Thoughts from an Alcoholic Animal
My friend Jim Anders has graciously shared some of his thoughts on alcoholism. While Jim speaks directly to alcohol (his addiction), anyone who has suffered a substance or behavioral addiction will instantly recognize the insane commonality among all.
How He Felt Versus How He Appeared:
Alcohol was taking over my life in each and every form and I didn’t even know it. I had learned more and more about scotch and wine and beer and cocktail recipes and this glass and that glass, boiler-makers and hot toddies and which garnish goes with which drink and on and on. More and more knowledge about alcohol and no real knowledge of alcoholism. Generally speaking, as I got more and more entrenched in alcoholic behavior, the more I felt sophisticated, the less sophisticated I must have appeared. Who could see the forest? All I saw were trees. (From Chapter 8)
I still have phantom memories of my drinking past, euphoric recall. It’s as if one of my legs were amputated, but that I can still sometimes, somehow feel those toes that are not there. Triggers are phantom toes wiggling. Don’t take the bait. Don’t bite. Use your good leg, the sober leg. The bad leg is gone. Let it go. Say your eulogy. Mourn this death and move on. (From Chapter 65)
“My brain knows my disease. My brain loves my disease and my brain will never forget my disease because my disease has carved permanent grooves into my brain that no amount of sobriety can ever putty shut. The grooves in my brain lay waiting for me to pick up again so that the grooves can progressively deepen. I must depend on the help of others. Acting alone, I will be devoured by my disease. For addicts, alcohol will devour memories of the past and anxiety about the future, drowning them in the unreal, insane world of addiction. A living lobotomy. A blind man descending a spiral staircase leading to nowhere. No past. No present. No future. Addiction will survive by eating you alive.
Now, in recovery, I’m learning how to thrive.” (From Chapter 51)
A Progressive Disease, A Progressive Recovery:
Loving to drink. Living to drink. Dying to drink. Dying from drinking. This is the progression of alcoholism. Wanting to live. Learning to live. Loving to live. Living with love. This is the progression of recovery. (From Chapter 82)