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Sunday, August 06, 2006

What I Believe

IN AA it's important to have a clear concept of Higher Power. As it turns out my H.P. is God. I define Him the way most people do; it's there that the similarities seem to end.

The God I believe in is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. This means He can do anything, He knows everything, and all He does is good. I believe that under this definition it follows that God IS everything. And nothing. And all that is in between. In the beginning, God was hanging out being good when He realized that He can't know HOW good He is. Since there was no beginning and no end to HIM he had no way of seeing Himself. He couldn't hold the mirror because He was the mirror. So, in His infinite wisdom, He seperated a little chunk of himself and decreed that this chunk would be temporarily blinded to His glory. Then He gave that chunk sentient thought, a place to grow, and said, "OK, now learn, love and grow and if you do well you will know Me again."

Through the eyes of that chunk, humankind, God was able to know his glory. Through our lonliness He came to know His love. Through our despair He knew joy. And when we reunited in 'Heaven' He knew Himself fully, even from the eyes of the ignorant and blind.

If we humans cannot help God realize his glory we are sent back to try it all again till we do (yes I believe in reincarnation). I don't believe in Hell. If God is all-good He could never allow something that is all-evil to exist. I also don't believe that most of us can do it in one lifetime. There is too much diversity in environments and knowledge to allow just the priviledged to get to heaven in one shot because they lived down the street from a great church or monastary.

I believe that Jesus is God. Of course we all are God, it's just that Jesus was given the gift of knowing his Godliness while human, that makes him a God on earth. Other Prophets knew much, but I don't believe they knew what Jesus did. I'm still researching other religons and may well change this belief.

Now keep in mind this post is what I believe. It is not what you should believe. I don't care what you believe as long as it doesn't hurt people. This post is a response to a posting from yesterday's entry. I'd love to have some comments on it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Bible Cure

I just checked in with my online benzo support group and read a post that frustrates me to no end. In it the writer declared that all us Benzo addicts need to do is open the Bible and we'll be cured. He insists that the Bible is better than any support group. arrgh! This is downright irresponsible. Instead of speaking up about this a reader will sit back and chalk this up to another religious 'crackpot', or the reader will try to read the Bible and he'll still be in withdrawals, or the reader will feel guilt because he hasn't read the Bible lately, or the reader will become sad that he was not 'chosen' to be one of the 'select' that gets miracles conferred upon him by God... you get my point.

I believe that the Bible is God's word. But so is the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact a study of both would indicate that the Bible is a collection of interpretations picked from a much larger choice of documents written by dead guys (and gals) which were considered for inclusion. The Big Book similarly picked from documents, but just about all the writers were still alive at the time of original publication. Both give guidance on living, though the Bible has 'commandments' and the Big Book has 'suggestions'.

I don't want to bash the Bible or it's strong adherents. I've just seen as much evil done in its name as good. I believe that God works divinely through all of us, through our writings and our actions. To tell a sick man that he will only get well through the Bible is to deny him the rest of God's creation as a resource for healing.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Resentments

The two most dangerous words in sobriety are "fuck it". I strongly believe this. The closer I get to those words the closer I get to drinking again. Nothing gets me there quicker than resentments. My wife has been downright mean to me lately. Instead of discussing it with her (or my sponsor) I let it fester in me. This is danger! Openness and honesty are again the touchstones of sobriety.

When I get depressed the resentments are most often turned inward. I can hate myself more than any evil villian this world has offered. I've heard the statement, "depression is anger turned inward." I'm not sure I buy into that totally. Sometimes depression is just plain hopelessness. But these days I do believe the statement is apt. I hate that I have not found a job. I hate that I haven't tried that hard. I'm ashamed of myself for letting my family down. I can rationalize it all I want but I still come up looking like a failure. I'm at a fork in the road, either go down the abyss or take the steps I know I must take. There must be a reason I survived that last suicide attempt! Give me the strength to find it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Depression Dawns

For the last couple days I've worried about whether I'm drifting again into depression. I am under very high stress. I sleep many more hours than I need. My enjoyment of life seems to be waning and I am bitter. I take Seroquel for the benzo cravings and Cymbalta for depression. I also take Buspar for anxiety. My anxiety, though, is very high. My wife just drips loathing; a loathing that will end when I find a job. I'm bitter about that that. I am only lovable when I'm employed. I know that I need to take action to get out of this. I need to exercise and stay in touch with people. I also need to communicate with my wife rather than hide from her. I will pray for the strength to do that. I will not slip back.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Knowing and Doing

More benzo withdrawals today. I can't tell if they are the result of intense stress or the cause. The biggest issue is that I didn't DO anything today that I should have. I felt paralyzed. In those times I know I am suppose to force myself into action. I know that doing things, often doing anything at all, will relieve much of my angst. I know that if I exercise I will feel much better. I know that if I send out 5 resumes it increases my chances of getting a good job. Knowing these things is not enough. I have to act on that knowledge. Action is the root of change. Knowledge is the roadmap.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Gratitude

When I'm really in a funk I have a phrase that repeats in my head over and over again. "My life is hell." I can't get it to stop. Since treatment I am much more aware of it and have steeled myself by trying to replace "My life is hell" with "My life is love." This works only when I'm doing ok and when I'm not I don't want to hear that polly-anna dribble, even from myself.

