I Called It The Event Horizon

I wrote a book – a memoir.  I called it Saturation because, during my 3rd treatment center stay, I had to visit with a counselor who also had a part-time job outside the center as a medium.  That’s right – she was a psychic.  During my first visit with her – about a week into the program, she asked me what I thought about the alcohol poisoning I’d done to my body.  I was well past physical withdrawal so I knew there were no traces of alcohol in my system, but I also knew that wasn’t what she meant.  I told her I didn’t feel very well, which was true – residential treatment is depressing – no matter how nice the facilities are.  But that isn’t what she meant either.

“You are completely saturated.”  She said.  It sounded so much more powerful under the influence of her Irish accent.

I knew exactly what she meant.  My tolerance for alcohol was extraordinary.  In my book, I describe the mental and psychological sensations of withdrawal and compare them to what I imagined my mind being warped and stretched slowly over an Event Horizon might feel like.  The precipice of insanity where the fall endures time – and the rush can be felt mingling with the fear in one’s mind – that’s the mental anguish of withdrawal.  Often times I wondered how I would survive if I had to live forever in that mental torment.  There’s no better description of hell and I get it when I read or heard about someone going nuts as they got clean or sober.

To speak about the mind/brain and body as though they’re apart from for a moment; they’re extremely unhappy campers when it comes to having to recover from substance addiction.  They know how to scream without taking breaths or breaks.

The terror and anguish are almost beyond words and they are the main reason I continued to drink.  There were only three ways I ever got through withdrawal – unconsciously, medicated, or drunk.

via Daily Prompt: Precipice

Emergence

Coming into sobriety isn’t about emerging from a maze – it’s about coming through a haze.  A thick haze.

A haze of murk.

When I look back on the madness that is alcoholism, I see an internal life tossed about like debris in a hurricane.  The clarity required to navigate a maze back then didn’t exist.  Think Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

No Bueno.

There aren’t too many good reasons to take trips down memory lane anymore.  The future is too bright.

bright future

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Maze

The Pink Cloud

The pink cloud is a term for a temporary sensation some people experience when they first get sober.  I experienced it. I had an overwhelming sense of euphoria and a sincere commitment to sobriety.  The idea of relapse was a resounding, hands-down “It’ll never happen” no.  I was not only on the wagon, I was steering it – hitting at least two AA meetings a day.   To say that I was “Pumped UP” accurately reflected my enthusiasm.

pinkcloud

As I remember it, I woke up really happy one morning – ready to take on you and the world.  I felt joyous and free – clear headed and ambitious.  But I didn’t feel dim.  And boy, was I dim.  I know now – 12 years later – long after the cloud puffed itself out – that its manifestation was the (logical) result of my saturated emotions airing out and coming back to life.

As in metaphor so in life, the pink cloud evaporated and storms returned – as they always do.  And when the first one hit, I felt as though I’d crashed to earth from the heavens.

So I drank.

Life has been a series of difficult lessons.  I am not the kind of person who follows advice.  I might ask for it, but that’s only because I want to compare my idea to it. I’m still going to do things my way and my way has usually equated to the hard way.  However, as a result, I now have first-hand experience with all that stuff and first-hand experience is valuable.  Some of the advice given to me might have saved me a lot of grief.  Some of it – not so much.

Either way – advice is always about someone else’s path.  Something to think on before running off with ideas that belong to other people.

If you’re wondering whether or not you’re on a pink cloud, I suggest that you do your best to observe your reactions to life.  That includes your reactions to yourself.  I suggest that you pause to consider your choices and options before making decisions. Because here’s what I know about clouds

They aren’t permanent.

So if you are up there – bouncing and flitting around – understand that at some point, you’re going to fall through.

via Daily Prompt: Pink

A Better Tomorrow Is Finally Here

I’m still close enough to active alcoholism that I fantasize every once in a while about how nice it’d be to be able to go out for an evening and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine like some people can and do on a Saturday night.  And I’m far enough away from it to look back sometimes and wonder – how did I do it?  How did I manage to polish off four bottles of wine a day, every day, for years?  There’s so much more to life and it’s so much better today sober.

sobercalm

This is what calm in sobriety looks like.

A friend of mine has relapsed.  We met last May in Hazelden and at the time, she had five days of sobriety on me.  I’ll have one year this upcoming Thursday and she’s back in treatment, attending intensive outpatient three days a week.  I don’t know how much sober time she has, but it’s not much.  And I can tell.  Her correspondence reveals someone who refuses to acknowledge the truths in her life.  She told me her husband is leaving her, and then she told me she’ll believe it when she sees it.  She expressed no sorrow or remorse but acted as though he’d threatened clean the kitchen.

