Oh man…

I would love to report that I didn’t drink today, but after getting home from the 2 pm AA meeting, which was great and refreshing, I got slammed with a voicemail message. Sorry folks. So, tomorrow will be 1.7 then. 7 is my lucky number. Let’s hope for magic number 7. I’m at whits end here…life isn’t looking very good now. Ack.

The “Devil in the details”. I truly believe that there is an evil force at work for those of us caught in addiction! I’ve written about it before, but today am even more convinced. I don’t know HOW MANY TIME’S when I have been on the brink of freedom, that something rushes in to block it. SO MANY TIMES. I really, truly, think that there is an evil force that doesn’t want us to be free! I cannot deny this phenomena any longer. EVERY TIME that I have been on the brink of freedom, this has happened to me! Enough is enough. I won’t let it take me down. Something niggles at me to suggest that I am powerless over IT. Alright, then. God, or our higher power, must be more powerful. In him/it I trust. God willing (and I know he is) I WILL be free!!!

God…IMHO

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IMHO means, “In my humble opinion”, used for years in online Forums, but which have gone by the wayside recently, sadly.

Anyway, some people who go to A.A. have difficulty conceiving of God, of believing in God. I know. Here is my conception of God, borrowed from Jung. He said, “God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans, and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse”.

To which I will add, God is the magic in the moment, the spirit in the spritzer. Goosebumps when we know something extraordinarily unusual and unique is happening. The inner knowing in a situation that would otherwise behoove us. The bird that lands close to us during our most desperate moments. A sudden coincidence that we cannot explain. The colour of the blossoms that catch our eye, the scent of the flowers that suddenly overpower us. The fresh breath of a child as they grasp and hold us without expecting. The pictures just sent from my daughter of her son playing languidly in the beach sand. The lingering moment between sunset and darkness that stirs something within our souls. That is God, and then some. Perhaps those reading could add to this in the comments? That would be nice, and another gift from God.

Is that sort of God difficult to believe in? I don’t think so. To me, that’s just the type of God I need! The one I have been longing for.

And in the end, if you still have difficulty believing, ask God — as a pure act of faith, which just means having great hope really — to reveal himself/herself/itself to you in some special way… he will, if you are open to it and looking for it. The little bird in my description above was just one of many ways he did for me. I feed the birds from my patio. Each spring the Junco’s leave for cooler weather in the deep forests. Each fall they return. One morning, in particular desperation I asked God for a sign, anything, to know that he cared, that he was there. I walked into my living room and there flew down the first Junco onto my patio, returning from the summer. I gasped with unbelief, but soon grasped the belief, the sign. That is beyond coincidence. That’s GOD. If he did it for me, many times, he will for you. Just ask! What have you got to lose? Nothing. So give it a shot…and let us know what happens!

P.S. When Jung was asked one day if he “believes” in God, he answered, “I don’t ‘believe’, I KNOW! (that God exists), because of his life-long experiences. At this stage of my life, I can say the same.

Nelson

Ugh…

Ugh. That’s the expression a friend and I use when we are texting “the morning after” a night of heavy drinking, meaning we have bad hangovers. Yup, I did it again. I’m discouraged, to say the least. I’m at wit’s end in fact. Obviously, we’re not all made from a cookie cutter, not all the same. A few days ago when I completely accepted my powerlessness over alcohol, I really thought that something would change. In fact I felt invigorated and got a lot done at work. I was feeling great. But I guess I felt too great because I worked so hard that I really tired myself out, so by 5 o’clock I was really ready for a few beers. Of course, I can’t just have a few. I did the same thing yesterday.

So it was the fatigue, but perhaps even more pivotal, a co-worker, who, out of the blue said something very irritating and upsetting. In fact when that came up I was suspicious. Meaning, if there was anything that could get me to drink, it would be something like that. Has anyone else ever noticed that when you are bound and determined to not drink that something or someone comes out of nowhere to challenge your resolve? This has happened to me time and time again.

It’s almost as if there is an evil force out there that pops out and purposefully knocks us off our feet so that we end up drinking! In fact, I have a book, The War of the Gods in Addiction, written by a Jungian analyst, David Schoen, who is an expert in addictions. He makes a very strong case suggesting that there in fact is an evil force involved in addiction. Even Carl Jung, the famous Psychiatrist, stated in a letter to Bill Wilson, one of the founders of A.A. that “An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil”.

That’s a pretty radical thing for an eminent psychiatrist to say. He said it only months before he died, at the end of a long career. Said earlier, it could have damaged his reputation. I have to agree with Jung and Schoen. I have experienced this phenomenon first hand. Jung and Schoen both think that A.A. is one of the few things that can counteract that power of evil. But I’m not saying all this to promote A.A. I’m saying it to simply point out that there really does seem to be an evil force strongly at work in alcoholism and every other true addiction. I’m curious to know if others here have experienced it as well.

Double ugh.

Nelson

So much for “resolve”…

Yup, so much “resolve”.

A.A. certainly has it right, especially the first step.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.

