War stories are drinkin' stories that supposedly aggrandize or romanticize or minimize alcoholism. We're not supposed to tell them, but I'm far from that kind of thinking so here goes one of mine. I'm not trying to live 100% by the book (the blue one). I hoped to make recovery a little bit lighter through poking fun of myself and the culture of recovery. If I can't have fun, I'm just not gonna do it is what I've learned. This is the first story of my "WAR STORIES" series.
MEETING KINKY FRIEDMAN, WRITER OF "KILL TWO BIRDS AND GET STONED" ON COKE.
I was travelling to Austin, Texas with the Salt Lake SLAM team with the full intention of performing some of my own poems. I wasn't on the team...I had made it past two rounds in the try-outs and got so drunk in between that I never showed up for the last round. I was invited as a dishonorary guest and because the guy renting the RV had a hard on for me. I, unfortunately, had a hard on for Nate who was invited as kind of the equivalent of a poetry rodeo clown. At the time I was working for a popular hotel chain and ended up staying at a much nicer hotel than any of the actual real poets which caused some contention (along with the fact that I was bloody drunk off of bloody Mary's the whole 23 hour trip). The hotel had a bar and some other features that I can't quite recall.
One night Nate and I had jumped ship on the SLAM tour and gone out to drink along sixth street. On the way home we were approached by a guy named Ian who offered us some drugs and to take us up to the twentieth floor of the office building where he worked. Evidentally the place he worked at was an architectural firm with tiny model buildings that we used to snort lines off of with what seemed like a never ending bag.
Nate, Ian and I stayed up all night on the balcony ad-libing lyrics and making up horrible Irish diddy's. When the sun came up we went to a Starbucks to sit drunk, high and stoned on the outside patio and sip lattes. Then Ian started telling us about 9/11 and how he saw the towers go down. He also said that he would love to see Nate and I make love to eachother (which we hadn't even done yet) and we both looked at eachother a little freaked out and "No". That's when I got up to refill my coffee and saw the news inside. They were with a guy in black who I didn't recognize (although I had read his book --- which was like a 200 page war story) and I asked him if he was Johnny Cash.
So somewhere out there is video footage of me with runny mascara, high AF shaking Kinky Friedman's hand on the news and asking if he is Johnny Cash.
Happy to announce I have met someone in my life that I've started to develop feelings for. Terrified to announce that I have met someone in my life that I've started to develop feelings for.
The good news is that I feel over the edge with excitement. I try to hold back from checking the messages on my phone every time it dings thinking it might be him checking in. Patterns of mine rise to the surface like fat on water, like this is the chemical reaction I can just expect given the ingredients I'm working with. The let down when its not him leading to doubt and neurotic inner dialogue. I know it sounds dramatic, it FEELS dramatic. These are the things a co-dependent feels in the beginning. I hate that word "Co-dependent". By all appearances I am independent. I've been alone a good deal of my adult life. Leaving home at 17, renting my own apartment downtown Salt Lake City at 20 and now raising kids completely by myself including financially and every which way. And perhaps that alone time makes my relations burst. When I suddenly latch onto some poor schmuck my seams are coming apart and I data dump on them telling them everything about myself as quickly as possible. I know that this hopeful attachment leads nowhere good, however the more I feed into it...the better it feels.
I have to ask myself "What am I going to do different this time?" Expect different results from doing the same thing...I know that doesn't work. I need to change things now, twerk them a little bit. The better it feels now, the worse it feels later somehow.
I watched "Eat, Pray, Love" recently, a movie I love that was directed by Ryan Murphy (of American Horror Story fame) and this woman talks of the same dilemma. I couldn't help but acknowledge that even by disappearing into her story I was relieving myself of the obsession with things that are not even in my present. I've been reading about co-dependency and becoming familiar with the algorythms of my behavior. Even the act of engaging with myself over these habits keeps me in the present which is key. I'm not putting him before my own needs in those moments. I'm not agrandizing what he is and putting him on a pedestal. I'm not reliving the moments we've shared in the past which seems to add (or stockpile) value and meaning every time I do it.
