This Is Your Lucky Day: The Alcoholic Experience
I want you to join me on a journey.
It’s my belief that the power of a story lies in its ability to engage the listener or reader; it’s ability to grip and fascinate them, to engross them within it. That lies in its ability to convey human emotions and share experiences in a way that loses the reader in it, instructs them and moves them by it.
All I ask of you is the same thing I ask of you in my book; a willingness and openness to new ideas and shared experiences, to be open-minded.
I’ll need just a few minutes of your time. Go on a journey with me… not my journey, because this journey is not my exclusive one, it is highlights of the journey of an alcoholic, in fact several different alcoholics. After years of fellowship with others struggling with this murderous affliction, I’ve simply taken a few anonymous excerpts amongst the stories included below, to take you on this journey of YOU actually being an alcoholic. No dramatics, theatrics, or embellishments because I didn’t need to.
These are simple truths which were told honestly by people with a sincere desire for recovery to people of the same heart.
Oh, one more thing: you can’t take anybody with you.
An alcoholic’s journey is always a solo journey. Don’t worry, you’ll have an uninvited somebody with you. The Stranger is a free loading prick, He’ll find His way onboard.
God, I’m not sure how to respond to this.
Suzanne Canty just asked me if I want to join her group of friends after school on Friday. Everybody likes Sue and John, they’ve been going steady for over a year now. He’s just damn good-looking, the lucky wench. He’s personable as hell and stars in any of our athletic teams he chooses to indulge us with. Sue’s beautiful, friendly and the best lacrosse player in school.
I don’t really fit into their high school caste system, it’s above my ranking and lot. I hate this damn feeling of not fitting in… Screw it! I’m tired of fear running my life.
I’m not sure how Mom is going to respond to this. They’re both good people from good families, Mom just doesn’t happen to know Mrs. Canty. Thankfully Dad will agree with whatever Mom says. It sucks I have to go alone; I’m going to feel awkward. I’m sure as hell not showing up at 7:00 and instantly become the douchette alone in the corner. I’ll arrive when I can blend in, unnoticed.
“Hi Megan! Come on in!” John says powerfully, handing me an ice-cold Coors beer with his left hand as he hugs me with his right arm. Christ, I’ve never had a drink but thankfully it’s just a light beer. After scanning the room, I conclude I’ll definitely look like an asshole if I don’t at least sip something for the evening.
It was nice of Max to give me a ride home. He seemed sober enough. He’s cute. What an amazing night… hell, even I was fucking amazing! I introduced myself to people, never stopped engaging and talking in conversations all night and was even was referred to as, “The smart, funny one.”
I only had four beers. I chewed a whole pack of spearmint gum. All I have to do is take a few minutes and recant on how nice the party was with Mom and head to my room. I should be fine. I know one thing, I’m not going to hesitate the next time someone asks me if I want to drink at a party.
Authors note: You dear reader, as Megan, you don’t understand what happened this evening and you never will entirely. But you do know that alcohol had a magical power on you. You know you intend to use it again to help you overcome your insecurities. It was the first time you didn’t feel insecure amongst a group of people in high school. You haven’t the foggiest idea you’re an alcoholic, though your Father’s a heavy drinker.
You will remember virtually everything about this night for the rest of your life. Your blind date with alcohol went spectacularly. For the rest of your life, The Stranger will seize your mind – your entire consciousness – and you will remember exactly how good alcohol made you feel this evening. You will never remember as the years go by what it’s done to you. You will pursue the recovery of this feeling, the experience of this feeling for the rest of your life. It can never be recovered, but no part of your mind, will, or spirit accepts this and can resist the merciless craving to recapture it.
Lucky you! You’re an alcoholic today in this life, Megan’s life. Now what?
A working man’s life
What the hell did Luke mean by that? I’ve been busting my ass for this company for 17 years.
I’m starting to slow down? I don’t seem to be on top of things? Who the hell does he think got him promoted?
Damn, I love this car. The Germans got this right, this 335-is kicks ass… I don’t think even I can drive it off the road, though I’ve come close. I’m not sure what Katie wants to do tonight. She never texted me back. I’m hoping we order take-out for dinner. I just don’t feel like a family sit-down dinner tonight. I need to think about what Luke said to me and what I’m going to do about it while I’m alone.
I’m sure as hell not ready to share that idiotic slanderous comment Douche Hand Luke made about my work performance with Katie.
I resent the hell out of Luke for saying that. He’ll regret it. I’ll see to that. We’ll see how he fares when his top performer stops pulling for him.
Kate has been a bitch to me lately and focuses every single disagreement we have about any subject on my drinking. She doesn’t seem to mind the benefits of the work I do. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to notice what I’m doing for her and the kids. She doesn’t appreciate or respect me anymore.