We alcoholics are a stubborn bunch. It’s taken me YEARS (like 15+) to admit to myself that I am powerless over alcohol, that there is nothing that I can do, think, imagine, manage, plan– absolutely nothing that I can do to free myself from alcohol’s evil grasp. The only thing I can do is throw my hands up and admit defeat. Admit defeat!? Even now as I write those words I can feel a resistance within me, a little voice down deep saying, “Admit defeat? Are you kidding!? Never ever give up. You can do it boy, you can do it! Just try a little harder, do a little more this and a little less that. You’ll die before we ever admit that you can’t do this!!!” And that’s where the little voice gives its true nature away, when it says, “We’ll die before WE admit defeat!”. Die? Ah, excuse me, but I don’t think that’s what I signed up for. I don’t want to die from drinking myself to death. No thanks! And, who exactly is this “WE” that is being referred to? Hmmmmm. Maybe my addiction is something separate from me, from my self? Hmmmmm.

Alcohol is “cunning, baffling and powerful”. It does has a spirit of its own. Funny that we call liquor “spirits”. For those truly addicted to alcohol, it is something separate from us. And it’s like having a long term contract with the devil. In the end, it will take our soul. In the meantime we mostly have fun! We love to drink, while we’re doing it anyway. How quickly we forget the hangovers! And as it progresses, we start using the alcohol to help us get over the hangovers. Then before we know it, we are drinking 24/7. That’s the nature of the beast. The ultimate goal of any addiction is to get us to kill ourselves–and have fun doing it! Strangely, we fully consent to this. We consent because the fact is–we are powerless. It deceives us for as long as possible, to convince us until we drop that we have control of it, but we DON’T.

Why is it so difficult for us to realize and admit that we are powerless over alcohol? For one, it’s normal human nature to think that we are in control of our lives. The nature of addiction, however, is that it cannot be controlled. It is beyond our power and ability to control it. Look at every other mental/emotional psychological disorder; depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, obsessive compulsion etc., etc. All of those can be successfully treated, even cured, with medication and or psychotherapy. Not so with addiction. Why? We don’t know why. That’s just the way it is. That is the nature of the beast. Perhaps one day there will be medication that will be able to cure us. Even now there are some medications that hold promise, but until then the only hope we have is to see the nature of the beast and admit we are powerless over it. That’s the first step, and that’s why A.A. has made it “Step 1”.

Today, after more than 15 years of struggle, I finally get and accept that I am powerless over alcohol. A part of me still doesn’t want to accept that! That’s the nature of the beast! That’s all we need to completely understand.

 

Day 14…detour?

I’m wondering if I should stop counting the days. 2 weeks ago I planned to not drink for 2 weeks straight. HA! So much for that plan. Counting the days was supposed to keep an exciting tally of the number of sober days. That sure as hell didn’t happen. Like usual, my plans fell apart. Like usual, I failed. Ask me if I’m surprised! Nope. But, but, but! But what? Ha-ha! These two weeks were not in vain. I’ve learned and realized something very, very important. Something that I realize, now more than ever, is critical, critical to my having any hope of successfully getting free from the bottle. In AA they call it “Hitting Bottom”.

I’ve resisted the concept of “hitting bottom” for many years. When we are truly “addicted” to alcohol, in a nutshell, “hitting bottom” means sinking to your absolute lowest state of being in your alcoholism. For many, that means having all sorts of horrible stuff happen because of the drinking, like losing your job, your family, your home, your health, your money. Some end up on the streets, or living in a rat infested flea bag hotel on skid row. Those are the worse case scenarios, of course. Many hit bottom before any or all of those terrible things happen to them. Every persons “bottom” is different.

“Hitting bottom” is beautifully described by David Schoen in his excellent book, The War of the Gods in Addiction, wherein he states, “it is…the (emotional) recognition of the hopelessness, futility, and misery of continuing on the arrogant, delusional path that one has been on”. And, as Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA once said, “hitting bottom is the essence of getting hold of AA—really”. Until we realize that there is absolutely nothing that we can do in our own power to free ourselves from our alcoholism, we will continue to stumble along and experience one defeat after another—just as I have been through in the past two weeks! Yet another defeat.

Yup, you see, my “plan” to quit drinking over the last two weeks was still MY plan, another vain ego effort to lick this thing using my “higher-power”. Using my higher-power—not depending upon it absolutely. And that is why I failed. I did it innocently, of course, because I had not yet hit my absolute “bottom”. But, last night when I was back at the pub licking my wounds and feeling terribly sorry for myself, I finally experienced—lived and felt and realized full blast the absolute futility of trying to do this with my own power and clever ego plans.

I finally experienced total ego collapse and defeat. I gave up and let go. It’s taken me FIFTEEN years to reach this critical juncture! Fifteen years. What a waste of my life! But, I know its been a necessary waste. So not a “waste”, really. Its simply been what I have had to go through to get to this point. Such is how insidious and horrible the bloody ALCOHOL has been in my life all these years. Who would have figured!? Not me! And that’s the very nature of the beast. It leads so many innocently and willingly down the road to destruction, misery and death. God willing, I’ve just taken the detour.

Nelson

Day 13…super discouraged.

