Overkill’s I Hear Black album was not just a great record. Its song titles gave me two expressions I haven’t heard before and now I use them a lot in terms of talking about recovery. The other titles still made a lot of sense for how I used to live and so I’ll give them all a tribute with this post. Even though the lyrical content of the songs don’t always support my ideas, the music is great. Here we go now!
I often think about what is it that makes us substitute right things with wrong things. Why do we drink instead of “getting our act together”? Why do we smoke instead of a workout? Why do we shoot up instead of expressing how we feel in writing? Why do we download/buy/watch porn instead of improving social skills and talk to our partners? Why do we worship artists, musicians, comedians, politicians, or TV evangelists instead of building up ourselves or making a direct contact with powers greater than ourselves? Why is it that we have to put our hope, desires, and beliefs into something that really has nothing to do with us?
Alcohol gave me a sense of non-care, some sort of security, or rather when I drank, I cared less about security, about watching my back or giving something a good thought. Alcohol made me feel like the weight of the world, the problems that were constantly on my shoulders have been lifted and thrown away for a while. When I drank I felt happier and I loved that and wouldn’t want that to go away. I loved the taste (I know some people don’t like the taste of alcoholic beverages, yet they still drank to ease the pain and escape from responsibilities) and I didn’t want the solitary party to end.
But I drank not just because I had too many problems and need an escape. I was lost to myself. I didn’t know who I was and where I was going. By the time I was about to graduate from high school I hated school with passion and obviously didn’t feel like going to college. Yet I had to if I didn’t want go to Army. That’s the way it worked in Russia: you either went to Army with awful conditions for two years or you went to college. Tricky for a person loathing school, hmm?
I also didn’t have any idea what did I want to do in life without a college on the horizon. All I wanted to do is play music and party like so many of my rock heroes. The fact that I’ve put very little effort into learning to play a musical instrument is beside the point (or is it?). I didn’t feel like making an effort to have my tons of written poetry published either. And I had no idea what I would do if I didn’t get my music or writing career started. The political situation in the country and around it made it one nasty world of hurt for me. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything in ten years from then. I wasn’t even sure what I believed in except for a good heavy metal album and a dark beer in the morning before school. I had no idea why alcohol was so attractive. I just needed to drink. Sometimes it was just fun, but sometimes I felt this weird need, a craving, to have a beer. Once I started to drink I wouldn’t stop. I knew I had no money to buy more, but the desire wouldn’t leave. I was in the state of spiritual void and nothing seemed to be strong enough to pull me out of that. On contrary, I felt the dreadful reality was closing in on me and it only made sense to drink more, and then I just wouldn’t stop.
With time passing by and a couple of good instructors in high school I started looking into something to believe in. Strangely, heavy metal poetry touched on some philosophical problems and spiritual concepts and I had something to choose from. Pagan, Satanist, Humanist, Christian, Hedonist, Anarchist, Nihilist, Totalitarian, Taoist, Asatruan… I studied a lot of paths I could go and I often ran in circles. I’d eventually land somewhere and stay there for a while. But I kept drinking, and that made me mellow, made me relax and let go of things that had to be done. I’d slip through the cracks of meaningful life into existence with a meaningless smile, slouch comfortably somewhere.
Often drinking was getting me into strange places where I wouldn’t remember how I got there or situations that made me think of how I made it through unscathed. Some other times I’d have weird sensations, cramps, nightmares and I’d hear black and it seemed to have no mercy. With all of these instances I’d somehow make it through and even though sometimes I’d think was an ordinary person, just like you, the other time I’d think I was supreme creature whose talents just weren’t discovered, or whose special skills weren’t yet revealed.
So for a long time I dwelled in ignorance, innocent at times, wondering why things weren’t working out. Romantic relationships either weren’t working out at all, or worked out into a major headache. I’ve been moving around the geographical map often, but I had no idea where I was going. I was losing jobs, losing sanity. Hangovers were getting worse. Depression was getting darker. By the time I finally stopped the crazy ghost dance I did (on the legs weak from drinking and eating crap) and quit drinking for good I was even more empty than before. All the ideas I believed in, all the spiritual concepts made no sense. Talk about major spiritual void. I stopped because I was empty and going nuts. Going further would make me go to either a jail or a madhouse. All was left was hope. But that was a good brick to start building from. Building life, not just existence.
