Essentials

November 3, 2014 Leave a comment

thumbI’ll take liberty to assume that we are all, without exception, very busy people. We have to manage our time, get work done, feed our kids and/or pets, watch for not being robbed or hit by cars, and still keep our minds from being lost. Each of us, I’d assume, has their own life skills modus operandi. I don’t know how many items each of you have on your list. As for me, it is rather simple. Mine has three essentials. You probably already know these, otherwise, as Henry Rollins said, you probably wouldn’t have survived in the urban environment. Yet I’ll remind you anyway.

Self-esteem

There will always be people who’d tell you are full of crap and what you do is full of crap. They can be full of crap themselves, or have a bad day (or bad life), had a bad sex yesterday, or got into an accident, or lost a loved one. It is not always about you, it is very often about them and how they relate to reality. As for you, you have to remember that and believe that what you do is worthy and keep at it. However from time to time it is important to use the art of…

Self-reflection

The art of self-reflection is going to keep you on your toes and from falling into making mistakes and getting too full of yourself. If you don’t listen to others for advices, you may be practicing the art of self-esteem, sure, but you also can fall on your face too often, only you won’t notice it soon enough. If you do pay attention to feedback and then think, “Well maybe that could be true”, then perhaps you’ll learn something very important. Again, their feedback could be full of crap, but if you don’t give a minute of thinking, you will never know. So I guess we also need to learn how to differentiate.

Sense of humor

This wonderful thing always keeps me in check if I start taking myself too serious, or take life too serious, and thus either get too full of myself or get depressed. Having a laugh reminds me that I am not perfect, perhaps never will be, and it is OK to fail sometimes, as long as I learn from it and try to keep it from happening again. As well, terrible things happen and laughing at those in the presence of others grieving maybe a thing too cruel to do, and so we can use sense of humor along with self-reflection, and thus have a healthy laughter.

You’ve recalled these, haven’t you? They are simple. And because of that, they are all that we need to ake it through. Today, tomorrow, and any other day. Everything else will come. These we have to do work on.

Please enjoy your life!

[the front picture was copied from ‘ere. thank you!]

How We Talk

October 26, 2014 Leave a comment

ineffective-communicationA close friend of mine made a mess of himself last night, having gone to a party and having too much to drink. He puked all over the bed and his place stank terribly in the morning when I came to see him. He was very embarrassed talking about this with me, especially since he was trying to get himself in shape for a while, leaving booze behind for good.

He was looking at me like I was going to whip him with a belt. That was strange. He is an intelligent person who just can’t control his drinking. What am I going to tell him? That he should be sorry and ashamed? He already is. What do I tell him that won’t make him feel worse? What do I say if I want to help?

The first thing I said was that I wasn’t disappointed in him, even if he was. That I wasn’t frustrated, even if he was. I said that this perhaps was a great lesson to learn, a proof he just cannot handle alcohol, period. Secondly, I wanted to hear what he had to say about what’s happened. How did he feel? How did he see it? From there we went farther into lack of control and power, and from there to the possible ways of trying something different to get him off booze.

As we were talking, I was thinking of how parents talk to their kids who in their adolescence turn to drugs and alcohol. Perhaps parents know how to fix things, they have a “good idea” of what’s the right thing to do, perhaps heard about it on TV, or read in a paper, or perhaps they even learned it from personal experience. Having these seemingly strong arguments parents force their wisdom on kids and they don’t realize that it can be perceived as an attack by a kid who is awfully confused and embarrassed. As the result communication is severed and relationship is on the brink of being flushed down the toilet. All because parents want to fix the kids.

Tell you what, you can’t fix anyone but yourself. Everybody is different. Everybody got their own mental way of getting from point A to point Z, have different understanding of reality, spirituality, sexuality, social skills or lack thereof. Thus what is good for one person is lethal for another. Sending a kid to a counsellor, to the army, art school, to grandma for the whole summer may help, but if you start with that, pointing a finger at them, instead of talking about how they feel, all will most likely fail terribly.

