forced isolation

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welcome back

It has been over a year and half since I last wrote on this blog and I just don’t know why.  Perhaps I have leaned towards our topic of the day, isolation.  Honestly the feeling that writing gave me went away for a bit.  Then my uncle, the man who taught me so much, my friend passed away.  I wanted to write this piece for a while but I just couldn’t figure out how to start it.  He always read what I wrote and knowing he wont see this is, well kind of sad.  Originally this piece was going to be about how I seem to flock to isolating.  It was going to be about how I feel safe and comfortable when I isolate, even though its not what I should be doing.  It is not odd that I would enjoy something that is bad for me.  For more clarity on that concept scroll down to any of my other posts.  Anyway, the whole topic has taken a dramatic left turn and I finally felt the compulsion to write again but now it is for a far different reason.

 

the virus vs. the disease

Typing “the virus” immediately invokes memories of movies about the end of days.  Within the last few weeks we went from making jokes about not touching or being near each other to complete lock down of cities and serious global fear.  You know all that.  You’re probably home too watching the news, reading articles and on and on.  I am of course, as always, interested in talking about the addiction side of this.  The irony is that I have always enjoyed isolating and now that we have been forced to isolate and I don’t like it….totally.  Tell an alcoholic not to do something and I bet by dinner he will have done 3 times and shoved it in your face that he did it.

Forced isolation is a hell of a good reason to drink or do drugs.  Now don’t worry, I am not going to do that.  But I worry about those who have the thoughts that creep up inside their mind.  These thoughts will tell you that you don’t have a problem.  They will tell you that you’re home alone and no one will know.  They will downplay your addiction.  Then the thoughts will explain to you how you don’t really have a problem.  The thing is, if these thoughts are allowed to continue, you will be drunk or messed up by the time the sun sets.  Isolation is a dangerous place for us humans, especially when we are forced to do it and even more so, I think, for us alcoholics.

This is a very delicate time for all of us.  At first I thought, this message should be for other drunks and drug addicts but honestly, we all need to be vigilant.  It is more important than ever to stay in touch.  Even if you aren’t an alcoholic or a drug addict, you very likely know one.  You need to call them.  You need to FaceTime them.  You need to just ask how they are doing and keep them engaged with the world.  Of course we need to do this for everyone but I’m not writing an everyone thing here so just deal with that.

Our way of life is being jolted.  You probably didn’t know this or think of it but even AA meetings are canceled.  We are regrouping and having meetings virtually but what does that do for the new person or the person who was considering their first meeting or wondering if maybe they have a problem?  Well you can understand why I am concerned.

If there is a chance you are questioning your drinking or drug use and reading this, there are still many ways to get help, to address it.  I don’t want this situation to produce a large number of relapses, and I hope I am wrong, but I fear it will.  But just as we can contain the spread of the virus by being away from each other, we can also contain the disease of alcoholism if we stay in contact with each other.  Reach out to others if you are struggling.  And if YOU are not struggling reach out to someone who is.  And if you don’t know anyone who is struggling then you don’t know anyone at all because everyone is struggling in some way, especially right now.  We will get through this but we need to band together, all of us.

action items

Do me a favor (and I’m stealing this idea from a few very wise people), no matter who you are, make a promise to yourself that each day you will try to reach out to two people in some capacity.  To clarify, I mean call or Video Chat in someway.  A text is just ok.  Let me tell you why I wouldn’t text.

A text is easy for a struggling person to:

1. Deflect and disregard

2. Not engage or care about

3. Easily lie about their current condition

So call two people tomorrow and the next day and the next day and well just do it at least until we get through this thing.  I promise you, I PROMISE YOU, whether you’re an alcoholic or not, doesn’t matter, you’re day will be better because you did this.  You can’t say you don’t have the time.  This is the time to help each other.  We can be better and maybe we even learn how to live better because of this.  I love you all and thank you for reading.

If you need additional help:

Alcoholics Anonymous

aa.org

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24/7 Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)      samhsa.gov 

drug control

If you make the stupid mistake of thinking you can control drugs, you die. I think people who have trouble with becoming alcoholics trip up here. People who don’t enjoy drugs or drinking say they don’t like feeling out of control. Why the need to control a substance designed to take you out of the control seat? Ah but I get it. I wanted to control alcohol. I actually thought I did control it. But give me three drinks and tell me to stop. You better get out of the way because that isn’t happening.

