how crazy am i?

“That’s the problem with crazy people:

they don’t know they are crazy!”

Jim Jeffreys

UWU1MDBlSUsxb0E=I think epigraph quote should be under the title, and in the blog post that’s how it would be (and is), but not in the Word document that I have started writing this post. It took me quite some thinking about it, and it would take me less than ten seconds to change it, but I haven’t. I went on thinking of it. Should I change it? Should I leave it the way it is? Will the time changing it be significantly smaller as compared to my continuing thinking about changing it?

I think a lot.  I like it, until it kicks me in the butt which does happen from time to time. I pay no mind and keep on with it. I have no expectations that it would get better, for most of the time I have no care. If I did have the expectations that it would get better, I would be crazy, because it is insane to expect different results from practicing the same behavior.

I used to be that insane when it came to things compulsive, involving drinking alcohol and acting OCD. Thanks to drinking, I was prone to depression. I wanted to find a safe manner of drinking after many a time of finding a proof that my body wasn’t interested in adjusting to that idea or behavior. It has worked for others, I’ve witnessed, but not with me. I’ve tried different everything that involved drinking as I continued drinking, and that was insane.

After I finally have quit intoxicating myself for good, I’ve noticed plenty of positive factors showing up, including massive decrease in depressive attitude and in OCD behavior. I was less crazy, but to keep myself in check regarding sobriety, abstinence, and the behavior that would keep those in check I had to think of it. I wrote about it, I talked about it, I talked to myself about it, and thinking never ended.

Thinking excessively is not crazy. Talking to yourself is not crazy, because scientists came with “self talk” term for it and they recommend it to deal with solving tasks.

So how crazy am I? I think I better be this crazy that I am now than being insane as I was in my past life with substance abuse limiting my oxygen.


the image was copied from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe500eIK1oA and crazed up by me. thank you.

pointing it in

2745655_0Last year in college I still had no clue what I’m going to do with my life. Following an advice of the school counselor, I figured the smartest thing was to volunteer in a couple of places around the city and then see. I wanted to go change the world, you know. Ha.

I started working at a shelter for people who had no place to call their own. My experience was many people needed sobriety just as much as home. But to get better they needed to act accordingly to what the program of recovery was telling them. I worked with some of these people and the more it went, the more it seemed to me they were not ready, for any recovery or sobriety. It appeared they didn’t care to hear.

It took me years to realize they did hear. But besides the recovery message of care and support they also heard other stuff. They were homeless and thirsty. Every day was a day of coping and surviving. Not just surviving the street, looking over your shoulder, sleeping with one eye open, knowing your friends, knowing surroundings and places where to eat, shower, score whatever you need.

No. Surviving the day of projected blaming. Finger pointing. Many of them lived a lifetime of lecturing. I never pointed finger at them. Not on the outside. But I did it in my head. I guess they felt it. They listened to me and my coworkers, but they were not hearing because the life outside of them was not hearing them. Them and their inside story.

I worked with the people for eight years and those I could reach, some of their lives got better, because me and my colleagues heard them and showed it. We couldn’t change them against their will, but we showed them we heard. Being an addict makes you relate to another addict. We’ve brought empathy and relating to the table, instead of salvation. And we’ve brought some food too. Carrot cake, you know.

I think I’m still a judgmental asshole, like many others out there (see? right there!) but I keep reminding myself of that, so I try to keep my inside finger pointing to a minimum. Even if  I don’t think it is, or I don’t mean it, it is still there, just like in this image I found for this post. Pointing fingers doesn’t do anyone any good, unless you show somebody which road to take when they asked about. Now, that’s a helpful thing to do.


image was copied from https://www.teepublic.com/fr/art-mural/2745655-uncle-sam-hand-pointing-funny-patriotic-government and put on it’s head by me. thanks.

What I Didn’t Know: Alcoholism, Recovery, and the Order of Things

tiger1There was a joke I heard in elementary school.

How many steps it takes to put a tiger in a fridge?

Don’t know. Why…

How many steps?

Don’t know.

