And when i say ‘Relapse’, i don’t mean mine but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s. He forgot that we cannot drink from the same river twice.
TMZ reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s swan dive into addiction started with a slip: a sip of alcohol. He had been clean for 23 years, and then had a drink at a wrap party and the rest, unfortunately, is history.
i have met people in AA who had decades of sobriety and watched it all slip away when they forgot they couldn’t even have one drink. Their horror stories of what it was like when they “went out” are one of the things that helps keep me sober.
Before i got sober, i wallowed in my alcoholism, wore it like a puke stain, felt proud about how i could binge with regularity and still balance home and work (here’s the secret: i couldn’t).
Five years ago, i was so cavalier about my drinking i started the other website (Diarrhea of a Chronicle Drinker), elected myself Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, established D.R.I.N.K.E.R. (Drunks Really Involved Now Known as Exiles Reunited), and founded the Bar None.
In recovery, one of the first best truths i learned was when a fellow AAer said, “I can never be cavalier about my drinking again.” i knew exactly what she meant as soon as she said it. i can choose to lose my sobriety whenever i want, but i cannot go back to the place i was before. i know too much, now.
Picking up the drink again would mean drinking with a vengeance and in a few weeks or months, i would be at the same place it took me thirty years to arrive at the first time. But the destination would be the same, except my life might not be saved.
Understanding that, and knowing the other option is happiness in recovery, make it easier for me to choose ‘sobriety’ each time.
Remember not to forget.
i met this guy a couple years ago, soon after i got sober. He seemed nice enough, but i secretly mocked his positive outlook when he wasn’t around. See, i have a hard time believing in happy optimists because i suspect they’re either lying to themselves or me.
Anyway, i started seeing more of him. At first it was just in the rooms, then i’d happen bump into him at random places (in the street, for example) and soon we were spending a lot more time together. He kind of grew on me, so i learned to forgive him his outlook on life even if i still found it Pollyanna-ish, naïve, and just plain silly.
After that, though, i started seeing him all the time. Like he’d show up where i work, and even in my apartment! Imagine my shock the first time i woke up and found him in my bed with me!
…that happy, joyous and freaky guy i used to make fun of is me. And now that buoyant boy aspect of me is moving in and taking over. Slowly, surely, and thankfully.
What do you do when The Voices tell you to give in and up? The answer is insultingly simple.
Think of something else.
i heard in the rooms that our brains are capable of only having one thought at a time. If that thought is one you don’t want, to change your mind you only need to change your thought.
Those of us in Alcoholics Anonymous like to use the Serenity Prayer for this, and we have no exclusivity on it by any means. You could try the Buddhist “Om” or even the lyrics to your favorite song (Bob Marley works well). Mentally repeat this mantra for a couple of minutes and soon your train of thought will be sidetracked and back on the right track.
Overheard in the rooms – in prison:
I’m gonna try that God thing, because I’m just done making decisions on my own. It’s like I have 2 companies in my head – one that manufactures BS and another that buys it.
This was overheard by a woman in recovery who volunteers in a prison ministry as part of her Step 12.
[Thank you Miss Anne Thrope for sharing this with me.]
You could pig out on candy and not have any dinner.
You should just binge on TV all weekend.
Take another 5-minute break on top of the 18th 5-minute break you’re just finishing.
Just click on one more link.
You owe it to yourself to look for every sexy picture of Amber Heard every leaked online.
You deserve a drink.
Angry Birds is on Facebook!? And you want to write!?
Maybe it’s just me, but i realized the other day that my cravings come in voices. I’m not saying the fish sticks in the freezer are telling me to kill my boss, but when i’m tempted to press the “fuck it” button, the temptation comes in the form of words. Exactly like those above.
The frustrating thing is that i recognize all of those actions won’t make me happy, but i have to take the time to quell the voice before i can enjoy my time. Or sometimes i give in (except for the drink, of course) and feel some degree of bad about it later.
At least now i understand that voice is not right. Before, because it came from inside me, i thought it was what i really wanted. The more meetings i attend and the more service i give, the faster i’m able to recognize the voice as temptation.
But here’s the thing i don’t get. Where does this voice come from? Where inside of me do i get these messages that will lead me to being unhappy?
Do i love myself?
As an infant, i was a playmate to myself.
Through puberty, i was a stranger to myself and, as i’d been taught never to talk to strangers, i felt very alone and alienated.
Then, i took up the bottle and got to know myself a little better.
When i was drinking i had a passionate, love-hate relationship with myself. i was like Sid & Nancy where i rocked both roles–enabling my own dysfunction with heartfelt loathing.
Towards the end of my alcoholism, i divorced myself in a very acrimonious and destructive trial. As i had to live with myself afterwards, there was a lot of blame and animosity.
Eventually, this led to attempted murder when i tried to kill my other half by killing myself.
Now i’ve passed the reconciliation phase and have been making up to myself.
Do i love myself? Hard to say.
i do admire myself and i’m better at listening to myself, which means i can live with myself again. And every day that gets a little easier.
What about you? Care to share your ‘personal’ relationship?
When i was 25 years old, i tried to become an alcoholic.
During a period that lasted a week, i woke up, showered, dressed for work and sat in the recliner in my living room while i drank two glasses of wine with a purpose. And by “with a purpose” i mean that i did it even if i didn’t want to and i did it for a specific reason.
i forced myself to gulp wine like medicine (or poison) before driving to work because i wanted to be a real alcoholic.
Some alcoholics cannot live without alcohol, they get the DT’s if they don’t imbibe and can drink almost constantly and not get overly drunk. i
was am not this kind of alcoholic. When i was active in my alcoholism, i could go several days, even up to a week, without a drink. i did not wake up with cravings, i did not eat hand soap at work or hide bottles in the bathroom.
But once i had one glass, i would not stop until i was physically unable to have another.
My ‘problem’ was that i didn’t think binge drinkers qualified as alcoholics and i desperately (and ‘desperately’ is really the perfect word here) wanted to become one.
Why? Simple. i hated who i was and i hated my life and i wanted something to change. Anything to change. Change for the worse was still a change. i hoped to become a skid row bum with a red nose living in my clothes and sleeping on benches because at least that was different than what i was living at the moment.
The good news is this story has a happy ending. i learned that binge drinkers are alkies like the rest and found a way out of my hell. The bad news is, it took me 23 more years of suffering to get there.
- Wake up in the morning.
- Realize i’m alive.
- Feel sad about that fact.
- Sit up, put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees, my face in my hands and wonder how it ever got this hard.
- Wait for the courage to rise.
This was my daily routine for so many years it’s embarrassing. Consistently, the first thoughts that crept into my waking mind were like roaches: gross, depressing and impossible to get rid of.
Since becoming sober, i wake up in a neutral mood. Usually, my first thought is a simple question, “Do i work today?” If the answer is ‘No’, i feel good. If the answer is ‘yes’, i don’t feel bad.
Last Saturday, i was having lunch with some AAers (and that victory is a whole ‘nother post) after a meeting and i mentioned this crap to a friend. He told me that his therapist told him that the first thought of the day is great way to judge where your head’s at. (FWIW, the friend’s first thought was “How do I get out of my marriage”!–he’s now divorced.)
So, this is my challenge for you. Over the next couple days, try to capture your first thought of the morning. Take your mental temperature first thing when you wake up, and share it here with us if you can!
When i was abusing alcohol, i often felt i’d earned the right to drink.
If something good happened, i got to drink to it and if something bad happened, i had to drink through it.
Now, i’ve lost the right to drink but have earned the right to be happy.
i came out ahead, because i’m finally getting what i deserve.