Drugs aren’t designed to be taken to great excess. Even drug dealers need to eat. They want you using as much as possible and as quickly as possible but staying alive so you come back. Alcohol companies don’t mind if you drink a fifth, just not a liter, then you might die or even worse, contemplate your life! Us alcoholics are extreme, we are a liability. They’ll take the heavy college drinker over us any day. Alcoholics pose threats of bad press. My point here is by no means to be critical of companies or drug dealers, I am just shining more light on my perception. Alcoholics can be romanticized in movies and tv. Sometimes they get it right, but sometimes they almost make it cool in a way, if you’re recovered. By the way, it is actually cool if you’re recovering vs drinking, I’m just saying I would hate for some 25 year old to get any kind of perception other than the idea that alcoholism and drug addiction is life consuming and life destroying. It’s like rooting for the asteroid to annihilate our species. It’s rooting for the killer shark to eat the innocent children. It’s fucked up.

I feel like I’m reading overdose stories at record pace these days. Kids doing stupid shit. Except they are dying. Want to know a messed up thing about me? Sometimes I read a story about an overdose and my first thought is, “wow, I could have gotten high doing that?” That’s what I live with. I’m lucky, my next thought is acknowledging how fucked that is. I bet someone reading this can relate and understand that though. To the majority that are shocked, I don’t understand what it’s like to not think that way.

I’ve heard people suggest you live a lot of your life feeling like a certain age, an age you’ve held onto. Maybe I’m not saying that correctly but I understand it. Some days I think I’m still the 17 year old boy who got really drunk for the first time. For so long after that I chased that feeling, that high. In many ways I still do, I just do so in other ways.

Time sure flies. It’s a hell of a ride. Some days I stop for a moment or two and wonder how so much time has passed so quickly. I think of the people I miss that have left us. I think of the old days. But I also try to turn to the present and remember that down the road these will be the old days. That’s difficult to do. But I’m going to keep trying. Anyway, I’m off on a tangent again. Kids, don’t do drugs. I’m serious. You will die. You can’t control them. The drugs, the alcohol, they are in charge and they are heavily recruiting. The problem is will power is a bitch. No one will stop you if you really want to try it. You just have to understand the risks. You may die. Didn’t stop me, but hey, I have hope for you… I’m here if you need me and I love you.

the swimmin hole

the swimmin hole

I realize now the swimming pool is my timeless place. No phone, no connect to the world outside it. Even my children seem to age much slower in water. The milestones take longer. The world that I know sort of stands still and waits at the gate, like a dog waiting for it’s master. My troubles seem to wait as well. My focus becomes clear. Keep children and self alive. Everything else falls into place after that. It’s actually a nice little utopia stocked with food and drink. I wish real life was so easy. I wish being an adult was this easy. Maybe it is us that make it so hard. If we cut our list of thousands of items down to the rules of the pool, life might be easier, we might be easier on ourselves.

Walk, don’t run. Those under 8 years old must always be accompanied by an adult. Stay hydrated, eat food. Put on sunscreen. Don’t pee in the pool. Stay alive and have fun.

I ace those every time. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, everything else stands at the gate, waiting for me to leave to latch on again and make me long for my next day at the pool. Just a silly though I had to share…

remember me…

forks.

Life gives us forks in the road. What do we do with them? Choices. If I chose more blood over an ambulance, would I be here? How many others chose blood? How many can’t see any light? Sadly, there are many. I’m no saint. Im not perfect. Im no role model. I fuck up and I make choices that are terrible. I had so many choices in my past life and I chose the worst option time and time again. I guess I’m lucky. I got a few more lives. Let’s discuss addiction again. Did I mention this idea before? Addiction will look you in the face and tell you it loves you. Addiction will tell you everything is ok. Take that pill. Drink that drink. Life is better. Then, you take that pill, drink that drink and guess what, addiction was right. Everything is ok. Everything is fucking great, put on your dancing shoes and let’s go. But then one day addiction tells you the pill, the drink will make you happy and you take it. But then it doesn’t work. It doesn’t fucking work. What a backstabbing fucking asshole. What the hell am I gonna do now? Choice time. MORE. No choice. More more more. It’s not working, addiction, it’s not fucking working. I’m feeling worse, feeling scared. What do I do?? Addiction you lied to me! Choice again, choice. More=death. More=no family. I PICK MORE! Remember me! But stop.

remember me.

