A Tale of two people….

I’m hung over again today. Quite hung over. And like usual I’m remorseful and full of resolve and determination to. not. drink. today. But I know that by 4 pm I’ll be ready and raring to go again. Why? I used to wonder why, why I could feel such strong resolve and determination about quitting in the morning and then by 4 in the afternoon seem to have completely forgotten about my mornings determination. I think I have figured out why! I think it’s quite simple. I’ll tell two stories to illustrate.

Story One: Let’s say Sally accidentally slips on the stairs and lands with a thump on her rump. The next morning she wakes up with a very sore back. Ouch, she complains, that really hurts. She tells herself that she is going to be way more careful when going down the stairs today and in the future. Naturally she craves to be free of that pain, so she pops a pain-killer and goes about her day as the pain gradually subsides. By the end of the day she’s feeling great again, free of the pain. Taking a little extra care she navigates those stairs just fine.

Story Two: Let’s say Bob drinks too much and wakes up the next morning with a really bad hangover. Oh man does he feel sick! He knows darn well it’s because he drank too much last night, so with fierce resolve he determines to not drink again tonight, or at least to not drink that much. So he takes some pain killers if he has a headache and by the end of the day his hangover is gone and he’s feeling great again. So great, that he has a drink…thinking that maybe tonight he can limit himself to “just a few”. Sometimes, he knows, he’s able to do that. And sometimes he does. And sometimes he can have no drinks at all, but most of the time, well, you know Bob!

What’s the difference between these two stories (other than women being smarter than men)? Let’s first look at what is similar about Bob and Sally. In both stories they wake up not feeling well; in pain or hung over. Naturally, they don’t like the way they feel, so they both do whatever they can to relieve their pain or discomfort. As the day goes on, their pain or discomfort subsides and they feel great. That’s where the similarity between the stories ends.

What happens next? In the first story, after waking up with her sore back, does Sally  walk down the stairs later that day and purposefully make herself slip on her rump again? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. But in the second story, Bob feels great by later in the day and then gets a craving to have a drink, or two, or three, or four and before you know it…we know how that ends. He’s hungover again the next morning, so he beats himself up wondering why, why, why did he do it to himself again?! And the cycle continues, day in and day out. Bob gets pretty discouraged with himself.

Here’s the point. The discomfort we feel in the morning may have nothing to do with the failure of our resolve or the lack of our determination. Nothing. Bob was hung over because he drank too much the night before—and then he did it again. He did it again—that’s the point. And that’s what all drunks do. Why? I think that we love the effect that the alcohol has on us SO much, that we crave it (or in serious cases are completely addicted to it) so we don’t even think about the consequences. We don’t even care about the consequences, because we have an unnatural reaction to alcohol that other people don’t—we love the effect it has on us SO much that we want to feel that effect over and over again. That’s one of the reasons why they call alcoholism a disease (the other being, it kills us eventually, if let run rampant).

Understanding this today has relieved me from a lot of guilt. For years I have beat myself up in the morning and wondered why, why, why do I keep doing this to myself? I now know that it’s not because of my lack of resolve or determination. It’s because I have a dis-ease in my body, an unnatural love for alcohol and I’ll do almost anything to repeat and enjoy that love for it regardless of the consequences. In fact, because we alcoholics love alcohol so much, I think that down deep most of us don’t really want to be free of it. We just want to be free of the negative consequences of using it! Right!? Well, we all know that there is a big problem here. The solution to it eludes both us and the professionals who try to help us. How to be free of that unnatural love of alcohol, this dis-ease? I aim to find out, before it kills me.

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

Day 23…hungover again.

3

How easily I slipped back into the womb of alcoholic slumber. I’ve been drinking like a fish every day for the past 2 weeks. A lot too, like 8, even 10 drinks some days, like yesterday. And then I sit here in the morning terribly hungover and wonder what the hell happened! My therapist suggested that my drinking is an unconscious desire to crawl back into comfort of my mothers womb, where everything is safe and cozy and really OK, where I don’t have to deal with life, as it is. I completely agree.

Ok, so did manage to put in 5 days in a row a few weeks ago without drinking. That’s a day longer than I’ve been able to put in without drinking in the past fifteen years. On the 5th day the world opened up to me, everything became suddenly so bloody clear, like I’d wiped the dirt off the window. My memory was returning, I was sleeping well, I had zero anxiety, my stomach felt normal, my appetite was returning, I was thinking so cogently and well. It was all too much for me! Way too much. Too much too quickly, so I started drinking again and now I’m back to hangovers and shitty sleep and a gassy, distended stomach and paranoia in the morning and of course drunk texting, but not in a bad way thank God, at least, just in an idiotic way. And I’m coughing like a smoker.

I haven’t shaved in three days. I’m forgetting to brush my teeth for 2 or 3 days at a time. Well I’m not sure about that because my memory is all screwed up again. And yet, in spite of being back at the bloody trough, something quite remarkable has been happening—I’ve been having feelings lately. Like, real feelings about stuff, like warm and fuzzy feelings when I hear a child’s voice, or see pretty flower, or smell freshly cut grass, or imagine even, as I did this morning, the smell of a plump ripe tomato on the vine. In fact, I just heard a bird of some sort in the distance; a seagull I think, and a warm sensation immediately rose up within me. And I just had a craving for a bologna sandwich, with mustard on it!

I haven’t had these sorts of feelings or cravings for so many years. I didn’t even miss them! Missing things is also a feeling response, so of course I didn’t miss them! What a glorious thing is happening to me with these odd things, these warm and fuzzy things called feelings!

