Monthly Archives: November 2012
Alcoholics understand better than most the concept of the double personality. There’s the person we know we are, and then there’s The Other, the spirit who takes control and does things we never would.
Reading this review of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, i learned that Tolkien understood, too.
“1:10:56 There is an argument to be made that the Ring is a symbol of addiction. The whole internal debate Gollum goes through over the ring sounds like an AA meeting.”
i checked out the film at that point and found the following debate between Sméagol and his alter ego, Gollum.
[Nighttime, Frodo and Sam are asleep. Gollum is crouching in a corner by himself.]
We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!
No! Not Master.
Yes, Precious. False. They will cheat you, hurt you, lie.
Master’s my friend.
You don’t have any friends. Nobody likes YOU…
[Covers his ears] Not listening. I’m not listening.
You’re a liar and a thief.
[Shaking his head] Nope.
[Starts to weep and whimper] Go away.
Go away?! [Cackles] HAHAHAHA!!
[Weeping and in a small voice] I hate you. I hate you!
[Fiercely] Where would you be without me? Gollum. I saved us. It was me. We survived because of me!
[Resolute] Not anymore.
What did you say?
Master looks after us now. We don’t need you.
Leave now and never come back.
[Louder] Leave now and never come back!
[Growls and bares his teeth] Arrrgh!!!
LEAVE. NOW. AND. NEVER. COME. BACK!
[Sméagol pants and then looks around.]
We… we told him to go away, and away he goes, Precious! [He hops around in joy and does a little dance.] Gone, gone, gone! Sméagol is free!
Nice summary of the last 22 months of my life…
Everyone knows that every Friday my work has an all-you-can-drink cocktail party. When i was drinking, Friday was a regular reminder of what kind of binge drinker i was because no matter how many promises i made to myself, my wife, even my kids, i always got sucked back into the eddy of “just one more”. After that came phone calls and apologies and walking unevenly home and the only thing buoyed me other than the beers i always stole from the office and carried in the deep pockets of my trench coat was the knowing that when i stumbled late into wherever i was supposed to be that there would be some more alcohol there.
Last night i made plans to eat some fast food and see a movie with my 17-year-old son. To meet him at the restaurant, i had to leave work at 5:45 (the cocktail party starts at 5:30, unless you start at the all-you-can-drink wine lunch)—i left 5 minutes early. i did not try to pound as many beers as i could fit into 15 minutes only to end up unable to tear myself away from free booze and calling him with promises i would make it up later. i did not stand him up and i did not let him down.
After our fast food dinner, as we sat waiting for the movie to roll, i realized all i’d done was make and keep an appointment with my son, something most (non alcoholic) people take for granted. It’s such a little thing and yet it is really such a huge thing when i think about it. And i do. A lot. And i’m not the only one.
PS i hate the title of this post but like it too much to change it. Just so’s ya know.
You know that moment when you laugh because you think the person is making a joke but then you can tell from their expression they were dead serious? That’s exactly what happened to me the first time i heard someone use the expression, “Emotional Hangover”.
After that initial social foot in mental mouth, i dutifully kept my “Next you’ll be telling me about the Le Mans birth of your inner child” asides to myself.
Until i got sober. Then i recognized the shaky weakness in my stomach, the fatigue, sadness and headache after an emotional enema for what it was: a hangover. i’ve probably been having them forever, only they were hiding behind the alcohol hangovers.
Fortunately, the cure seems to be the same…early to bed and lots of sleep.
Not only did sobriety save my life, it gave me a life worth saving.
Alcoholism defined me for the longest time. i joked about it (“I don’t have a drinking problem, ‘cept when I can’ find a drink” [Tom Waits], “i’m a writer; drinking is a job requirement”, “i was an alcoholic but the my tolerance went up”…), i wrote about it, planned my day around it, denied it, survived it, and tried to hide it.
Right after i stopped drinking, i was afraid drinking defined me and didn’t know what ‘I’ meant anymore. i tried referring to myself as “alcoholic in recovery” for a while, then went back to “writer”. i also had “Coffee Addict”.
In the last couple of months, i’ve found my coffee is backing up because i no longer finish my morning travel mug during my commute so now i have that to polish off along with my “arrive at work” double instant espresso but i can’t finish all of that before 11 when i go the coffee shop for my morning espresso and then i have to gulp all the leftover dregs cold before lunch and my dessert coffee.
i’ve decided to drink less coffee. Logical, right? Not for me. It took me weeks to come to this obvious conclusion–that i no longer need to force myself to maintain my coffee intake and that i should just scale it back instead. i’m grateful now that i can recognize it and, more importantly, i can make necessary changes without threatening who i am.
i no longer define myself because i will no longer limit myself.
“Drinker” is a word. i’m neither.
i love the above picture: it’s the epitome of procrastination. Basically, it’s the short version of “It was easier to put this piece of paper here than empty the dishwasher. I’ll do it later–unless you want to first.”
Procrastination is one of my biggest character defaults. Alcoholism complimented that very well because i could hide behind the bottle to escape doing what needed to be done. Some of my procrastination (like with cleaning) was borne out of laziness; most of it, though, was fear based.
i was afraid of taking mail out of the mailbox, and then i was afraid of opening the envelopes once i finally did. i was afraid to answer the phone and the doorbell would send me into a near panic. i was afraid to do most anything because i knew that if i did it, there was a chance i would fail. So it was easier to not do anything at all. Until it wasn’t.
One of the main reasons i attempted suicide in January 2011 was linked to financial problems. Those troubles originally sprang from—and then were exacerbated by—fear-based procrastination. Like a drunken ostrich, i was burying my head in the bottle hoping my problems would evaporate. In the meantime i was afraid to check my bank account, scared to open mail from my bank, and petrified of picking up registered letters from my landlord at the post office.
In sobriety, i’m learning 1) to recognize procrastination the moment i tell myself “i’ll do that later” and to do it right away, (2) that “rigorous honesty” means confronting real life on its terms and dealing with it as best i can, 3) avoiding an unpleasant action is far worse than doing it.
“Emptying the dishwasher” with consistency means my dirty dishes don’t back up and mess up my kitchen.
i live to write, but i’m not a writer, i’m an reviser.
My fiction drafts are very rough. When i reread them, i sense the parts that don’t work, like that feeling when you think there’s one more step than there is. Somehow, unfortunately, i’m able to tell myself “Good enough” and leave it be.
It is only after i forget about the piece for a week or so that i’m able to recognize the passages that don’t work and change or delete them. i hone the phrasing of the text until it reads exactly the way i feel it. “Good enough” is no longer an option, because “Good Enough” is not good enough.
Recovery is the art of revising myself. Recovery is realizing i am not good enough and recognizing what behaviors need to be changed or eliminated and what thoughts need to be elaborated.
i am a work in progress.
Alcoholics are egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.
This is one of the truest things i’ve heard in or out of AA. i felt like this for decades but was never able to frame it with words. Fortunately, now i’m learning how not to need to.
How to Solve this Conundrum
The size between Large and Small? Balanced.
The trick is acting Right-Sized. As soon as my sponsor used this phrase, i instantly knew what he was talking about. Acting “right-sized” means staying within the norms of the situation and not getting carried under or away.
The easiest way to become “right-sized” is doing esteemable acts or anonymous good deeds. If i do something nice that no one will ever find out about, 1) i fight my ego because doing things with no recognition is humbling and 2) i heal my inferiority complex because i’m helping others.
The size between Large and Small? Right.