Three steps. You open the fridge, put the tiger in, close the fridge. OK? Now, how many steps it takes to put an elephant in the fridge?

Three.

No. Four.

Why…

Look, you open the fridge, take the tiger out, put the elephant in, close the fridge. Done.

Why… would someone put poor animals in a fridge? Who knows. Bored school kids come up with even weirder concepts, I’m sure. Well, I know. I was one. I used to think of so many things and came up with so many ideas. Eventually though I found I had no one to share them with. And then, with the course of time, I started drinking. I liked the effect and I didn’t feel lonely when drunk. On contrary I was happy, and half the time when I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t so happy, so I kept up with the drinking. And then reality kept catching up with me to the point I drank way more often. And then I couldn’t afford it, yet I still did it. Then I started visiting doctors and taking medications to deal with the consequences of that behavior that I really didn’t want to let go of. Nothing seemed to help. Then I was recommended to do something different. As a result, I came to a room occupied by complete strangers who told me that what was happening to me was called Alcoholism.

I heard of alcoholism, but I had no knowledge of it. I thought that it was something that plagued middle aged and older men that often slept in a gutter after hanging around liquor stores, sometimes in small companies, begging or intimidating people for money they used to buy liquor. That was all I witnessed, and that was all I thought it was: drinking, being mean, smelling bad, nothing good came out of that. It never occurred to me I could become one of these people. I was responsible, clean, and had other things to do instead of loitering and being obnoxious. There seemed to be a massive difference between me and them.

I also didn’t know anyone who would prove me wrong, so I didn’t know who to ask when I started having questions. And my questions didn’t last long, because I saw everyone drinking, really, so I felt my behavior was socially accepted. When I started noticing problems arising from my drinking, I figured that was socially accepted too. It seemed to me I just needed to give it some time to normalize, and then after taking a small break, I could go back to drinking without issues.

By then time everybody including my family, employers, school instructors, girlfriends, and the little of friends that I had, – they all knew I had a problem. I was the only one who kept denying the seriousness of it. I thought I could find the way to normalize my behavior and attitude toward drinking alcohol.

The strangers in the room proved me wrong after I already proved myself wrong plenty of times. And they also told me there was a way of action that would help me overcome what I was battling. There were steps to be taken for that way to work.

I’ve heard about Steps and going to meetings, but it took me time to understand the importance of it. However, there was one thing that I took to heart right away in one of my first ten meetings. An elder man said that when you sit at home and think about not going to the meeting, your addiction is right next to you on the floor, and it’s doing push-ups, becoming stronger. It’s a good image and for many years I know it’s the truth, and I still remember it.

tiger2The strangers in the AA rooms taught me about relationships and patience. They opened my eyes to the reality of attaining serenity and the fact that it was not a rocket science to attain it. But there were Steps. Steps to everything. Just like with putting an elephant in the fridge. Open the door, take tiger out, put elephant in, close the door.

I also never heard of a word “resentment”, so they taught me. I wouldn’t be able to learn that without learning first that I was powerless over the behavior that I for a long time considered a blessing. Learning that took humility, and without that accepting the concept of letting go of resentment just don’t work for me.

Thanks to AA, I had my eyes opened to the fact that I had to take care of myself, because no one else would. They would want to, but most of them don’t even know where to start. No one really knows what’s going on behind anyone’s eyes. In disease and addiction no one really knows how you really feel. We don’t willingly talk about our problems. Sometimes even we don’t know what the hell is going on, while we watch it unfold. Then there are people who do know, and they can help, but my self-will-run-riot will mess everything up if I don’t take heed and allow for patience and consideration. Crap hits the fan sometimes, and if I don’t pay attention, the result is, as Henry Rollins wrote, “sometimes happens all the time”. I guess if there is anything I know, it’s that. But I still tend to ignore that at times.

Last fifteen years of living sober were great. I think I did more good than bad, and I’ve learned from more mistakes than I ever allowed myself to in the past. I walk forward, and I have to take steps to do so. It works better that way.


the images were copied from https://www.deviantart.com/uranimated18/art/Heather-Opens-the-Fridge-and-Finds-a-Tiger-759849788 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/16446760@N00/3295951347 thank you.

