Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quick Thought

Working deep into your psychological trauma may be of no use when trying to quit addictive substances.

It could of course help in myraid ways.  But that doesn't mean it will--and there are risks associated. 

To the extent that you can figure out why you're acting a certain way, or why you feel a certain way, okay, good, work at it.  But make sure to keep that focus. 

Best Day All Year - Yesterday

I was more productive yesterday than I've been in a long long time.  Why?  Well, I'm not 100% sure of it, but the lack of coffee and the lack of booze pushed my energy levels up.  Not only that, though, previously submerged personality traits that I thought were lost or just plain unrecognizable, came to the surface as well, much to me surprise.  Woke up this morning at 6:30 with no alarm and will try to go to town and do some writing before 9:30 am board meeting at local Starbucks where the internet and seating is relatively free. (See how easy it is to get a board meeting in at the local starbucks?) I did get a decaf coffee yesterday, and drank a bunch of mint tea, but that's about it for consumption of mind altering substances, including cigarettes, which I admittedly smoked a few of the previous days (you can't blame me, as I had in my possession gorgeously smooth foreign brand smokes--but I gave someone the pack yesterday (with only 3 left) so I didn't keep smoking them.)  I've still got a very addictive personality under the surface, and was looking for excuses to light up (after not smoking for 3 weeks).  Expecting company tonight I put a few beers in the fridge, for them.  I do take joy in allowing other people to drink in my presence; not sure why that would be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Substitute

You think we look pretty good together
You think my shoes are made of leather

But I'm a substitute for another guy
I look pretty tall but my heels are high
The simple things you see are all complicated
I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated, yeah

Substitute your lies for fact
I can see right through your plastic mac
I look all white, but my dad was black
My fine looking suit is really made out of sack

I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth
The north side of my town faced east, and the east was facing south
And now you dare to look me in the eye
Those crocodile tears are what you cry
It's a genuine problem, you won't try
To work it out at all you just pass it by, pass it by

Substitute me for him
Substitute my coke for gin
Substitute you for my mum
At least I'll get my washing done

--Pete Townshend, 1966

Breaking Associations and Making Excuses and Triggers


So, here we are trying to break triggers that help us drink.  What are they?  For me, I think, and this might seem strange, but, having a bunch of unstructured time has in the past made me feel anxious.  Now, as I'm a little older, I can see that I'm constantly planning out my time, meter by meter, step by step, and I'm doing so when there's a goal in place that lacks construction--to get to a point of relaxation, for instance.  It doesn't necessarily make sense, unless I just want to avoid myself and all of my thoughts, but that reason is a bit shallow and easy.  I don't have to come up with a reason, anyway, just go through the thought exercise of figuring it out a little bit.  So, that's one trigger. Stereotypical triggers may occur after a fight with a spouse, after talking with a relative that has an upsetting attitude, or other similar anxiety/fear provoking interactions. Positive associations exist as well, in the realm of happy friends or good times past.  Whatever they are, though, or however grounded (positive or negative), the feeling of loss that I may try to replace with alcohol will always be short term and not satisfactory. How do I know?  Because drinking has never ever helped to erase a trigger, only to exacerbate it/them. 

How to break the Associations?

Other causes for picking up a bottle have little to do with deep seeded emotional trauma (after all, not everything is so extreme as to be abnormal, special, or deep seeded and emotionally traumatizing).  Perhaps you've always had a joint or a beer when you listed to a particular album.  Now you put that same album on and begin to crave a beer, so get up and grab a beer if one's available.  Or maybe you smoke.  You like to smoke after you drink coffee, or you like to smoke and have whiskey, or you and your ex-wife used to have the best brandy on the block and you'd invite folks over for brandy and melon balls, I don't know, but you damn well know the smell of brandy and melon, and then you're at the office party and you remember some brandy, etc.  I think the basic answer to breaking associations is simply to have some discipline.  I know that for all the victimized alcoholics of the world, this might be hard to hear, and that multiple stages of acknowledging one's relationship to alcohol involves recognizing unhealthy associations, but it just isn't always possible to indulge, and as an adult living in an unprotected world, you'll have to face the fact that some associations do not have to be replicated to be acknowledged to be enjoyed privately, then left in their place.