AA gave me a lot, but I had to do the work. And part of the work, as my advisor explained, was not to overcomplicate things. I loved going over the top, so there was an issue that I had to watch out for. Among other things, living spiritually means living easy, worrying less, and wanting less as well.
I am not going into details of how I found my Higher Power and the aspects of it. I wrote about it before, here and here What matters is that having done the work I felt wholesome with knowing who I was. I knew why I drank. I knew plenty about my nature. I knew how I’d start drinking and I knew how I’d stay away from that. I made a relapse prevention plan and I followed it. I started writing about my problems with and insights about sobriety and recovery. I started working with other alcoholics and addicts. That way I learned even more of what I was. Thanks to that work, I now worry less. I have no desire to make myself sorry for stupid actions, and I have less problems with saying “sorry” or “thank you” and let go of things I can’t control. These all are spiritual things and it works well to make me content and not poison myself with things my body and mind don’t need.
My desire for sobriety is undying. I don’t want to be a slave to anything. I see a lot of people falling in for the worship of things, ideas, and other people. It still happens that sometimes I watch the world crumbling down and rules breaking and people losing their minds completely, and I think “Who cares if I go and get hammered, the life is weird anyway!” Sometimes resentments mount and I feel that avoiding eye contact with people is the best way so I won’t be provoked into a fight. But then I pray, and write, and go to the gym and the shades of grey give room to color again.
My void was filled. It took years to find the right stuff to fill it with. I could say it was worth waiting, and then there are some days when I am not sure if it was, for some of those days sucked big time. Yet I wouldn’t be happy here now if I didn’t feel like crap then. You always have to pay the price somewhere sometime somehow.
Today I think it was worth it.
[the picture was copied from 'ere and altered by me. thank you]
At the meetings I usually say I am an alcoholic, because I consider drinking my main addiction. However I am also a tobacco addict. I have to remember that as well. This month I am five years off tobacco. Here’s how.
Smoking for me was a weird thing. It didn’t seem to give me all the obvious things alcohol did, for example a longer lasting and pleasant intoxication. That intoxication was something I loved alcohol for and couldn’t let it go for a long time. Tobacco smoking didn’t do that for me. It would give me a slight kick of relaxation that would last for a very short time, and I wouldn’t even realize it, because I’d receive it in the process of smoking. It wouldn’t last. If I needed more of it, I had to go for another cigarette, I guess. For a long time, however, I didn’t realize how and why the cigarettes worked for me.
First couple of cigarettes I had tasted awful and made me stink. I tried in the third grade with some kid that I barely knew from school. After I did that I came home and brushed my teeth with tooth paste and then rinsed my mouth with soap. I didn’t want my Mom to find out. Second one was probably three years later, with the same effect. But then I started “getting into it.” Probably because it was one of those things about which everybody said “don’t do it” and everybody did nevertheless. So you had to wonder.
Another thing that made smoking attractive to me in the early age (besides the fact that I found the smell of some cigarettes attractive) was that people who smoked, mostly adults, looked cool. They were serious and seemed to speak about important things. I wanted that. I had nothing of my own and I needed to belong. I had little opinion of things because I rarely cared when looked around. If I smoked, I figured, I could be important.
Needless to say, a 14 year old smoking cigarettes looked nothing like important. Nevermind the idea of looking cool I held dear deep inside, I was very aware of the stigma about smoking. So when I went for a smoke, I had to hide from people who I thought would judge me. Obviously, there was a huge internal conflict because of that. Conflicts cause stress. Smokers got for a cigarette when they are stressed. So life seemed even more complicated to me those days and days looked grey more often than not. Hence, I guess, my alcoholism had plenty of reasons for blooming wildly.
