• Forgiveness…

    by Tom McMasters-Stone

    This morning I stepped on the scale and it said “206”. I got off, and tried again. Same answer. That’s an adult-low for me, and people say I look great. Sadly, because of what I now know about the connection between alcoholism and gastric-bypass, I am not sure I would have the surgery again. Far too often lately, I have looked in the mirror only to be unable to find the jolly, sharp-witted imp that once looked back at me.

    I did well for almost two years- then “poof”, in the blink of an eye, it was gone. The loss of one of the best dogs ever did me in, and I was unable to head it off at the pass.

    Some people don’t understand what my wife describes as “a boy and his dogs”. I’m retired, my dogs go everywhere with me, and they never judge me – no matter how I dress, or how badly I sing.

    There is no love like that of a dog for its master. Think about it. Put your spouse or one of your kids, and one of your dogs in the trunk of your vehicle, and come back in an hour. Only one will be glad to see you.

    I went away for some refresher training this summer – twice. The first time was in the hills of Berkeley, where, I thought at the time, I was sure to find a quality program in that cradle of progressive thinking. After all, one of the Bay area Radio Doctors speaks highly of them.

    Well, he’s wrong.

    The second place was near Glen Ellen, and it was great, fabulous. If you ever are referred to “The Farm”, don’t hesitate.

    I learned some important things along the way:

    • 90% of all alcoholics drink heavily before they are 21 years old. Hmmm. Not me.
    • It is very rare for alcoholism to manifest itself after age 40. Hmmm. Not in my case.
    • If you are ever drinking alcohol out of airline bottles and you are not on an airplane, you are an alcoholic. Hmmm. I’ll plead a fifth. Well, you know what I mean.
    • Alcohol permeates your entire body, and true detoxing from alcohol is by far the most likely to kill you.

    I met people who will be my friends for life. We sobbed and we laughed. The most hysterical laughter often came at times that would have been inappropriate anywhere else.

    “Kelly” was telling the story of her girlfriend arriving home unexpectedly, only to find her boyfriend having sex with their dog. She was obviously very distraught over it, but that did not keep somebody from suddenly asking “What kind of dog was it?” No, it was not I.

    We also talked for 28 days about families, loves, and the people we had let down, especially ourselves. Some had lost everything, and the fortunate ones had lost almost nothing. We could do to get on track and stay there.

    There are some folks who will read this who do not believe that alcoholism is a disease. That’s fabulous – it means they don’t have it, and I am thrilled for them.

    They say people have to reach rock bottom before they can get on track, or, in so many cases, back on track. After all, the most optimistic of statistics fall short of a 20% success rate for any of the programs, be it 5-step, 6-step, 12-step- or a whole damn staircase.

    What constitutes a bottom exactly varies from person to person. Is it an ambulance ride to the Emergency Room because they think you are having a stroke? Is it the store clerk telling you they can’t sell you liquor until after 6:00 AM? Or is it being Bachelor Party soused before The Today Show is over?

    I hope it’s one of those.

    Each morning I read from a book called Just for Today. Sometimes, it is encouraging, even uplifting, but just as often it reminds me of where I have been, where I could go again, and how many times I just wanted to give up trying.

    Utter and incomprehensible demoralization.

    Get busy living, or stay busy dying…

      • amy gigi

      • November 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm
      • Reply

      Tom, that was deeply moving. I’ve been wondering about you and how you’ve felt about your journey these recent months; I’m happy to see you articulate it so well. I hope you write more about this because I think it will not only help you but it helps me too, and I’m sure it helps so mnay others. It’s an act of service, to publish something like this and be so raw and honest. Keep on going. It gets better. love amy gigi

      • Jesse

      • November 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm
      • Reply

      Tom, What a very insightful read. Many in my family suffer from alcoholism. Directly and indirectly. Bill and Bob seem to help the most. I loved your line about the 12 step or the whole darn staircase. I am thinking of you warmly and am still proud that you performed my wedding ceremony.
      Proud to be your friend,

      • Judy N

      • November 27, 2011 at 9:43 pm
      • Reply

      Really compelling, Tom. Beautifully written.

    • Beautifully written from the heart.

    • Great column, Tom. You are still an imp. Trust me on that. 🙂
      I think we all have a demon we struggle with. For me, it’s the weight loss/injury/weight gain/more injury cycle, with a new twist – a heaping helping of waning hormones. I think the key is to accept that you are who you are today, not who you were 10 years ago, and make the best of it… be glad you’re still on this side of the lawn… In 10 more years, we’ll wish we were like we are right now…. so… embrace it and focus on the positive.

      • Dora Arias

      • November 28, 2011 at 10:48 am
      • Reply


      Your journey to get back on track is very inspiring. I wish my mom met someone like you. She died of scirrosis of the liver when she was 34 and I was 12. Even though I am now 57 years old I still remember her hopelessness and sadnesss. No, I don’t drink. I’m what some people call a Jesus Freak. But He is what keeps me strong. Thanks for your story.

      • Jesse

      • November 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm
      • Reply

      Tom, Dora is my sister and she isn’t really a freak! She is sweet, kind, patient and loving. Your journey gives us all strength. Jesse

      • Martha

      • November 29, 2011 at 1:17 am
      • Reply

      This was beautiful (especially the part about sex and the dog – I would have asked that question too).
      Unfortunately some people never hit bottom.
      My brother never did – he just drifted away.

      Thanks for sharing


    • Beautifully written — I will share with those who can most benefit from your journey. Thank you.

      • Tom

      • December 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you all for the comments and best wishes. They mean a lot to me!

      • virginia

      • February 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm
      • Reply

      I needed to read this today. I saw a symbol on your hand on fb awhile ago and knew what it meant. This made me curious and I found your blog. I feel a little lighter in spirit after having read “Forgiveness”
      I’m looking for encouragement to start that journey…again.
      Thanks for sharing.

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