In a certain way I always appreciated the dark side. I always felt it, although I was not always aware of it to the point I could explain it. I was different from other people in ways that I saw the world and didn’t see it for what it was at the same time. I was a dreamer and I had no one to talk to about it. When alcohol came into my life it felt like I could dream even bigger and I could finally open my mind to some people who I would never thought of talking to or never dared to talk to due to feeling socially inadequate.
What does it have to do with the dark side? Probably that I had thoughts of darkness and weirdness and I liked them and nurtured them for a very long time. I was OK with them. It felt natural to me to listen to heavy and fast music with lyrics of gore and dying and demons. I felt in my niche watching horror movies and reading spooky stories. I heard that some people were terrified of things I spoke of when getting into philosophy on where we going as a race, usually not very positive. I knew they weren’t the same as me. And I felt alone because of that, but I also felt that on a certain level of existence and perception I was at home, thinking and writing about things that others tried to escape and ignore.
It took over a decade to realize in full measure what destructive and self-destructive path I chose to take when going for drinking alcohol full speed ahead. Reason for that was that I lived in alcohol reality and I couldn’t see it. It was like breathing air. When you breathe, you don’t think about it. Drinking for me was a natural thing to do. In my early college years, I drank before classes, often on lunch break and after classes. With work, I drank before and definitely after. I drank when I was sad and when I was happy. I drank before going for a date and I drank after the date didn’t go that good. It felt like a natural thing to me and I also felt that I needed it.
The only time we do pay attention to breathing is when we rush, that’s when we can we run out of breath. Then we start paying attention to our bodies processes, we see that we have to control our movements and try to catch up with our lung work. Same thing was between me and Mr. Alcohol. When I drank too much, to the point I’d make a major mess of myself, screw up a relationship, lose a job, or fail a class, – then I’d stop, wait, and think. Sometime I’d think for a longer time, but not often. Alcohol was my medication to deal with reality, so I couldn’t tur my back on it for too long. I always had to go back to it, it seemed.
Stopping drinking was easy. “Ok, I quit!” But to continue staying sober? How do you stop breathing for a long time? How does that feel? Exactly. I felt that if I stopped drinking for good, the weight of responsibilities and obligations will be too heavy too bear without diving into this illusion, this opportunity of escape, mechanical oblivion. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it.
Strangely enough, the alcohol magic by that time was starting to lose its power on me. The tolerance of my body and mind to alcohol was growing and I needed to drink much more to get drunk than ever before. The need for alcoholic intoxication was leading to serious alcohol poisoning on a regular basis.
When I came to realization I couldn’t drink anymore, or I will go mad and maybe even become homeless, I stopped. That was a hard and slow process to actually do it. When I did, when I had to ask strangers for help by coming to an AA meeting, many good things happened. I kept job, home, improved self-esteem. But I also learned that I still wasn’t like others. I wasn’t this AA member that would go all cheery and give hugs all the time. Quite the opposite. I was still and often unnoticed, but not for the show. That was just the way I felt about being in a crowd of people, even if they were rooting for sobriety and recovery and better life that I was for with both hands. I was different and that was OK.
I was still learning about the dark side. I was understanding human psychology and dark and weird corners of mental health and sickness. I was learning about my imperfections as I was trying to let go of things I couldn’t control, admitting faults and accepting rights as well as wrongs, seeing that this was me, and I was like no other, as all of us are, only some people have a problem admitting that. People in general seem to like the idea they are like others. I never felt that and never felt for that. I knew who I was and who I wasn’t, at least partially in the beginning.
I started going to meetings, getting a sponsor, doing Steps, doing service work. I narrowed the service work to strictly going and sharing at recovery houses and detox centres. As for the rest, I kept close to the AA mantra and it worked well for me. But it wasn’t enough to keep me feeling sober not just in body, but also in spirit. I felt I’d slip if I didn’t make sobriety my full time job. That made sense – addiction was my full time job prior to that. Most of my thoughts were about getting money to support addiction, spend time for enjoying addiction and watch my sides not to get in trouble because of the addiction. So now treading the new road I was trying to figure out what am I going to do with my life after completing college. In the end I decided to unite breadwinning with recovery by joining Hope Mission, working with the homeless and the addicted. That kept me sober, fed, housed, and doing my Step Twelve, teaching Steps and supporting my students in recovery and myself with them.
I also started to write about sobriety. Writing stories was always my passion. Now, besides coming up with fiction, I also started writing poetry about addiction and release from it. Soon after I started a blog (this one you are reading) and for the first three years I had something published about different aspects of sobriety and its opposites that I’d share with others every week or so. These were my meditation hours. This was my busy, over-imaginative and sometime overreacting mind getting a break, looking into important serene paths to travel.