As an aside, I don't necessarily buy the idea that you as an alcoholic are powerless over alcohol, and that such a realization is the bedrock toward a better life.  For me the realization came when I was acting in a disrespectful and mean way toward someone that I love.  She told me that I should stay sober for a month or so, at first, and think about what had happened, because, if it were to happen again, and I'm paraphrasing, then she wasn't obligated to stay and I'd be wasting a beautiful gift.  That didn't mean that I had to realize that I was powerless over alcohol.  It did mean that I had to reckon with something I hadn't examined with enough scrutiny earlier, and see that my behavior hurt someone that I would never intend to hurt overtly.

So, there are times when you have to step out of your own head and realize that the fantasy of melon balls and brandy is just that, a fantasy.  Anything less than that thought is a fantasy, which means that you're lying to yourself.  I've done it a number of times with relative ease.

 Note For some time, I've been meaning to go back through topics that I've touched lightly upon earlier and  extend them, but for now, I'm far too lazy. Sorry.  I still have another nine months or so to provide extended development on previously half-blossomed nuggets of guilt, pain, moral panic, and isolation, so bare with me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No Coffee??

And would you look at that.  An entire day has floated by without the mention of anything non-alcoholic in a particularly alcoholic state of mind.  How fruitful and joyous.  Yes, yes, it is true that I've not been drinking all damn day, sitting here at work, and tried something particularly anti-schizophrenic: not drinking any coffee.  Or any caffeinated tea, for that matter.  I have no idea why I tried to double dip my abstemious attitude into the foray of caffeine, but so far the results are decidedly excellent: much more energy and stability, to start.

Previously (i.e. the last 10 years?) I'd been coming home every day and drinking booze.  But in the morning I would drink coffee.  Not that much, mind you, but enough to get me going, and then at other times, I'd drink more coffee, even after alcohol. Lately I've been extremely fatigued and basically exhausted at the end of the day, even starting in the early afternoon.  There's a medical reason for it (high calcium), but I've also been drinking very strong coffee every damn day, coffee I made here (*yes, I'm at work), trying to save a buck by not buying it by the cup.  And so this morning I made some mint tea instead, as yesterday proved trying, to say the least: I just wasn't very productive.  And, however much a job may not provide for the mental, emotional or spiritual self--and might just barely tinkle toward the beginning of pecuniary satisfaction--it is something I spend the majority of my time at every day, and something I want to be worthwhile, if only for my own selfish interests of living a decently rounded and fulfilling life.

So, I just didn't drink coffee today.  None.  For what it may be worth, I read that caffeine may result in the body operating in a stressed out "flight or fight" mode, elevating the circulation of certain hormones, and making the adrenal gland overactive.  If that's true, then it means that my lack of energy isn't due to my general state, or isn't wholly due to my general state, however pathetic, but is in fact due to the precise elixir I turn to for spiritual refreshment on a daily and consistent basis.  For the record, I didn't suffer any headaches today, or increased fatigue.  But I'm a 3-cuppa coffee per day kinda guy, and I know the coffee I've been making is stronger than the average stuff out there in name brand coffee shops.

I'll spare you and myself further elaboration and just go home now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

There is no title

Clarity of mind is not an easy point to arrive at, and ceasing alcohol consumption will not automatically put you there.  I'm not sure that you or I can even be "there" in any state of perpetuity, either--rather, it is more likely that it remains fleeting, even when you kind of want it to be around.  However frustrating.  I'm writing this because choosing not to drink is also a choice about how to live, naturally, and for me the first choice has some implications for other arenas of life.  Those secondary arenas aren't glossy and may not even be better.  The Jury is still out.  But when drinking, my choices become more limited.  Of course, there's nothing like the wonderful realization that sobriety doesn't necessarily entail progress in any other area of life, either--

