i had a cold last week. It was strange because i felt it coming on, so i bought a box of medicine that contained a 5-day treatment and at the end of the 5 days, i felt better. Very strange, indeed.
Because when i was drinking and i had a cold i would self-medicate with booze and that would make me sicker and i would procrastinate buying medicine until i was so sick that the medicine wouldn’t really work and i would feel like crap for at least 2 weeks.
i’m still sick, but i’m getting better. i’m sick with alcoholism, but i’m seeing some specialists about it.
i will die with my disease, but i will not die from it.
Indie genius Hip Hip poet Macklemore is addicted to codeine based cough syrup. In 2008, his breakout hit “Otherside” put him on the rap map as he bantered about overcoming his addiction to “easter pink” or “purple rain”.
In October 2012, he released the truly inspiring album The Heist with Ryan Lewis. On it, the song “Starting Over” tells the very personal story of his relapse. In an intimate and eloquent song, he describes the pain of letting down both loved ones and fans he helped in sobriety, and he explains the reasons for his relapse.
Like so many others, I just never thought I would
I never thought I would
Didn’t pick up The Book
Doin’ it by myself
Didn’t turn out that good
i’ve been sober for over 23 months and 4 days as of today. i’m extremely fortunate that i have been able to stay sober so long on my first try.
That i have not relapsed has nothing to do with personal strength or wanting it more or trying harder. If i’ve avoided a relapse it’s because i recognize that i’m weak and will never be able to control my drinking, so i let my Higher Power and others do it for me.
My continued sobriety is also thanks to those in the rooms and here online that have relapsed. In each of their stories i see my own and, as i know i’m no better than they are, their relapses serve to remind me how vulnerable i am. Each harrowing tale, disappearing face and name that evaporates on my blog roll frightens me and forces me to rise up from my laurels and fight like my life depends on it.
Because it does.
For those of you who have relapsed, know that your experiences are not wasted but serve to aid others who suffer. And remember, it is never too late to stop for the last time.
i’m a cat person, so it makes sense i have a cat’s life. i’m not very demonstrative, can be aloof, like to be on my own and am not a big fan of going outside. But i need to have a dog’s life.
Sunday was a super sunny in Yeaman, but i didn’t need to go outside so i didn’t. That night, as i lay myself down with my weekly Sunday blues, i understood that, like a dog, i need to go outside at least once a day.
In my drinking days i was able to live inside an alcohol bubble, cut off from the universe. Isolating, however, is dangerous for me because, when i withdraw from the world, i forget i’m part of it. When i’m not a part of humanity but apart from it, i lose touch with reality and, like a shipwreck survivor lost at sea with nothing on the horizon, i lose all sense of perspective.
i need to walk myself, like a dog, to keep myself grounded.
Sorry in advance if i pee on your shoes or hump your leg.
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.
In our meeting last week, my sponsor pointed out that the second year of recovery is a real bear.
The first year, all the alcoholic has to do is focus on one concept:
i don’t drink no matter what.
In the second year, sobriety permeates more of our day to day and our lives become larger. With more recovery comes more responsibilities. The trick now is to power through difficult situations and make it through to the other side.
You see the diagram at the top? The Reality line is squiggly, but it still finishes better off and going in the right direction.
Fair warning, i’m working on Step 6 in Alcoholics Anonymous and so my next few posts will be about that.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
WTH? Defects of character, moi? What defects of character?
One of the things i like most about AA is that there is a clear, practical program to get better. It’s as easy as connecting the dots.
Here’s a short Step By Step refresher course of how i got here.
In Step 1 of AA’s 12 Steps, i admitted my life had become unmanageable because of my inability to handle my drinking.
In Step 2, i said that i obviously couldn’t control my drinking, so a power outside myself was going to have to. My Sponsor and i decided this “Higher Power” was AA Meetings.
In Step 3, i turned over control of my drinking and life to this power.
In Step 4, i made a list of all the deepest, darkest defects of my character and the actions these defects led me to.
In Step 5, i went over this list with another person (my AA Sponsor).
Now, in Step 6, i’m letting my Higher Power know that i’m ready to give these up to him/her/them/us.
Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Shared by someone in the rooms tonight.
With wisdom like that abounding, is it any wonder i love going to meetings?
Speaking of meetings, my good friend Riversurfer posted a picture of her AA room over at her Rockdweller’s Blog, which motivated me to take the above shot of my AA room here on Tuesday nights. My coffee service is taking shape on the tiny red table in the background.
Oh yeah, those of you who may have thought i made a typo in the caption to the above photo have probably never been to an AA meeting!