The communication is a vital part of substance abuse recovery, but we have to know well what we say, and especially how we say it. We may have the most positive and caring motives, but we can do more bad than good if we don’t watch how we dress our message and how we vocalize it.

We should also pay attention to remembering of being self-reflective. Did I never make mistakes? Have I never made a mess out of myself? How would I feel if I was talked to the way I am talking to another person? I may have all reasons to be angry at them, but the person I am talking to is hurt by his own actions, and my bringing righteous confrontation has a potential of ruining everything. Ancient golden rule “treat others the way you want to be treated” is still at play. Talk to others in a respectful, patient way. Let them know you want to understand them to help them better. That way they are less likely to feel like their backs are against the wall while everyone is trying to have a piece of them.

Alcoholism and other substance abuse problems are not easy to understand. These are stigmatized. Nobody wants to be an alcoholic or be called one. So we deny that we deserve wearing these tags and with that we eliminate the opportunity of being helped, of looking into the problem to solve it. If I didn’t develop a trusting relationship with my friend, then I wouldn’t see what is going through his mind as he wants to drink and then gets blasted. If I didn’t make him feel important and respected, I’d lose a friend forever and have myself to blame.

[the picture was copied from ‘ere. thank you!]

Experiment in Music Dreaming

October 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Dream-Theater-Awake-CoverThis summer I had a little experiment.

It’s been since 1997 that I’ve been listening to a band called Dream Theater. I liked several of their early albums but after I checked out Falling into Infinity which was the last album they released by that time I moved to another country, started listening to a lot more aggressive angrier music and forgot about this band. I’ve re-discovered them in 2007 and listened to a couple albums and then forgot about them again somehow. This year I’ve purchased several of their early albums and started listening again. I listen to a lot of music at home, but also in the gym and while I walk. It takes me about 25 minutes to walk to work so I manage to listen to quite some music.

Getting back into Dream Theater was cool and I started to listen to these CDs on the way to work. I noticed that I was getting more patient and focus and relaxed getting to work while I was listening to DT, as opposed to most of the time when I listened to, say, Nile or Enslaved on the walk some other days. With songs about loss, achievement, frustration, addiction, hope, rebellion, and love, I was getting a bit more prepared to face people I work with and for. Having noticed that, I decided to make it a point and start listening to DT each day I go to work. I had about five in my collection by then and so I went with it. By the time I got to the third one, Awake, I decided to go and see how many records the band did by that time and it turned out they has 13 records to that date! So starting July I had quite a bit of an accomplishment waiting for me.

The thing is Dream Theater performs what I’d call progressive hard rock, however many call them progressive metal band. I guess it is a matter of perspective. I won’t argue. The main point is they bring several styles to their music, and being the fans of Rush, Deep Purple, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and ELP, they managed to create their own sound. So definitely being progressive rock band, Dream Theater make music that is multi-layered and has a lot to pay attention to. So I’d say it would take me at least three times to listen to any of their album before I make an opinion about the songs and the album. So there was A LOT of listening to do.

Today is a special day. I’ve listened to the 12th album, Dramatic Turn of Events and watched Live in Luna Park DVD which had all of the Dramatic songs on it, besides the other accomplishments of the band in the previous 25 or so years. There is still one album to listen to, but I am very close. Watching Luna Park, along with Live in Budokan DVD, and listening to the songs from CDs back and forth was a great fun and I think it made me a bit more patient and relaxed in the last couple months.

Besides just writing fun and quite complicated at times music, the band writes really good lyrics. As I wrote earlier the songs are about life and situations people find themselves in. Among those ones the original drummer and one of the main composers of the band, Mike Portnoy, wrote about addiction. Having issues with alcoholism himself, he decided to write a saga about recovery from drinking through the wisdom of the Twelve Steps which he divided into several parts and put one track of the saga on each of the albums from 2002 to 2009, thus having five albums containing the message of recovery. I have found some thoughts and facts on that undertaking of Mr. Portnoy, as well as “the Twelve Step suite” tracks put together in one album, which was never done by Dream Theater or Portnoy (however he always wanted to do it), and instead was done by a dedicated fan.

