

      Al K Hall

  2. Not me!!!! I’m digging the new attitude. Your pics crack me up!

  3. how’s that go:

    “the best revenge is a life well lived..”

    Hey, I am not advocating revenge. I’m just saying…

    I realized today: NOT working my program. NOT having a program. you know why I thought this: because of you. YOU are working a DANDY program my friend.

    I’m gonna get me some of what you have.

    Peace, Jen

    I am with Mel re pics… I am SO not showing my husband and my son! They just built a Fantastic flamethrower followed by a killer go cart; next plan is to mount the flamethrower on the go cart. NOT! says mom. If they see this the neighbors will KILL me!

    • Jen!

      i’m flattered i could make you think! Alls i’m doing is what wiser people who went before me tell me that i should be doing. Trust and Faith!

      LOL @ the Fantastic Flamethrower Kart! Y’all live hardcore!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. I like the emotional twist you caused me with the first line of this post “The most irritating thing about me? Hmm, there are so many…” My reaction was “Oh sweet Jesus not another defect dwelling diatribe” but as I read on I saw that it really is an ode to the delights of recovery and self-control. Those posts make me happy.

    I love the power I feel when challenged and confronted with an unpleasant aspect of daily life, knowing that I can handle it constructively and rationally because I’m sober, and am not going to deal with it by poisoning myself with booze. It’s amazing how things that would have worked me up before now bounce right off me. And the beauty is that with each day of sobriety, that ability to step into passive observer mode to assess the situation and react properly gets stronger and stronger, which fuels confidence, optimism, happiness, and success.

    • ITSB!

      Thanks for the props! It’s all about suckering someone in with a good title or opening line and then hitting them with Truth in someplace they don’t expect it.

      i can totally relate to your comments about happiness and dealing with the shit. I kid you not, on my stronger days i actually hope to receive “a challenge” just to see how i’ll deal with it. Like my life is a video game!

      Keep coming back, brother,

      Al K Hall

  5. What great comments, and a really uplifting post, too… I really like it. I really think it is something so wonderful. 🙂

    Ummm, if it is true.

    Now, before anyone, especially you as the post author and the one experiencing the happiness, gets his or her panties in a wad, and wants to jump on me for jumping on you for being happy (thus fulfilling the facts of this post), I’d like to maybe explain the “Others” from an Al-Anon point-of-view, from the point-of-view of the loved ones of someone who is alcoholic and a recovering alcoholic. Just for a little counterpoint and maybe a deeper understanding of the facts at hand and the deeper issues of the post.

    Can you all hold on to wanting to perhaps jump on me, and listen for a moment? Just listen?

    Here’s the thing — and I am so NOT wanting to rain on the parade, just temper what I read between the lines, and I would seriously like some input from others about it, to see if what I write resonates.

    About this, here:
    “BTW, you know how annoying young love is when you’re not the one in it? My new found love of life really bugs the crap out of others!”

    I’m just curious. Who are the “Others”? I’m pretty much thinking that they are the people whom you interact with in life: me, your ex-wife, your children, your boss, your co-workers — the people who were with you in the Before Days and who are now here with you in the Present/After Days. According to this post, you are noticing the someone or someones in your life have made you think that you and your newfound happiness are bugging the crap out of them. Who are these “Others”? (Besides the people on the show “Lost” who lived on the other side of the island, lol.)

    I’m guessing that the “Others” are the people who know you in the day to day and people who have known you for a VERY long time. The people who know the Old You and are watching you transform in a metamorphosis like a worm becoming the butterfly of the New You.

    Put yourself in those people’s shoes for a moment and realize how hard it must be for the Others to **trust** that your newfound happiness is for real, and that it is something that will last. I mean, c’mon: when I see and listen to you watching television, for example, if this kind of a story were to happen to a main character in a show, you would be ALL over it, doubting it, saying that writers have jumped the shark and made an unbelievable character because it is pretty crazy when someone undergoes a transformation such as this. It’s hard to create a believable character in a show, when all of a sudden the character starts acting completely OUT of character. When the character is someone who undergoes a transformation from being someone who was really, super-duper negative, all the time about EVERYTHING, people have a hard time suspending their disbelief about the character, or they feel the character in the show (or book or movie or whatever) is unreliable because of the profound change. It’s inconsistent with what had formerly been established, right?

    The issue comes down to TRUST. Why is it that the Others are so annoyed? Because we (taking my place as one of the Others here) don’t yet know if we can believe the transformation or not. Also, think about this. These Others got to know you as the really Negative Nancy who was constantly miserable. We learned to deal with you, to try to humor you and work with you, even in that negativity and horrible cycle of alcoholic addiction. We learned to operate with you behaving in one way and adjusted ourselves accordingly.