For quite a long time I’d smoke when hung out with others, mostly with kids at school in between classes. That’s how I started and that’s how I carried on. Soon I started buying cigarettes because I couldn’t ask others for smokes anymore. It would ruin the relationship. Even though it was not a meaningful friendship relationship, it seemed to be all I had.
One night when I was about 18 years old I had a dream that my friends I hung out with and came to a theater or movie place with have died from cancer because they smoked. Even more bizarre was the fact it was my grandma who told me that (in the past she worked as a nurse). I woke up and freaked out. It was only a dream, but again, the stigma about smoking was harsh, so I knew I was doing the wrong thing from the very start. I threw my cigarettes into a trash can and stopped smoking for six months. I must say that after three or four days it was easier for me and I don’t remember much of the cravings. Although I was also younger, so it was not too difficult.
I had the slip on the graduation day. We all got hammered and I felt like I needed a smoke. I bought a pack from the waitress at this bar we reserved for the event. I later noticed I had a craving for smoking every time I’d get quite drunk. I also noticed that smoking was allowing me to start conversations easier with others.
I was smoking on and off in States and quit every time I’d start running out of money. Surprising it might seem that I wouldn’t cut on booze! I also remember that on the days I had to study the hardest due to a midterm coming up and I had to catch up on a lot, I’d give myself a permission to go for a smoke every half an hour. I wasn’t much into studying and needed an excuse to get away. Going for a smoke was always a perfect excuse!
The day I quit drinking for good I started smoking a lot. The person who introduced me to the recovery was a smoker and I smoked half a pack from him while we cruised around the city, sharing experience. I guess I’ve replaced one harmful addiction with another. It seems only natural. I surely knew I was doing the right thing quitting drinking, but I guess I wasn’t completely ready to stop messing with my head on the physical and mental level. It seemed like a good bargain, though. I started getting to work and school on time and pay attention and stay for the whole periods it required. I was spending less money. I wasn’t having hangovers and terrible headaches. I was getting back in balance with myself after ten years of insanity that drinking had caused me. It felt right and I was happy about that change.
My summer was crazy, nevertheless. You can read about it here. Things weren’t going as smoothly as I thought they would, for after all, I made one of the most significant changes in my life. Things were stressful which caused me to keep smoking for a while. Then I quit again. It was around that time that the news were coming through about smoking in bars and concert venues to be banned. I went on a vacation in the Rockies for a while and one person there smoked, so I started again. I was in and out all the time. Next year one guy moved in with me for a couple of months and he smoked in and out. We were quitting and starting together. Same thing with my AA sponsor who moved in with me next year. We were talking recovery a lot, going to meetings, doing Steps. We both had no girlfriends and we smoked a lot. We had an AA related project and every once in a while we’d talk for hours and drinks gallons of coffee and smoke half a pack. Then a month later we’d try to quit. Some day I’d quit for a week because I’d freak out after reading on the cigarette pack that it contained cyanide related chemicals, but I’d always go back to smoking again. Relaxation, image of other people smoking, and wanting to have a chat would always come to mind as a good excuse to lit one up and join the club.
One day my sponsor/roommate got a book that taught quitting smoking while still smoking and reading about all the terrible things smoking caused. You also had to collect your cigarette butts in a jar that you’d keep under your sink. So every time you’d throw in garbage, you’d smell the butts and what they turned into. After I read about ten pages of that book I was ready to quit. So I did. My friend still went for a while. It didn’t last long for both of us.
Then our common friend in AA got diagnosed with lung cancer. She was selling cigarettes, she smoked, and it caught up with her. A couple of months after that she was hospitalized, she refused doing chemotherapy and wanted to die with dignity. We’d visit her in the hospital and go out for a smoke. It was a weird situation – all three of us in the hospital yard, she’s in the wheelchair, like many others around us, and she’s dying from smoking and we’re all puffing away! It was a strange thing to look at!
When my roommate phoned me to say that this friend of ours passed away, I was standing by the slightly opened balcony door, smoking. The air was coming in and playing with the way cigarette smoke moved. I was watching smoke slowly wrapping my hand in which I held the cigarette. It was a frightening vision. I quit that day for another two months. I remember I also wrote a poem for her that day. The change felt right.
