Fear of Irrelevance

One of the contributing factors to my drinking was fear of irrelevance.

Everyone at some point deals with concerns for irrelevance.

The irrelevance of being left behind in an ever changing work environment that faces down sizing regularly. The thought of irrelevance that comes with being in a contentious divorce or a bad custody challenge. The thought of becoming irrelevant to your off spring due to age and the differences in generational culture. The thought of taking on more than you planned and becoming overwhelmed and unable to make a positive impact in anything. The concern that of all the relationships you’ve had reached an expiration date and by that very nature you can become concerned that you may become irrelevant to your current relationship. The concern that you become irrelevant with all the non-constructive time you spend drinking, planning around drinking and recovering from drinking.

The thought of being irrelevant can be pervasive and stressful. The further reality is that drinking can amplify these very real feelings.

So, how did I finally cope with it? Sobriety helped immensely. Let’s face it, when drinking our minds can go to places that our sober selves just don’t waste time on. The drinking mind can dwell on the darker elements of our lives and lament without end. The sober mind can focus on the here and now, the what needs to be done and the doing of things. The sober mind is much more capable of dismissing feelings that come from very small places.

I’m not without those small moments where these same things can come to the forefront. But the limited amount of time that happens is so much smaller than when the drinking mind is in control.

I feel grateful for where I am and this is one of many reasons I say, I will not drink with you today [IWNDWYT].

 

 

Alcohol and Pain Management – Day 609

It’s been 609 days since my last drink.

In retrospect, I look back not because I feel myself tempted, but to understand why and how I unwittingly used alcohol. And I realize that I occasionally used it as a means of dealing with pain.

My life is no different than anyone else and I’ve gone through some of life’s difficulties. But, I’ve had to ask myself, “did alcohol ever really help?”

I recall spraining an ankle and spending an evening with the guys hanging out and getting trashed. That was a rum and coke night. They were pouring and got amused as I slurred and struggled to stay balanced with my crutch. I remember single leg hopping to the rest room and struggling to get to bed. Next day I conveniently forgot the hang over.

Then of course are the other pains.

There was the pain of my 24th birthday. I was in the Navy, in the shipyards, working Monday through Friday with twelve hour shifts overlaid on top of that covering all seven days, with one rotational day off. The luck of the draw meant I had the day after my birthday off so I took advantage of it.

I was at a low point. I was finishing a divorce from my first wife wondering if I would ever have a chance at love again. (Clearly the naive viewpoint of youth). It had been more than a year since I saw family. And I was feeling the oppression of ‘Dogs and sailors keep off the grass’ from the Navy town atmosphere and felt really isolated. And the work regimen was such that you really didn’t have much opportunity to connect or befriend anyone outside of work. So I pulled up a stool at the enlisted club with one goal in mind. Drink to drown it all out.

One high point out of that. I was joined by a shipmate just by chance and I proceeded to get pie-faced. Completely blotto. I don’t remember how I got back to my room.. I think he helped, but it’s lost on me now.

The next morning (surprise duty) I was roused from my bunk. The guy that woke me had to jump back from my breath. Surprise, they changed the schedule, I had to go in and I was to lead a training session on something that was very detailed, intricate and involved in front of about 45 of my peers. I gave everyone fair warning that since this was unplanned it was anyone’s guess how this would go. An hour later, when it was done, I got a lot of compliments on how well it went. It became obvious that someone had heard about my night before and thought they would mess with me. Fortunately, I was still a bit buzzed while presenting so any pretense of nervousness in front of a crowd was gone, I knew the information cold and the presentation flowed comfortably. I even fielded a few questions intended as gotchas, but I crushed it.

As I look back, this was one of those moments that made me think drinking was something easy to handle. That it might actually have some positive impacts. How silly that was.

I’ve used alcohol for pain suppression through surgeries, broken bones, sprains, strains, worries over kids and family, health scares, heart aches for break ups, divorces, loneliness, funerals, jealousy, work stress just to name a few. I’ve also used it to fit in with the crowd socializing and ease my own nerves. And in every sense of the word, it would bring a momentary relief only to frequently have the pain redoubled or complicated by the symptoms of a hang over.

Fast forward to 2016 and it’s very obvious that I was using it to deal with so many little minor things that were ‘pains’ that there were few things I could look at positively.

In fact, I’ve realized that many of the ‘pains’ that I was drinking to deal with turned out to be conditions complicated by the drinking.

In the past 609 days I can honestly say I’ve never been truly ‘sick’, where before it was a matter of weeks between bouts of severe diarrhea or sinus issues that would make me useless. And I know longer suffer ‘mysterious’ joint swelling or pain. Any joint pain I suffer now is because I did something strenuous.

Am I pain free? No. I’m in my upper 50’s with normal aches and pains.

At the end of the day, when I’m sitting around with the wife, we will look at each other, a knowing look will pass between us. Almost without speaking we acknowledge that our lives are so much better without the fuzz, haze and side affects of alcohol. It’s so much easier without it now.

 

 

To hear the whisper of angels wings ….

This was a phrase I heard while in the military.File:Peter Paul Rubens - Music Making Angels - WGA20442.jpg

The context was that when you near death’s door you may hear the whisper of angels wings.

It’s a sensation of realizing how close to death you were. And how thankful you are that it was a close call rather than a foregone conclusion.

I can say I relate to moments when I might have been close to deaths door. There aren’t many of those moments.

The most poignant time resonated I felt this way, after drinking for years at an ever increasing rate, I realized that I was slowly killing myself. That was a Bingo. At that realization, that point of clarity of how definitively I was hurting, punishing and committing unintended suicide, I forced myself to cut back and eventually quit altogether.

Day 561 sober, feeling pretty dang good and still here.

 

I Can Run Again And Thank Sobriety

I’ve been a runner since the early seventies. I joined Cross Country duand loved it. Being able to jog the trails in the cool early morning hours was a freeing experience even when I was competing with others. Continue reading “I Can Run Again And Thank Sobriety”

I Dream of Drinking

Yep, it’s true. With more than 450 days dry, it happens.

Does it mean, I feel conflicted about alcohol? I didn’t wake up tempted, so I guess not.

During the first dream, I felt the warming euphoria of the alcohol, in my dream. The spreading warmth and relaxing feeling was very reminiscent of the first good long pull of a tall strong one. Continue reading “I Dream of Drinking”

“Embrace the suck”

It’s one of those phrases I picked up in the military. It’s simple enough, but behind it is a lot of meaning.

For many, it’s simply another sarcastic piece of acidic humor with similar roots to ‘suck it up buttercup’.

However, it’s core principle is much deeper. Basically, don’t fight the stuff you can’t control. Better to embrace it, deal with it as it is and move on. Continue reading ““Embrace the suck””

Bad Feelings

I’ve been dry since July 5th of 2016 and today is December 11th of 2016. That’s 158 days with no alcohol as of this writing.

During the time I was drinking, it’s clear to me now I had a lot more going on. Although I was fully functioning with my habitual drinking, I had a lot of triggers to drink. Celebrating, sadness, and just the day of the week. Some triggers were much more subtle that I wasn’t aware.

Continue reading “Bad Feelings”