Here is the saga. I hope you enjoy it too and it will make you feel more patient and get a slightly different perspective on things around you, as I tend to, thanks to this band and people around me.

[the picture was copied from ‘ere and twisted by me. thank you!]

Lie (to Live) to Die

September 28, 2014 Leave a comment

157jfv6People lie. I lied. I thought I could lie real well, even though I didn’t really want to. I felt I was forced to lie when it came to the danger of having my fears, weaknesses, and secrets unsurfaced, because booze was controlling my life and I was doing weird things to myself and things around me. It turned out that I was not a very good liar, for people could see through my bullshit. And often I couldn’t understand how they did that, for often, again, I believed my own bullshit. How is that possible? And how do you deal with that?

The Twelve Steps recovery book of AA states that “any alcoholic… can recover… provided he does not close his mind on all spiritual concept… He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd edition, p.568)

I was in denial when I believed my own bullshit and since I believed it I told of to others and so I lied. And there were times I knew I was bullshitting others, because I was trying to defend myself, which means I defended my denial.

Denial is very present not just in recovery, but in life in general. Without overcoming it nothing can be accomplished. Here is an interesting look at how denial can be positive and negative:

“Human being has a primitive defence mechanism that denies all kinds of reality that makes him go through too much stress. It’s called denial. Denial is the most important element of the adaptation mechanism. Without it we’d wake up each day in terror that our death is on the way in many possible awful ways. Nevertheless our mind blocks these existential fears, making us focus on concrete problems that we can solve – arrive to work on time or pay taxes. As soon as we start having those vague existential fears, we get rid of them very fast, again focusing on simple tasks and daily chores… Among the Net visitors, even the consumers with high intelligence show instinctual inclination to denial. According to the results of an investigation, a large number of students that found an article in the Internet about melting Arctic ice or the extinction of certain animal kind, quickly leave that page, switching to something petty, thus clearing their minds from fear. The usual “tranquilizers” in this case were sport reports, funny cat videos, and celebrity news. ” (Dan Brown, Inferno, chapter 50)

Now, when it comes to recovery however, when your life is facing immediate danger, not Ebola in Africa, or tornado in Australia, but when your current state of affairs, mental and physical, is under siege, denial should be wrestled with. The fears are no longer irrational. The danger is real. Your body suffers of pain: bad stomach, heart burn, cramps. Your mind is in constant agony, torn between reality and illusion, desires, needs, expectations, convictions. The thrill of the good times quickly changes into paranoia. Even if you don’t know too well what is it that’s happening to you exactly, you know your drug of doom is catching up with you. Your family told you so, your employer and school instructor did too. You know it, even if deep inside only. But you can’t let it go. It’s been there for too long in your life. And you know that it takes away the pain, confusion, and fear away for a while, so you don’t want to get rid of such drug. As soon as you starting thinking along those lines, you step away from making decision about dealing with a problem, and instead go for more abuse. The most abuse happens in your mind when you eagerly tell yourself there is no problem. That’s when successful bullshitting yourself starts and denial sets in well. For some time you refuse to listen to whatever anybody says to you about your substance abuse issues. You believe you feel good so you have some more of this stuff.

Bringing that illusion down will take some time. Most likely you will fall down hard, hitting so called rock bottom, doing something really scary or stupid, or losing something precious. But to get to that you need to poison yourself a little bit longer. Can we no avoid that? Can we not stop before we fall hard, causing more pain to ourselves and others? I guess not. I know I had to go through plenty of wreckage, mostly mental and spiritual, to come to a complete halt. I knew what the problem was but I also saw it was a solution, or at least a means to an end of finding some peace.

What a lie. And I believed it so willingly. At a certain point when, I guess I could say, i didn’t know any better, I thought, Hey, this is the way I express myself. Drinking is my attitude to the world.” And some time later I could hear myself say, Hey, drinking my life style. It is what I do, it what I am. At a certain point it kick my butt towards seeing that such life is pathetic. A college student that I was, I still had my apartment and a job, and I could see what I was doing to myself a bit faster. But if I didn’t, then I could become a person living on the street and eating out of trash can and collecting change during the sober time, saying eventually Hey, it is me. It is my life. What else am I going to do in life? It sucks every day. I don’t see any other way out. Let me have my drink.