I went to a meeting today and the topic was gratitude. Many, many meetings are on gratitude and some people groan when they hear the topic. That's ok let them groan. We need more gratitude. Gratitude is one of those few things we can think about that has a real genuine chance of improving our attitude. Most people's lives are not, in fact, hell.

Mel Gibson got arrested for drunken driving this weekend. He is a self-confessed longtime alcoholic. The arresting officer's report indicates that he threw around anti-Semitic and sexually derogatory comments; those don't concern me. I was very interested in his mantra through the whole thing. He reportedly said,"my life is fucked", throughout the whole ordeal. Wow. Mel feels the same about his life as me? If Mel freaking Gibson feels like his life is fucked then maybe my life really is hell! So I do my gratitude list.

My son is beautiful and healthy. My wife is beautiful and healthy. I'm healthy anyway. I have a clear head. I am off the benzos and the booze. I have good support and love from my family. I have a nice house and two cars. No job, but will likely have one by the end of the week and two jobs in two weeks. I am cool in the heat and hot in the cold. I have a growing relationship with my Higher Power (yes, yes I call him God). I put this together in about 2 minutes and 5 IM's. Imagine if I tried to complete it! Life ain't so bad.

I think Mel ought to be sentenced to write a complete gratitude list. He'd be at it far longer than any jail he will serve. Mel has a lot to be thankful for. I daresay that Jews and women would factor in there some too. I t might do him well to think about that. But mostly Mel needs to realize that his life is most assuredly not fucked. He is just fine. We all are.

ps. Apologies to my reader (Rufus? Is that you?) for the bad language, life just ain't so sanitary.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Honestly Living

Is there an addict or alcoholic that isn't a liar? Maybe if he lives alone... and has no friends. I find myself trying to slip back into the reflexive lies. You know, the ones that don't really matter except to us trying to be rigorously honest. I find myself looking at life with the question: "What can I get away with?" The better way would be: "What is the right thing?" This is just habit. I am not doing anythig these days that I'm ashamed of. The thing that worries me is the pattern. One lie is one step away from one drink in my experience. Thankfully I'm working the 6th and 7th steps by asking my Higher Power to remove these defects of character. And none to soon.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Isolation

I'm isolating again. The xanax withdrawals have abated enough so that I am now feeling real life anxieties. I worry about a lot: unemployment, money, my marriage, my sobriety, and then all the crazy stuff that will never happen, but which crawls into my conciousness nonetheless. The program has taught me that living in the future causes unneccessary worry and stress. It is very hard to let go of that. There must be some benefit that comes from all that worry. I think it comes from a sense of control. If one gives up worrying about a future event, then one must give up control over it. That takes real faith doesn't it?

So once again it all comes down to faith. When I have a faith that things will be ok, then I can cope with today. When I fear tommorrow, I hide away today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Letting Go, Absolutely

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us: "we tried to hold onto our old ideas, but the result was nil till we let go absolutely." I was able to let go of the notion that I "enjoyed" drinking rather quickly. Actually the last days of boozing were not a party, hell, the last years of drinking were not a party. Letting go of the "fun" was not the problem. It was the idea that alcohol could be my panacea that I couldn't let go of. Once I sobered up I was incapable of handling my life. It was full of random events and so few of them are pleasant! Even worse, I was afraid of what might happen. I really needed something to help me deal with these things. I would marvel at the way my wife dealt with these things with just a joke and a bit of bitching. It must be something normal people are taught while I was out drinking. So I did what any normal, freaked out person would do, I visited my local shrink. She promptly prescribed me some pills and I had a panacea again.

Intellectually I knew damn well what would happen. The pills would only put off my troubles and then they would return with a vengence as soon as the pills wore off. So I must either deal with the problems or take more pills. Guess what I chose. Guess what the result was.

Having the knowledge that what I was doing was insane was not enough to stop me. I knew this cycle even when I was drinking. I just couldn't do anything with it. What has changed now? I augment that knowledge with a plan, some tools and a renewed relationship with God. These things allow me to take on my life's problems with panic. This is good because things are as difficult as they have ever been in my life. No job. No money. A panicked wife. But... I have a great fellowship in AA, a supportive family and a loving God. Everything will turn out exactly right.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fear.

