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?


No. Four.


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.


Alone, Not Lonely

181214-loneliness-cities-making-friends-kh_bc86f2d5095f854cc0f6361aefaa5044.fit-2000wHe wrote a page-long vent post, then erased it.

OK, why lie. I wrote a page-long vent post, and then erased it. No, it’s not an identity crisis. It’s denial. Yes, I am working on it.

I wrote a page-long post on how I felt about solitary existence in the crowded room in a house in a crowded city. That’s not just one day. Or, if it is, it lasts an eternity. No, I am not always discontent and lonely. Sometimes… sometimes it is the kind of being alone that is not loneliness. You know? You are alone, but as Henry Rollins said, you don’t have to be lonely. You are content with being alone, because alone you can do things that you cannot do while being around others.

And although this is very cool and positive thought, still there is that time when the content part ends and I start feeling a desperate need to be with someone, make them listen, help them be heard.

I can play my video games for over six hours in a row, but then I take my dog for a walk and I look at the many apartment buildings in the area, and someone’s windows are still lit at 2am and I wonder, What are they doing? Are they alone? Crying? Drinking? Mourning? Playing a video game? Do they need someone? And if they do, how can I help? I can’t. I tell myself I can’t unless they reach out. And then I get myself thinking farther and I feel like I have several good lines for a new story, and so I walk the dog back home and get writing.

And that’s a good-alone-time to do writing when no one is around and it works just perfect.

It worked perfectly for him to work out for an hour in the middle of the night, listening to some heavy metal and in the end, he felt sore, yes, but also strangely rested, like he dropped a weight off his shoulders, while, in fact he did almost the opposite.

OK, why lie again. It worked perfectly for me to work out for an hour or so in the middle of the night, listening to some heavy metal and in the end, I felt sore, but also strangely rested, and I felt like being alone, and wanting to speak to someone or hear another person’s story was no longer a need for me. I just wanted to lie on my back on the floor and listen to silence. Listen to the air, like Henry said.  I required nothing else. I just existed, and it felt amazing. My heart rate was dropping from rushing, my leg muscles were still throbbing, and the sweat was drying up on my back and neck, and I didn’t want anything. Just being. Alone, not lonely. I felt like I want this sensation to last for ages.

Then next day I feel wonderful crazy after having chugged down a bunch of coffee, now walking down the street, not known to anyone, ideas popping up in my head like pop-corn cooked in a microwave, and I couldn’t care less about world’s problems, or connections, or disintegration, or even air. Yeah, air. I don’t think about breathing for about 99% of the time. I only appreciate it when I am running out of it. It’s no longer a Bunch of Coffee Walk time. It is “I don’t care, y’all!” time. I am not lonely. I don’t care for word “solitary” and I don’t have time to play solitaire either. I am not interested if you need to talk, or you’re crying, or mourning and drinking. I’m in a crowd of people, but I’m alone. I’m not lost, but I’m gone.

the image was copied from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/lonely-you-re-not-alone-america-s-young-people-are-ncna945446 thanks.


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.