Then I met this girl who was smoking and didn’t seem to have an intention to quit. The relationship was going good and every once in a while I’d talk to her about quitting, but it didn’t get anywhere. Soon I started smoking again, but only for a couple of months. Those were the last months of smoking for me.
The way it worked was… well, weird. I worked in the homeless shelter where it seemed every single person, visitor or staff, smoked. Plus, at that time we had a “smoke room” in the building, so you could have a smoke without going out in the cold or in the rain. After working hard for a couple of hours I felt like I deserved to have a cigarette. Our workers were allowed to go for a smoke, and since I needed the breaks, I’d use them. One time I was still not smoking but I needed a break and I asked somebody for a cigarette, since we hung out together and he lit one.
I was trying to cut down the amount of cigarettes I smoked. I was stressed out about a couple things at work so there was a good reason to smoke, but when I was off, I’d tell myself I wouldn’t smoke. I’d go home at night, having one last cigarette on the way and at home I would not smoke at all. I also wouldn’t smoke most of the time off. I’d smoke almost immediately when got back to work.
My health was letting me know it’s sick of my poisoning it with nicotine. My lung and my stomach were aching from time to time. I moved a lot and was active and yet I was screwing myself at the same time by inhaling poisonous chemicals. One time I went to play squash with friends and getting there by walking fast up the stairs, I realized I realized I was breathing heavily. As I got to the top I wondered how in the world I am going to play in this condition. I had to tell myself that, after all, it was the cigarette that smoked you (me), not the other way around. Understanding this, on one level or the other, would kick my butt to quit for a while.
Then one day I walked to work and threw a cigarette butt on the street. As I was walking away from it, as I did thousands of times, I thought of it for the first time. I was killing myself and I was littering the world around me. The seeds of doubts and discomfort finally fell on the fertile soil (pun unintentional!). That afternoon at work I was pacing from one corner to another, while I was assigned to answer the front door for several hours. At that time we had an AADAC (provincial addiction recovery committee) posters in the building. One of them was by the front doors and it was called “What’s in the cigarette?” It had a very peculiar description of what we smokers inhaled and it had good pictures, illustrating the point. I had plenty of time to read about stuff that a regular cigarette contained, which, among other things, was used for cigarette lighter fuel (butane), paint thinner (turpentine), preservation of dead bodies (formaldehyde), nail polish (acetone), wood preservatives (arsenic). While I was writing this post, I had to go online to look up that poster. Instead of the original, I found another one, rather similar, that shows that another one of the ingredients, hydrogen cyanide, is a poison used on death row. Back in the day I knew of nicotine, of course, yet for a long time I failed to read into the fact it was used as a pesticide. As if learning of all these wonderful things wasn’t enough, there was also an element that cigarettes contained and that was used for washing toilets (ammonia), which completely disgusted me.
That day I quit for good.
It wasn’t easy. I was constantly running into smokers, smell it off their clothes as they passed by. I had to chew pencils for a while when I was in distress and needed a break. Mind you, I couldn’t go for smoke break anymore, so I’d go for “fresh air” breaks instead and I’d spend them all by myself. I soon changed pencils for chewing gum (not Nicorette!). I’d carry lots of gum with me.
I also started to pray more and did First, Second, and Third Steps for my tobacco addiction. I felt it was really hard to do the rest of Steps for that, because I’d usually smoke when alone or among other smokers, so I couldn’t see who I’d make my amends to. But the first three Steps weren’t optional and doing them helped a lot.
My addiction to tobacco was a substitution of something I couldn’t have. I’ve beaten alcohol, but somehow tobacco/nicotine was stronger. It took some time to get to this current point without smoking and I had to talk to plenty of people on the way. And I did. I did more meetings with people early in recovery and I think it helped me to reach out and share more. That way I got a bit more over my inability to talk to strangers whom I’d previously approach with or for a cigarette.