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Alcohol and Creativity

Alcohol use doesn't make you careful or accurate, that's true, but it might help with insight and perspective, at least to some degree, and such insight is helpful for artistic/creative endeavors.  To be careful, though, such insight is helpful at a point of origination, while imagining a project or design, or trying to get through a mental block concerning "what fits" for a next step.  Imagine that you've been working on a project, like a painting, and because of the nature of the work, you didn't plan it out entirely or to specific detail.  There's room for a bit of allusion, innuendo, shading, or novelty, although it works well within the framework or theme you've already set out.  So, you've got a problem, because in front of you is a piece of work that is good, really good, you think, even after you've gone away from it and come back, and you see new aspects in the work that you didn't even intend, but now your intention is to somehow take those aspects and stretch them out a little bit, and build on them.  And, at times, a drink, or a smoke, or what have you -- excluding, I think, harder drugs that wouldn't allow your the physical capacity to create anything worthy --could help.  It loosens you up to try something, and that is valuable.  It could alternatively be destructive, especially if what you've tried just doesn't fit into the previously demonstrated strokes or patterns, and you don't want to put something "totally different" on top of what you've already got.

Then again, what I might really be saying is that alcohol lets you, allows you that is, to look, to peer into your own creation, and then to think about it before you take a step forward.... that is, that it allows you to stop for a minute and reflect.  That moment is part of an ongoing dynamic process that should already exist, but my initial thought for this post was that booze can aid in the process when your own ability to see becomes clouded for various reasons, even lack of patience.  That's it though--it can help you, lubricate the gears so to speak, and then you should probably abstain further and make actual effort for yourself to get perspective, although I'm well aware that a lot of decent art has been done under the influence of mind-altering substances.  More on this topic soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tip 9

Write something.  You can write about wildflowers or cacti, rats, people, or orgasm.  There's no barrier to cross into the land of acceptability, as you can plainly see.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Morning After

All that excitement the night before and you wake up stinking.  Of your own body odor, the sweat that poured out into your clothing, dried, and now oozes out from a corner of the bed like a sick and small creature that you raised in the basement with a lack of proper food and socialization.  Your throat is dry, and you know you need water, but for a second of an instant you are aware enough to realize that the pain will come, and come strong. Turns out, as the wave of consciousness doubles back, that you simply hadn't moved yet, and somehow had stabilized in a semi-drunken scraped up stage of self-mummification.  Efforts to preserve even this apocryphal state are futile and it mocks you in some kind of delayed reverb effect that you didn't expect, and desperately need to go away. When you roll your head to the side the brain gel that must, somehow, hold the appropriate chemicals and liquids in balance in your head, gets pulled by gravity down and through the filter of mushy mold that is your mind, and pushes an acidic and booze filled twist of poisonous and heavily dull pain that cannot be pinpointed but envelops any notions toward productivity and swears back at you in a slurred voice: who has control now?.  The torture game begins and you plead with yourself to let go of this incredible attention stealing phenomenon.  You take a deep breath then, and contemplate throwing up somewhere, somehow, to rid yourself of this parasite, but your own stench and the ideal of vomit make you too nauseous to begin the process of making a decision.  You are stuck.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Almost Three Months Sober: Quarterly Report

So, how hard has it been to stay sober? Luckily, I have a lot to accomplish. I don't always want to do it, but I'm not always faced with excruciating amounts of time to wade through. I'd definitely be drinking if that were the case.  Drinking is a short cut toward immediate satisfaction, or a precursor to establishing something creative, or a reason to talk to someone, or fantasy.  It allowed me to live in a bit of distance from myself while pontificating about how much I knew about myself.  I'm not yet "free" to have a drink, in this self-imposed prohibition state, but I will be one day, and if I had chosen three months instead of a year, that day would be Sunday.  At any rate, it is easier to stay sober if you feel like you will have a drink one day, and it is harder to stay sober if you think about the rest of your life, which might just as well be infinity in that it is hard to grasp and even harder to conceptualize, making the ideal of complete and timeless sobriety a fantasy in itself.

