As our species is busy doing a lemming (marching into the seas of disorder by the droves) there are some of us more prone to personalized destruction. I am one of these. I put ‘it’ in the present tense even though my last drug and drink was circa February or March 1985. In recovery we live in the premise of the here and now, a day at a time. My drunk-a-log tale of woe-be-gone is neither unique, nor particularly newsworthy.
I learned to drink as a Creative Director. I used because everyone around me was using. No one made me, I did it all by girl scout self. Being an intellectual card carrying member of the love generation we seemed like pinballs in the machine of self-loathing. Youth-bent angry at the establishment for killing our lovers, friends, and family in a war over Asian oil is fertile ground to become anti-human, including toward the available direction of one’s self?
Even today, I prefer the company of nature and dogs, or being alone. I realize as a member of a grandiose species I also require contact with my own. This venue, on Fedbook, midnight chats at the cyber oasis, and an occasional yak at the farmer’s market or an overnight visit from a best buddy girlfriend is my current social life.
Meetings here in CR seem to only piss me off because too many taking up space in the AA club house are experiments in Prozac Nation. I work on a basic – a drug is a drug is a drug. This probably has more to do with my training as therapist and the cynical watching of a journalist. Life is precious and if you think taking a happy pill day after day, year after year, is living you are one sick bitch. The disease is rooted in self-denial. Recovery is grown from brutal honesty. I am unsure how any entity capable of thought and speech thinks a regime of daily happy pills is any different than hipster cocktails at 6 PM (every night), or slugging vodka at 2 AM (every early morning).
Hold your breathe to read this one = Back to the assignment with a heavy heart carrying too much baggage of too many memories of those whose bodies I step over – as they cast themselves on the heap of dead from drugs and booze. Even today, I regularly chat with someone who I estimate is gulping down a 1/2 liter of vodka every day plus beers, joints and maybe hash. How can I do that, talk to an active addict? I separate the disease of addiction from the suffering human being. This took a few years at the top end of my recovery being lugged up the mountain by others who knew the path. I was bleeding on a trefoil of denial at the beginning.
Genetic predisposition is obvious. The rooms of recovery are jammed up with the Irish and Scottish gene pool. It is a generational disease and it never skips one friggin’ generation. As to status and the bull corn a drunk is a skid row bum (read homeless Vet) – yes true, and everyone else on Earth, Yet my former circle of living by a river in Egypt abusers were successful, overly educated, rising stars of American culture. House wives, whores, and US Army officers and folks from every walk of existence sit in the chairs of AA and NA and Alanon, and Naranon and whatever the latest in 12th step stuff.
AA Co-founders Dr. Bob, who was a medical doctor, and the other guy Bill, who was a Wall Streeter, figured out how to find sober lives – they went regularly to a support group of other drunks, practicing abstinence. They found their soul filled sobriety by giving it away. To thine own self be true is engraved on the coin of every AA celebrants anniversary gift for a gigantic reason. We are not a cult. We are folks who grace found us at our worse moment and lifted us up and out from the bottom of the Dixie Cup. The stats on who hits a bottom and never wakes again can be found in Philip Seymour Hoffman’s storyline.
Last night, I wrote to my vodka chugging friend, “You would not be hanging around in cyberspace with me unless you wanted something I have. Do you know what it is?” The friend’s answer, “Ok.” One becomes nearly monosyllabic as the mind is awash in booze and concentration is afloat. I keyboarded, “I only get to keep what I have by giving it away.” Here is the secret to being sober and clean.
Cryptic? Maybe, yet my friend is brilliant, immensely creative, too well read, speaks and writes a multitude of languages and basically an amazing human being. He gets it. He is not ready to stop bending his elbow. You and I can not stop anyone from killing themselves with 70 bags of smack (Hoffman again) or walking to the liquor store for another bottle of vodka.
Interventions work only if the subject of the intervention is bathed in a self awareness not of our making or staging. I have no idea why some are chosen and others fall down with needles stuck in their arms or an exploded liver. My job is gratitude and being brutally honest while running my jaw with others who get it and do not get it. Such acts include writing this public piece.
If there is a psychological profile for addiction, 96% of American qualify. If there is a personality more in love with drugs than booze I would offer a drug addict’s self-loathing is quicker and possibly an indicator the madness is deeper. Hoffman had been to rehab and I am venturing a not wild guess he attended recovery 12th step meetings at some point. His talent was huge. His intensity too much. His ability to play a part too real. These are the basic attributes of a junkie. We con ourselves first. It you are drained and damned to be in the abuser’s milieu you too (read as premier enabler) experience the grifter’s game until your heart becomes Swiss cheese and you need a program of recovery.
The disease is a killer. The disease lives in denial. The disease is insidious. The disease is treatable.
Interestingly, for me at least, this soul sickness has a dying and a living web. Once one gains enough sobering self-esteem (addiction destroys your self-value) taking the time to do a personal audit is helpful not only to make amends to others but to realize trigger points leading to one more spoon cooking of dope or another glassful, or doing the inevitable Marilyn (as in Monroe) or the Jim (as in Morrison) or your best friends (too many and too painful for me to list).
The slave society (you and me) globally is layered with a perennial message being an addict is a character disorder. It is, and it is not. Self-will is not part of the equation of recovery. Will run riot is the core of an abusing insanity. You know telling yourself, “Shit, no problem, I can handle this, tomorrow I will not drink and/or shoot dope.” As the disease progresses this lie is told to everyone until everyone but the abuser sees it. Yep, drugs (alcohol is a drug) alter your whole being. Recovery heals your whole being right down to the molecular level.
Some characteristics I have noticed addicts share (including me): Intensity; Critical; Insightful about social encounters; Marshmallow hearts; Effective story tellers; Secretive; Sarcastic; Sensual; Extroverted; Introverted; Ego maniacs with inferiority complexes; Emotionally shut down to wearing their emotions on their sleeves (hypersensitive); Givers; Enablers; Complicated; and, Brave.
The book is not closed. I will continue to happy camper blabber on about politics, Egypt, birds, and the power of life and Earth. To those who are pissed i identify myself in the public as a recovering addict take your finger and point it at yourself. To those who think you might have a problem, you do. To those who have loved ones killing themselves go get help for yourself ASAP. To those who don’t give a sh*t, f**k-you.