Dammit! What does Steve do, mow his lawn every day now? Does he have a real job? He never uses the grass catcher on the mower, my driveways covered with his fucking grass now. Once again. He just gives me that stupid-ass smile wearing that straw hat and wave, like I’m supposed to appreciate the fact that he brainlessly mows his lawn onto my driveway.
He’s just getting to be a bigger asshole every day. I don’t care if Katie and Karen are friends or not. They can do whatever they want, I’m not doing anymore couples bullshit with this straw hat, corncob dickhead.
Authors note: Dear reader Steve, you’ve been drinking about 15 years now. Inside, you know you have a problem with alcohol. You’re constantly figuring out how to integrate it into all of your free time, every single activity. You have phased your wife and kids’ activities out of your life. You’ve no idea how deeply alcoholism, courtesy of The Stranger, is seizing every aspect of your being: mind, body and soul.
You’re isolating yourself to protect your right to keep drinking. You will abandon more and more friends and family as time goes by. You’re building up Goliath-sized resentments to shift any blame and focus off of yourself and your secret. You’re scared to death about the social stigma surrounding alcoholism.
If you don’t reach out for help now, statistically your chances of recovering from this murderous affliction are small. Very small, less than 3%. And that’s if you admit you’re an alcoholic, reach out for help, receive legitimate help and through the grace of God, find recovery. You gave up on God five years ago. He fucked you over and promoted Luke into the job you deserved.
You’re sure as hell not telling anybody at work that you have a drinking problem, especially after what Luke told you today, and you’re not telling any of these assholes around you either.
The truth is, you simply can’t assume the additional burden of being labelled as an untrustworthy, unreliable liar. A weak man who chooses to continue drinking on top of the ominous burden you’re already carrying.
The one that feels like a millstone around your neck called alcoholism, which plans to get you completely alone and then murder you. This is exactly what happens to you. Being you sucks right now. It’s going to suck a whole lot worse later. You don’t die instantly. You suffer a life of perpetual desperation, bewilderment and terror.
Lucky you! You’re an alcoholic today in this life, Steve’s life. Now what?
Oh, the beauty of childhood
It’s been a hard life.
Two divorces, three DWIs, the loss of two jobs. Drinking is about the only thing I have left.
I sincerely wish I’d done so many things differently. I’m hoping that this time recovery works for me. I’ve relapsed six times in the past nine years and those have been the worst nine years of my life.
But God, I remember my first drink. I was three. I remember it as clear as day, and it was 60 years ago! I was on Poppa’s lap, and he was bouncing me gently on his right knee in his rocking chair. He gave me a sip of his beer. I remember the taste, the delicious taste. I remember him being surprised when I asked for another sip. But he gave them to me, nursing me with it a little bit as he rocked, saying, “Becky bounces, Becky bounces” with each knee lift. Oh, how we laughed with each other. I remember how happy we were, how happy I felt.
Authors note: Alcoholism has decimated your life Becky. You’re on borrowed time. You know it’s your mortal enemy and you have fought sincerely and diligently to abstain from it and recover. But life has hard times and The Stranger, as usual, has brought you more than most. There’s no escaping the murderous thought that plagues you like a hornet. That a drink will make you feel better, like it did on Papa’s knee.
It hounds you day and night mercilessly. You do things people, even you consider insane when you relapse, simply by agreeing with this simple thought. It’s burnt into the core of your being. You’re alone now. You’ll die soon.
Lucky you! You’re an alcoholic today in this life, Becky’s life. Now what?
Ingenuity makes the man
Fucking Wisconsin. I love it here. I got great buddies and have a shit load of fun. Yeah, sure I’ve been busted, lost my license a couple of times. I got three DWIs in the past, but shit happens. Pulled over for speeding all three times. Who the fuck wouldn’t speed in this state? There’s nothing but corn and cow assholes for hundreds of miles.
Shit, I’m too drunk right now to even feel my legs.
Mr. Jack has been good to me tonight, my best friend Jackie Daniels.
That’s the nice thing about Wisconsin and me being a machinist. Straight highway, just miles and miles of straight highway with a State Trooper every 30 or 40 miles, maybe.
This wedge I machined is doing great. Only thing I have to do is stay awake, and not even all of the time. I touch the wheel every couple minutes ever so slightly, and that’s it. I’ll be home in one hour.
I jammed a steel wedge I machined at work between the gas pedal and floorboard. Exactly to the blue line I made on it, once I got going on the Interstate. It rounds the engine out at 3300 RPM, and that equates to 71 MPH. That’s the other thing about Wisconsin I love… there’s no hills. On a level surface, constant RPM equals constant speed. Fuck cruise control. This 63 Chevy Impala does just fine out here. Even when I do pass an occasional trooper on the side of the road, they don’t even look my way. Yeah fuck the past.