I won't delude myself about that fact.  I like to romanticize ideas and then bask in them as if that's all that's necessary to become part of the idea and have it take me away into a netherworld of perfect balance--and that when I get to that world, it will be exciting.  Turns out that life isn't exciting, not all the time.  Are the exciting moments more exciting than they would be if I didn't have boring moments?  That's not a question I'm prepared to ask because I can't compare my own excitement to excitement in the past.  It is different, and I'm working on different goals now.  The less I think about drinking as a goal, though, and the less I think about accomplishment and pressure toward something that is known and identifiable and concrete, as much stability as those thoughts might provide, the more relaxed I feel.  I won't feel relaxed everywhere I go, or at the beginning of a social outing, but I will get there, and not much slower than alcohol induced getting there would have propelled me.  The ideal is to be at a state wherein drinking isn't something to think about and the product of my not thinking is moderate in scope--i.e. I don't drink more than a few drinks every few days.  Dangerous, I know, and I'm not going to try it yet, of course, as I have another three quarters to go at least, and I'll only know when I get there because of the lack of major disruption.. etc.  There's a risk, as always, and I don't even mean to write this much about the state I'll get to after I continue to not drink, if that makes sense, but it is perhaps an outgrowth of the current reality that finds me stretched between immediate anxiety and long term growth.   Maybe I should really be asking this question: So, how easy is it to drink?  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AA Big Book to be Published

The latest from the Washington Post.

It might not be that great

Even the best of the best whiskey has the same chemical that the cheapest gas station beer contains. The rest is all story telling and imagery. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's Try for Less

It has occurred to me that a lot of my need to drink originated in an effort to accomplish productivity levels that scorched the upper stratosphere--there was no way that I could accomplish what I laid out for myself.  This has been a bit cyclical for me, in that I've rotated around utter laziness and high raging octane levels of busyness.  Perhaps I felt a need to make up the time I lost, or to clear my schedule for a few days, if you know what I mean, but it is undeniable that I expected too much of myself, and that this expectation was somewhat internalized to a high level of ambition and failure and the need to recoup or relax, also aggressively.  After all, feeling hugely productive is not necessarily the mark of high productivity, and the opposite is also true: feeling exonerated from life's responsibilities does not mark high levels of relaxation.

Solution -

Unfortunately, there aren't many solutions here, but the costs aren't extraordinarily high either.  Easy excuses, at least for the first time, revolve around bodily illness, one of which I used (I did indeed get sick from all the cold weather).

There were two times during the trip when I privately decided to just have a drink.  The first was after arrival,  at breakfast on the first full day there.  I was communicating solely in Polish, not an easy task, and one that is made harder by multiple factors, because, at least at that breakfast, two of my three companions knew no or very little English. My Polish was good enough to impress them, but not enough to have a conversation of much substance--.  I've  been trying to learn it for a year or so, and cannot understand half of what is said to me, or around me.  So, some questions that I might have asked also might seem like requests.  After having an entertaining and over-exciting communication session with an older gentleman (in his 80s), wherein he advised me to use a particular spread of dull cottage-like cheese combined with a heavy honey on my bread for breakfast, he continued to pile on the honey and cheese to his bread, and encourage me into multiple rounds with him (of honey and cheese).  We continued until the honey came down from the open faced sandwich onto our hands, and had to drink some tea to ameliorate the density of the honey in our throats.  So, after drinking it, I used my teacup and slightly clinked it against his, while saying: "na zdrowie" gently, oh so gently.

At that moment he rushed up and into the other room (something he'd done at least three times to find books and maps of Warsaw), but this time, he came back with a good ole bottle of booze, immediately setting out his fancy (and reserved for special company, I presumed by their location in breakfront of the main room) glasses, and poured a shot sized drink for us all.

Well, well, well.  There I was, shot poured, accepting breakfast suggestions, having a good time, and, judging by the health and vigor of the old man, in good company, available for celebration.  Available for the acceptance of my personhood into a family; even, I dare say, available for a unique and rare type of connection with a unique and rare type of individual, one whose blessing was a great pleasure.