Another thing I have chosen to do is limit the time we hang out. I've noticed that the days after we hang out I'm not very productive. This has led me to limit our time together to weekends. You know the truth about it is that it's not romantic or fun to regulate oneself, the whirlwinds are the high roller coaster rides, but I know that my roller coaster rides end bad. Real bad. So I'm trying something different and calculated. So far I'm not experiencing the extreme worry of losing him or of it not working out so that's an improvement on my well-being.
1. Don't do drugs.
2. Here's some drugs.
3. Maybe if you just cut back.
4. Why don't you just switch to booze/weed?
5. You don't have a problem, you just think you have a problem.
6. If you could just drink like a normal person none of this would be happening.
7. Drinks on me!
8. Drugs on me!
9. Alcoholics are just quitters.
10. I'm Jesus, I've just returned to change this water to wine. You down?
Why do I have to identify myself as an alcoholic? A Drug Addict? A Codependent?
Some people think it's stupid. My name is ________and I am a food addict. Some people are of the belief that identifying yourself as an addict will perpetuate the problem. The problem lies in that if we don't communicate with our unconscious mind, we will forever see the problem as existing outside of ourselves.
One of the fine doctors that took part in the writing of the blue AA book was none other than Carl Jung. Jung was one of Freud's students who studied the subconscious/unconscious/collective unconscious. He was the one who said "Until you make the unconscious conscious it will control your life and you will call it fate." By saying that we are addicts, it is bringing our repressed ideas of self into perspective. Now our ego has become aware of who we are and what is actually taking place. When we say we are addicts, we are becoming aware that we have a problem. We are not convincing ourselves, we are just starting to notice. It's the same with repressed memories. When you think about it, it's quite ingenious these reasons why we identify ourselves with our disease.
This is called step one: admitting to ourselves that we were alcoholics and that our lives had become unmanageable. You can't skip this step. It is the most important one if you want to change your life.
When I first got sober I was afraid of change. In my mind I had worked hard to become the person I was for good or bad. I was afraid my sense of humor would run dry or that I would become an intolerant bitch that suddenly shames everyone for drinking. I was afraid I would become a person that blogs about how not to drink exactly like I'm doing right now. Let's admit it...it's a little annoying. But I do find it therapeutic to document this journey. I can look through my post and say "Ohhhhh yeahhhhh, I do not want to go through THAT stage again!"
Anyway, I was told by a friend that I had changed and the way she said it totally validated me fears: I'm not liked or cool anymore. It sat with me for awhile thinking there is something wrong with me now and it shows. Then the reality hit that she was right. The not drinking me doesn't have a lot in common with the drinking me anymore.
And that is okay.
Many times the only people ruined by change are the ones that would like to keep you as a cog in their well-oiled machine. You changing has diminished their dynamic. If you used to be enabling, but now you have boundaries...people around you will be uncomfortable. They would like to continue walking all over you. They would like you to continue using you for money, time and all else.
If you used to drink and be crazy and fun, your friends might disperse when you focus your attention on improving your life. It maybe true that you aren't as fun (but you will be crazy, I promise). When you quit drugs and drinking you shift your focus. The purpose of your life is not centered around just fun any more. Maybe you want to be a better person or parent. You want to do something with your life. You don't want to deal with the nagging obsession that was the central point of everything you do. That doesn't mean that you are not fun or will not have fun again, it means that right now you are not all that thing that the people you've associated see you as.
You've changed! When you hear this statement instead of reacting defensively like it's a bad thing...simply say "Thank you so much! I really appreciate that!" You've metamorphasized into a butterfly and you're not in a dark caccoon anymore.