 

uniting passions

DentalCelebratedHornshark-smallA decade and a half ago there was something I could identify myself as – a rocker. I’m sure there were plenty of other social groups I could identify as: a human, a male, a student, Russian, a misanthrope, maybe. But as a rocker, I was fitting into a subculture that meant everything to me above all others listed above. I’ve been listening to metal and rock and everything that grooved and had fire and could break through the wall. I learned of the bands I liked, bought their music and shirts, and I went to their shows.

At the shows there were plenty of people who came there to see the bands, they shared my passion for the heavy and virtuoso guitar and drums music. Still though, I think they also came to get drunk, and although that was never my original idea, I still ended up getting drunk too.

It was because of that lifestyle that I eventually came to learn there was something else I could identify as – an alcoholic. Coming to that realization took some considerable effort to open eye and ears. And yet was thanks to that effort that I ended up being a sober alcoholic. And I loved it that way. The reason for loving it was me now being a part of another group, only I don’t know if that counts as a subculture. They call themselves a fellowship.

Alcoholics Anonymous are a kind of a group which if I came to their meeting I’d always be welcomed, no matter how many days or years of sobriety I’ve had and there would be no judgement. So they were even more welcoming that the rockers, and this crowd was much healthier. We were united by the passion of staying sober, living it positively and not making it an end, rather a means to a positive and spiritually prosperous end – life of freedom.

I never gave up being a rocker. I still collect music and go to shows and buy shirts. Only now I do it sober and banging head soberly, I think, is more fun – you are less likely to throw up.


the Amon Amarth GIF was copied from https://gfycat.com/gifs/search/amon+amarth+headbang and thank you. keep rocking!

What a Disaster

hqdefaultI saw a TV ad recently. A lady walking through her messy and dirty apartment, trying to make a meal, I think. Then the sentence across the screen said: Not all disasters make the news. I think it was an ad for the Red Cross.

Then it hit me: it’s probably not messy and dirty place. How about destroyed by fire? And the thing is, thinking that way made me look at the situation under a completely different angle. Not irresponsibility but dealing with disastrous conditions. Not carelessness but overcoming grief and burden.

When it comes to mental health, “not all disasters” reality makes even less news. No one knows what’s going on in another person’s head and why do they behave a certain way. Even if you’re a seasoned psychiatrist, dealing with people is not easy because everybody is different with their own specifics. There is no blueprint to work on everybody.

When a person falls apart, due to a family crisis, unemployment, addiction, it is a disaster, a tragedy. And yet, there are ways to mend some spirits and minds in a way, at least partially. I was to my AA home group meeting and one of the members said: “There are about fifty people in this room. People with long term sobriety, short time sobriety, some newcomers, but all are people who want to improve their lives and live responsibly and happily without expense of others’ grief. We affect a lot of people, each and everyone of us. Our manner of living affects parents, kids, spouses, friends, coworkers. At least five hundred people outside of this room are better off because we fifty are sober.”

The day before that meeting I went to a concert. As always, I wasn’t drinking. I don’t drink alcohol at shows, just as I don’t at any other time. I know there are people who think (and maybe they even have proof) that drinking is not all that bad, but it’s not my story. So, after drinking irresponsibly for over ten years, I’ve quit and don’t do it anymore. I won’t deny that not drinking at shows does take away from excitement a bit. When the music hits the air though, it’s decibels and vibes that rule the ball and I don’t need anything else. But some spirit is lacking, I think, compared to the good and bad old drinking times. And that’s OK. Life is more responsible lately and because of that more tolerable. Fun, actually.

And I thought of that when listening to my co-member talking about the 500 who are better off with us fifty being sober, because it was not just drinking and intoxicated mind of my un-sober times that had put me and others around me in trouble. It was how I looked at the world and how I related to others. How I behaved and how I talked. And it’s still not perfect time for me regarding attitude and communication. So many times I can recall myself speaking without thinking and how it got me in trouble. What a mess I can create without applying the “Stop, wait, think” rule. What a disaster. I remember my first AA sponsor who said that anybody would benefit from using the Twelve Steps in their lives to improve their lives, their family lives, spiritual balance, and so on. It is a spiritual and communication program in a nutshell, after all.