Making sure these things were done kept my sobriety steady and for the last eleven years (as of today) that labor brought many fruits. I have finished several college degrees and diplomas. I have a stable and happy relationship with my parents and fiancée. I even have grateful employers. But mostly, I carry on with serenity, peace of mind, and sobriety that lead to losing fear and confusion in a large part. Not completely. Life is not prefect, I guess. Nobody in AA ever promised me to have a perfect life in the first place. Things happen. But not lying to yourself and believing in better things, brighter days to come and have a good reason and basis for that belief – that’s a lot, and I never had that before.
And the dark side? I don’t mind being what I am. I still enjoy listening to the songs of gore and terror. I still watch movies predicting our inglorious demise. I write my own stories about these things as well. And as far as recovery goes, I don’t mind being an alcoholic now that I know it is not a curse, but a state of body and mind I will never be able to cure. I will never be able to drink safely and responsibly. It is something that I will live with until I die. This may sound strange – I am OK with that. Why? Because quitting drinking and choosing to live sober connected me with a spirit I always wanted to have. I believe in powers greater than me that keep me on the right path. These powers are of darker and lighter side at the same time. There is no way to know dark without light, so I need to know both. And looking into the dark lets me see what path I can no longer take, remember it well, and stride for healthier roads.
Thank you to all the people I met that supported me, and taught me, and tolerated me through these years. You mean a lot. Have an awesome life.
[the front picture was copied from ‘ere. thank you.]
How does a person continue abusing themselves with substances when it is clear they are ruining their life? How do they ignore others’ advices and their own bodies signs?
Quitting drinking back home in Russia was not a usual thing that I was around. Russia has a unique attitude toward drinking. Word “vodka” in Russian means “water” and it was around for a long time. We have created a very special atmosphere around this liquor. It is one of the most popular ones and was around for centuries. It appears that everyone drinks back home.
Now with that in mind back home I never heard of rehab except for “heavier” drugs: heroin, etc. With alcohol there wasn’t much for recovery services. Here and there were charlatans dressed up as doctors and specialists who’d provide services of hypnosis, but you wouldn’t hear of things that actually worked.
And we never heard of AA. Strange, for it a world known and well working recovery program, but not for Russia. I read an article recently that AA was originally introduced to Russia in late 80s but it wouldn’t go. Then in early 90s Billy Graham apparently tried to establish AA during his frequent visits to the post Soviet territories. Finally, it started getting somewhere, but according to the author’s stats, there were only 400 AA meetings in Russia for the last couple years, same amount of meetings just in Boston area in the U.S. Which is laughable and puzzling.
The author suggests that it is because, again, in Russia people don’t treat drinking as an anomaly. Quite on contrary. That is true. Heavy drinking is a normal thing over there. Sure, problems happen, lots of crimes happen due to intoxication, including DUI, and it is addressed, but people keep drinking on, in large numbers. And the excuse “We’ve been doing this for centuries” always wins, no matter how weird.
Another reason the author gives, this time for the Russians not accepting AA ways, is because AA was originally born in the U.S. and Russia always had very complicated relationship with America. So perhaps the distrust gave birth to the idea the Americans were/are trying to gain power of the Russians through their spirituality. That wouldn’t work well if you put it that way, would it? Oh, the glorious motherland.
Tell your children not to hold my hand
Tell your children not to understand.” © Glenn Danzig
Anyway, what if… What if we did have AA in Russia, say soon after the WW2? After the great challenges we’d have healthy living and AA is so big, co-existing with the totalitarian regime and denial of freedoms and rights? No. That wouldn’t fly, would it? People needed to be put down forcefully while being told by the government that they are the most free and happy nation in the world. And since AA is not just “stop drinking alcohol” kind of a program, but a spiritual awakening and spiritual and life recovery kind of a path, in a country that has officially outlawed God for 70 years… well, you get the picture.
Can you keep them in the dark for life
Can you hide them from the waiting world.” © Glenn Danzig
OK, but what IF! Just maybe, what if we did have something like that working, despite breaking all the laws and rules of Russian mentality and history, including the Tsar and Bolshevik politics and centuries of predominant slavery? What if somehow spiritual recovery from alcoholism did make it to Russia and rooted in? Because the Church did try different programs, in early 1900 and before, to bring drinking to minimum, and it worked. Actually, so did the Government, to be fair. In the Soviet times the society was rather sober and tried to keep it that way. It is only in the mid 80s that alcohol was sold in crazy numbers, particularly the so called “soviet champagne” which is, of course, lower in spirits numbers, so you could drink a lot of it at a party to get hammed. In the early 90s it didn’t decrease, and quite on contrary, went up. So what if AA made it in somehow and stayed on the land of the tyrants and the enlightened slaves? Would my people be let go from the attitude of self-harm through drinking? Would we use a chance to accept the gift? And most importantly, since everyone’s story in AA is told from the point of view of personal experience and attitude, would I stop drinking in the earlier age and not let alcohol bring me to my knees at the age of 25 as it did? Would I be teachable about the ways of alcohol and physical and mental degradation that it brings?
