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    • Tom McMasters-Stone

      Columnist
    • January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

    Back among the living — I hope.

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    This is from one of the texts I use:

    “…a future fellow of [the group] stared glassily at the strangers beside his bed. “Who are you fellows, and why this private room? I was always in a ward before.”

    Said one of the visitors, “We’re giving you a treatment for alcoholism.”

    Hopelessness was written large on the man’s face as he replied, “Oh, but that’s no use. Nothing would fix me. I’m a goner. The last three times, I got drunk on the way home from here. I’m afraid to go out the door. I can’t understand it.”

    For an hour, the two friends told him about their drinking experiences. Over and over, he would say: “That’s me. That’s me. I drink like that.”

    The man in the bed was told of the acute poisoning from which he suffered, how it deteriorates the body of an alcoholic and warps his mind. There was much talk about the mental state preceding the first drink.

    “Yes, that’s me,” said the sick man, “the very image. You fellows know your stuff all right, but I don’t see what good it’ll do. You fellows are somebody. I was once, but I’m a nobody now. From what you tell me, I know more than ever I can’t stop.” At this both the visitors burst into a laugh. Said the future fellow: “Damn little to laugh about that I can see.”

    Since sometime after the gastric bypass, it has felt like a giant Bald Eagle has sunk its claws deeply into me, and I can’t shake him off. Sure, I can get him to loosen his grasp for a while, but never enough to let me free to fall back to earth.

    There’s no pattern, unless the pattern is that there is none. Good days, bad days, stress, no stress, fabulously happy and productive, or sloth-like.

    Tomorrow, in order to go back to my sober living house, I have to face the music. At almost 58 years old, I will likely be locked down for at least 30 days and as long as 90. Sure, I am free to walk out at any time, but that’s not the purpose, right?

    As I type this, the thought of being away from home, from my wife and the dogs, has me trembling, given me a stomach ache, and has me rotating between tears and resolve.

    For a 30-year career, I was in control and unflappable, and this has run over me like a truck.

    A very good friend and fellow iPinionista asked me yesterday if I thought the 12-Step meetings were helping me or hurting me. I had never really pondered that thought.

    I always go to meetings with the hope that I will feel better afterward, and at least come out with no new issues or resentments. Usually, I am successful.

    Sure, the “professional” meeting-goers drive me crazy sometimes, because they are nothing but dry drunks, and there is not a pound of spirituality to be found in any of them.

    So now I am pondering the question as to whether or not I have been helping myself as much as I could have been.

    As I have related before, it is said that religion is for those who fear going to hell, but spirituality is for those who have already been there. That’s my goal, of course, complete and unabashed spirituality. It’s a difficult task, trying to reinvent oneself this late in life.

    My friend also suggested that it was time to shed all the grief and shame, pre- and post-drinking, and give myself credit for not giving up. Maybe she, and Don Henley, are correct, and it really is all about forgiveness.

    I look forward to reading the brand new Christopher Kennedy Lawford book on addiction. I should have it in my hands in a couple days. I saw him and his cousin Patrick on TV with Chris Mathews, and it sounds fabulous. I was also very thankful for the moments that Chris took to give a heart-wrenching speech about the subject of addiction in general. He’s a class-act, and always has been.



    • You are all right, Tom. There’s nothing you need to do or learn or be, other than yourself, at that moment. Hang in there. It really is all about forgiveness.



    • I am sorry for your struggles but clearly you want to take another path and I feel you will get there. Keep the thoughts flowing.


      • Maya North

      • January 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm
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      Dear man, they look at me worriedly, pre-gastric bypass myself, and ask about alcohol. Do you use it? Beware, because it can eat you, post surgery. So many people, though, are not warned about this–that people who were in no danger of becoming alcoholics before the surgery become so afterward. Were you warned? If not, you were walking into a trap with no signs of danger in front of it. I can only imagine the dread and the fear and the grief, but look at it like this. You are already in a burning house. You look at that door and say “I am so afraid to go through that door–it's on fire!” But remember, you are already in a burning house. Yes, it will hurt to go through that door, but the people who can help you–the ones with the fire hoses to put out the flames and the salves to help you heal–are on the other side, just waiting for you to walk through. You are not alone. Big hugs…



    • Tom, I don’t know what I can say for only you can control what you do. This column had the desired impact upon me because I lost my dear brother less than a year ago to the same disease, thus it killed me almost as much as it killed him. This is serious business. Know that my thoughts are with you.
      Donald


      • Tom McMasters-Stone

      • January 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm
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      PS- I came back to a 30-day lockdown, 10 hours community service, 90 meetings in 90 days- and my roommate dead, not on premises, of a drug overdose. Go well, Steve…



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