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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Midtown…

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Uptown, downtown…today it’s Midtown. I had high-hopes for today, to not drink, but perhaps my high-hopes were not realistic. Today is our Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. I have no family close-by, no friends close enough in heart to invite me to celebrate with them, and so for the 6th year in a row I spent the day alone. Well, not exactly. I went to my “Cheers” and did enjoy a couple hours with a friend there. He celebrated Thanksgiving last night with his family. Today, he was back to work and coincidentally stopped in to our mutual cheers spot. So that was nice, at least.

Thanksgiving is a time for family really. Since I have no family left, I guess it’s not a time for me. The memories of Thanksgiving’s past remain, however, sadly — and happily. I had many good years with my family in times past. For that I am truly grateful, truly thankful. So, it’s not a bad day, despite my being alone now. I have those beautiful memories.

That said, I still WISH I could to this day still celebrate. My children didn’t even wish me a happy Thanksgiving this year….probably because they know that I am still alone and don’t know how to deal with a father who they have mostly ignored for all too many years now, their still being so closely tied to their Mother. My son is 34. My daughter is 26. They both live within 3 blocks of their dear Mother.

Meanwhile, all these years my kids continue to celebrate everything without me, year in and year out. I  have been left out of all of that for 23 years now, thanks to the horrible devastation of divorce. Oh well. Thank God for my beers tonight. At least they helped me to get through yet another one.

Nelson

Uptown…

So tonight whilst I am thoroughly enjoy my beer-fest, the guy who I recently asked to sponsor me came in to the restaurant for dinner. He sat at the bar, alone. I heard him say that his wife and child were out and about somewhere, so he was on his own for the evening. I carried on with my bar-buddy. We had a few more and then left. Just before I left, James came over and wished me well. Shook my hand even. Very nice of him. He’s been sober for 22 years. He’s around 48 now. Anyway, it was nice to see him.

So, I’ve been on the cusp, so to speak, of quitting the drink. Each day, however, I seem to find an exceptional reason to avoid the inevitable. The “inevitable”, yes. I know now that I can easily quit the drink if I choose to do so. I might suffer a couple of days feeling odd or out of sorts, but I won’t go through and major alcohol withdrawal, I know that now. As my therapist said to me recently, “You have no problem stopping…your problem is deciding to stay stopped”. How right she is. I guess that makes me very lucky compared to those who have to go through huge alcohol withdrawal when they finally stop.

Well, here’s to tomorrow. Yet another day that I have planned to stop. I know that I need to. I know that I must. I know all of that. I just need to do it.

Nelson

Downtown…

Downtown, having had my fill of swill, I watch. I watch the young couple flitterpating between them, I see the way overweight guy coming in for even more — pizza.

And then the owner is fawning over his beautiful Japanese girlfriend who just came in, trying to swoon her with some sort of wings, in a foil pan.

He looks at her with great hope and expectation. She gorges, casting no glances towards the one who, now obvious to me, kept her alive for yet another day. Food first! Sex later, I suppose.

Were I younger, or in power like this fellow, I would be tempted to do the same…until…until I watched her so desperately, voraciously devour the food….

And then he asks her for $3 so that he can tip the server. What??? She meekly agrees and digs into her layers of purse and pockets to find it.

Hunger — for food or sex or in my case alcohol, surpasses everything. Tonight I see both sides of a coin that should not be tossed.

Nelson.

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

Little hope…

I wrote this in response to someone here going through her own hell — as the spouse of one of we drunks. I think it can stand here as a statement of the devastation that alcoholism can cause in families.

36 years ago my best friend, who was 21 at the time, came home from university one day. He entered the garage where he expected to see his alcoholic father doing his usual puttering about the garage on his various woodworking projects. Instead, my friend found his father swinging from the rafters. So ended years of living with a relentless alcoholic, so ended the fights between his father and mother, so ended the drunken rants. So ended my friends University studies. And so began my friends own gradual slow but sure spiral down the same path of misery. I never forgave his father for doing that — that way. Sometimes there IS no solution. Only the hoped for better out of nothing but bad options. Living in hell while still alive, not knowing what’s coming tomorrow. How to choose when there are no good choices? We hope for the best, I suppose.

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