I’m staying from causing a disaster. I’m not perfect and probably never will be, and that’s OK. I keep trying to improve, though. I watch what I say and work on myself without hurting others. I keep it sober. I stay connected. I embrace and practice the positive way of living. Alternatives to that could be disastrous. I don’t want to chance it. Thanks, but no thanks.


the image was copied from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW5hAThdZHg and thank you and that song kicks ass!

S0me sc@ry sh*t

rabbitBroken glass shards flew around, sound ripping the ears, while the splintered wood pieces protruded from the window frame, promising a bad time. His face was red, and eyes were wild. He shook his fists toward the person behind the window. He was not who he was hours ago, but that happened to him often. Getting violent came from getting drunk on alcohol and that came from making a choice, but what an ill choice it was… because that’s what happened each time he drank – denial, anger, resistance, property damage and injuries.

That image is from a real life story. I’m sure many can see something familiar in it, and surely there are many other different stories relating to humans drinking in excess. There are people out there too who may not know what excess is. They just drink and a lot, and then shit happens. Some see that and stop drinking. Others don’t. I didn’t. Years after stopping drinking alcohol for good I still had many instances of facing what drinking alcohol does to people, coming face to face with these issues, mostly through work.

OK, that’s what happens to humans when they drink a lot. How about drinking effects on rabbits? Anthropomorphized rabbits? Roger Rabbit?!

Roger Rabbit drunk is an ugly thing to witness. Entertaining on the screen, but still ugly. The instantaneous reaction may be exaggerated in the reality of the motion picture, but the display of massive character change may be complete. Jackyl and Hyde effect is an old example, but it still works great to theorize how bad things can go and what can people (rabbits) do about that.

Why am I writing about it? Maybe because some of us need to remember not to drink, and human example, even their own, doesn’t work anymore. Maybe even their own examples are too ugly. So, think about Roger Rabbit having a drink in the bar and how ballistic he (it?) goes. It is not really a rabbit, you know? It is a caricature on us, humans. Let’s try to keep that image in our heads when time comes for responsible decisions 😊

the image was copied from https://www.cinemablend.com/new/Who-Framed-Roger-Rabbit-Gets-Digital-Restoration-25th-Anniversary-Screening-36149.html thanks.

Neutral Affirmation

I am given a wordblood

And I say my first name

And I call myself an alcoholic

After which I speak some more

About myself.

Whether I am in recovery

Or not,

Maybe still struggling through trenches

Of “human versus disease” war,

It is not a negative word.

It is not (or at least shouldn’t be)

Said with self-loathing,

Or sadness,

Or uttered bitterly to point a finger

At someone else to blame for my faults.

It is a neutral affirmation of reality.

Some folks are born with pale skin, not dark

Some others are born female, not male.

I was born pale skinned male,

With birth-attached ill disease

Streaming through my blood,

A condition that plagued me for years

Until its essence was explained to me

And I saw it for what it was,

Not an illusion that I kept alive all that time.

Alcoholic is not a derogatory word that shames.

Neither it is a happy word.

It is a diagnosis that doesn’t discriminate.

It is part of my nature,

That I know now,

And with that I know who I am,

And things I can and no longer can do

If I want to live freely in mind and spirit.


the image was copied from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2191282-weve-discovered-a-new-type-of-blood-vessel-in-our-bones/ thank you

Smoking Open Lights

20190223_145531 9I’ve just realized that I’ve made it for ten years without smoking tobacco or any other substance this past month. I used to count them, but this year it somehow crept up on my unexpectedly.

I most likely wouldn’t be able to come to not smoking at all if thirteen years and nine months ago I didn’t make a conscious decision to quit… drinking. Weird? No anymore, not to me anyway.

