Posts Tagged ‘alcoholism

once again, it’s all true

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Not that the element of freedom and therefore of sin is absent from alcoholism. It is present, but in a complex and obscure way. There is a mental element in alcoholism; there is probably a physical element in it in many cases; but a third element, the spiritual one, must also be considered.

via Grace Is Sufficient – Why Alcoholics Anonymous?, The Furrow, January, 1952.

Therapist K said to me a couple weeks ago (she works sometimes at the detox I was in twice this summer) she had talked about me some with Dr. V, my Dr there and now outside, and they were in agreement that I had a ton of psychological mess tangled in my alcoholism. ( I knew that, but I wanted to see how long a sentence I could write.)

It’s deadly clear to me – my decisions to drink are acts of violence, deeply ingrained self-debasement rituals. They are also decidedly medical; the physical aspect is most clear to me when I consider memories of lying drunk in the dark, compulsively picking up an empty bottle and trying it over and over all night, a genius of alcoholic sorrow.

The remarks block quoted above intrigued me – I may not have ever seen any writing, commentary, or speaker throw in a matter-of-fact reference to freedom (sin!) in the middle of an essay about powerlessness. I love it.  I believe it’s all true and everyone is right.  I am a real alcoholic, yes, but I have to live with what I could live with. (What I still could if the supernatural Santa Christ stops favoring me.)

The paradox is as comfortable and friendly as your neighborhood “make a decision.”  Which I say 100% not tongue in cheek. For real.  Even in powerlessness, I have to decide.

Which is spiritual sounding, so probably spiritual really.  Brilliant how it all comes together.  Seriously, though, it makes sense that this wheel of categorically ridiculous wastrel abject torment is equal parts mind body spirit. And spirit is moving itself up in priorities. I tried meditating today. I listen to zencast. I do the mindfulness thing all the time! Plus,   somehow I want to go to meetings, so I’m rolling with it these days. Disillusionment is wary faith for now.  I seem to care about others sometimes. (That’s another post.)


Written by xty

September 13, 2010 at 23:49

the unmitigated and felicitous joys of not having a hangover

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I called in sick today and was actually sick. (I am missing my volunteer day @ the Central Office) (And I’m not glad) What a feeling, like enjoying the hell out of having a cop behind me because he can pull me all day long, I’m legal in every way.

I have missed oh so many days of work in my life and I just wonder what percentage of them were real. I mean, yeah a fuck-off disastrous want-to-die hangover is sick, but it doesn’t count since I had everything to do with it. Being still drunk and needing to drink instead definitely doesn’t count.

Today I am nauseous – woke up middle of the night with it. It’s not a full-blown illness, but feels uncannily, creepily, like a hangover. I washed face and dragged my ass to the convenience store around the corner to get cigarettes I want like a hole in the head but have to have every few hours at least. Every second was torture, pretty much like being awake has been all day so far, only more so because I was up walking around. I though of how many times I had been standing in a convenience store feeling the same way, buying beer to get through the feeling (put it off, rather) or a Red Bull and smokes, on the way to what would be an Eternal. Agonizing. Day.

I’m still kind of in a good mood since I didn’t do this to myself; I am feeling like a real citizen. When I feel better I can just carry on again, not worry about where the hell my car and the 300 dollars I had are. What a trip. This is cool.

Written by xty

March 12, 2010 at 13:58

Posted in gratitude

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A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2, pt. 1

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This instruction is not a short-cut to A.A. It is an introduction – – a help – – a brief course in fundamentals.

This meeting covers Steps 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11. We will take them in order.

Step No. 2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Our drinking experience has shown:

  • That as we strayed away from the normal social side of life, our minds became confused and we strayed away from the normal mental side of life.
  • An abnormal mental condition is certainly not sanity in the accepted sense of the word. We have acquired or developed a mental disease. Our study of A.A. shows that:
    1. In the mental or tangible side of life we have lost touch with, or ignored, or have forgotten the spiritual values that give us the dignity of man as differentiated from the animal. We have fallen back upon the material things of life and these have failed us.
    2. We have been groping in the dark.No human agency, no science or art has been able to solve the alcoholic problem, so we turn to the spiritual for guidance.

Therefore we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” We must believe with a great FAITH.

via A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2.

It’s now 2010.  My first drink was in 1980; my first AA meeting in circa 1984 at an institution; my first AA meeting as an adult, voluntarily, I-gotta-do-something-find-out-where-a -meeting-is-drive-there-alone-and-go-in, was 1995.

