Grace…

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I’ve been drinking a lot less in the past few days. It’s just before 5 pm. I just returned from a walk to the liquor store, and to get some mushrooms for the pizza I’m going to make later. The beer I bought is in the fridge. I turned on the radio to listen to some music as I write this. By this time of day I’m usually several drinks in. Today, none.

On the way to the store, I noticed the lovely scent of fall leaves, which are scattered all over the place today, after we had a long rain and wind storm overnight. I walked past the elementary school that’s near by. Lot’s of kids were still in the playground. Peels of delight, fun and laughter adorned the air (see pic above). As I walked past oh no — suddenly haunting memories came to mind, of my own children and now their children who I rarely see. A painful thought — but just as suddenly the pain transformed into gratitude! Gratitude, for at least having had those experiences with my own children, and to some extent with theirs. Yes, gratitude.

Then, as I walked home,  with one beer and the mushrooms in my tote, I suddenly realized — for the first time in a very, very long time, I had truly enjoyed the scent of the autumn leaves; I had truly enjoyed hearing and watching the frolicking children in the playground; I had truly enjoyed the walk to and fro! When I got home, I put the beer away and thought I’d write a little about the grace I was gifted with out there on this special fall day.

As I started to write I also realized a few other things, one especially significant. I realized that I easily put the beer away; I realized that I actually wanted to listen to music as I wrote; I realized most significantly that, true to the A.A. “Promises”, God has done something for me in the past few days that I have not been able to do for years and years under my own strength and power — granted me these simple pleasures this afternoon (see this recent post for why this is remarkable) because I have drank very little compared to before.

But most significantly — in the past few days my long-standing obsession with drinking has..been..miraculously…lifted! Yes, the obsession to go to the bar, lifted. Yes, the obsession to drink to excess, or to drink at all, lifted. Yes, all of this completely lifted, removed, vaporized. How? We can call it God, or my “Higher Power”, or even just the benevolent and loving spirit of the universe, has done all of this for me. I call that grace. Grace most gratefully received.

Yes, and amen.

Nelson

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Lackluster…

Lackluster: lacking in vitality, force or conviction; uninspired…

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It’s just after 9 pm. I watched a little TV tonight, but after a bit I realized that out of the 158 channels that I get, there was really nothing interesting to watch. Not interesting enough to keep me up anyway. I had only 3 beers tonight. That’s a record! So instead of watching TV, I thought I’d read a book. But alas, that thought vaporized before I reached the bookshelf.

Is this old age, or is this the ravages of my alcoholism? My life has no color to it. It’s all a dull stone grey. Outside, despite the sunshine, it’s forever raining. Inside, I look at the pile of dishes in my sink and wonder, “why bother…really, why?”

I remember the day, not too long ago, when I looked forward to watching a good TV show, or reading a good book. Now? Meh… This is life? This is living? I want to believe it’s not. Not life, not old age. Not, not, not and most of all not because of my drinking!? It can’t bethat — can it?

I was reading a book this morning about the “A.A. Promises”. It said that the drinking could be — no, IS — at the root of my apathy, my pale grey sky syndrome. While I want to disagree — holy crap — I do hope that that’s what’s going on here. I want to feel alive again, I want to find delight again in the simple things; a beautiful flower, a child’s smile, the taste of ice cream, the hug from a friend or even just the warm lick from a wee waggly tailed fuzzy puppy. Oh, to be able to enjoy the scent of the rain again, the sound of the symphony, the summer fireworks, the buzz of a bee, chirp of a bird, scent of an apple pie. A walk in the woods, a ride past the lake, the crash of mighty ocean waves…or just the tick of my departed mothers watch. Is it possible to see, to smell, to taste, to hear, to feel any of these simple things once again?