I came to the recovery fellowship and I’ve learned plenty of skills. As the result, I’ve quit drinking which would not work if I didn’t acquire a certain program of thinking and being, a life style that pushed for a healthier life in spirit, body, and mind. Thanks to that, I managed to see clearer some other unhealthy things that I did in my life, behaviors that didn’t help, such as isolating and judging others. A couple years after, “doing” the Steps, I came to the realization that I could quit smoking cigarettes with the help of the Steps wisdom since nothing else worked. This worked out successfully, as some other things. Some didn’t, but that’s life. I keep trying and among other things, I keep saying “thank you” when things work out, whether it is small or large.

“Thank you” is something so easily said, as well as “sorry” or “how are you”, and I think often we don’t really think about it, as we say it to others, or when they say it to us. I try to think about it lately, though. There are lots of things to be grateful for, even if life is not working the way I would prefer it did.

In the Fellowship I was taught to be grateful for every day. It worked when I tried it in my morning prayer. Yet I still resisted being grateful throughout the day. I was happy for sobriety yet I often resented people around me. My first couple years in sobriety were of solid sobriety but at times I felt miserable, because… well, I don’t really know why, but I think I was not there spiritually as much as I could have been. What I decided I’d start doing is saying thank you to people who did the jobs that I knew I would never do successfully. They did their service and I paid for it and I’d say thank you. Within less than ten days my outlook on life started changing for the better.

Soon after that I started working at a homeless shelter. There I met people who were angry about everything, dissatisfied with anything, and it used to distress me, but with time I learned to think they were not having a good day lifetime long. There were also people who woke up and said thank you to anything, to every little thing others did for them. I felt connected to these people, and years later I wrote a novella about that spirit of open-mindedness and gratitude for life.

I don’t think I’d be able to come this far in life and doing reasonably well if I didn’t push myself out of the dark room and allowed myself to have a different life. I used to isolate so much I’ve become a professional isolationist and procrastinator with a diploma hanging on the wall. Even in an active community of recovery with so many things happening, with so much positivity and vigor one can still live a stagnant life. I could have easily slipped through the cracks in these rooms if it wasn’t for the man named Ted. He not only welcomed me into recovery, he also gave me a good kick in the butt to live my recovery actively, and he did it with a cheer and I appreciated that. Years later our paths separated due to disagreements which is still upsetting to me, but I hope he is doing good and maybe one day we will be talking again.

Ted had a vibe full of life, and that vibe infected me, wanting more of life than just living sober. It brought forth the fruits of labor that was sober living, joyful life of recovery that keeps going on, like a wheel turning. There are many people in rooms of sobriety that I’ve met over the years. I am grateful to them all and I hope many others that are in need of help will be able to open their spirits to gratitude and trust to the world wide fellowship of AA and as the result will heal and expand their lives for much better than they ever knew was possible.


instead of a diploma, enjoy the front image that was taken by me. the punctuation (or the lack there of) game made me capture the sign and then inspired me to write this. so, thank you to whoever designed the sign ignoring the (un)holy laws of English punctuation and those who put the sign up.

Answerz

Piss_509ba2_655651The dumbest thing I could do to calm down a beast is slap it against the snout. If you think it’s not, let me know.

The same way, the worst way to solve a drinking problem is looking at it through the drinking glass.

It is clear to me now that I’ve stayed sober for a while. But back when I still drank, it was totally acceptable in my head to hold on to the liquor store door while trying to figure out how to get out of the mess that my booze-fueled mind has made sick body create.

How the hell did that work?

Quite aware of what a drinking mess I was, I was looking for a solution, but not a permanent one. I didn’t want the way out that didn’t include booze. That would be too much, because booze in my life had a function. If I removed it for good, there would be a hole left, and what will I fill it with? So, I wanted to let go, but not completely. I wanted to quit, but still hold on to the key. Just in case.

As one of my favorite performers wrote “Sometime things don’t work out, Sometimes things don’t work out… ‘Sometimes’ happen all the time… ‘Sometimes’ happen all the time!” (c) Henry Rollins. The thinking that was done in the mind frame of “I wanna, but I don’t wanna” couldn’t and eventually didn’t work out. I made promises to myself that if things go bad, I will do this one thing, but until then, drinking a couple beers once in two days was still OK, and if it became more than a couple, well then, it is not the end of the world either. Promise notes addressed to myself and put on the wall, I’d jump into the fight of every day, teeth clenched, brain spinning and having no idea how to react to a single tiny conflict. What a mine-field dance. I was pushing myself for a failure. I was basically pissing gasoline to put out the fire.

