Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Malady of the Spirit

The past ten days or two weeks have been hard. My brain has been very busy. I haven't been sleeping well, and I've been waking up early. A lot of confusion, wanting to "make deals" with my recovery. A hard time staying away from "just one" binge, "just one" good drunk to take the pain away for "just one" day, my brain trying to convince me that "just one" won't hurt, in fact it will help, I'll get that magical insight and solution to all my problems, and after "just one" good solid spree the urge to drink will evaporate forever and life will be great.

My brain actually believes this shit.

Fortunately HP has been able to keep my brain from taking charge. Sometimes it feels like the tool HP has placed in my hands is good old-fashioned white-knuckle will power, and if that's what I got, that's what I'll use. "Any length..." Since my heart and soul are still largely made of stone, and my brain is off on its own agenda, HP seems to be leading me by the butt lately. AA meetings, step workshop, church, church group meetings, hanging with my sponsor, prayer, BB and 12X12 reading, Bible reading. I've found myself leading a few meetings, and I've taken a coffee commitment. I've added a Sunday morning Bible study at church, a couple one-time service commitments with my church group, and the divorce class I originally intended to join starts in a couple weeks. My butt is dragging me to do the things people tell me I need to do to make this work.

And through it all, not only does my brain seem impervious to what's going on, it keeps saying, "Have a drink. C'mon. Let's get drunk. You've been sober for 197 of the past 235 days. You deserve a vacation."

Strangely, I seem to be the only one overly concerned about this. As long as I don't drink, and I show up at the times and places I'm expected and/or committed to, and have done the things I'm supposed to have done, people seem to think there's nothing to worry about. I'm the only one who seems terrified of the whole situation. Even my cats have been especially serene and affectionate lately.


I suppose I should try to be more sympathetic and patient with my brain, because steps four and five have given it a lot to handle. It's clear I've only made a start on steps four and five. I've opened Pandora's box, and a lot of stuff has been coming out since last week.

It's dawning on me how many other things besides alcohol I use, and do, addictively and compulsively. Cigarettes, coffee, and marriage, for example (there's other things, too, and unless you're my sponsor you're unlikely to hear them all!). I can recognize addictive patterns and behavior I had when I was ten years old, long before substances entered the picture. All of it, not just alcohol, has been chronic and progressive. Maybe some of it isn't quite as egregious without alcohol greasing the skids, but it isn't going away on its own.

I'm starting to see the addictive nature of my relationships. Probably anyone who has had the patience to glance at my travails with my wife and son, documented in this blog, recognized it long before I did.

It's painful to acknowledge the burden I've been trying to put on my little son's tiny shoulders, what this nasty little dance my wife and I have been indulging ourselves in could cost this innocent child. My wife didn't "save" me, she couldn't magically transform me into the man I want to be, any more than a 12-pack could. Any more than I could transform her. So our answer, unconsciously, since we had "failed" each other, was to have a child, who would magically make us into the parents we always wanted for ourselves.

How long before I start resenting, being angry with, and pulling away from my son because he hasn't transformed me into a happy, strong, attentive, committed and loving father, into the man I want to be???

I'm asking the wrong Son to redeem me, I think...

I'm looking to my own tiny son to give me the redemption that can only come from God. I'm using my son the same way I use alcohol. The same way I use my wife. And the wife before her. And the wife before her. And jobs. And diplomas. And on and on.


God, please remove this obsession with alcohol from me, and my addictive and obsessive behavior along with it. If not for my benefit, then for my innocent son's.


At 3/23/2005 01:40:00 AM, Blogger K said...

Seems like you have a lot on your plate these days eh? If its working for you, keep it up - It sounds like it may be overwhelming you though. I know I hit a point where we had so many different bible studies and church functions going on I was beginning to hate it, I got to a point where I didn't want to do anything. It's important for me to keep that passion so I decided to do the couple of the events that really excited me and then blow off the rest. I had a lot of people thinking I was backing off and starting to filter church out altogether which was absolutely not it. Some people thought I was being rude by not attending certain affairs but I refused to let anyone make me feel guilty about it and I am going strong in my faith once again - and that's what really matters most. I do church and two bible studies on Sunday and one on Wednesday night now. I sure don't want to encourage you to stop one or the other but maybe you need to do some down-sizing of your schedule too. Really, only you know.