I do hope. I truly do hope…

Nelson

Hitting “Rock Bottom”…

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Most drunks like me think that “Hitting Rock Bottom” means being in a situation like the guy in this picture. At least, for many years that’s what I thought. Oh, I felt like I hit rock bottom many times in various circumstances, but that proved not to be so. I thought that my life just hadn’t gotten that bad enough for me yet. And so I continued on my not-so-merry way, drinkin’ and thinkin’ that “One day I’ll finally hit my rock bottom and finally stop killing myself…whenever that happens”. Until this morning.

This morning while I was contemplating the utter insanity of my drinking, I reached for my copy of the A.A. “Big Book,” hoping I might find some solace within its pages. I’ve had the book for about 15 years, but have never read it from front to back, which is what I’ve started doing in just the past few days.

Part 2 of the Big Book has the stories of many men and women who have struggled with their alcoholism and found freedom through the methods of A.A. The story I was reading this morning was about a gal who had been thinking very much the same as I–that she hadn’t “hit her bottom” yet. She like I had been thinking that so many alcoholics do end up like the poor fellow in that picture and that becomes their huge turning point for the better. Just as many people, however, it seems do not end up in an extreme situation like that — and that frustrates us!? Well, someone said to that girl, “You hit bottom as soon as you stop digging“. After reading that, I had a huge “AHA” moment.

What a simple analogy! If we are digging a hole, the second we stop digging we have a bottom right there in front of us. We don’t need to keep digging and wait to hit our bottom. That’s insanity! That’s what I have been doing for years. What a depressing, morose way to live — waiting for the worst to befall me! My “bottom” is right there the second I stop digging/drinking and then take positive steps to get out of the damn hole. My recovery can begin today, then. My bottom is precisely where and when I stop drinking. What a refreshing, hope-filled thought.

Nelson

Morning blessings…

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This cute little bird is a “Junco”. Common to my area, they summer in the cooler forests inland and winter back here along the coast. I’ve been feeding them off my balcony for a few years now. The last one I saw was back in May sometime, until this morning.

I was sipping on my morning coffee, nursing my usual hangover, and also feeling particularly anxious for some reason. “Probably just the usual morning hangover paranoia,” I thought to myself. Although, that thought didn’t calm me. What can I expect? Nothing really. Absolutely nothing, or so I thought.

And then, with gazed fixed upon the beautiful Sequoia cedar just outside my patio, I uttered a simple, desperate prayer; “Oh God, please help to not drink today”. Within a second or two of uttering, something flittered onto my patio. Yes, you guessed it, it was the first Junco back for the winter. I gasped. And then gasped again, remembering that the same thing happened a year or two ago, also right after uttering the same prayer. Coincidence? I think not. The afterglow of the moment released my anxiety and my heart was warmed. In spite of my being fundamentally agnostic, God had instantly answered my prayer.

In the A.A. literature, there is a section called, “The Promises”. One of them is, “We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves”. For me, this mornings Junco experience was a direct experience of that, also giving me hope for this afternoon when the ol’ witching hour descends and my cravings kick into high gear. Perhaps today God will give me the strength to not take that first beer.

I have hope for today, and that means a LOT. Thank you also to “whenlifeisgood” here on WordPress for so kindly adding to that.

Nelson

Enough?

I think…I feel…that I have had enough. Enough of the drinking, enough of the hangovers, enough of the anxiety, enough of the paranoia, enough of the wasted money, enough of the wasted evenings, enough of my health steadily deteriorating, enough all around, up down and sideways! I’ve been willingly, although unconsciously, committing a slow form of suicide, really. I’ve said this before, I know, but today it seems more clear, different.

Writing this feels futile, because I know I’ve been in this very place many times! Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. It’s always when I’m hungover, as I am today, although I’ve been worse. So a part of me doesn’t even believe ME. But a part of me does, or wants to at least.

As I sipped my morning coffee, I watched the little Chickadee’s flitter to and fro at the suet feeder that I have on my patio. A rush of gratitude erupted within me for those beautiful, innocent little things. And then, from my depths there followed a simple little prayer, asking God for something, anything to enable me to be free, to be finally free. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. At least I still have the flame of hope, although as time marches on, it’s down to a small flicker.