When we do drugs, including drinking alcohol, we destroy brain cells responsible for our cognitive functions. So when we see drunks and drug addicts on the street and wonder how did they get so wreckless, ragged, silly, insane, disgusting, we may think also of what their drug of doom did to them, to their psych and through that to their self-esteem and instincts. They no longer care for “you know better” and common sense. They are on a different plain of reasoning. Denial is their domain. When they come to their senses (those not yet burnt into ashes), they see their state and they are terrified, and one part of them want to make a change, and yet another revolts against pain and disgust with a recipe of “have another one and the pain will go away.” Again, once we hit that road of thinking, we rarely come back to normalcy. First we go on the journey of screwing ourselves hard. What we have become, what we do to ourselves and others, how far into depravity drugs and alcohol can still take us, as if this is not enough already, – denial throws a thick veil over all of these thoughts and all we have is a desire for a fix. “Just one. Just now. No more than that. Just give it to me. It doesn’t matter how many times I faced it hurting me terribly in the end. I need, need, need…. GIVE IT TO ME!”

And in the end of practicing denial we deny ourselves a right to live happily, serenely, respectfully. Denial is not a curse. Dan Brown in the passage above shows well that all of us deal with it, and certainly not all of us are substance abuse addicts. Denial is natural part of our psychology, I guess. It is just how far we let it set in, how far we let it rule our life, turn us into creatures we don’t want to be and that we can’t control.

And what to do about it? How do you tell a drug addict/alcoholic to open his eyes and ears and pay attention? If he or she is sick (and AA, for example, strongly believes that alcoholism is an illness that affects both body and mind), how do you convince a person not to injure themselves with something they believe eases their pain? How do you make them see their life and their believes are a lie, a lie that stabs them in the back while they worship it?

[the picture was copied from ‘ere and twisted by me for education purposes]

Comprehension Through Mind Shock

September 20, 2014 Leave a comment

static-shock-2-500x685Besides attempting to escape reality of responsibility, my fascination with alcohol also was aimed at making sense of life. Strange that it is, as it was, I didn’t see it as a paradox. It is now that I look back at it and shake my head at how insane that was. In those past days, however, it was not as clear. Alcohol intoxication is a gradual thing: you don’t see it when you cross the border between sobriety and its opposite. I was leaping away from the mundane and into the wonder. When I felt the buzz I knew I have arrived. And that’s when the world felt warmer, simpler, less dangerous, and way more understandable.

I remember one time in the end of 90s when I travelled to Finland for three weeks. We were there to do labour for the world music festival. The first day we were getting used to the surroundings and in the evening no one knew what to do. There were plenty of us but you could feel that some people, including me, didn’t know how to cross the bridge from polite acquaintances to easy talk. I was sitting there thinking: I don’t need three weeks of walking around strangers like a ghost. So everybody went to the local pub and the next day we knew each other better and could see who was what. Or maybe the day after, because my short time abstinence from alcohol prior to travelling made me get stupidly drunk on the first night.

But when we did get together and drank our faces off yet again we crossed the line we could never go back to. We found the cheerfulness and easiness and the world of strangers turned much friendlier and we could talk about things to each other we thought we never could. Obviously, that is the illusion intoxication provides, but how sweet and amazing it is. What great benefits it provides. Alone I would never make contact. The guys who ran the show, no matter how great people they were, they wouldn’t be there to make everybody get used to each other. So alcohol was the negotiator and the meet-the-new-people ceremony master. Thus thanks to his skills and powers, I managed to cross the bridge and instead of sitting in the corner with a book all evening after the boring day of carpentry, I would spend the whole day and evening chatting with people I just met no matter what I was busy with.