I don’t know if she is blatantly in denial or if she is incapable right now of seeing things for what they are.  And there’s nothing I can do.  Every time I hear from her, I’m reminded of how sick her thinking is.

I wouldn’t wish addiction on anyone.  It’s the most drawn out, destructive, twisted, evil, deceitful, and self-harming thing that exists in the world.  It’s not a disease.  It’s a tragic mental, physical, and spiritual illness that has a cure.  As I trudge the road of becoming a life coach, I’m trying to create the magic question.  I’ve got to find a handful of words and form them into something meaningful that will arouse curiosity in my clients about their own lives.  I plan to use this same question with everyone.  It’ll look something like What can you do to begin replacing your addiction with the things that you value most?

The question has to be an attention grabber.  What would I want a coach to ask me if I were still in the throes?  I think something like what I wrote above would get my attention.  Or any of these: What does your ideal life look like? What’s the best question I can ask you right now? If you could pull the answer to solving your addiction out of a black magic hat, what would the answer be? 

blackhat

Suggestions Welcome!

Daily Prompt: Better

Deja-Vu & the Skirt

It’s difficult to reconcile familiarity with a skirt from a second-hand store with the fact that I’ve never owned it before.  Nevertheless – I am most certain that this is a long lost skirt of mine – even though I’ve owned it for less than 48 hours.

Does everyone in early sobriety – or anyone anywhere – experience strange bouts of deja-vu, synchronicities, and internal ‘pushes’?  By push, I mean just that – it feels like I’m being gently pushed toward some ideas and – or – to do some things.  For example – I felt the push to stop at a second-hand store to look at clothes – something I never do.  And the idea to take my dog to work has been ebbing to the forefront of my mind all week. I’ve been very aware of pushing it back – out of the way, but  I finally relented this morning and took him.  And for some weird reason – I could feel that it was the right thing to do.

What IS that?

My new sober lifestyle is bringing fun and mysterious perks I couldn’t have anticipated.

I wonder what’s going to happen next?

via Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

‘Unpleasant’ Doesn’t Do the Word Justice

via Daily Prompt: Panicked

“Have you been on vacation recently?”  The cashier asked as she rang up my orange juice and wine.  “No.  Why do you ask?”  I had to avoid eye contact with her, so I tried to look interested in the disposable cameras just below me at the counter.  We were waiting for the credit card machine to kick into gear and to my horror, she was making small talk.

“Your face is so red.”  She blurted just as the little machine hummed to life and spit out my receipt.  I smiled and shrugged as she pushed the tiny piece of paper forward with a pen for my signature.  My hands were so shaky that I didn’t even bother trying to sign my name.  I scribbled a few lines, offered her a half smile, grabbed my bag of goodies, and walked out.  I hadn’t needed the OJ, but it was 9:15 in the morning.  Walking out with only a double bottle of wine that early would have looked bad.

Because it was so early – the store had just opened – the best spots closest to the front door were available.  The only closer spot was the handicapped spot. I’d parked right next to the handicapped spot.  And when I walked out, a police car was parked in it.  It was between me and my car – and the cop was still sitting there.  Now, had I been sober instead of in withdrawal, it wouldn’t have mattered that a cop was there.  But had I been sober, I wouldn’t have been at the store in the first place.  The police car was a huge problem for two reasons and as soon as I saw it, I panicked.  I was already going into severe withdrawal – I needed alcohol – immediately, but I was also on probation.  I wasn’t supposed to be in withdrawal because I wasn’t supposed to be drinking – and I was carrying wine.

I had to walk behind the cop car to get to my car – where my dog waited attentively.  About five feet outside the front entrance, my legs began to give out.  I’d never experienced anything like it.  My thighs felt weak.  I only had about 30 feet to go, but I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it.  And if I collapsed, the cop was right there and I’d be in a shitstorm of trouble. So, I told myself to take tiny steps and focus on my dog.  “One step, one step, one step, one step, look at Rumi, look at Rumi, get to the car, one step, one step, almost there, almost there.”  That’s how I coached myself to the car.  Each step was absolutely terrifying.

And the cop watched the whole time.  I was walking funny and we both knew it.  But I made it and practically collapsed into the driver’s seat.  Why had he parked in the handicapped spot when the lot was nearly empty.?  And why was he just sitting there?  I forced myself to reach into the back seat to pet my dog and as I did, I looked at the cop.   We made eye contact for an instant before he looked down and went to work on something in his lap.  I opened the OJ and took a long gulp before starting the car.  I knew I couldn’t give the officer a reason to pull me over and I only had a mile and a half to go.  I remembered that I still had Colorado tags on my car so I backed out instead of pulling forward so that he couldn’t pull me over for those.  I made it home.

I was so shaky and my legs were so trembly that I had to scootch down the steps – all 20 – to the front door on my butt.