    Now the playing field has completely changed, and the Others are having to deal with this practical Stranger who has moved into your body and taken over!! Invasion of the Body Snatchers!!!

    Do we think it is all bad? OF COURSE NOT. But when the entire dynamics of a relationship with a person has occurred, and when the Others don’t know whether or not they can really TRUST it, there is bound to be some friction as the Others get to know the New You, and while they decide what to do with the ways in which the New You is acting.

    Can you blame them for being a little confused and annoyed?

    Just sayin’.

    Now, READ THIS PEOPLE: Putting this part in bold so that if people are skimming this long comment they will hopefully catch this. From the bottom of this particular Others little heart, I am totally pleased that you are discovering a new Happy Self. That’s terrific!!! I genuinely mean it, and you are just going to trust that in my mind and in the way I hope to think, I really, really do mean it. Even if my behavior might say differently. It is my INTENTION to *not* be annoyed with the New You.

    But you have to give a little grace to the people who are not used to dealing with it, put yourself in their shoes, understand what it is for them to be wary of this happy guy we do not know, and give it all plenty of time to work out.

    You will lose friendships over this, though, and maybe relationships, too. Not everyone is going to be able to adjust to the New You. I’m hopefully not one of those. But again, I’m just sayin’.

    But it will all take time. It seems to me that part of recovery is learning to have a lot of grace not only towards oneself, but towards others, too. If we can all adjust, then there will genuinely be Happy Days in the future, all of us, You, Me, and The Others.

    Anyone get what I am getting at here? Discussion about it? Have some thoughts?

    • Miss D,

      If I may hazard a guess, I’d say you (and Al) might have to get past blaming it on the alcohol.

      I can’t tell you how many mornings in the past 2+ years of not drinking I’ve woken up and said to myself “I have to quit drinking” only to remember a minute or so later I DID QUIT DRINKING. Why do I do this? Because for years my drinking was the biggest problem in my life. Of course it wasn’t the only problem but these other problems could be conveniently blamed on my alcohol abuse.

      Similarly, whatever annoyances I caused my friends or family could be easily explained away with “He’s a nice guy but he has a drinking problem.” Now what do they have to excuse it?

      I guess this is why the AAers focus on their “character defects.” Initially, the excuse moves from “drinking problem” to “dealing with issues in recovery.” But after a year or so of this, they realize (rationalize?) that the residual assholery is due to “defects” of their personality.

      But alas, there’s an easy solution: Al, start drinking lots of coffee, and if you’re an asshole, blame it on the caffeine. That’s what I do. You don’t always have to face the truth.


      • ITSB!

        Personally, the only thing i’m blaming on the alcohol was a kind of sadness that trailed me like a shadow. Now that i’m done drinking, my mood is better.

        As for character defects, i have some. Everyone has some. But like any good AAer, i’ve acknowledged them and moved on. i’ve put them to bed rather than try to drown them.

        But, i drink shitloads of coffee and try to sleep as little as possible, so there’s still areas of my life people can bitch about!

        Keep coming back, brother,

        Al K Hall

      • Just remember, Al. It’s ok to drink as much coffee as you want, as long as you have milk with it.

    • Wow, there’s a lot here to digest. i’m afraid i’m not going to be able to give a response as in depth as the one you’ve provided here.

      Just a couple of quick points.

      1) Technically, the OLD old me is the happy guy. i think i started becoming the Unhappy guy in my late teens and alcohol facilitated and precipitated that decline. i honestly believe i’m “revolving” (re-evolving) back into my natural state.

      2) i totally get that my good humor can be perceived as false / shallow / out of character…whatever color you want to paint it. Hell, i’ll even go so far to say you could be right, maybe i am fooling myself. If that means Others cannot relocate to my current state, so be it. Their reactions and choices are beyond my control. But i choose not to let that affect me or my mood.

      i’m just gonna be happy riding the Magic Bus and anyone who wants to can get on board.

      Keep coming back, Angel!

      Al K Hall

    • First off, I really LOLed at ITSB’s comment here: “But alas, there’s an easy solution: Al, start drinking lots of coffee, and if you’re an asshole, blame it on the caffeine. That’s what I do. You don’t always have to face the truth.”

      Cracked me up! 😀

      As for the rest, sure, I think there is something to this: “you (and Al) might have to get past blaming it on the alcohol.”

      It’s kind of true — there are behaviors and beliefs that came along with the alcohol. Now that the alcohol is removed, what’s left? No more alcohol to blame. I personally think that there are the addictive thought patterns that have actually become a part of Al’s brain at this point — perhaps the “character defects” that AA mentions. Those dysfunctional thought patterns, through doing the work, begin to unravel, at least in what I have seen and heard about with others, as well as observed happening in Al.

      I think that Al is on to something, though. About this here: “Technically, the OLD old me is the happy guy. i think i started becoming the Unhappy guy in my late teens and alcohol facilitated and precipitated that decline. i honestly believe i’m “revolving” (re-evolving) back into my natural state.”