I did it again. I was doing great yesterday until a friend called. I made it out to the 2 pm AA meeting. Met a guy who I think can be my new sponsor. Was feeling good about the day—and then one of my bar-buddy friends called. 10 minutes later I joined him at the pub. 4 hours later I staggered home. What happened? I dunno. I really don’t know.

Ok, maybe I do know, a little. I read an article this morning that talked about how powerful environmental cues are for triggering addictive acts. The article was specifically talking about the power that FRIENDS can have to evoke that trigger. Too bad I didn’t read that article yesterday!

So now I’m suffering today. I feel like crap, physically and emotionally. I feel like I’ve poisoned myself. A few days ago I was feeling so well, so healthy. Not today. I’m so discouraged. Where is my “higher-power”? Is it not powerful enough to get me through this? Am I destined to get worse and worse, eventually lose everything and end up dead, or at least in rehab? Bleh.

My friends know that I’m trying to do this this week! Why are they calling me? I guess they don’t think I can do it, and they are RIGHT! What to do. What to do???

Keep on keeping on, I guess. “Let go and let God”. Keep going to meetings. Get that new sponsor. All of the above plus “whatever it takes”. I’ll have to cut those “friends” off. Tell them, at least, to stop calling me, which of course just isolates me further, but thank God I live in a big city that has lots and lots off AA’ers. I can make new friends. I just gotta stay alive in the meantime. Alive, meaning stay sober, busy, being OK. Funny how I’m looking to AA now for help. I’ve been in and out of AA for many years. Mostly out. I’ve had trouble with some of their philosophy. I don’t care about that now. They are there, open, willing to help.

To be honest, I’m really scared. I’m feeling the full POWER of my addiction. Now that push comes to shove it has reared its ugly head and is trying to convince me that I’ll never be free, that it will forever dominate me, that it will kill me before it ever lets go of me. Whoa. I’m not even a religious man, but I am now! God help me! God, please help me…

Nelson

Day 12…a bit hungover

Yeeup, I did it again. Interesting how it happened. I didn’t sleep well on Monday night. I awakened tired and feeling a bit grumpy. That was my first clue. I honestly cannot remember the last time that I felt grumpy and irritable. Really. Seriously. My second clue was that I stayed grumpy and somewhat irritable for several hours. The only thing that has changed in my life recently is my drinking. Until yesterday I had only drank twice in 10 days, compared to drinking every evening for years and years. Alcohol must be my anti-grumpy medication! So, I sober up and suddenly have a grumpy day—oh GREAT. Being sober means I have to start having regular grumpy days? I sure as hell hope not. Maybe it’s still part of my sobering up; my brain still adjusting to working without the booze? I hope that’s all it is.

Anyway, I carried on yesterday as best as I could. I made a special effort to search for and make it out to a 2 pm AA meeting. I was asked to read the preamble, “How it works”. I thought that doing that might help to jolt me out of the grumps. It helped a little. But as the meeting progressed I felt progressively worse. I felt like my blood pressure was going through the roof. I was a bit feverish even. Withdrawal effects after almost 3 days without a drink? I didn’t feel like that at all last week when I detoxed myself. What was this all about?

Half-way through the meeting I decided that I would stop by the pub on the way home. Have just one to take the edge off. You know. Just one, maybe two. I left the meeting early. As I walked to the pub I felt so strange, like nothing I have ever felt before. Walking was an effort. I felt light-headed, empty, frustrated, desperate, discouraged, defeated. “Whoa”, I thought to myself, “this is something new. Oh great, just what I don’t need, something new”. At the pub, I ordered my favourite draft. Within a few minutes the grumpiness feeling lifted. By the time I finished the first pint all of the other feelings evaporated. I felt normal again. What a relief. Maybe it was withdrawal after all. Then a couple of my friends wandered in and the rest is history. A few hours later I staggered home.

This morning I lucked out, feeling not much of a hangover, thank God. I was tempted to give myself shit, to throw buckets of shame all over myself, but I didn’t. That never did me any good in the past. I need to focus on the positive—in the past 10 days I have only drank 3 times. Only 3 times in 10 days!!! That’s a bloody record for me! Wow! I didn’t know I had it in me! Atta boy Nelson and thank you to my higher power!

Ok, I do feel a little bad about even those 3 days. My two week plan was to have no drink at all! I guess if I had gone into a residential rehab program, then I’d be on Day 11 with no drink. And maybe the same if I had gone to the Daytox program. But hey, I have made progress—until this week, I’ve been drinking every day for 37 years! Give me a break! I’m choosing to give myself a break. I’m not going to drink today, and then again tomorrow, and the next day if all goes well. I’m going to two AA meetings a day now. Those really help. I’m exercising. I’m eating well. If in 2 or 3 days I wake up grumpy again, I’ll push past it. I won’t go to the pub. I’ll go to the gym instead, or call my AA sponsor (who hasn’t heard from me in at least a year). As the AA “Big Book” urges, I’ll do whatever it takes to not drink. I have faith in my higher power to see me through this. Already, amazing coincidences have arisen in the past 10 days to help me, and I expect all that to continue, as I continue on this very interesting but somewhat scary journey to sobriety.

Nelson