There was another choice. Remember you? Fucking coward. Remember you as a coward who chose drugs, who chose alcohol over life? Over your family? They just try to love you. Great memories you’ve created. Fuck you. Addiction is not a person. You can choose life. Maybe you should. Be remembered for good. Remember me for choices I made not ones I didn’t make. Let me make the choices I must make. I make bad choices all the time. You probably do too. Next time one faces you, next time addiction looks you dead in the face and tells you to get high. When it tells you that you may die, you may lose your family, but it will be as good as ever and you won’t care, just think about it for 5 minutes. Psychosis isn’t fun. Being the fucked up person isn’t fun. It’s not cool. You will die. I probably should have died many times. Somehow I didn’t. If I want to take that poison again that option is there. If you’re like me, and this is borderline impossible to fathom, but you CAN live without your best friend. You think it’s impossible and it’s damn close. I’ve kicked things I thought I’d die trying to kick. I barely made it but the other side is clean. The filth you need to climb through sucks, no doubt. I can’t do it again so I have to fight to keep this. Every day. But if you climb through a mile of shit and foul most people can’t even imagine, there’s a clean pond on the other side waiting for you as is a handshake from no one. You gotta do this for yourself. (I’m being dramatic, there’s massive support out there, I’m just saying you can only do it for you. No one else.). Join me. I’m still so fucked up but I’m making a few more good choices than bad right now. You’ll never get addiction completely out of your brain, but you’ll be able to tell it to fuck off every single day. Addiction, please fuck off. Thanks. See you tomorrow, you sick fucking fuck. Til next time, thanks for reading…

tools of death and my favorite glass

rant.

Addiction. Fuck that. I mean seriously, I may joke I may have stories but addiction is the biggest asshole in the room. Fuck guns. I don’t care if you disagree, I’m right. Take all the fucking guns and destroy them. Then tell me what’s worse. If no one has them, then we reset the board. Do me a favor before you disagree with me. One request. Let someone kill you with a gun. How do you feel about it now? Also, no im not talking about drunk drivers because thats irrelevant and you’re an idiot. If you want an analogy, compare the gun to the alcohol that got the driver drunk, not the car. Take away the tool of death, you take away the death itself or you make it a lot harder at least. Last thought on this, way to go kids. Seriously, seeing the youth of our country stand up is inspiring. We may finally have hope. Trying the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insanity. Something I know a lot about.

and now…this

A lighter story after that. Recently I dropped a glass in my sink. This was no ordinary glass, this was the glass I was given on my 30th birthday. It said ‘Happy 30th Ryan’. That same birthday, which came a few weeks before I quit drinking, brought many bottles of vodka. That glass housed vodka and cranberry drinks for maybe 25 days. Then for almost 8 years it held water, milk and sometimes a club soda. But that glass was purchased for me to hold liquor. It was a good token, a good reminder of what it was designed for. But it was retired for that purpose at a very early age. It went to “greeter at a supermarket” quite quickly.

When you break a glass, you no longer own that glass. The ties you have to it are severed. If it was special to you, you will feel loss. But you do not have many options. It is unlikely you can glue it back together and even if you could it will never be the same. It can’t ever be the same. Now your life continues without the glass. I’m not sure I have a point, this moment just made me think.

give me a point

There’s so much to think about. Dealing with addiction is truly a lifelong task. It will pop up and remind you that you have a problem that lies dormant but not dead. If you don’t acknowledge its existence, it may just erupt when you least expect it. If you don’t have it, you’re lucky. If you do, you’re lucky in a different way. You’re reading this so you now know one other person like you. That’s all it takes. And I love you and you can’t do anything about it. Can’t wait to talk to you all again soon. This world is a beautiful place if you know the secrets. I know the secrets that allow me to be happy and yet I run from them. I hide from them. I do the opposite of what they tell me. Say I don’t know about insanity now… but when I listen to the secrets, I find beauty and laughter and happiness. I hope you can too.

so many forgotten christmas trees

IMG_8114where the fuck have you been

I’ll admit, it’s been a while since my last blog.  If I call myself a writer, and I do not, I’d say I got a long string of no creativity.  That’s bullshit.  I got complacent.  I got lazy.  I got scared.  I stopped writing this blog I love because real struggle looked me in the eyes, as scared and confused as I’ve ever seen, and I froze up a bit.  I did my very best to help, but  was afraid I didn’t help, that I made the road more confusing.  Then I got worried I couldn’t handle the responsibility of putting something out there someone might actually read and relate to and even more so, take me up on my offer to talk.  What a selfish act.  What a prick.  However, if I am going to be a selfish prick, I will at the very least be an honest one.  Therefore, I decided to get back in the game and this inspiration hit me this morning out of nowhere and it was much unexpected.

so many christmas trees…

As I went to my favorite parking lot today to look for wood to burn, I saw the Christmas trees stacked upon each other.  This parking lot of mine that I love is also a drop off for old trees after the holidays.  As I saw a gentleman dropping off his tree, throwing it onto the pile like garbage, I was suddenly struck with a great deal of emotion.  Immediately I thought about all of the memories and moments that were created around and under these Christmas trees in the last few weeks.  I thought about all of the pictures that had probably been taken in front of or with these trees. Now I should stop and tell you I tend to assign emotion to objects even though I know I should not do that. Emotions are feelings we have inside of us, objects have no knowledge of our emotions nor do the objects themselves hold our feelings or memories inside them. But when I looked at these trees and I took what will most assuredly be the last picture ever taken of them, I can’t help but feel somewhat sad.