I went to the bathroom then, after my fiance said that I actually was not drinking for a while, that I didn't drink, she said in fact, my shot was taken away by another and replaced with more tea.  When I was in the bathroom, though, I thought that I would go out and have the drink.  Screw it, right?  As I write this now, I realize that I want to drink again, eventually, that I'm biding my time.  If I wasn't, or didn't want to, then I would be okay with the label that I don't drink.  Instead I pull away from it. Perhaps I'm overly concerned with labels, but the point is that I gave up and decided to drink on that day, and that, without my saying it outright, I wasn't actually pressured to drink.  A misunderstanding.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Problem -

When good-hearted, extremely nice folks invite you into their homes to stay for multiple days, drive you around,s show you their very cool foreign city and indulge your every question, then feed you every morning and night with highly delicious scrumptious foodstuff of Polish delight, how do you refuse their urging to have a beer with them at night, as in, they're holding a cold one out to you already poured and you can sense that a refusal will be met with confusion that their major hospitality is not returned with the minor symbolic gesture?

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I've actually been in Poland since early September, and all posts after the 3rd have been automatic--i.e. I wrote them (almost all) in about a day in between other activities.  Hopefully they all posted without problems.  Let's see!  I'm scheduled to come back on the 19th and will provide fresher fodder soon.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tip 8

Listen to music. Not for someone else; just yourself.  Make tea too, with lemon, and find some music that you genuinely enjoy (ask for recommendations if you want).  When you listen to it, don't do anything but listen to it (like surf the net or write).

Thursday, September 16, 2010


So what if there are alcoholics who maintain high professional success and astute abilities to process and present information in a socially rewarding way?  So what.  I'm not one of them, no matter how much I want to be [not myself].

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Well, we're aware for a reason

Walked by a guy outside of a bar today.  He was smoking a cigarette, had a bit of a reddish face, and looked nicely buzzed.  I know the feeling well.  I saw that he saw a world of potential splendor, and that, at least for that particular moment, he was awash in his buzz (right so), but also that the buzz was the result of an intoxicating substance.  Well.  The buzz is also a state of mind, a type of awareness, and because we have the ability to be aware, because we are conscious and think abstractly and take input in multiple directions and can reason with it, why not consider differing perspectives that are albiet, dependent on chemical inducement?  There's really no reason, save the possibility that you cannot return from this place to a baseline.  But, then again, what's the point of returning to a baseline?  What if you don't have to worry about survival, and only about your own life, your own quality of life, and you enjoy partaking in consciousness diversions of a sort, mostly through the experimentation with particular substances?

What's precisely wrong with that?  Not for me, but for people.  Why not? 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

You'll Get Thinner

When you stop drinking. 

Alternatively, you may allow yourself higher level indulgence in delicious food and maintain weight instead of putting it on.

Consider that each beer can range to over 500 calories, and even a little shot of vodka is 100 calories.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not Aware of Drinking Habits

I still think that there are raging alcoholics out there who have become so delusional that they no longer are aware of their own drinking--as in, they no longer make a choice about drinking, but do it out of some extreme habitual routine, so that, if asked, they might not even point out their own drinking, despite (and disproportionate to) the amount of time drinking occupies their life.  Subtler variations of this, of which I'm mostly worried about at this point, follow on down the line, too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Drinking Doesn't Open You Up

If you think you're more yourself when drinking, or you have decided that you can only really be yourself when thinking, please reconsider over a hot cup of tea.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sharing the Living Pain Realization

When I shared my living pain realization (see previous post) with someone who had lost both parents to booze, she decided to listen intently for a few minutes, until the idea hit home.  Now she won't speak with me, and if forced together in a social situation, avoids me at all costs.  I don't think the fact that we were drinking at the time was unrelated.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Living Pain Better Than No Pain

I was drinking and drinking, feeling pain, sorry, self-pity, and loathsome.  One day I realized something about my drinking, and it was very simple, perhaps even elegant, but extraordinarily ugly: I was holding on to my own dead Father by drinking.  Damn.  Trying not to feel the pain of his death by replacing it with drinking, somehow subconsciously allowing the drinking experience that I had been subject to as a child to intercede into my inability to grapple directly with my loss, and intensifying the drinking so that it, and only it, could provide my relief from utter terror and ambush.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tip #7 - Friends