In 1998 I moved from  a treatment center in my hometown to an Oxford House in my current city. My first sponsor here was Michelle P.   Eventually, after 7 years of trying, I managed to go a little over 6 years with no drugs or alcohol, although by that time I got to one year I had stopped attending AA.  I drank again, and around two years later carried myself back into a meeting.  (I drank a bar nearby before the meeting, and couldn’t go the full hour without a drink.)  Who was sitting there when I walked in but Michelle P.  She said, “It’s step two for you. Step two.”

Here I am four months sober having been in detox and treatment twice in the past calendar year. Michelle has been sober 18 years.  I puzzle about the step two matter, talk about it, pray about it, collect stories.  (A tad more background: the party line on “my problem,” “why I can’t get it,” is that I Think Too Much.  My party line has involved failed attempt after failed attempt at NOT doing this, followed by my current policy of Being Who I Am and Seeing If It Will Work Anyway If I Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Anything and Ask For Help.  I already tried “trying AA harder” enough times that I’m scared and dubious about trying that still again, for “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”) (Have I closed the door then? Nah. Scared and dubious isn’t “done.”)

Back to Step Two.  Usually Step Two  is divided into two parts, the tedious grappling-with-admitting-insanity part, and the tedious believing-in-God part.   I’m will skip qualifying in a major way on part A, because this is my blog, and I say admitting insanity is no problem for me. There’s codified proof out there: my 15 or so hospitalizations and paperwork where I was involuntarily committed more than once.  And then there’s my life story, which is proof to anyone including me that I do not operate correctly.

What about part B? I believe in God, always have, have no hangups with religion or Jesus etc, I pray, all that.  When I was in treatment the last time, during a meeting,  I looked over the big Twelve Steps poster for like the four thousandth time and noticed a phrase is underlined: God as we understood Him.  Feels like where I subconsciously spit out the kool-aid is right about there.

I’ve sincerely said the third step prayer, um, a lot, full of hope, for “it only takes the key of willingness to open the door.” I’m slowly admitting to myself that I don’t really believe it works that way.  In other words, God as I understand God is the problem.  After sitting with that,  I realize what causes the huge mental eyebrow-knitting for me is the making up your own HP business.  First off the program insists, and I agree, that we are selfish, grandiose, self-centered hopeless cases. Then, the Solution is something we selfish crazies get to – wait for this – make up!

Where I go from here in my thinking is “Oh, I get it, it’s the placebo effect. We just use the steps as a maintenance tool once we’ve made up our minds for real-real.  Ok.  I don’t have a problem with the placebo effect, because the result is the same, yes?”   Except I’m not going to make up a God.  I don’t think that makes sense, and besides, I’m insane, right?  (Maybe I have made up God, and because I’m insane, he’s a weird dickhead. Hm.  Let’s revisit that later.)

Taking us to now, where I understand why Michelle P was right on the money.  And where I’m stuck with a bunch of steps and full-blown beliefs that I can’t dive into the prescribed way because, well, I don’t have FAITH.  Am I just as fucked as the guy I wrote about last night?

Written by xty

March 4, 2010 at 14:11


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I must be constantly careful of finding my thoughts standing on the stage in my head, talking about footwork and results, but surrounded by attitudes regarding reward and punishment.

via Mr. SponsorPants: Alcoholic Thinking .

Your life depends on this program….It might be suicidal to disagree with any part of it, so resolve to be open-minded and accept the Twelve Steps in their entirety.

via The Little Red Book .

Yep, I sure do need some supernatural miracle-wielding intervention. What I’m currently working out with my writing and conversations – with no small measure of embarrassment, as I have been reprimanded in AA regularly since the mid-90s for my thought-life – is my bafflement with my impression I must either just up and have different attitudes and beliefs or I’m suicidal.  (Or, scarier-ier, I’m incapable of being honest or following God’s will.) I want to take the Program at its word that it’s all suggestions, but then I hear an oldtimer, to much knowing laughter, state at meetings regularly that “it is also suggested that you open your parachute when you jump out of an airplane.”  Gaslighting offends me, especially when my life is at stake.

The Big Deal is….drum roll….my deep beliefs and attitudes vs. my willingness, conscious credulity, and 12 step training are the irresistable force meeting the immovable object. (Can I get a big “Lack of power, that was our dilemma!” Everybody now!)  I’ve been at this a long-ass time, every version of effort and grace has happened, and I can’t change my thinking with my thinking. And I want an answer – am I a textbook bratty alcoholic who can’t just deal, or am I right – fundamentalist AA might just kill me?  (The answer, of course, is yes.)

Written by xty

March 2, 2010 at 12:00

Posted in thinking

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