I don’t know why, it’s not as if these trees could be kept for years to come. It’s not as if these trees ARE the memories that were created in their presence. The memories are in our minds, the trees are merely symbols of a special time of year for so many people. But I still can’t help to feel almost strange in the presence of so many objects that, for a month or so, were the center of so many universes, of so many houses. Perhaps this is another example of how I overthink and analyze everything in my universe and my world. This is a good reminder for me that objects don’t make the memory; the people do.

time for a stretch

In a greater sense, and I might be stretching, but I believe our society has put such a greater importance on the objects and also ensuring a good documentation of the memory that we do not always fully immerse ourselves in the memory and moment itself. Now I am going down a tangent but I can’t stop. I know I’m guilty of it myself, sometimes projecting the image of a moment is more important than the moment itself. Sometimes setting the scene and the picture of the moment also becomes more important than enjoying that moment while it is happening. It seems rather silly that all of this was brought about from just seeing a bunch of dead trees piled on top of each other. But they were so much more than that once. The trees waited their whole lives for that one month in time where they would shine and be the highlight of a house. And welcome to my psyche.  The trees don’t have a clue and I doubt I do either.  But let me tell you something.  Today was another day I didn’t drink alcohol and that makes 2811 days in a row for that truth.  But I did feel bad for those trees though.  So I’m still fucked up, so that’s good…..

why i won’t go out with you

lonely, in pain and a brilliant mindalcohol3

Secrets, incredible acting and a magician’s ability to divert attention.  My ability to lie took so much time to develop and gain the confidence to do so, but eventually lying could not mask the pain anymore.  When I was drinking, I thought about alcohol all the time.  I wanted drugs all the time.  My drug of choice was always ‘more’ (I did not invent this phrase, but I believe it to be brilliant in the ways of an addict’s mind).  So many people walk around every day and the idea of a drink or a drug never even crosses their mind.  How different we are.  This feeling never completely goes away, I still have numerous moments where somehow the idea of drugs or alcohol enter my mind, but over time I have built up a defense system equipped with support.  Nevertheless, sometimes, undeniably, crazy thoughts can pop into my head.  Now I mean fucking crazy thoughts.  Please remember, as an addict I have a brilliant mind.  I am somehow smart enough to know I couldn’t have a drink even if I wanted to.  When I drank, I was sloppy and obvious and it was undeniable.  So I’d never get away with it.  Hear that?  “Get away with it.”  That’s my first consequence on the chart.  Get away with it how?  Not go to jail?  Not die?  How insane it can be to be this way.  I recall these type of thoughts:  “So I drank a fifth of vodka alone in a night, so what?  I didn’t do anything stupid this time.  No one even knew, all good.”

-Yes I did this and yes, I thought it was “cool”.  It is not cool to drink a fifth of vodka, especially alone.

That is the point here.  My mind works differently.  Liver failure, DUI, jail time, killing someone, killing myself.  So many people look at those consequences and decide to avoid the things that could allow these items to happen.  Some of these items don’t even enter certain people’s minds.  Why would they?  Well the honest to God’s truth is that NONE of them EVER stopped me from drinking.  Some nights I prayed one or the other would not happen to me out of fear, but I still kept going.  The instant that first drop of alcohol hit my lips and then my stomach, the feeling was pure bliss, I thought.

The very second I felt that alcohol, that fire hit my belly, I was gone.  I was happy (sure I was).  Start the race.  My new goal until I passed out was to find and pour as much of that liquor down my throat as I could.  I do not have the best ears in the world, but I could hear a bartender call last call from a mile away.  Last call at a bar for me involved three completely necessary tasks.  Task 1: Get to the bar quickly and order myself two drinks, usually each a double (unless on the off chance they had cut me off, which happened a few times see addendum A – Finding a friend to get a drink for me).  Task 2: Figure out the plan to drink more after that bar, even if it meant at home alone.  Task 3 (optional): Hopefully find someone to take a shot with (on top of the two doubles I had ordered).  If you wanted to see me frustrated and quietly angry, you should have seen me on days, where Task 2 had no prospects and my wife insisted I come home and go to bed.  This meant drinking time was over (see addendum B – Convincing the wife to have a drink when we got home.)  Yet this was all my normal world and it made sense somehow.