Friends are funny people, in that they've probably been people you have had drinks with, both bad and good.   So you have to try to navigate the friend aspect of not drinking with the least bit of pressure, and many good friends will allow you to do this, and support you.  But without drinking, the dynamics between you and your friends will probably change a little bit.  For one thing, you should have more energy, eventually, and that might lead you down different paths.  For another, you probably don't want to go hang out in bars all the time anymore.  Not that they aren't fun, but now they smell a whole lot worse than they did when you were drinking, and the idea of screaming over some loud music to have a mildly engaging conversation--after all, how engaging can it be when you're screaming, and what message would that send in a different context?--that could be had at a nice quiet locale instead.  So yeah, you might find yourself branching out to meet new friends, or re-establishing the types of relationships you have with current friends.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What's Shameful About Alcohol Addiction?

Or, does it matter? These folks have decided that anonymity is primary, despite the fact that you'll "know" your fellow alcoholics quite personally over time, should you decide to keep coming back.  Of course, you also need to come to grips with your own reality, in a sense, to enter such a meeting, because you have to identify yourself as an alcoholic.  In this sense, your primary identity is obfuscated not by anonymity but by alcoholism; that, in essence, the drink is bigger than you.  You have to realize this to get to another plateau: that you are powerless against alcohol, so that you may, in turn, supplant your powerlessness against alcohol with subservience to a higher power. Mary Karr did it in Lit, and she did so persuasively (at least to me).  Others can do it too, but you have to swallow your own inability to be conceptually flexible about your identity.  Not an easy task. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

What Happens When You Stop Drinking?

You will feel like crap and need to alleviate this feeling.

If you have been heavily drinking for a long time, and your body is used to it, go see a doctor immediately.  Please. I'm not kidding about this one.  If you insist on not seeing a doctor, let a few good friends (at least one) or parent know that you're not drinking and you might experience physical problems, and make sure you have contact with them scheduled in for your next week.  If your issue is that you don't want to tell someone that you are stopping because you think you've hidden your drinking from them successfully, don't be so smug--they've thought about it, and you will do yourself a world of good by acknowledging it yourself and for reaching out

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Trading Up Addictions - Are you Long or Short?

Want to get off beer, wine, whiskey and the occasional mouth wash tempt?

Yeah, well, me too.  But be careful!  Don't jump into something else that offers a substitute for your addiction in the most explicit way.  I'm responding to a recent commenter who spoke about good addictions, like watching a match of a team you've recently become addicted to.  I think that is a reasonable response, and cannot think of a way that it doesn't mimic alcohol.  You might have a craving for it, do it habitually, do it with other people, or need to go do it after a certain confrontation.  It might even provide a new community that could provide a useful alternative, or translate older relationships into new forms.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tip # 6

Walk around a lot more than you used to.  I know this may sound strange if you don't do it already, or if you don't have a lot of places to walk around physically, but it is extraordinarily helpful for the early days of sobriety.  Walk for 30 or more minutes, enough so that the scenery changes a few times, and you will feel better and more able to tackle whatever task comes to you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Heritage Drinking 2

So, how many of you suffered from an alcoholic influence, most likely a family member, in your lives before you started to abuse a substance of some sort, whether legal or not?  It is surprisingly, a great way to predict that you'll drink, or have some unhealthy addiction to something.  All I'm asking is the ability to recognize it and keep recognizing it so that I'll have some perspective in the future when waste and neglect and indolence comes knocking, because it used to be my best friend, and you know how familiar best friends are, even when they've been out of your life for some time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Heritage Drinking

My Dad was an alcoholic.  I wouldn't have called him just a problem drinker, though he certainly was--just that, it wasn't all he was.  I don't honestly believe that he wanted to drink, but this also simply doesn't square with the fact that he chose to drink, to some limited degree, frequently throughout his life, with increasing intensity toward the end.  I also don't think that this meant that he chose alcohol over his life, although that was the eventual outcome.  So what is it exactly that made him drink?