As far as you wanting another drink, I can only relate with quitting both pot and cigarettes. I really feel for you. Each time I quit I went through that - what got me through it successfully was removing myself from the things that got my head going in that direction. Most of those things I couldn't remove from my life, but I could take them out for a few weeks or so. And although the people you see everyday may not seem to worried about your addiction rearing its ugly head, I know I am and I bet some of the other faithful readers of your blog are too. Maybe the people you see everyday just have more faith in you than you have in yourself for the moment.

Its great to push yourself but don't let that Pandora's box push you right off a cliff. Just take on a few things at a time. Thinking of how far you've come makes me proud, so when your drowning in the thoughts of all those things you still have to fix - think back to the beginning and give yourself some well deserved credit. Also remember your son is only 2 1/2, he has a great dad who loves him and is working so hard on changing his bad habits. I think not only will your son be ok but I think he'll turn out to be a great person. Be glad you've recognized your problems now and not when he's older.

Stay strong brother, my prayers are always with you.

At 3/23/2005 02:53:00 AM, Blogger dAAve said...

Phil, Phil, Phil

I feel for you.

That was wonderfully written. I hope that you have been able to say precisely the same things in a meeting, at the group level. By now, you surely are aware that by sharing these feelings actually takes much of their power away. DO NOT keep it inside you -- LET IT OUT!!

You will get that moment, that awakening when your HP takes away the obsession and craving forever. He and only He will define that moment. The important thing is to not give up - Before the miracle.

Thank you for your honesty.

At 3/23/2005 04:54:00 AM, Anonymous lws said...

Add my "amen" to the posts above. And, I recognize in you someone striving to live an examined life, and to honestly seek out God's will. To me, with those two things in place: You can't go wrong. But it's hard not to get discouraged, I know. Just do the next right thing. That little thought, that some guy said to me in my second or third meeting, has stuck with me. It seems so insignificant, so cliche, so vague, but it's been the key for me: The next right thing. Only you and God can answer for you what that is. Meanwhile, you have my prayers for your struggle.

At 3/23/2005 06:38:00 PM, Blogger doughgirl said...


It has made me very happy to come here today and see that you have written once again.

You have a lot going on right now and it can be overwhelming when youre looking at the BIG picture, but remember Phil the BIG picture is made up of a million little pieces and therefore you only have to deal with one of those little pieces at a time...maybe one at a time consecutively yet still only one at a time. First things first is what I was always told.

Deal with the one things you have to do right this moment, and when thats done thank God and move onto the next...just keep doing one at a time and acknowledge each little piece that you accomplish at a time. Learn to give yourself credit consistently for doing the next right thing, and then the next right thing wont seem so big.

I understand completely what you are feeling and going through with your son right now. I think when we get sober and we look back on our lives and the reasons that we picked up, we as parents tend to want to prevent those things from happening to our children...We want them to have perfect little lives...But Phil, you know like I know that life isn't perfect. You can only do what you can do...and not pefrectly. It's a humbling thought I know but its true, so let yourself off the hook on that one.

Just like you have your path, he has his...trust and believe that God will take care of him.

Service work is a great way to get out of your own head...The rent is far to high a price to pay for you to be living up their anyway.

Balance is key. As much as meetings, service work, church and such are good for you,you must take care of yourself and get the rest you need as well.

Keep your chin up, first things first and take it easy..trust in God and just dont drink NO MATTER WHAT! I know youll be ok...:)

At 3/24/2005 05:00:00 PM, Blogger Faith said...

Thank you for writing this post.

About a year ago I said something to the effect that I was going to use my daughter as my Higher Power. I figured it would work. Stay sober for her, turn over all my fears and anxieties to her, and my life would magically be better. Of course, that didn't work.

But I didn't realize what I had been trying to do until JUST NOW. I was trying to put it all on her. And you're right, then I would have had someone to blame it on when I failed.

I spend a lot of time trying to talk myself into (and out of) drinking. My diseased alter ego is pretty damn persuasive, but so far hasn't gotten the better of me.

I'll be praying for you, and thanks again for sharing this wonderful post.

At 3/25/2005 09:02:00 AM, Blogger recoveryroad said...

My path has been different. But I can well imagine the full horror of how I might feel the morning after the night before of a binge.

Do you have a full-on sponsor..?

At 3/25/2005 09:34:00 PM, Anonymous bobwired said...

I was impressed with your thoughts. thanks for sharing. I am new to blogland. check me out at: http://bobwired.blogs.com

peace, bob

At 3/26/2005 04:49:00 AM, Blogger Grace said...

