04 October 2007

Cunning, baffling, powerful and BRUTAL

I spent a good chunk of time today reading the last couple months' worth of posts from The Junky's Wife. She's a powerful writer with powerful things to say. She's brutally honest about herself. It was an insightful, but not an uplifting experience. I am not a junkie, never have been—not even remotely in the same vicinity—and have never really been close to one. I'm sure I can never understand her world, but I think a big dose of reading her blog gave me some feeling for the life of a junkie's wife.

I think she could write a good book. These blog entries reminded me of A Million Little Pieces which, despite the controversy around it, is an interesting read (so long as you don't worry too much about what's fact and what's fiction).

At my A.A. meeting tonight, I heard a guy I'd never met before. He was introduced by someone I've known since I got sober as someone who was there when she started coming around in 1986. I started off looking forward to hearing a good strong message of long-term sobriety. Somewhere along the way, he took a left turn. Yes, he'd gotten sober in 1986 (shortly before my friend I guess). In 1996 he stopped going to meetings. In 2003 he was prescribed Percocet and starting abusing it. He wound up buying it on the street—$5 a pill—and consuming up to 150 of them a day. He took out three business loans to pay for his addiction, and tried to hide everything from his family. He did this quite successfully, at least until recently. A few months ago, he began not feeling well: he was short of breath and had no energy. It got so bad while on vacation that he finally decided to ask his wife to take him to the hospital. Turns out he'd had a heart attack and didn't even know it. At that point the jig was up. He came partially clean to his wife a while ago at the time and, he says, completely clean to her a few months ago when she started asking questions about certain business practices he had started in order to hide what he was doing from her. At his wife's request, he hasn't said anything to his children. Today he has 92 days clean and sober. This man, like the Junky's Wife, was brutally honest. It was not an uplifting story, though I am glad he made it back and now has a second chance. I was also grateful to be reminded of the kind of thing that's out there waiting for me if I pick up.

The most painful thing I heard was how he clung to his almost 20 years of sobriety. Even though he wasn't able to string them all together, he said, it's a one day at a time program and he still has nearly 20 years' worth of days. How sad! I don't know him well enough to judge accurately, but I can't help wondering how long it will be before he's willing to settle for the 92 days that he really has.



Updated 05 October 2007 15:22:
As a result of a memory lapse, I couldn't remember everything that was relevant at the time I made the original post. Now I've remember something that I meant to include. Changes are shown in this color brown.

10 comments:

nickycakes said...

You know what, I can remember a few times when I've been to meetings and said to myself, "man, I feel like crap today, I hope I hear some guy with 20 years tell me a bunch of really solid AA knowledge tonight." Ironically the meetings that help me the most to get out of myself is to hear the absolute honest misery from a newly sober alcoholic and remember exactly how it was, and feel the pain again. And then I realize at the end of the meeting that the petty BS that was bothering me when I walked into the room was so small and silly in comparison. It makes me laugh and shake my head at myself regularly.

dAAve said...

Knowing myself as I do, I would probably cling to those XXX number of years too. It's nothing more than an excuse to be able to deny my addiction. Living one day at a time is one of the most difficult concepts for me to hold on to.
Good post. Thanks.

Kathy Lynne said...

Being newly sober and feeling like I'm going to stay there makes it difficult for me to understand the relapser and it scares me and makes me sad at the same time. And it sort of pisses me off too. Especially recently when it is someone who helped me to get sober. Perhaps I feel this way because I never came to AA until now. But isn't it all about giving up the power that you never had and finding out where that power is. When I realized that I had a light bulb moment. Why would I want to turn out the light? I just don't get it. But you're right, it is cunning and baffling. I just have a problem with people who talk about what "their alcoholism" does to them.I heard recently that this is the only terminal disease from which you can recover and not only that, come out better than when you went in. That rang true for me.

Thanks for commenting on my blog.

thejunkyswife said...

Hey, thanks for the endorsement! I've been checking you out a bit lately, and you (unlike me) are often uplifting. Thanks for that!

Katia said...

This one hit home! I have realized so many things this weekend and its going to take me forever to unpack and process them. I am thorougly overwhelmed and I admit absolute and total defeat (no I didnt drink).

Hope you have a great weekend!
K.

Chris W. 10yrs sober. said...

If every AA oltimer who got a habit on a drug copped to it and started their time over there would be damb few "oldtimers" (Including the L.S.D. using Bill W.). Sobriety in AA is abstinence from ALCOHOL and if you want to condem folks for every other addiction they encounter in life then you should start your own 12 step program. What about nicotine and caffiene? why do those addictive drugs get a pass. AA is about alcohol and shame on any AA member who condems an alcoholic who has not taken a drink for using other drugs.

Anonymous said...

If every AA oltimer who got a habit on a drug copped to it and started their time over there would be damb few "oldtimers" (Including the L.S.D. using Bill W.). Sobriety in AA is abstinence from ALCOHOL and if you want to condem folks for every other addiction they encounter in life then you should start your own 12 step program. What about nicotine and caffiene? why do those addictive drugs get a pass. AA is about alcohol and shame on any AA member who condems an alcoholic who has not taken a drink for using other drugs.

Anonymous said...

drinking is a live style,
you AA junkies just can take it.
want to drink and have no problems?
drink alone, or drink with us!
no family, no kids, no wife or our church.
just get a house for youself and drink drink and drink.
or
I'm a priest from the Church of Baco, the great Drunken God, here in Europe, you can join our cult and drink, play with our women and be happy.
because life isnt about pain, but drinking and happyness.

we don't tolerate DRUGS.
only real pure RED EUROPEAN WINE in our meetings.

join us today,

mail me: Priest Fonseca

efonseca@netcabo.pt

Namenlosen Trinker said...

Well, Priest Fonseca, all I can say is that it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round! I tried the lifestyle you suggest for many years and this one is definitely better. For me, at least.

psychomonkey said...

I'm inclined to agree with Chris W.'s sentiments, if not his delivery...I've been to meetings where people claiming 20 years sobriety ended the 15 minute meeting by spending the next hour gorging on donuts. Most "sober" people there topped 300 pounds. I've been sober from alcohol since 3/8/88, but if you subtract the days/weeks/years spent "using" other painkillers like food, sex, drugs (prescribed and otherwise,) overwork, nicotine, caffeine, etc, well, I probably can't claim an entire twenty four hours of sobriety. But thank the Great Spirit I haven't used alcohol in that period- if I think my life is messed up now, I can't imagine the horrors it would have provided me and my family with had I kept drinking. That is, IF I survived. I think it is a good thing the man could have gratitude for the days without alcohol he had, and I think we could all benefit from reflecting on what it means to be truly sober.
Every time I lose my temper irrationally, I consider it a lapse in my sobriety. Everything out there is still a "yet" for me. I am grateful I don't drink on top of all my other non-sober behaviors. When in an A.A. meetings I can say it has helped me stay sober over twenty years. I am referring to alcohol sobriety. If I go to a sex/love addicts meeting, or an overeaters meeting, I don't claim the same 20 years sobriety. When I try to remove a splinter from my friend's eye, I keep tripping over the two-by-four stuck in my own eye. Dang- I hate when that happens.