Well, it certainly wasn't about his not wanting to drink, at least not outwardly, and not more than he wanted to see me or my Mother.  At some level in some patch of space, I know that the balance is between one drink, one drinking session, or one drinking night, and keeping his family.  All the while I know that he didn't want to lose us, I know that he rationalized each bout of boozing with some justification that, in the end, proved stiffly incorrect.  He did lose his family, house, job and life to booze.  He also lost his second wife.  I know, for the record, that he began to speak with a college friend about his drinking very early in his drinking and actual career.  He could maintain control, to some degree, but was desperately aware that he could not continue to maintain control.  He drank in excess that I cannot now imagine--well, that's not precisely true; I can imagine it, on some far off plane.  And, while I can't seem to muster enough energy to imagine drinking a 1.75 liter bottle of cheap vodka in one morning, I can and distinctly remember choosing to drink over and above other responsibilities that I should have been attending to instead.  I remember soliciting others to drink with me, and I remember some of the specific others that would form more often than not, meaning that I remember some of my friends for many years in this capacity.  Great, right?  That's probably a bit harsh, I know, but it is at least part of the reality that was my reality when I chose to drink instead of choosing to live some other available reality--not that I wasn't forced to live that other reality, and its increasingly negative slant (because of inattention and drinking)--only that I would drink, in part, because of the increasingly negative slant in the non-drinking reality.  Shame on me, I know, being conscious of both and too weak to drop the bottle and increase the uptake of platonic learning.  Yeah.  Still, I managed to get by.  But I think, looking back, like I said in the first post, my life changed because of it, and yes, I still feel, at some horrible and oft-non-disclosed level, incredible grief and shame for myself.  It could have been.  Could have.  What?  I can never know.  Not that I won't try to realize the potential in front of me now, and not that I cannot recognize the balance of limiting past nostalgia from future fuck up, just that some basic fact will always remain that I cannot undo.

I am also aware that having such a recognition is needed to move forward. To rebuild. I hope I'll have the energy this time around.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tip #5

Find thirty seconds of stillness/silence, somehow, at some point. 

Mental State

Since we're talking about drinking, we're also talking about one's mental state, which is itself hard to get an accurate grip on generally, no less so because of the infusion of alcohol.  So, what is your mental state when drinking and drunk?  What is your mental state when sober, and the vital link, how does drinking change your normal mental state--does it exacerbate certain themes that don't quite swim to the surface typically, or does it reveal untethered personality traits, novel and jolting?  The answers are not explicit, and you shouldn't expect them to be, despite what I'm sure is a high desire for dependable definitions and succinctly cut categories.  One aspect of this relationship is that it changes over time--.  And that, as a good friend once said, it is a relationship, and not something lacking multiple dimensions, which is precisely the reason that you must, as a potential alcohol abuser (or that I have and attempt constant efforts) think about the relationship your sober self has to your drunk self, and how alcohol changes that black box over time as you or I gain experience with
drinking more regularly and more or less socially. Watch out for people that point out drinking as a simple activity, one that comes with no or little strings attached.  And, however much you desire to drink because it makes you more comfortable, watch out if your relationships  with other people start or end in a bottle.  I'm speaking here about romantic relationships as well, which I'll touch on briefly right now.  Booze may provide you at times superhuman abilities in the sack (at least you may think so), or the ability to charm endlessly, but that chimera will fade over time, and you'll need to be able to face the person you may or may not be physically, mentally, or emotionally entangled with both when you shine and when you're dull, when there's silence, when you disagree publicly, decide that certain friends are not worthy of attention, or when you feel neglected or alone.  I'm not saying that there's no place for a beer or a bottle of wine in relationships--not at all.  What  I'm getting at, though, is fundamentally based on how your relationship with alcohol can translate or be exported to your relationships overall, particularly if and when it is involved in the beginning stages of courtship or romance.  There's a reason not to drink, if you are looking.