 

i am insane

This blog is my place to speak my truth.  I don’t speak for alcoholics or addicts.  I find these pieces allow me to stay honest and are just another piece that helps me not drink today.  I have had some amazing people support me and talk to me after a piece and I am eternally grateful for that response.  I love to hear from people on either side of the fence and welcome a discussion.  Pardon my language here, but those who have never experienced addiction have no fucking clue what it is like.  I make jokes that I still do tons of things alcoholically, like eating a full sleeve of cookies or exercising as much as possible for a few weeks.  These things are true.  However, that is not true addiction.  Addiction is being late to an important meeting because you have to stop home and get high.  Addiction is using money you need for dinner but using it for drugs instead and consciously making that decision and feeling as though it was the right one.

I was poor as fuck in college, but I was still stoned every day and blackout drunk often.  Waking up in strange places not knowing why you are there is a feeling you keep with you.  A rooftop comes to mind.  And it’s ok to smile or laugh about that but also realize that there was pain and problems with something like that.  Laughing about some of the stupid stuff I did is also helpful.  But as much as I hated the idea, eventually, the party had to end…

 

the end of the party

This is the part where they put the disclaimer up ‘Viewer Discretion Advised’.  I do not presume that April 2010 was my rock bottom.  I PRAY that it was, but in this world of addiction, filling my head with grandiose ideas of never drinking again is a very unhealthy and, at times, overwhelming way to feel.

My body wants more and more and more of everything.  I did not handle traveling home after vacation very well.  On vacation, I went all out, all the time.  I blacked out and do not remember entire evenings.  I puked so much I literally could puke no more.  Even alcohol poisoning, or as close as one can get, two nights in a row, in Vegas and vomiting blood everywhere didn’t even make me think for one second that I should cool it on the drinking.  After the first night of walking the line between passing out on a bathroom floor and being takin to the hospital, I went with my fiancé to breakfast.  Well, I could not even eat.  All I could do was drink straight vodka out of a water bottle while holding back the spits with a hotel hand towel.  Even then, there was ZERO thought of quitting or that I had a problem.  The only thought was of getting enough vodka back in my system that I could function and be normal.  That is the truth of the matter.  I really believed that if I could just drink a full water bottle of vodka at 11am on an empty stomach, that I would feel normal again and thus, it was ok.  Many hours later I could be seen walking through Old Vegas with a full wine bottle in hand.  You might be thinking that after drinking for another 20 hours and coming severely close, again, to death, this must be the story of the end.  Unfortunately, that story happened two years before I quit drinking.  I was hung over for a month though.  Seriously.  One month, yet I did not give it up.

Finally, when we lost Dave in January of 2010, I could no longer stop the train racing towards the cliff.  The last normal for me was secret drinks at work, snorting anxiety medication just because and smoking weed as if it were a second job.  But mostly, my normal was unhappiness.  I did not genuinely smile much during those few months.  I am brilliant so I made the best appearance of “I’m getting through it all.”  But deep inside, I wasn’t.  In my thoughts, I was too cowardly to kill myself, but I secretly hoped the booze and medication might eventually do it, especially if I used them to excess.  And I am talking a level of excess I had yet to achieve to this point because I had some genuine fear of death.  But take away that fear of death and mix it with an alcoholic’s downward spiral and you’ve got a recipe for one serious disaster.  I don’t mind meeting friends at a bar occasionally, I like a good party for a few hours, I’ll even entertain my best friends sometimes until midnight or so if I’m feeling generous.  But for me the party has ended and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I love a cup of coffee and a conversation any day over watching people trip over themselves or try to tell me, in slurred speech, that they are proud of me.  Avoiding a given event or party isn’t about the fear of relapse, it is about the desire to not go back and visit the prisons I once inhabited.

I was lucky.  My disaster was pretty big.  It was very hard.  But I survived it and I am here today and writing about it and you are reading it and still talking to me.  You must understand how insanely impossible this reality would have been to comprehend back then.  It could not happen, yet it did.  If you wanna talk about addiction, lets talk.  If you wanna know more, I’ll buy you a coffee and tell you more.  If you hate this blog, well, luckily there are other options out there.  But most importantly, I just want to say to anyone reading, thank you.