A Little Help From My Friends

Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to do thy duty like a soldier in an assault on a town. How then, if being lame thou canst not mount up on the battlements alone, but with the help of another is it possible?

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VII.7

Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I began this conversation a couple of days ago via a live stream on Instagram. It was prompted by a discussion topic at an AA meetings concerning what part of the program stands out to me or what aspect has been really helpful in my recovery. It’s true that the program has to work holistically, all parts being a conduit to the whole recovery. Consequently, each part helps me through different stages of growth and development. Continue reading “A Little Help From My Friends”

Toby Keith: A Philosopher For Our Generation

I’ll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with a good saying.

Seneca, On Tranquility Of Mind, 11.8

I’m starting to question my reality. I was forced to endure a country song I’ve heard a 27garbage_600thousand times and actually took something from it. Toby Keith’s song “Ain’t Much Fun” has imparted some wisdom on me. Mr. Keith (because I know you are reading), I respect you as an artist, being one myself. I like country music, but I am a purist. While I can’t say I particularly enjoy your lexicon of work, I will say thank you for this song.

The premise of the song is of a man getting sober and returning to real life. Chores, the “honey-do” list, the everyday routine of life. It’s very tongue in cheek, but the reality of it is, well, my reality. I don’t get to go out an party all the time, drinking away my problems for another day and time. I can’t go to work and drink the whole time (I’m a musician) and then come home and do it again scot-free. At this point, why would I? Things creak and cramp hard enough in the morning without a hangover.

I know that a fear that many people in recovery have is how to cope with being sober. One question is whether they will get boring, whether they can have fun sober. Continue reading “Toby Keith: A Philosopher For Our Generation”

You Always Hurt The Closest To You

As regards his general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian, or anti-Christian, periodicals…is is usually a melodramatic or mythical hated directed against imaginary scapegoats…thery are the creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door…the great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know.

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 27,28

I’ve asked both of my parents multiple times why they didn’t just give up on me. I had lied and hurt them continuously for eight years. How many sleepless nights had I caused? How many times had they worried if I was alive, dead, hurt, in jail? What made it so easy for me to keep handing them the aftermath of my alcoholic spiral?

Often, the answer I get is the rote “we are your parents and we will always love you”. But why? I had given them so many reasons not to. So many of my motivations were to spite them. I was sick of them babying me, telling me I had I problem I didn’t have, threatening me with treatment, taking my car, kicking me out. So what? I’m a grown man. I didn’t need them. How wrong I was. At 32 years of age by the grace of God, I’m beginning to understand that they aren’t just overprotective idiots.

We hurt the ones closest to us, the loves of our lives, our firm foundations, the most and the deepest. We know that we can stab them in the heart and they will forgive. Or, we take for granted that they will. We know every button to press, exactly the most precise point to cut with the scalpel of words to make them bleed out. Yet, through my drunk years, they would stitch and bandage their wounds and keep on fighting.

I’m almost embarrassed as I write this. Not to relay the information, but just thinking about all the times I have drunkenly screamed at my mother or girlfriend. How I was too drunk to have the common courtesy to send a text and let anyone know where I was or if I was safe. I would be nicer to my friends (let’s say drinking buddies) than I would be to those closest to me. I would rather move into a tiny little house that should have been quarantined so I could drink in peace than live under the “iron fist” of my parents. Pride and stubbornness were a contributing factor in my downfall.

In sobriety, I realize the grace that my closest allies have. I know that I am having a terrible time with continually forgiving someone who keeps doing me wrong. I know it is because I am holding others to my own expectations of myself and have to stop viewing people through my lens.

I have had my fair share of ultimatums. The last couple of them have stuck. My girlfriend’s last ultimatum contributed to my sobriety. I think it hit just at the right time too. I was close to rock bottom.

The quote above really struck a chord in me. How often have we all done this? We treat the closest people to us like dirt, but are sugary sweet to friends and acquaintances? The answer is that those closest to us hold us most accountable, as they should. The mistake we make is assuming that they will always be there to pick us up when we fall. I know at this point that I have too much skin in the game to assume. If I pick up the path I was going down, I will lose them. She will leave me. My parents will not be as forgiving. They may say they will, but do I really want to test that theory? I have pushed the envelope for long enough.

This isn’t to say that I will be a perfect model from here on out. I will slip up and take advantage of their kindness, as they will mine. But it won’t be because of alcohol. Cling to the strength and safety of your true allies. Show them you love and appreciate them. Make every effort to not hurt them. For us addicts, they have put up with us in times when any other person would have given up on us. Keep that thought as a constant reminder. There is a lot at stake now.

 

 

Sober Scapegoat

I’m going to make this post short and sweet.

The definition of a scapegoat is defined in two ways, both very fitting:

  1. a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others, especially for reasons of expediency
  2. (in the Bible) a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people on it.

To be clear, I’m not calling anyone who drinks a sinner! I’m the alcoholic here. Drinking responsibly is the way to do it, a commendable trait. I hope that I am humble enough to take responsibility for my past transgressions and regret my actions as a user, both of people and alcohol.

I have had more people than I can count drive my drunk carcass home. Honestly, like a selfish moron, I would drive myself more often than not. But this isn’t the point.

I am always here to help a friend home who has had too much to drink. I wish I had enough forethought to make the call myself. However, sober friends are not yours to use as your personal taxi service. We aren’t your proxy designated driver. Do not assume this position and do not make your sober friends your babysitter.

Another scapegoat scenario, this one for alcoholics and addicts: if you get caught, fess up. Tell the truth. One of my favorite excuses for my girlfriend finding empty beer cans at the house was to blame it on my friends who came over to hang out. “Oh no, babes. Such and such came over to watch wrestling/football with me. They were drinking. I didn’t have any.” Don’t blame your friends. Don’t lie and place the blame on someone else. Don’t scapegoat your friends, placing them on the altar of lies.

As a former idiotic drunk driver, if you are my friend and I know your are impaired, I will ask for your keys. You’re talking to the king of “nah, man, I’m fine”.

Don’t use your friends for your needs.

Don’t drink and drive. Ever. Period.