I know this is the direct result of putting in those 7 alcohol-free days. My brain was able to start healing. My ongoing psychotherapy is probably helping as well. All I know is that I really like these new feelings. I really, really like them. I want more!

So, starting today I’m going to wean myself off the booze again, just like I did a few weeks ago, taking just a few ounces of wine when I feel I absolutely must. That worked extremely well; I had very little withdrawal. And I’m going to start going back to the AA meetings every day. And when that clarity of mind hit’s me again, with God’s help I’m going to hang in there and keep on keeping on. Yes! I want more…more feelings…more LIFE. I want to be free. This is my quest. Oh God, please help me!

Nelson

Day 6…got sloshed last night.

Day 6 of my sobriety….

Yup, I got sloshed last night. And, yup, I’m still calling today my Day 6 because I see this as a process, not a competition. Unlike AA thinking, I don’t think I need to reset the clock and start from Day 1 again. I didn’t take a step back last night, I just temporarily wandered off the path–the clear path I started on 6 days ago, the one I’m back on today.

It was virtually impossible not drink last night actually. I spent the afternoon helping an elderly friend of mine. I took him to the hospital for his MRI, and then after that to get his blood work done. Last week he was diagnosed with ALS—Lou Gehrig’s disease. A neurodegenerative disease, it’s terminal. There is no cure and even no medication that’s effective at slowing it’s inevitable progression. Once diagnosed, the expected time till death is 2 to 5 years. My friend can barely walk now. Sadly, I don’t think he’ll even make it to 2 years. So, after the 4 hours it took for us to get his medical things done, I know he absolutely loves to go to the pub, so that’s where I took him, with pleasure, for him, not for me, so that I could get sloshed. He was very grateful. Of course I joined him drinking beers. I gave myself permission, so to speak. But I didn’t give myself permission to get sloshed. Well all alcoholics know, one beer so easily leads to more—often many more. I had many last night…

I slept like crap, waking up numerous times. This morning, I’m feeling quite hungover. I’ve been worse, but I already know that today is a write-off. I’ll not go for “hangover relief” today, however. I have no plan to drink anything at all. I’m back to Day 1. If I have to have a wee bit of wine at some point today to help with any withdrawal, I will, but I don’t think that will be necessary. I have successfully detoxed myself this week, for the most part. Yesterday I was feeling very spacey, not grounded so to speak, but still felt very well, as my blog post described. That spacey feeling isn’t there today, but that makes sense. My brain hasn’t been without alcohol for 5 days in a row, for YEARS. Like, 13 or 14 years, so of course my brain is going to take some time to adapt to being alcohol free. I can live with the spacey feeling. It is SO much better than how I feel today. Today I feel cloudy, ill, numbed.

I’ve been on “vacation” for the past few days. In fact, as I noted earlier, I planned these two weeks off expressly for the purpose of getting myself sober. Yesterday, until I started to drink around 5 pm, aside from feeling a bit spacey, I couldn’t believe how well I felt, how clearly I was thinking, how little anxiety I had, how positive I was feeling. Comparing today to yesterday, I can see more clearly than ever just how much the alcohol has dumbed me down, today, and for way too many years. For oh-so-too-many years. It’s a bloody, tragic, horrific loss. A loss of precious time in my life (I’m nearing 60) and a horrible loss of my potential. Reflecting on this now makes me want to drink! But I won’t. My health is good, I know I still have time to improve the quality of the rest of my life by getting, and staying sober, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. This is my heroes quest, my dragon to slay, with Gods help.

Thanks for being here with me on my treacherous journey to sobriety and sanity!

Nelson

6 months drunk…..

Wow, I just read the April 14th update from my journal, where it described how on the 13th I chose to just “Don’t drink”. It worked. (I’ll describe that another time). That was almost 6 months ago. I don’t think I’ve had a sober day since. In fact, until THIS MORNING I haven’t had a day without at least a mild hangover. At least once a week I have had a MAJOR hangover – so hung over that I felt like I was going to die. Not much has changed since then. Yesterday I had one of those major hangovers. By 2:30 I was at the Irish pub down the street having my favorite hangover drinks; Guinness. 2 pints of Guinness and 2 pints of Harp lager. After that, I headed home. I almost went up the street to my favorite pub — my “Cheers” on my way home. In fact I walked up there to see if my buddy Ryan’s truck was there. Had it been, I most certainly would have gone in and continued to drink. Thankfully he wasn’t there, so I hi-tailed it home. I didn’t WANT another drink actually. In fact the thought of it made me feel like I was going to puke, but I would have gone in if Ryan had been there! How amazingly disgusting this disease is. Once home I rested for a while in front of the TV and when I had enough energy to get off the sofa I made myself a delicious Taco dinner.

Going to sleep last night was difficult without the booze in my system. I ended up taking two sleeping pills and finally went to sleep about midnight. At 4 am I awakened to go to the bathroom and thankfully drifted back to sleep until about 8:30. When I opened my eyes then I was still very groggy, but as I lay there slowly waking up, for the first time in a very long time I realized that I was NOT, like usual, hung over, and I had slept very well. What a wonderful, novel even, feeling! After having a coffee I felt even better, noticing in particular that I was not feeling anxious like I do most mornings. I felt like I had taken a Xanax! That’s called feeling “normal” really, as every alcoholic knows that in the mornings we feel somewhat anxious, bordering on paranoid.

Anyway, what a RELIEF that for a bloody change, today I do not feel hung over! I can’t say that I feel exactly “clear-headed” but I’m sure if I manage to limit my drinking tonight then tomorrow I should start to feel more clearheaded, more “alcohol-free”. I sure hope so. I’m so tired of feeling hung over sick every day. Writing feels like a bit of a chore so I’m going to end it here folks.