Unfortunately, the way it works with substance addicts, we tend to believe in the goodness of our drug so much we tend to ignore the advices of the others. And sometimes we can see the power of it too, and we know that it I will be too tough of a fight, and think, maybe it won’t worth it, maybe it isn’t so bad, so we lay our arms too early and sink in ignorance. So many people in the US and Canada were born in the homes of AA members and still became “practicing” alcoholics somehow, through the ways they lived, were raised, abused or not, ignored or not, hard living or not. So just living with the awareness of AA principles is, somehow, not enough. I think it all comes to hitting the rock bottom in order to find better ways to live. A person in my home group likes to give this great example: “When I saw drinking was causing me some issues, I told myself, Well, if I lose my job I will quit boozing. And I lost my job, but I kept drinking. Then I told myself well, if I my wife and kids threaten to leave me, I will quit. And she left and she took the kids, and I kept drinking. And then I kept making promises, and I lost the home, and friends, and I ended up in a homeless shelter for drunks which I said I will never end up. And then I had to make some changes, but they came, but it took me years of living on the street to get there.”
He is not the only one, is he? I was there, somewhere, although I was losing not possessions and people, but my own mind. The rock bottom was always getting deeper and deeper. And excuses just didn’t help. They rarely do. We seem to learn better by running our head into the wall.
[the image was copied from ‘ere. thank you.]
You think that sun is shining and gives warmth
But not to you.
To someone else perhaps,
But you are always in the shade.
On a hot day it’s good,
But there are more colder days
And they last longer.
And the wind is always sharper
Just when you have to walk away
From a shelter you were forced to leave yet again.
What you believed to be salvation
From pain and awkwardness
Became poison you can’t leave without
You heard of people who ended up that way
But you never believed it to be truly true
Or that it will ever would happen to you.
And now witnessing it being real
You still deny it with ferocity of a man drowning at sea.
Only you are really drowning
And you’re not crying for help.
You are too scared to display
Your inability to control your life
You are too embarassed to show the rest of the world
That you can’t enjoy life to the fullest
Like they do (or pretend to?)
Strange colors shine on you at night
When your head screams for fresh air and your guts are about to swear blood vengeance
For the harms you put them through
And yet still you look upon the wreckage of your life you never lived,
Just wallowed in grey existence
Of never ending awkward hopes
That come through, aborted by your endless mistakes.
They crawl away, shattered,
As poisoned hearts and
Rusty nails you continue to step on.
You grin at the sun that seems to only want to burn you alive
And you give yourself another promise
That you so hard want to trust.
Forgetting to buckle up
You step out on the road
Into the icy wind that you believe
Will bring change
To your life
That truly only exists in your drunken bouts.
[the image was copied from ‘ere. thanks.]
For us, problem drinkers,
Of so called substances,
It always calls for the other.
It just does.
And the longer is the break between the two,
That break being stuffed with
all the good things,
And double cheeseburgers😀
The firmer is the guarantee
Of longer abstinence
Maybe even life time abstinence.
But take one drink
Here or there
And the mess will break out,
It will double and triple
Destroying all the hard work,
That courage, serenity, and wisdom
Gave birth to.
To the waste
The whole world goes.
No change takes place,
Unless in yourself.
While needs are unanswered
If not spoken out,
Or prayed away,
The fresh air,
Kingdom of no flesh.
Knowing its path
Is where loving oneself
Is not a crime,
The voice of the sky
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.
I’ve been watching quite a bit of X-files and each time the intro plays through, there is one of the series tag lines come up: The truth is out there. For a long time in my life, even without reading that line, I believed it.
For a long time I was searching for the true way to live. There thing I kept finding, but they didn’t fit what I wanted. I used to look for the meaning of life, but what I’d find was not cool, was too humble. I looked for things spiritual, and finding letting go was not fitting the life I wanted to live. I was looking for a girl that would be right for me, but kept ending up staring me in the face in a lonely room. At the same time, I was trying to learn how to drink is such a way that I’d be having fun but stayed healthy as well. I didn’t find much, because poisoning myself on a regular basis stirred me from the right path of looking for the right things and people.
And when I came to AA I found that the truth I was looking for, the truth about life and love and serenity, it was right here. I was sitting at the meeting and thinking of how the AA program turned out to be pretty much everything I really needed to know and think of life and its laws and how to get along with it without being eaten alive by compulsions and obsessions of all kinds. And the “truth out there” tag came to mind out of nowhere and right there I knew why. It was a reversed message. The truth was in here. In these rooms. In the presence of other people willing to share their stories and listen and learn and support each other.
Often we hear that we found something we never wished for. That we found right things in the places we didn’t dare to look at for the longest times. This was my case. My life case. I am glad I allowed myself to give it a chance ten years back and allowed myself to stay.
My truth is here.
[the image was copied from ‘ere. thank you.]