While I’m not a fan of A.A., I am going to start going to a meeting every night. I know that the bar gives me a social outlet, instead of being home alone. My hope is that going to meetings instead of the bar will help to fill the void. God, I hope. This I pray. This I hope. This, I will. This, I am.

Nelson

Checking in…verses out.

Time for a check-in, me thinks. Yes, I’ve had a few drinks. Less than usual, chiming in on a positive note.

I’ve been investigating the whole “SMART Recovery” approach to alcoholism since my last visit. It has some really good things about it. I especially like how it focuses on, as they say, “Science based” approaches to alcoholism. They de-emphasize the use of labels, such as “Alcoholic” or “Recovery” and choose instead to stand on the back of Dr. Albert Ellis, who founded the whole movement known as “Rational Emotive Therapy” (RET). Dr. Ellis died in 2007 as the age of 93.

In a nutshell, RET does not ascribe to the typical “powerless over alcohol” model made so popular with A.A. Ellis, and all of those who have preceded him and continue to promote his teachings, hold to the notion that an individual can, with appropriate guidance and understanding, get a grip on their alcoholism and can with old fashioned hard work and effort not only overcome it — it with it’s haunting labels of being alcoholic, or of one being forever in recovery — and grow past it, without the need to “become addicted to meetings instead of alcohol”, and be free. Well, SMART Recovery is now considered the 2nd most effective treatment for alcoholism, although their organization is yet minuscule compared to A.A.

So, SMART Recovery seems to work for some people. And so does A.A. And so does LifeRing and so does a bunch of other alcohol treatment and rehab centres and organizations around the world.

I think, that just as we are all unique and different human beings, that there are unique and different ways to treat alcoholism. For most it’s a matter of finding the method that works best for them…for you. There is no, “One size fits all” treatment for alcoholism out there.

So, before this post gets too long to bother reading, where does all this put me, this “One Drunk”? It puts me right into the Gumbo soup! The soup that has a little bit of everything mixed into it! There is no simple Consume soup for this guy. I have to take what I can get from all of it out there. Taylor-fit it for just me. Today I wrote out a list and posted it in three places in my apartment. The title of it is, “I will do whatever it takes to stay clean and free of alcohol today”. Then below that I wrote a list of about 20 things that I can do right now, today, to help me not drink. I put one above my toilet, one on my bedroom wall and one on the fridge. I think it’s going to help. Tomorrow, I’ll explain a little more about the philosophy behind it.

Take good care, folks!

Nelson

 

Not well…

I honestly thought that by now I would be free from this scourge. That this bitter sweet cup would have been past me by now. But no. I continue to slowly but surely poison myself, cup by cup, sip by sip, drop by drop. I’m not sharing this to solicit sympathy or ask for help or anything of the sort. I’m just stating the facts. This is my journal, “One Drunk’s Tale”, left open for all to see. To see the destruction that the demon drink can do, does do, to a Joe Blow like me.

There was a time when I wouldn’t consider going into rehab, not so long ago really. I’d go now, if I could, but I can’t. Well I could if I lost everything and ended up on the street. Then the government run rehab would take me in. That’s the last place in this world that I would like to end up in, honestly. I had the money a few years ago to afford a really nice private rehab, but not anymore.

A.A. is a good program, if you work it. If you call your sponsor. If you go to meetings. I can’t even do that. I guess I’m doomed, destined to die, of just old age maybe, in the grip of this disease. Many do. I’d rather not be one of them. But look at me. I started this blog almost 8 years ago. At least my drinking hasn’t gotten worse. One concession, but it was already bad enough.

I’ll go to a meeting today, probably. You see, I know what to do. I just don’t do it. And I don’t know why. Perhaps I’ve finally hit bottom.

Nelson