I got this shit down now, no speeding tickets in the land of cow shit and farmers for me anymore. I have a clear path to party city, being with my buds doing my 71 MPH. Life’s good.
Authors note: Your name is John Wagner. You’re 46 years old, you’ve been drinking 29 years. You live in the same city you were born in and have the same circle of friends you went to high school with. You drink a fifth of Jack Daniels a day and on weekends you add a case of beer to that. All of the worst things that have happened in your life, and there’s been plenty, have been a direct result of your alcoholism.
The Stranger blinds you to this fact. The only thing you know is that alcohol makes you feel good. Yes, you have to have a drink in the morning to calm your hands. The disease has progressed so far physically your cell structure requires the ethyl alcohol molecule to function normally. If you were to quit drinking instantly right now, there’s a good chance you could die from withdrawal. Alcoholism is the only addiction that withdrawal can be fatal from.
Fortunately, you have absolutely no intention of stopping or even reducing your intake of ethyl alcohol.
Alcohol is like oxygen to you. Not only can you not imagine life without it, you won’t. You know you simply cannot live without it. End of story. Mentally, emotionally and physically, The Stranger has you by the balls. His next move is the only question. He’ll get you alone. Life provides him with a million different opportunities and ways to do that.
Maybe He’ll do both at once and you’ll smash your car into a concrete bridge pylon one day.
Maybe the disease will kill you physically through cirrhosis or a hundred different forms that it possesses to murder your body through. Or maybe He’ll so deeply embed your obsession, compulsion and craving for alcohol that you’ll go insane and kill yourself. Suicide is not uncommon in the final stages of alcoholism.
Lucky you! You’re an alcoholic today in this life John’s life. Now what?
See that wasn’t so bad a journey was it?
I sincerely hope you read this with a willingness to be the person you read about, like you do any good drama story. Honestly though, how was the ride? Every one of them a true story. I just whet your appetite, I know your imagination is capable of filling in what the details might look around you preceding that moment, during that moment and after that moment.
If you concluded that you were anything but fucked, you read the wrong story. You filled in all the imaginary details that you would have done in that situation. That indeed might have led to a different outcome, some fantasyland that doesn’t exist for alcoholics.
Which fantasy did you use? Let me guess, you gave yourself the power of choice over alcohol? You ignored the vicious, shunning sting of Stigma and asked for help, regardless of the inevitable consequences? You prayed to your Higher Power right away, and He helped you?
These people are all dead now. That’s the reason I wrote this book.
If I can help one fellow sufferer to believe that recovery is possible for them, summon the courage to say, “Fuck the stigma surrounding alcoholism,” and ask for help, then maybe they can come to believe that some Power greater than themselves can in fact restore them to sanity. Then, every single minute of the thousands of hours I’ve put into this has been well worth it.
Chances are if you are reading this you’re not an alcoholic, but I hope you’ve gained a broader perspective on the nature of alcoholism. Perhaps you’ve come to realize nobody chooses to be an alcoholic; that it’s a progressive chronic, and fatal affliction. Maybe, you came to the point where your imagination expanded your consciousness enough to realize that alcoholism is not a thing: it’s an irreversible experience. It’s alive if you’re alive. It will murder you and bayonet the wounded around you.
If you are an alcoholic, and not in recovery, I’ve no doubt that you recognize yourself in some aspect of some part of these true memoirs. Most importantly, I hope you understand the journey that you’re on and where it ends.
And if you’re an alcoholic in recovery like myself, I’ve no doubt that you not only recognized yourself in part in some of the stories but that you felt an urge, inspired by the deep pain of empathy and compassion to help others suffering as you have with this affliction.
Are you all feeling lucky right now? That sucks.
There’s no luck involved in being born with alcoholism. There is absolutely no luck involved in recovery from it. It’s not a matter of chance, The Stranger has taken that off the table. He’ll pretend to play Russian Roulette with you, and amazingly you will, but you’ll lose every single time.
If you’re an alcoholic, you’ve lost the power of choice when it comes to drink. You are beyond the help of human aid.
Hope, true hope is the only shot you have at living. Not hope in yourself. God, that will kill you quicker than anything, as it did me. I’m talking about Hope that a Power greater than yourself, a Power of your choosing, will extend the grace required to restore you to sanity.
If you’ve been reading my blogs, and surely after you read my book you’ll realize that if anybody was beyond hope, I’m to be numbered among them. Yet I’m alive through the grace of a Power greater than myself.
Yes, alcoholism is alive, yes alcoholism intends to murder you if you’re an alcoholic. Yes, The Stranger has an astonishing success rate in doing this. But hope is also always alive too. Hope always has the power to restore you to sanity. If you’re willing to believe.