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The Courage to Surrender, Part 19 in the Series, by john w

Thu, Jul 12, 2012

Healthcare, Home, john w, Lifestyle, Money

How could it be a disease? – 1981  

“Can you come to my office?” Carl called to ask one afternoon.  “Sure. What’s up?” I asked.  He was leaving his office when I arrived.  “Check this out,” he said, as he guided me onto a stairway that led to the roof of his office building.  He found a roach he had stored over the door case, fired it up and passed it to me. “Are you crazy? It’s mid-afternoon. If someone follows us up here or sees us smoking we’re history,” I said in a panic.

But I took a toke when he passed it to me. I couldn’t help myself because by then smoking a joint was as natural as breathing.  Addicts are as stupid as they are clever.  A minute later we were comfortably talking as though we were home on the couch.

As I strolled back to my cube, my paranoia spiked because I couldn’t cover up my physical appearance anymore. My pupils were dilated in my bloodshot eyes and my face was bloated whether it was a bright red flush or the pall of a dead person.  Visine and breath mints were a must in my life.  After just a couple hits, I’d lose my sense of reality and slip into my comfort zone, yet I could sometimes morph into a serious business man. It was strange how much I would be out of control while my mind offered me safety even when I spaced out.

In the fall of 1981, CC was involved in a car accident and put in jail for driving while intoxicated.  He hit a car from behind hard enough to send it off the road. Turns out the car was traveling on a highway in light traffic when CC came up behind and hit him.  We agreed he must’ve been in a black-out since he wasn’t exactly sure what happened but none of that mattered as long as nobody was hurt.

Part of his rehabilitation included five AA meetings.  He called me after the first meeting to explain most people talked about past incidents that involved alcohol.  He related our experiences with their life stories and tales he heard about their alcoholism. He said it was interesting but he didn’t feel any different when it was over. I doubted anyone would believe my life story much less have it help them get sober. How could I tell everyone who I was and how I lived?  Why would anyone care? I didn’t feel my life would get better by hearing how someone else lived. Besides I had resolved myself to living the same way forever.  I failed to see how storytelling would benefit a room of drunks and addicts. CC’s encounter was my first indication there might be a way out of my hole, but I did nothing for years.

I couldn’t admit I was an alcoholic even though I answered yes to 13 out of 15 questions in a newspaper alcoholism test. I failed that test many times but stayed in denial, afraid of the truth.  After years of living life in the fast lane I needed to end my drinking and using, but I worried what life would be like if I stopped. Hell, I couldn’t even slow down. I assumed it would be painful and the thought scared me.

Since it took me a lifetime of self-destruction to get to where I was, I imagined it would take at least that length of time to undo the damage I inflicted on myself.  I didn’t know alcoholism was a disease. Consequently I doubted there was a recovery.  I hung onto my chaotic self-destructive lifestyle until 1985 when I had a total breakdown and found myself in a room at a psychiatric hospital.

Next:    We bonded in the worst of times and now he is gone. It’s OK to get high with the think-tank-guys. The Rachael vs. CC decisions fights were no-win.

The articles published here by babyboomers.com are small excerpts of a 268 page manuscript titled “The Courage to Surrender” that I would like published. Call 678.361.4709 for information on the manuscript.

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