It is a great challenge now in sobriety to keep it the same: make sense of reality without getting depressed, without isolating, without frustration that no one comes forward. There is no magic potion to help me close the gap and cross the line and make sense of things. Or rather, the potion is out there, but I don’t want it anymore. Sometimes it does feel like I need it, need it a lot to bring reality to the state of easiness where I could comprehend things without freaking out. Yet I know so well that I’ll love the illusion too much and that this time. Worshipping illusion led to addiction and I see it much clearer now that I may not get out of the trap now as easily as I did last time.

There are ways I have to invent to make sense of the world and people and their dealing without shocking my mind. This way it feels like walking much more dangerous path, and often without a cheer. And yet there is the hope for the day to turn out good even if it started like shit. There is knowledge that if I screw up today it is no big deal, for I can try again tomorrow. And if bringing strangers out of the dark to my fire didn’t work today as I waited for them to come, thinking they will make me out from far away, maybe I could go to their side tomorrow, having no fear. No fear, because I can make some part of reality what I want it to be, and light it up for me through hope and prayer without shocking my mind to make it easier to accept.

[the picture was copied from ‘ere and shocked for comprehension by me. thank you!]

Worse Than Death

September 7, 2014 Leave a comment

deathfuckA friend in recovery told me once that AA is like mafia: “Everywhere you go, you’ll find us there. And if you decide to opt out, you will surely die.” I remember it made me laugh and shake my head at how true that was. But today I recall it for a different reason. Today I think of how I hear it often at the meetings: “If I go out to drink again, I am going to die.” It makes me wonder how people say that, as if death is the worst thing that can happen to them on their alcoholic spree.

I don’t mean to say that death or thinking of it doesn’t bother me. I am sure it bothers me less last several years that I’ve accepted the fact that life ends with death, natural state of life and soul progression, so I don’t care too much about it. It’s what it is, it’s how we humans are designed. It’s what we believe about life and death that matters. If we believe we’ll be in a happier place after we pass on or we go travelling in space, or get reborn as someone or something else, we have less reasons to worry. So it does surprise me that so many people in the meetings that admit they were raised as Catholics do worry that drinking would kill them.

Now, since death doesn’t scare me personally, what does make me worry is going crazy from going back to drinking after being sober for almost a decade. I was getting hopeless and desperate by the time I quit last time. I was talking to myself, caught up in a loop of endless repeated thoughts. I was losing it, no doubt, so if I didn’t stop, I’d be committed for sure. Going back to drinking would probably get me there quite fast.

Or I’d get incarcerated for raising hell. Not a fun idea either. Sitting in a cell, not having so much in life as I used to, knowing and recalling every day that you’ve messed up someone else’s life just because you couldn’t handle your own. I wouldn’t want to go through that more than passing away.

Back on that thought, going cuckoo and/or getting jailed would be rough, but turning into a walking dead with no goal, no hope, no control of any kind, roaming the streets for the search/purchase of booze all the time; living through hangovers, puke, headaches, spasms, seizures; begging money, stealing, lying, cheating; knowing you screwed someone over again and finding an immediate justification for that, – all these would be even worse to experience if I went back to drinking. And they would all take place, I know that for a fact. I could see it coming before. I can see it in others, so how am I different?

Surely, there are things far worse than death, unless it is a slow death from liver failure or something. There are so many painful and dark emotions, desolate gloomy places, and loss of all respect for ourselves, crush of all dreams and goals that can come to us, making us think death would be the easiest of them all… or almost all.

It doesn’t worth it to break the good you have, no matter how fragile, confusing, challenging, unappreciated, and unsupported you may feel about it. Talk to others about it. Don’t stay alone. Cherish the good you have achieved, even one single day. It will grow into many strong and satisfying years. You just have to keep pushing forward every time you think don’t like it, or can’t make it, or it’s too hard, or, hell, too easy. Living is a gift when you know what falling apart is like. But sanity is no less a gift when you know what going insane is like. Personal freedom and privacy are so necessary, especially when you know in your own experience what not having those is like. Staying sober is so much cheaper, freer, gratifying, and serene.