Years ago someone asked me what the perfume I was wearing was called. "Obsession" I said and they roared with laughter and said "How fitting". I didnt see the joke myself and they obviously saw that same trait in me. Its a good thing to recognise it, but like you it spans much of my behaviour.

At 3/26/2005 08:39:00 PM, Blogger Bob R. said...

You are just amazing. First, to be able to coherently write all that down is remarkable to me. Second, you have not drunk or used. You could have, but didn't. HP is working with you and you are obviously staying close enough to HP to be "there". Your head sounds like a typical alcoholic mind....you should know...you read some of the same blogs as I do now.

Yep, your son is the wrong person to ask for redemption, but just because you are realizing the complete depth of our addictive nature does not necessarily require redemption....it requires we walk away from the past, but not spit at it either. My sponsor would tell you (as he does me so often)once you see your role, let it go and work on the solution. In other words, forgive yourself and work on a spiritual path to make a living amends.
As for the scrambled brain...well, you are alcoholic....next?
Thanks for helping me today,
your fellow trudger, Bob

At 3/26/2005 09:57:00 PM, Blogger Andy said...

One of the hardest things for me in recovery is the One Day At A Time thing. I like to let myself get overwhelmed and try to fix everything at once...after all, that's how I always lived.

One thing at a time. Slowly I am learning the wisdom of that. You've got so much going on, but the good news is that right now you are only responsible for what is right in front of you. No more.

After all, it's not like you have to stay sober forever. All you have to do is stay sober today. Anyone can stay sober for one day. So, don't worry about tomorrow, just take it one day at a time.

If your HP is like mine, you will get messages and guidance from all sorts of sources. It sounds like you are listening. You are on the path, even if you can't see that at the moment.

Thank you for this post, I very much appreciate it and can identify with it.

Blessings to you.

At 4/01/2005 06:02:00 AM, Blogger dAAve said...

I hope you're OK Phil. We havent' seen you here for about 10 days now. Please keep intouch.

We love you and look forward to your next post.

At 4/03/2005 12:55:00 AM, Blogger Nathan said...

I stumbled upon your blog and bookmarked it some months ago. I check in now and again to see how you are doing with your REAL struggle. Imagine if we all blogged about our biggest struggle in life?

I want you to know that I'm cheering you on, and offer a prayer in your behalf. I grew up being taught the Word of Wisdom which was revealed in 1833 in this scripture . How these verses (and others) have saved my life from personal struggle! I ache for many of those close to me struggling in their current or past addictions.

May you continue in your convictions, and be blessed with the courage to persevere.

At 4/04/2005 12:54:00 AM, Blogger recoveryroad said...


you've gone a wee bit quiet. Thinking of you. Hope all is well.

At 4/04/2005 09:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also am thinking of you; stay strong, you're in my prayers.

At 4/05/2005 02:50:00 PM, Anonymous particle said...

In early sobriety I read a book on the nature of consciousness calles "The User Illusion" or something, point being that in it they talked about the nauture of concentration and that you brain is really very poor at concentrating on more than one thing at a time. I believe they actually came up with a throughput of 10kbps! ANy way, a quick way to check this out is to tell me how your pinkie toe feel this very instant! Now the moment you shift your attention tell me how your earlobe feels. Very quickly you'll get the jist of how poorly we multitask.

So what I did when I wanted to drink was, armed with this knowledge, prayed! The Serenetity Prayer over and over and over. IT did not matter if the words meant anything or not. I knew that if I was concentrating on saying the words I could NOT be thinking of drinking.
"Whatever lengths to get it" I signed up for that in spades. Anything to stop the desire.

Cunning, baffling, powerful, it is!

I pray for you my friend.

God Bless.

At 4/08/2005 02:48:00 AM, Blogger Grace said...

I sent you an email Phil. Just wanted to say I'm still thinking of you :-)

At 4/08/2005 09:00:00 AM, Blogger Jim said...

You are trying to cut a deal with your Beast, but you recognized it and forced it to speak to you in the second person. Look at what you wrote:
"LET'S get drunk. YOU deserve a vacation". Why would you speak to yourself in the second person? It's your addictive voice trying to talk you into thinking life sucks and there is no happiness without it's precious, precious stuff.
Why don't you really screw the bastard and tell it never and mean it? I can tell you from personal experience there is no dealing with the Beast. It will never keep it's end of the bargain.

At 6/10/2005 03:32:00 PM, Blogger pearlgirl said...

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