I'm not too macho to admit that I live my life in perpetual fear. I am a perfectionist and a procrastinator and the root of both of these two character flaws is fear. I am afraid that I won't measure up so I don't do it. I think normal people learn to deal with this crap when they are much younger than me. I didn't learn to deal with it... I drank. Now that I'm sober I must deal with it. And I must deal with my fear without drugs. These are not anxiety attacks I feel, they are life attacks.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What It Was Like

What was it like? The last year, what did I go through? Well it was an awful time. The benzo's (mostly Xanax) began to absolutely dominate my life. I simply couldn't get enough of them. I began to experience tolerance withdrawal. This is when you level off of the benzo, but your body gets used to it, so you experince the same symtoms as withdrawal. These include heightened anxiety (really heightened!), inner tremors, flickering vision, headaches, muscle cramps, inability to focus or concentrate, nausea, sleeplessness and a massive preoccupation with the drug. I'm sure I'm forgetting them, because with over one month clean, and a 6 month taper, I'm not feeling them hardly at all.

As I experienced theses things I tried to find anything that would lessen them. Until I began drinking again, I used cough syrup, Kava Kava, Valerian root and sleeping pills. Nothing worked, but the booze. This is bad for an alcoholic. My doctor tried to get me to manage my own taper, but that is like giving an alcoholic a fifth of vodka and saying, "Only three shots a day, ok?" Not gonna work. Drinking didn't take anything away, it just made the rest of my life worse. I lost two jobs. I lost my law license. I almost lost my life.

These days I'm discovering for the first time in my life real adult anxiety...unmedicated by anything. I pray and meditate, I go to meetings, I write in my journal, I'm blogging and I'm exercising. These things help a lot. Exercise, though it sucks, really really helps.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Next Right Thing

If you're not familiar with AA, its basic tenet is about surrendering your addiction, indeed your life, over to a Higher Power of your understanding. When you hear people describe their drinking problem or addiction in terms of a 'battle' or a struggle' you know they just don't get it. Every ounce of my willpower went into 'fighting' my alcoholism and to getting off benzo's, but I couldn't do it. Once I said "Thy will, not mine" I was able to function. It helped me stay in the moment I didn't have to worry about quitting forever, just doing God's will for me right now. As long as I do the next right thing I will be ok. The worry for me is getting stuck in the crisis that always seems to be looming over the next horizon.

My creditors are knocking down my door and I have to find a job. This used to be something I would panic about then take drugs or booze to calm down. Now I know everything is just as it's supposed to be. I will find the right job at the right time as long as I keep doing the next right thing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Out of the Cave

I'm back.

After years of benzo use, mostly Xanax and Klonopin, I am 30 days totally clean from them. I got out of treatment last month. I couldn't finish the taper on my own. A month later am finally starting to feel better. But I am ahead of myself.

On May 17th I tried to commit suicide. I was drinking again to lessen the massive withdrawal I was going through. I was utterly convinced that my 3 year old son would be better off without me and that my wife could easily find a better husband and father. I took 5 Klonopin and drank a fifth of vodka. I duct-taped a section of garden hose to the exhaust and ran it into the car window. I put in a cd...Diana Kralll... and waited to pass out and then die. Only I didn't die.

I was awakened by my wife in the morning. We were both surprised. The keys had been removed from the ignition and placed on the seat of the car... something i could never imagine doing. Of course, I then had only one choice. I went to the hospital psych ward. They kept me for a few days and then I ended up back in treatment. I went in on 3 mgs of Klonopin daily and tapered quite rpidly down from there in 28 days of treatment. They were painful days. In fact I still feel the withdrawals, though they are nothing like they were.

I have lost my law license and have no desire to get it back. I am out of work and looking, but that's ok. I'm alive and I'm clean and sober. Everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

Peace,
Tony

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Benzos aren't us

I've been off Klonopin now for three days and the withdrawals are ever-present. That's the bad news. The good news is that the withdrawals are nothing like trying to go cold turkey off of xanax. I can handle these, with a little help from above.

The depression and anxiety are leveling off. I have a ton of stressors right now with work and some at home... and don't forget everyone's favorite cause of stress: money. With all of this I could be spiraling down, but I just feel like I'm doing ok. For those who want to know, I'm on Cymbalta and Zoloft. I'm not jumping for joy, but I'm not in crisis mode either. I do have some mild social anxiety, but I believe that is mostly rebound from the benzo's.

I haven't had a drink in almost three weeks. I am trying to work a good program. Trying to surrender it all. Progress... not perfection, right? I do believe that my sense of Higher Power is giving a calm that I never had before.

Today is the pool party for my boy 2 1/2 years old now. All his cousins of the same age will be there and most of my wife's family. (Just so you know, I don't have a pool. These are little blow up pools for toddlers.) I'm sure today will be fine, I'm just going to let go and try to relax. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Peace,

Tony

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Easy Does It

So much of my life has been trying to find the easy way. Where is that one pill that will make everything all better? Problem is that way always leads to more pain and frustration. Yes napping instead of mowing the lawn feels good now, but the lawn will just be that much harder to mow. (And the wife will be just that much more annoyed.) The easy way is the right way. Like I keep saying... just do the next right thing, even if it's difficult or challenging. Baby Steps.

Peace,

Tony

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