      Good point. Our mutual friend who has known you since you were young has actually corroborated this fact, and it is good to bear in mind. Too bad I only met you when you were 23 the first time, and the deep unhappiness already started. I hope that I can get to know the New/Old You better and better. It really is on some days a bit like, “Who IS this person and what have you done with the “OLD” AL?!?” Body Snatchers, I say, Body Snatchers!! 😀

      But it is true: how much of the Old-Old Al (before addiction) is still left inside, being reinvigorated? How much did the alcohol actually *change* the personality, and how much of those unhappy personality characteristics and thought patterns only come out with drinking? What’s happening now that alcohol is out of the equation? My personal belief is that the core issues that turned the person into the alcoholic are still there, until they, one-by-one, one day at a time, are addressed. They have to be rooted up and examined, and this is an excavating process that can take the rest of one’s life. I put it on the record that to some degree *every* person must do this in order to become a conscious and enlightened person. Someone who is “self-actualized.” It’s not unique to addicts in recovery.

      That stuff was mostly just mind spew as I am thinking through all this stuff and am spurred on by the post. It’s also making me think I need to get my own goddamned blog about this all, lol. It’s getting to that point…

      Al, I’m so glad you are on the Magic Bus. I want you to stay on the Magic Bus! My main idea up there — now that I have re-read and seen comments — is to put a word out there to please not be too hard on The Others if they are feeling bugged. It is a fairly profound change as compared to the unhappy drinker you were. I know that The Others are either going to jump on the bus, or get left behind — it really is up to them and not up to you. Just remember, though, that how you treat The Others matters. If they are truly important people in your life, like your kids, for example, you can’t just say to them “Get on my happy bus or get out of my life!” (Not that you are saying that, but I guess I am saying please think about what it is like to wear their moccasins. You don’t actually have to WEAR them — no one needs a martyr or a co-dependent! — but maybe they are having a hard time figuring out what’s what and how to act around you now. It’s why they might seem “bugged.” See what I’m getting at?)

      I guess I just would say I hope that in your happiness you can be sensitive to others’ feelings, too. Go on and be your happy self, but perhaps be conscious about being sensitive to if someone’s apparent annoyance with the happy you is really because that person needs help in understanding how it is that you are so happy and how to cope with you being that way. Someone who is happy by themselves, but oblivious to or disconnected from the feelings of the important people around him or her is simply insensitive. This oblivion could come across as uncaring — kind of like, “I’m happy! Fuck you!” (lol — I know you are not being that way. This is a hyperbolic example to highlight what I mean, though). I know you need to focus on yourself and your sobriety first, but it would seem to me that the reason that someone even worries about sobriety in the first place is so that he or she can have a successful life in relationship to others!

      Just another two cents (along with about ten dollars) from me.
      Mrs D

      • “I personally think that there are the addictive thought patterns that have actually become a part of Al’s brain at this point — perhaps the “character defects” that AA mentions. Those dysfunctional thought patterns, through doing the work, begin to unravel, at least in what I have seen and heard about with others, as well as observed happening in Al.”

        Sure. Addicts do have different thought patterns. They discount signals from the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for strategic planning and warning of consequences, and focus on instant gratification, to their detriment. This can all be seen with fMRI. After a year of quitting drinking, and longer with some other drugs (such as methamphetamine), the brain re-arranges itself and returns to “normal.”

        So it is very likely you are seeing the pre-drinking, ambitious, romantic, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Al. And I hope for the most part you like it. It’s a wonderful resurrection! And he should be happy! I am! I’ve accomplished things in the last 2 years that would have seemed unthinkable to me when I was hitting the bottle. I’m working like I’m in my 20s even though I’m in my 40s.

        Still, personality is personality, drunk or sober. Many people told me that when I was drinking, I could be very nasty and mean. And you know what? I still am nasty and mean sometimes. I just conceal it better and act out in ways that help me obtain my goals rather than throwing a pointless drunken tantrum. I’m capable of inflicting much more psychological damage on people who piss me off now than when I was drinking. That’s what I was alluding to “blaming it all on the alcohol.” Quitting drinking did not cure me of being a dick sometimes. And why should it? There are plenty of sober assholes in the world.

        Anyway, that’s why I always carry a cup of coffee with me at work when I’m in a bad mood. So people know to give me my space. Maybe that’s what’s going on with Al, too, sometimes.

        • Wow!

          What an informative comment. i really appreciated the cortex information and it made a lot of sense in my case. One year into my sobriety, i do feel like my brain has re-wired back to normal! It’s also true that i find myself accomplishing more now than i ever could have in recent memory.

          Thanks for the insight, brother!

          Keep coming back,

          Al K Hall

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