When I came to AA, I learned of this thing called “no reservations.” What it had to do with was that I couldn’t solve an alcoholic problem by finding alcoholic answers. And since an alcoholic is what I was, that’s what I’d be coming up with. Why? Change. Stress. I doubt anybody truly likes those. I sure didn’t. So, I pushed all of that life-changing scary shit out of the way. And when nothing happens, nothing happens, as I heard them say. And nothing really did, until I was “ready to let go absolutely.” No booze, no excuses to drink, no hanging out in bars, no hanging out with drinking buddies. Remove yourself from the drinking culture. Join the group of people who stay sober and want to stay sober. No compromise.

Sometimes things don’t work out… We may find ourselves in the relationship that is unhealthy, abusing, just plain dangerous physically, but we think we cannot leave – nowhere to go, or just can’t break away. But yes, we can. We can, as long as we look for a new solution, not something we chewed on so long that the taste of it is so familiar to us it feels like the only home we can ever have. Old problem needs new solution, otherwise it is a waste of time and brain cells, a joke about worrying likened to sitting on a rocking chair – it will give you something to do, but it will get you nowhere.


 

the image was copied from https://funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/506814/Piss/ thanks.

Trapped Under Bed

22-under-bedOne of my AA group members was celebrating birthday the other day and he mentioned something regarding finding spirituality. He always opposed it, proudly considering himself an atheist.

And then he came to AA. And he still resisted spirituality. And he suffered because of that, knowing he should have given himself a break, yet he kept pushing it away for that’s what he did all his life. The struggle of inviting the spirituality in his life and resisting it at the same time was all consuming and affecting all the areas of his life. The metaphor he used for that time was being trapped under the bed. He wasn’t in his bed from where he could see so much in comfort, but instead he was under. Not only he was stuck in there as the bed pressed on him, he also didn’t have a very good vision of what was in front of him. He was trying to look out and see much more of the room, and out of the room – the house, and out of the house – to see the world around it, and yet he wasn’t allowing himself to do so. Once he realized that’s what was happening to him, the desire to push forward multiplied. And he… well, he crawled out in to the world, so to speak.

I cannot fully sign under these words. I was lucky to have discovered spirituality in high school, and although maybe not fully, I understood what it was and how it was making my life fuller. I was a loner, I believed in things I couldn’t see. I wrote stories about things others laughed at. I listened to music many people around me didn’t understand. Pagan rites of my native country were not something that a lot of people cared at the sunset of the 20th century. But to me it was the world rediscovered, and there was a spirit of wonderful kind, and its inhabitants danced, and they taught me things – of how we used to be, how we were simple and open, and how we could be so much better.

Still, many doors were closed to discover the Spirit and wisdom of simpler things, because I was influenced so much by the utilitarian world. Mythology of the Norse and ancient Greek, not what it stood for then, in old times, but what it taught, what it warned about, – these things were not something that concerned the world that worshipped money and technology. Information, selling it, expanding it, all of it was the major focus. And I opposed it so much that I started closing the doors on all of the real world. I started refusing to accept the life on its terms. It caused me a lot of grief. Alcohol became the permanent solution to that problem. Or so I thought.

Luckily, one day I woke up. By that time, I did a lot of damage to my mental health, so restoring the balance took years. But my beliefs in the spirit world, the wisdom, the care for simpler things, that didn’t get affected. The spiritual understanding of the world only got stronger, I think, because when I did wake up, the spirit within me stood stronger than before. The heart was thirsty for knowing things that rang true. The ears were open to hear the stories of others that taught so much. The eyes refused to shut, for there was much to see, right in front of me, and all around. The room, the house, and the outside, as much as it stretched.


the image was copied from https://film-grab.com/2010/09/29/millers-crossing/22-under-bed/ thank you.