I still live with a person that smokes and she has a hard time quitting. She knows a lot about smoking, and she knows it is not a habit, but an addiction, but she is not there yet to quit for her own sake. I also try to avoid people who walk smoke on the street. When I smell it, I get very uncomfortable. I try not to play the “holier than thou” attitude, but sometimes it just doesn’t work and I have to clench my teeth and hold my breath as I pass the smokers, blowing poison into the air. I realize very well that they are addicts, people who are killing themselves and most likely suffer a lot form it. I wish I could help them somehow. Yet it is still weird to see their smiles as they offer cigarettes to each other, ever ready to light a smoke for each other and stand there, seemingly enjoying the time.
Smoking is one of the worst things out there, because nevermind the research and stigma, followed by banning smoking in public places, it is so widespread. Smoking, from the first sight, is not as dangerous and personality-degrading, as doing drugs or drinking a lot. So it can carry on without making a person sick and damaged for a long time. By the time the health start suffering, it is so hard to stop, for it became a part of personality. A cigarette with a coffee in the morning feels as mandatory as breakfast and sometime might make you feel it is so vital, that it can replace breakfast on certain days! I still remember perfectly content having a cigarette after a meal. It always felt right! A smoker can always feel like he/she searches for calming their nerves while having a puff, and with that argue “well, I am not like those guys on the street smoking crack, so don’t put me in the same row!” And what can you say to that? A person can only beat something when it gets too much. The worst thing is they can see it got too much, but have no forces to beat it, or remove this behavior that was such a large part of what they are, which could be a very kind and positive person.
I am so glad that I quit before I couldn’t remove it from what it meant to be me.
[the picture was copied from 'ere. thank you!]
In the “Spiritual Experience” chapter of the AA book it talks about the so called “essentials of recovery.” These essentials show how to do the Twelve Step program right. They are the H.O.W. of the program: Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. Those are precious. And yet I always wondered if there was something missing. Let me see what that is.
You can be honest to a tee. You can be truthful about where you come from, about how the drug that enslaved you did that and how it affected your life, attitudes, behaviours, and choices.
You can be open-minded. You accept all the concepts about recovery, even if at first sight they seem ridiculous or even offensive. You agree to give it a try without judgment.
You can be willing too. Willing to do everything possible, the best you can, to make it happen.
But you can still sit on your couch and do nothing.
We can be there for you, and with our knowledge we can help you, but no one can save you, even the Spirit, unless you do the work.
You got to take action and do your homework. I am sorry if I sound negative, but you really cannot just show up at an AA (or any other “anonymous”) meeting and expect that you could just absorb the knowledge recovery through your pores.
Yes, the message “go to meetings, don’t drink between meetings, get a sponsor” still stands and rings true. However no one prohibited the “do the Steps” part of that message and yet people still do forget about it sometimes. You got to do the work. You have to make a step forward to start walking.
The Steps are indeed “guides to progress” and without them you are less likely to succeed in this program. At least that was my experience. I had to admit I had no control over my life, establish contact with my Higher Power, let it have control and do the inventory of my rotten thinking and let go of the resentments and fears to get closer to healthy living. All that takes time and practice. Welcome back to school… sorry. But in all seriousness, this was the most important school I ever enrolled in. Without I’d be locked up by now.
I know, now wonderful acronym of H.O.W. suffers a bit, but hey, we can turn it into a “WHOA!” and have a laugh break before lunging into recovery. Why not?
“blacking out, poisoned
colours now decay”
(c) Annihilator, 1990
The “reading week” is coming. It reminds me of the terror I once had and that I still remember, when thinking of my life being completely unmanageable due to alcohol consumption that for me became an addiction.
It happened in the mid February during my very first semester in the college I went to. I’ve just been in Canada for less than two months, having arrived from Texas around Christmas. I spent three years in Texas with my family, but I came to Canada alone. Our family friend from back home lived in Edmonton but he and his relatives were older and I felt I couldn’t relate to them. I always had issues with making friends and so I made no friends in the college by this time. I lived without a roommate in a room at the end of the hallway at the student dormitory.
