The Experience Will Stay With You;

This is the blog of a recovering anonymous alcoholic. There's also some Marxism creeping in now and then. Feel free to post comments, but if you know me, keep them anonymous. Thanks.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Let tomorrow bee

This song came on in my head today, I hadn't heard it for ages.
Let tomorrow bee
I can't be so impatient
Pushing every answer, when there isn't any question
Let me feel good now
And though this may have to end, I hope I'm always with you
Honestly your friend
I think I love you
--Sebadoh from Think (Let Tomorrow Bee) on Bubble & Scrape, I have it on vinyl, but I don't have a record player anymore, or my records.

Visit to AA

It's already past midnight as I write this. So tired, and so many things I wanted to say before going away. Sorry, that wasn't meant to sound like a suicide note. I'm off camping for a few days, then away for work for a few days, so I have been getting stuff finished and preparing all day. Well, apart from a bit of kayaking. Amazing how much I can get done when sober. Makes me sick.

Well, who cares about such rubbish, that's not important. I went to my first AA meeting today. That's important. And they're not freaks (see previous), they're just alcoholics. It's the AA that turns them into freaks. Won't say much about it since the sign on the table said "Who you see / What your hear / When you leave / Leave it here". Crass rhyming, but I'll respect their anonymity in full. All you need to know is (i) it was in a church, and (ii) one of the twelve steps to recovery is:
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
This is modified by the trailer as we understood him, but they're not getting away with any spiritual nonsense with me. I'm a Marxist, i.e. a materialist; this is directly counterposed to any kind of spirituality as any fule no. It was useful to hear other people talk about their experiences with alcohol and note similarities. Things like (these are from my experience, as I'm not revealing what was said in the meeting, but give you a flavour): waking up drenched in sweat; thinking of suicide and not doing it because of the effect it would have on my parents, feeling guilty and useless for thinking about it; avoiding people when I've got a hangover, particularly if I'm skiving off work to go down the pub, etc., etc. Who cares, the most important thing that happened today was that I went to my first AA meeting. I might even go again (as long as prepare myself to ignore the crap and take from it only what I can use).

the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism
--Karl Marx from Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right which also contains the famous "opium" quote in full:
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dear diary

I always wanted to write a diary.

Visit to GP

After having put it off for months, I finally rang my GP this morning. I got the one who isn't really interested. My blood tests are okay, although he wouldn't give me any specific details. He didn't know any counsellors in the area [!], just said I need professional help and gave me a number to call. I made an appointment for next week; I had the feeling that I'd been down the pub with the receptionist.

There's an AA meeting tomorrow. They have a very strict 12-step plan based on religious faith that is a load of dangerous rubbish in my opinion. However, I have never been to a meeting and a previous therapist (ex-alcoholic) recommended them, saying I didn't have to buy into it all (although that is heresy to these freaks). One of them rang me up once, jesus - I did not want to be in group therapy with that freak. I'll go along anyway; I don't have to participate. Step by step (but there's more than 12 in my future, not that they're countable).

I'm sure loads of other stuff that happened today, but I'm going to go to bed with part two of How to Enjoy Life and a mug of hot chocolate.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ten questions

The next chapter was tough Are you ready to act now? Ten questions, as follows.

1. Have you made a completely honest commitment to yourself to totally cease all alcohol use for at least a period of months after detox?
Easy, yes; done it before and before starting this blog the plan was to stop drinking for a year.

2. Are you prepared to suffer disturbed sleep, feelings of agitation and to resist sometimes overwhelming cravings for alcohol for many months after your detox?
Yes. The first two I'm used to; the third, the cravings aren't as bad as for nicotine (but, then again, I still smoke;-).

3. Are you prepared to keep on working at staying dry or drinking at safe limits for the rest of your life?
Yes. Drinking is really hard work, I mean, it takes up so much time and effort. I'm sick of it; I want the easy life.

4. Do you honestly believe that the gains you will make by ceasing alcohol use by far outweigh the losses?
No doubt about it. The biggest loss will be the quick fix, which will require a different outlook on life, with occasional resource to Bandler's 'drug of choice', my favourite self-hypnotic technique.

