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…