It was a Christian school and they were completely against intoxication at the dorms. It was quite the opposite of what I had at the Texas college where I could bring alcohol anytime and drink in my room.
By that time I was certainly an alcoholic, having crazy amounts of alcohol consumed in a very short time; drinking Friday night to Monday night was a normal thing; hangovers were terrible; academic success suffered immensely; and my spiritual and mental balance was greatly diminished. With all that in mind, at this Canadian school I was abstaining from alcohol for almost a month and a half which was probably the longest in a very long time. It felt almost effortless. The classes were going OK, I think, by that time. There were no serious mid-term exams.
And then the “reading week” came and ¾ of the dorm population had gone home. There was almost nobody to chat with even if I wanted to for the whole of nine days and there were to be no classes. It felt rather confusing and somehow it felt stressful. I was sitting in the computer lab, listening to some music and I figured I could just go for a beer. Once that that Idea entered my mind, there was no way I could yank it out. I went to the liquor store and brought home two half litre cans of beer, a kind I loved drinking back home.
Next day, Saturday, I woke up with a light hangover and went the store to buy… laundry detergent! I needed to do my laundry badly. Waiting for it to get washed I couldn’t get rid of thinking how smoothly my last night drinking went. I had nothing to do. No people to see. Not a lot of homework to do (or rather I had plenty, but hey, I’ve had nine days to accomplish it). So I went to the liquor store again.
I brought a six pack home, put a CD in the player and went on with the day, drinking, playing air guitar, looking out the window. The CD started skipping. I took it out and then back in. It started skipping again. I got mad and hit the player. It would play CDs no more after that. And that was the last thing I remember for that week.
Next thing I remember was probably Friday and it was night. I was sitting in my room and wondering how much beer I drank. I remembered that I was putting all the empty cans into the large suitcase that I store on the top shelf in the closet. I pulled it out and found that it was filled to top with empty beer cans. I was amazed, because each time I’d throw an empty in, I’d just stretch my arm and slip it in. I had no idea of the whole amount of alcohol I drank.
I had to get all of that crap out because I heard from a couple of people that the dorm overseer used to do room inspections, specifically looking for drug and alcohol paraphernalia. I had to find a large black bag to put all the cans in and somehow sneak out from the dorm, attracting no attention with cans making noise. It all went smooth, but thinking of the amount of beer consumed and therefore money spent still gripped me in a shock. I ended up walking outside of campus for a couple of hours, thinking of it and wondering about where my life was going. I didn’t drink alcohol for the rest of the week, concentrating on homework. Then I fell off the wagon again and then couldn’t stop falling for a longest time. I forgot about this incident for several years.
Four years in sobriety I recalled it. And then I was in shock again because I could remember nothing of that one week period. I didn’t remember playing radio or reading, or even going to the store to buy booze. One week of my life went down the toilet and perhaps I will never recall it. On one hand, I don’t really want to recall, because it must have been rather pathetic, just sitting in my room drinking. On the other, though, it’s scary that such a chunk of time could just vanish from my memory due to extreme degree of repeated intoxication.
I had several blackouts “thanks” to my drinking. The very first one was the shortest and most bizarre. I was at a birthday party at school and we all were drinking. We decided to drink a coffee mug of vodka each. Next thing I remember was me running out of the building, throwing up all over the place, running into the yard and collapsing into the snow. First big drunk.
I spend most of the time outside in the fresh air. At the end of the party my classmates and I were going home together and they had a constant watch on me, because I was in just awful condition and I think I was trying to get away from them and walk home on my own for some reason. Anyway, they put me on the bus and I still remember getting off the bus at the right stop. What I don’t remember is crossing the street to get to the other side where my house was. Next day I found the bottom of my pants on the back were dirty. Wonder why. Did I fall? Did somebody help me to get across? I remember having a conversation with my mother less than ten minutes after what would normally take me to get from the bus to the apartment. Why couldn’t I remember crossing the road?