[picture was copied from ‘ere. thank you!]

Who We Aren’t

September 1, 2014 Leave a comment

The following post has an interesting history. I started writing it in the airport flying off to my vacation in Europe in July last year. In the airport I bought fresh Guitar World magazine that made special feature dedicated to Jeff Hanneman about whom you will read later. Since the story of his life and death is alcohol related, I thought it would make a good story for AA Grapevine. When I came back from the vacation I wrote the story and sent it to Grapevine. That was in August 2013. Since then I reminded Grapevine at least three times of my story but there were always loaded with requests and other stories and wouldn’t do anything. I don’t hold grudges – they already published my story several years ago. Nevertheless, I thought it would be such a great story for people in the early time of sobriety. So now it’s been a year of sitting and waiting and the good story shouldn’t go missing, so I am putting it here. Hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Thanks.

When I still drank, booze and music were my main life drivers. Growing up I was getting into a lot of confusion and worry. With that I needed something or someone to stand by me, to guide me, to keep me still. My parents weren’t it. Although they were very caring people, they weren’t realizing, I think, what I was dealing with. I didn’t have many friends because almost nobody seemed to like what I was into. I needed a friend or a guardian that would understand my mind, protect my dreams, and explain to me the things in the way I’d understand them.

With that, I’ve chosen exactly what fitted best at the time. I’ve chosen alcohol. Liquid, amorphous, changeable. Shape-shifting, lying, cunning. Transforming, twisting, destroying. Not only it felt good on my tongue and on my mind, but it also seemed all of my heroes, great writers and musicians, were doing so good while drinking. At the time I didn’t know that Stephen King was a drunk and pill popper. I didn’t know that both James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine of Metallica and Megadeth fame were alcoholics, and that Peter Steele of band Type O Negative had a serious drug addiction. Sure, I knew AC/DC’s Bon Scott‘s death was a shock for rock music world when he choked on his vomit after a night of drinking in 1979 and that Ozzy Osbourne was clearly crossing the line, but for the most part rock’n’roll kept pacing hard and fine, and the books and records were great.

I loved alcohol, I glorified it. I felt power in alcohol that I thought helped me to get through things. It was an illusion, of course, but I only saw that later. As Hetfield said in 1985, “beer is our fuel and with it we’ll kick your ass!” or something like that. Problem with me, I remembered that phrase and practiced that rule everywhere I went. Drinking before, during and after school, always after work, and everywhere in between became my lifestyle. Listening to music intoxicated was a different and more exciting process than doing the same thing sober.

I drank hard and worshipped rock music harder. As I said, drinking musicians always attracted me more than others. I loved the fact Metallica and Motorhead toured hard and drank like the devils. I also loved how Jeff Hanneman of Slayer never seemed to smile and held a can or bottle of booze in his hand on every second photograph of the band. Slayer’s music was fast, heavy, dark, and angry sonic violence. In the beginning, around the age of 16, it even scared me. But it appealed to my confusion and frustrations toward the world I lived in and it was about that age I listened to them first that I started drinking more than usual. Slayer’s music, especially chaotic sharp, twisted guitar solos of Hanneman (author of Slayer’s most classic songs) and Kerry King was a fitting soundtrack for my marching through the unfriendly world, sometimes inspiring me to clench my teeth and break through, sometimes just spend long lonely nights somehow without hurting myself anymore. And at times like that the long haired blond Hanneman seemed cool and was appealing to the way I wanted to be. To walk without emotion, for showing it would cost me serenity.

So I wanted to be like them, the rock heroes. It was a reckless life I wanted to have because I didn’t like what I had, the same grey life of endless schooling. No real friends. No real love. No more-or-less realistic observable future where I’d picture myself happy. No desire to be anything but play in a band, but (paradox!) doing so little to get closer to it. From there came frustration, anger, dissatisfaction, depression. Since alcohol is a depressant, the wicked cycle was guaranteed to lock in.