5. Are you absolutely 100% convinced that your overall quality of life will be improved by stopping drinking?
God, YES!

6. Are you aware that for the rest of your life you will remain at high risk of relapsing to damaging levels of alcohol consumption within a matter of days after taking you first drink?
Depressing, but true. Deal with it.

7. Are you prepared to be on guard for the rest of your life against the repetitive thought that will enter your head when most unexpected saying: “Go on – just one drink can’t hurt – how could it?”
Just pat the little demon on the head like it's a pesky but inconsequential child and carry on.

8. Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to stay off alcohol in the long term, and give this absolute priority over everything else in you life?
This wasn't as bad as it sounds after I'd read the notes. I'm not sure I could answer "yes" as it stands.

9. Are you planning to stop drinking because you want to do this for yourself, and not solely for the benefit of another person?
I am planning to do this for the benefit of the human clone that my alien protectors created of me for the purpose of organ transplants should mine fail.

10. Do you take full, personal responsibility for all the problems in your life, whether or not you believe they are caused by drinking?
Obviously, the capitalist system which expropriates labour and alienates workers from themselves, from nature and from each other is the ultimate cause. Within that framework, I take full, personal responsibility for my overdraft, my sex life, my squint, my uncomfortable chair, my uncommunicative boss, etc., etc.

How to Enjoy Life (Part One)

OK, so I read How to Enjoy Life (see Dry out now) and did the questionnaires and there's no flowcharts yet, and this is my report back. This book is really amazing, the guy knows what it's like. Physically, psychologically, socially, ... and how difficult it's going to be. Firstly, I'm borderline physically addicted, and in the past I have been definitely physically addicted. One of the implications of this is that I stand a very risk of relapsing to heavy drinking if I ever drink again. Richard Bandler and a certain Diggler may disagree, but I'm sticking with this until some other belief kicks in.
“Reinstatement after abstinence” is the technical term for almost immediate relapse to drinking at the same old extremely damaging levels if you try to start drinking again.
That is what happened when I gave up last time. I went on a five day drink and drug binge that culminated in seeing the Pogues. The next day I had two pints of coke in the local and came out with a new belief “I don't need to drink anymore”. Well, that impressed my counsellor and the detox nurse and off I went, aiming to not drink for 12 weeks, as advised by my counsellor. After 11 weeks and 5 days, I had been up all night, partying, smoking salvia, an emotional wreck. Someone bought me a shot around 11am and I drank it. A few days later I was sitting in the pub after ten pints, downing doubles and wondering where the supposed intolerance was. My brain was used to operating in such conditions and just carried on as normal. It's all in the book. Conclusion: I plan to cease drinking altogether.

A beautiful memory

I just had a beautiful memory of when I was eighteen, in a meadow, in a village miles from town, but not too far. Let it wash all over me. The memory loss can keep the blackouts; I'll keep the serendipitous memories. Wow, I feel really chilled, despite being in an awkward office on a humid day with no aircon. Gentlemen, by Afghan Whigs, going in my head.

Dry out now

I started looking for a new job, but that was too depressing. Instead, I started a blog about giving up alcohol, on which I may have a lot to say. But I may not want to say it. And I'm not sure I want anyone to read it except for a select few.

Here's a pretty good website if you're an alcoholic, or know one: An email that I had from them (on 7 November 2005, it's taken over seven months for me to even give it some attention, but addiction's like that), anyway, this email starts out with:
Alcohol has many positive qualities such as helping us to socialise and to relax. But in time problems with physical health, work, relationships, depression and anxiety, as well as legal problems, may all build up.

There are various problems you may have experienced when trying to find help for this.
I've now printed out all 32 pages of How to Enjoy Life Without Alcohol: Routes to a Healthier Existence (Part One). Since I'm at work, this involves sending it to the printer (after making sure the postscript doesn't have some giveaway name that will show in the print queue) and then running down the hallway before any other lunatic who's at work at this time spots it. I have the same problems when printing revolutionary socialist articles from the Marxist Internet Archive, but this blog's not about that.

I'm gonna read How to Enjoy Life and do the questionnaires and go through the flowcharts and report back. I need to phone my GP tomorrow to get the results of some blood tests and ask for help, but I've been putting that off for months, too.

It's past midnight, so that's two days clean.