There were others black outs, and some of them were me doing something and passing out and others were taking a segment of time out of the line of action. Pieces of time gone. Plenty of them. Gone forever. All due to drinking. Again, some of them I don’t want to have back. But it is truly scary that I’ve burnt them like you’d burn a part of the movie film with a match. For after all, it was me drinking myself to insanity. No one else.
I was thinking about the title for a bit and then when I came up with it, two lines that I’ve put at the beginning of the post are from the song “Never Neverland” by Canadian band Annihilator came to my mind. I was a fan of the band for a long time, so it makes sense. Annihilator, by the way, have a lot of songs I recall a lot when thinking of recovery. I’ll write about it sometime. Anyway, this time, as I went to see whole of the lyric I was amazed to see how true it was to what I was writing about, even though the song was about something completely different. As I was drinking for ten years, more and more I was blacking out, and I was poisoned, and the colors were decaying. Colors of life were gone: from reality, from the memories.
I am not going to tell you about how recovery is a wonderful, inspiring, positive thing. I am sure you already know that very well. I am going to talk about something a bit different in relation to recovery this time.
Earlier today I was standing in the hallway at our recovery program wing and looking at the pictures of people who passed through the program as of last ten years. Many of those folks didn’t graduate. And many of those who did left on bad terms, mostly due to a relapse. They were doing good. They were re-discovering the world and seemed to strive toward independent living. And then their life appeared to get mangled and they were off the map, as if in an instant.
I was thinking about how did this happen to so many of them. Strange idea came to me at that moment that if I wanted to describe recovery with just two words, I’d call it “black ice.”
As I said earlier, recovery is great. You know it, and so do I. But very often people in recovery fail to notice where they’re going. I’ve been saying this to folks in recovery time and time again: your recovery should be in a balance with how you live your life. You got to watch what you’re doing and you got to do things on time:
If you go slow, if you keep finding reason not to do recovery work or meet with your sponsor or chaplain, not go to enough meetings, the door will hit you in the butt.
If you go too fast, if you make things sooner than your recovery knowledge and growth allows it, if you start working 50 hours a week and have no time for, again, recovery meetings or friends, or if you jump into an exciting romance without trying to know the person a little better, – you’ll fail to see the ice and then you slip and stumble. Or you fall. It will hurt. Stress is never fun. Loss is never fun. Confusion, doubt, regret, resentments, powerlessness over life and people – all these can lead to denial and isolation. Relapse is just around the corner at that stage.
Leading a life of recovery from addiction is like walking a road with black ice on it. We slip and fall when we are not paying attention. I thought it was appropriate to put it out there in the winter time, ice situation here in Edmonton, AB is one painful issue. So it’s a nice theme to work with. It surely is a good image for recovery for the road we tread on through life might seem fine and everything seems to be going right. However we have to pay attention all the time, not just in the beginning. It hurts to hear people sharing at the meeting that they paid all the debts, got a new home, got married with a great person and then ran into an old friend and had a beer or a joint and all went to hell faster than they expected. Remember, relapse is not a sudden action. It is a process. Something must start happening, rotting and falling apart in your life prior to your fall. You need to pay attention to your attitudes and how you treat yourself and others to prevent falling. Watching your step throughout recovery life is just as important as in the first year. It might make you feel a bit paranoid about things, but it will help you to create a smoothly working system of behaviors and honest thorough understanding how things work for your new life of success.
Last week I ran into a person who I knew used to be in recovery. He left because he relapsed and then couldn’t stop relapsing. Today I saw him first time in at least six months. That was by the Casino. Hmm… I asked him how he was doing and he said that he was good. Said he had a relapse around Christmas. Said that it was OK. That he could handle it. That he was living a good recovery. I wondered if he was going to meetings, and he said he wasn’t going to AA and never liked it. When asked why, he grimaced as if at something of bad taste.
“I don’t like disclosing personal information to bunch of people I don’t know”, he replied. “And I don’t like dwelling on the past. It’s too negative. I prefer to look up to the future.”
I had to leave him for I was going to work. I wished him all the best, as he was about to go on a rant of revenge for someone who pissed him off at the New Years’.
What he said made me think: how do you build your future without looking back at what you used to be or used to deal with?