When the necessity to sober up for good became inevitable, it was hard to let go, but not just of intoxication. It was hard to let go of the whole fantasy, the legend of healing powers of drugs and alcohol, of the self made god that I learned so hard and so long to worship. I tried to drink like others, to learn how to drink right. I read of how my music heroes drank and tried to follow their advices about drinking. I’ve completely warped my mind with this information. When the time was right, I had to bring my psych back to the normal level. It is known that after severe damage due to consumption of alcohol or/and drugs a person needs months to recover his/her body and years to recover the mind. My body was OK in a month or two. My mind – that took some time. I might be still dealing with some of the damage done.

Sober, I still listen to a lot of music, and still listen to and read interviews with the bands I was so much into while I was drinking. Yet often I find myself shaking my head with a wry smile, because the craziness they talk about, mentioning sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, – I know too much about these things and don’t want to go back to it. By now both Hetfield and Mustaine did their time in the rehab, Jon Schaffer of Iced Earth and Stephen King joined the Twelve Step programs and are doing so much better. And blues guitarist Gary Moore, Wurzel of Motorhead and Peter Steele and now Jeff Hanneman died because of heart and other vital organs problems connected to previous consumption of alcohol and substances, just like E.A. Poe and W.A. Mozart way before them. And so many others are still wrecking it.

jeff-hanneman-tribute-1What happened to Hanneman? Two years ago Jeff was bitten by a rare spider which resulted in developing a flesh-eating condition. He could have his arm amputated, but that passed. Long months of recovery and physiotherapy brought him back to normalcy but he couldn’t play as well as before. So another guitarist replaced him in the band for a while and the fans all over the world, me included, kept wondering what was going on. And then the news of his death came in May 2013. Couple weeks later the cause of death was pronounced: 49 year old Hanneman died from liver cirrhosis due to regular alcohol intake. It turned out he was getting depressed from not being able to play in the band anymore and kept drinking harder. Recovery had to be supported all the time and the pain was constant. Isn’t booze the best painkiller?

It still sounds crazy to me that after years of popular knowledge of how harmful alcohol is people still ignore the message. Hanneman must have hung out with thousands of fans when touring the world and had a chance to see what booze does to people. But I failed to see that just as well. It took me quite some time to see damage done to myself after years of staring at the nightmare and destruction of mind and spirit I inflicted, with my inner peace gone, sanity questioned so often.

What I ended up idolizing in the shape of alcohol wasn’t just not perfect. It was not even good. More than that, it wasn’t even real. I believed that other people’s lives could give something to me while I was not making an effort to get closer to their level of creativity. And when I started trying to get somewhere with my own way of creative expression, I was too buried in “a dream within a dream”, illusion and make-believe. I glorified the magic potion that I thought made me feel and write better, come up with greater ideas, and in the end this lifestyle almost ruined me because I lost control. I managed to wake up at the right time and do the right thing. It took a lot of time to choose the right path and the right power, higher than me, to stand by.

Hanneman’s death, and its cause especially, shocked me. He was my metal music hero. I even wanted to call my dog Hanneman. Originally I wanted to call my dog Scott for Bon Scott. Wouldn’t it be ironic if I did call him Hanneman and two years later Jeff succumbed to death due to alcohol, just like Bon did? Anyway, Hanneman’s death also served as yet another reminder: alcohol is not my friend. It kills and it kills bad, annihilating body, mind and spirit. Strong people, weak people, young and old, educated, genius, and not, – alcohol spares no one who has a disposition to alcoholism, the disease that I carry. I have to remember that even pushing eight years of sobriety now, I still cannot “drink like a gentleman,” never did and never will.

Thank you for my sobriety, you the people who guided me for all these years, even when I really didn’t want to listen and looked for inspiration elsewhere, at the people I once wanted to be like. Whoever I wanted and want to be, I am who I am, with my faults and strengths, my addiction and insight. I have to walk my own path, without envying, idolizing, or copying others, or I will fall into another trap. There are certain things that I just cannot do.

And thank you, Jeff Hanneman, for your music and for the reminder. I will miss you like crazy.

[the front picture was copied from ‘ere. thank you!]

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