I know about "The Secret" via Oprah. I didn't read "The Secret", I read "The Celestine" prophecy which is secretively "The Secret". Both of these books talk about the unseen laws of the universe like karma, manifestation and the law of economics (we get back what we put in). Somehow the atom is an accepted theory, but the law of economics is a very hard concept for people to understand. We let things like perceived unfairness cloud our perception i.e. when bad things happen to good people we start to think there is no God, no fairness, no order. We expect our rewards to be relative to our offerings i.e. If I give to the poor, people will help me when I am struggling. The problem here is that we are assuming that we know what is best for us at all times without consideration of things that are outside of our contextual environment such as: how it will effect others around us, how it will shape our future, etc.
A good example is a meeting I was in recently. This older guy starts talking about how his house was broken into a year and a half ago. He called 911 and the woman asked if he had a gun. He did. She then proceeded to tell him that because the intruder was in his home, it would be fully legal for him to shoot them. This man was fairly new in recovery and really didn't want to do that. Instead he waited for the cops to arrive and apprehend the man.
So the guy telling the story goes on to talk about how at that time he was volunteering to hold meetings at the prison. Maybe you can see where this is going. He ends up running into the (then) meth addict that broke into his home. For the next year and a half he goes through the steps with this guy. This is where I come in. At the meeting I'm at he explains to us that he just gave the man his 18 month chip THAT day and the man's 2 children came up to him and thanked him for saving their dad, not only by not shooting him, but by giving him a second chance at life by being sober and a part of their lives again. It was really beautiful.
This is a perfect example of God/The Creator and/or Universal Law. A man does the"right thing" (gets sober in his life). He then gets "punished" or a perceived punishment (If I'm sober and doing the right thing then why are bad things happening to me?). He then goes on to save the man's life. If you don't follow that whole path to the end, the man is sober and volunteering and yet he's still getting fucked over. With our limited knowledge of the future, our lack of vision gets in the way and instead of being merciful (in this man's case) we pull the trigger.
There are laws that exist in the universe and whether you see it immediately or it happens down the road, you will get back what you put in. Hopefully, this story helped to illustrate that. I have many, many more supplemental stories just like this as evidence, but the literature is out there too. The thing I like about this story is that it that it also talks about the path of the man on meth and that sometimes it's necessary to go down before we go up.
Now that I'm out of the fizz fog of drinking an 18 pack a night I get to sit back and watch the newbies struggle their way through the first few months. To a degree people in recovery are very much the same. Most of us think we can trick ourselves into drinking only on weekends or only on Holidays. Most of us think we can set traps like having someone hold our cash on payday or having our roommate stash our booze where we can't find it. Just like our drinking life, our sober life is filled with methodologies and superstitions we've conjured to try and control an outcome. And most of us don't understand the idea of surrender or letting go because you can't control surrendering and control is all we really know.
Some of the interesting concepts I've seen newbies come in with are straight entertainment. The Sober Calculator was the first one that comes to mind. This "anonymous" kid thought that by downloading this app that counted his sober days down to the second would be enough to keep him in check. The one thing the calculator is missing is a tally of how many times a person uninstalls it and installs it to start all over again. Can you imagine if these app makers figured out the key to what some of the world's greatest physicians couldn't solve? First app to receive the Nobel Prize?
Another one I see often is the gung-ho quit everything at once guy. Not a good idea! I hate to promote smoking (it won't be the first time) but smoking can actually help you curb the monster cravings hitting you from every angle. This is where that saying "Take It Easy" comes in. Dieting, getting a good job, buying a house, quitting smoking...those things can all come later. Please don't try to run for senate the week you quit drinking.
This one I love: A girl I met at a meeting said that instead of going to AA she was just going to watch "Mom" reruns. I never saw her again. Sure, maybe she's walking around sober and getting a shot of "Mom" every night before she goes to bed, but sadly that theory seems like a bust. Straight up the reasons we go to meetings are like a) the get support b) to connect and c) to identify ourselves as alcoholics so that one day our unconscious mind might actually believe we have a problem cause we certainly don't feel like we do.