Often the past is no fun to look at. Break-ups, deception, mental suffering, physical pain, suicide attempts, arrests, loss, death, dreadful errors. Disturbing sight. No fun.
But how do we learn from mistake? How do we not to repeat it if we try to forget making it?
Every time a thought of having a drink comes to my mind I shake it off by reminding myself of the amount of sobriety I had. If after that the obsession was still there, justifying itself, I reminded myself of the worst times I had. That’s depression, blackness, loneliness, despair and having no forces to fight. Desire to end everything. Frustration. It hurts to recall, but I need to bring it up to remember that it was my unhealthy attitude to alcohol that brought most of these into my life. Alcohol numbed the pain and temporarily brought me into an illusion that everything was peachy. I never had and most likely never will have a healthy attitude to drinking. “So cut it right there, pal”, I’d tell to myself, “and go write about it.”
Writing about it always works well. No glorification, no extra sobbing, no coloring of the grey. Times were dark enough. I have to look back, for “a generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.” (Robert A. Heinlein) Without looking into the past, my present gets tense, and future goes down the toilet. It is with knowing my mistakes from the past and knowing my weaknesses that I can hold on to my strengths and learn how to walk safely through life.
In the recent interview Motorhead’s manager blasts at Lemmy Kilmister for being irresponsible with his health. Since I am a huge Motorhead fan, before and in sobriety, I have a couple of things to say.
First of all, does Todd Singerman think he is helping Lemmy? What, does he expect the fans are going to write letters to Lemmy to wake up and the man is going to get himself together? Dream on. Lemmy’s being around for decades and everybody should’ve learned already he is going to give a middle finger to all this ruckus. So telling everyone how bad things are won’t really help. However through that we learn about all these things about the inside of the band and I don’t think we need to know that. It’s like Todd pulled up Lemmy’s underwear and try to sell them. I don’t give two flying fucks about that. I don’t need another “Some Kind of a Monster” where Metallica members whined on tape for two hours about getting their crap together. They clearly needed that therapy but it was a huge mistake to put it out in public. The comments of the readers on that page were “great”, although most of you can’t read ‘em, cause they are in Russian. People keep saying “oh, why don’t he care?” or “shouldn’t he care about his family” or “why does he not care about his fans?” Get real and learn the data. Lemmy’s only family is his band members that’s been around forever (Mikkey since 1992, Phil since 1986) so they probably know Lemmy real well and know what to expect from him and how to deal with things. This a rock-n-roll band that took it all: sex-drugs-booze and hardest touring ever. You think they have no idea what they’re dealing with? Why don’t you grow up?! I don’t expect my favorite musicians to share everything with fans and be there for fans all the time. They are not obligated to do that and we can’t expect them to.
Secondly, and why this rant is on my sobriety blog, Todd says Lemmy lies if he said he stopped drinking Jack and Coke and then says he drinks wine instead. And then he says that wine has tons of sugar. So I don’t know which planet Todd’s on. But the thing is that, if you, like Lemmy, been doing speed, Jack and Coke, and chain-smoked all the way “since Hendrix” (which Lemmy certainly did) then it would be a rave to expect you to quite everything right away. I am amazed Lemmy quit smoking last October, cause I felt like this one guy never will. But he did. Or he said he did. I am sure he gave it a good try, anyway. And he said he stopped drinking Jack and Coke years back. Wow! Maybe he still tries every once in a while but the fact that a person of his age (67) went and tried to get rid of these things is amazing! And his manager is freaking out Lemmy drinks lots of wine. Well, what does he expect, that the dude will go on ginger tea diet?! It doesn’t work easy. Recovery is not easy. It takes time and work. Lemmy admitted he was an alcoholic long time ago. The older you are, the harder it is to change things you’ve been doing for decades. Give the guy a break! He just recorded 21st album of his main band, he works on a solo album (for years though, but oh well), he still plays concerts and his manager is acting like Lemmy is a 21 year old who can still run around and jump over fences!
Use your head and Grow the F up or Die!
[the picture was copied from 'ere. thank you!]