Pouring out that Bottle

I poured a bottle of Wild Turkey out in the VA parking lot this afternoon. It was a big bottle, a handle, $50 worth of bourbon. It had been in my car for the better part of two days, after I bought it at a liquor store off of I-85 at the tail of a long drive. I had convinced myself of the need for my old friendship with alcohol and was warmed by the opportunity to accept the comfort of the misery of remembrances that the alcohol would release. For so many years alcohol was my only friend, the only one I opened up to, the only one that allowed me to be myself, the only one I could acknowledge my failings, my guilt, my sorrow, my anger to.

I was excited to get back home. To sit in my living room, listen to my music, with all those triggers in so many sad and angry songs, and to drink that bottle. True friendship, true understanding, true tolerance. Alcohol would numb me, alcohol would accept me, alcohol would say it was ok. I was going to happily and eagerly throw my life, and my soul, back into a deep, black, cold hole. And I would revel in it.

But then I didn’t. The thought of an early dentist appointment the next day reminded me of my past life, where I would easily neglect such appointments and rapidly dismiss responsibilities to both myself and others. A timely phone call from my girlfriend and the quickness with which I lied to her, telling her everything was ok and that I was just going to watch football that evening, cut me open. Was I going to go back to that life? Hadn’t I given alcohol enough of a chance? Wasn’t over four years of self-medication and self-destruction enough of an opportunity for booze? My attempts to relieve my suffering through alcohol had failed. Without a doubt, alcohol had failed me. The bottle stayed in my car when I got home and I called Megan.

Next Friday, November 1st, will be my twenty-first month of sobriety, or attempted sobriety, to be honest and clear. It has not been easy and I don’t expect that handle of Turkey will be the last bottle I will have to empty indecorously down a drain, into a toilet or over a parking lot. But there is no other way.

The most important thing I have heard from friends, what my therapists have taught me, and what I have learned myself, is this process of recovery, this attempt to take my life back, is a long, hard, tortuous effort. Bad days come less frequently now, but they still do come, and when they do, they hurt. Faltering and falling down, but recomposing oneself and standing again, is the very essence of this process. Of course, it’s not possible on your own, you need others, like a psychologist who will tell you, very sternly, to pour that bottle out; and it won’t work unless you build a life, a good life, a happy life, one that is worth the struggle and separate from the distress brought on by your own personal history.

Last spring, a Vietnam Veteran in my group told me: “if I hear someone in church saying he doesn’t have the taste anymore for alcohol, then I know he either never had the taste or he’s lying.” My friends, that taste for alcohol doesn’t go away, its alleged friendship doesn’t ever make good on its promises, and its acceptance of your suffering is illusory and cruel.

Again, I expect to fall down again. If you are going through this process with me, then you most likely will too. But I know there are others to help me up and there are others who will help you up too, including you and me.

Peace.

First Post

The first of what I hope to be many blog posts.

Please read the About Me and the About This Blog sections to get a feel for what I would like this blog’s purposes and my efforts to be.

Please be patient. I am new to blogging, at least on my own site, and easily confused, as the customer service representative from Yahoo and the WordPress Support forum moderator can attest to, but I plan on a regular commitment to this site, for my own healing and development, and maybe for that of others.

I’ve thought about doing something like this-like a blog to be clear-for several months now. Those thoughts formed into action over the last couple of days, and then CNN ran this article today:

“Why suicide rate among veterans may be more than 22 a day”

This notion, this horribly shameful notion, that we somehow do not, in the year 2013, truly know how many veterans are killing themselves each day is something I’ve been concerned with for a bit of a while.

And then, boom!, my friend Rob DuBois, former SEAL and author of Powerful Peace, posts this article on Facebook:

Vet Launches Suicide Prevention Campaign: ‘I Am A Suicide Survivor … And I Am Not Embarrassed By It’

So, here I am. Egged on by the same recurring theme of dudes just like me killing themselves and inspired by a 25 year old kid, a veteran of combat.

Eighteen months ago I was planning my own suicide. I had been trying to kill myself through alcohol since 2007. It was because of testimonials like what I read today from Andrew O’Brien, among other inspirations, that I found the courage to get help. I’m now at the point in my recovery that I need to be sharing my story with others in case my words and experiences can be of benefit.

If any of my friends need help, please know it is ok to ask for help. I can assure you life is so much better on the other side of that dark life. I can also assure you I’ve never met with any derision or rejection, but only acceptance, love and compassion from those I have shared my suicidality and darkness with.
I invite you to reply, contribute and comment, and I look forward to a journey on this blog focused on healing, redemption and life.

Peace.