I like the addict mind, it's cunning, manipulative and irrational and those things make for REALLY great comedy. What are your insane tricks to getting sober? Best one gets a lollipop.
1) I only blacked out twice this week. If I black out one more time that's still less than half the week!
2) If I go to the bar I might get drunk enough to go home with someone and then I'd have somewhere to sleep tonight.
3) This is a perfect excuse for why I'm not going to show up for work tomorrow.
4) A drink will help me feel better about getting obliterated last night.
5) A drink will help me forget about getting obliterated for the last 3,650 days of my life.
6) Whiskey is my best friend (go ahead and say that out loud)
7) If I only have one drink then I'll feel better about having the next ten
8) Everyone else has failed me, but vodka always pulls through.
9) I'm a mess, poison will fix it!
10) Alcohol kills bacteria so if I drink vodka I'll never get sick
All I wanted growing up was an exciting life...I did not realize that asking for excitement invited crocodiles...and fiery darts...and evictions. I thought yay, fun, excitement. What I got was AAaaaaAAAaaaahhhhhh! excitement. When you get to the point in your life when you look at boredom as a luxury, it's because excitement gets old. It really does.
Drinking didn't get old for me, the side effects of it did though. Messes and clean ups, overreactions and apologies, fires (yes, actual fires), fights, looking for my purse every morning and finding it sometimes, cheating, not remembering cheating, concussions, lies, explanations, hangovers...yada....yada...yada... Drinking itself never got old-the taste, the ambiance, the connections and the laughs, but the side effects of being a black out drunk...fuck em.
Now at two years I'm not a saint, I'm nowhere near where I could be, should be, will be....I'm slowly making amends and making things right, but the one truth I hold is that I haven't had a drink. And the bad excitement I've had in sobriety (that seems to follow me no matter what)...my ex disappearing on meth, getting cancer, losing several friends to suicide and addiction seemed less catastrophic and more hopeful. For instance my ex checked himself into treatment a week ago and I was clear headed enough to be able to help instead of firing off like I might have a year ago. When I found out about the cancer, my kidneys and liver had a year and a half to cleanse themselves so the chemo didn't send me into failure. My rent was reasonable, my support systems were strong and my kids and I had everything we needed. When I found out one of my good friends had committed suicide, it was after I had a dream about him which led me to find out. I felt I had a clear communication with him, but would that have happened if I'd been drunk. Most likely not.
At two years our brains start to repair the damage and broken connections, that's what I have heard. I guess we'll see.
1. A king of a very important kingdom appoints you to the position of night watch. Your duty is to stay at the gate every waking hour and watch for a mythical sign to appear. It is important that you sleep during the day and remain alert during your shift. According to legend a comet to the east will flash red for exactly 2 seconds. If you miss the flash the kingdom is doomed, the people will die and earth will replenish itself. The comet can detect intoxication as well and will just pass you by if it senses you have been drinking at all.
2. You get hired to swallow swords on fire.
3. You have a bowel obstruction that is forcing you to shit out your mouth. Every time you try to take a drink, the shit and alcohol meet in your throat causing you to choke up liquid shit that quickly eats away at your esophagal lining.
4. You are over-hydrated (Very dangerous!)
5. Room Raiders, the MTV show, alerts you that they will be doing an expose by taking a black light to your bedroom sometime in the next year at a spontaneous time.
6. It's the future. Alcohol has been outlawed in the new prohibition amendment of 2042. There is to be an execution tomorrow for everyone who is extracted from their home that tests positive for even .01%. Everyone will be tested.
7. News flash: the DABC has been notified that terrorists have hijacked hundreds of thousands of cases of alcoholic beverages and dissolved trace amounts of Anthrax in them. Every drink is now a dangerous game of roulette.
8. It is discovered that for every drink that disappears, a monkey dies.
9. You are literally on fire.
10. Every time you drink you're an asshole.