• author
    • Tom McMasters-Stone

      Columnist
    • May 1, 2013 in Columnists

    Recovery is about progress, not perfection

    When I first started this journey, I did not understand blackout drinking, or even know what it was. I thought blackout meant “passed out”.

    I was wrong, of course. A “blackout” is a drinking bout where one is often functional, but does not remember that time period at all. It can be hours, days or even weeks long.

    It is not unusual for people to come out of a blackout not knowing where they are or how they got there, and they sometimes find themselves in different cities, different states or even different countries.

    Really. They can even be driving a vehicle when they come out of it, and not know where they are headed, let alone where they have been.

    This last time out, my wife found me on the floor, computer chair tipped over, and Max licking my face — I wasn’t moving. She thought I was gone.Max II

    I wasn’t, but what a horrible thing to do to somebody, especially one you love. I have known for some time that they all, in some respects, have resigned themselves to my imminent death.  That is something for which I will never be able to make complete amends, just as I know I will never be able to completely restore my credibility.

    They also thought I’d completely given up on myself this time. After quite some time, I’d switched back from red wine to vodka.

    After my wife’s visit over the weekend, I walked down a couple doors to the Detox, and rang the doorbell.

    When they answered, I asked how many times I’d been through there. Even though they recognized me, they asked me for identification, and I, of course, produced it.

    They checked their records. Three.

    I only remember two…

    According to my wife, I checked out of there on one of those times a day early, and took a cab all the way to Winters.

    I don’t remember a thing about it — not the cab ride, not having had three separate stays there, not having slept in three different beds or meeting three different groups of friends there.

    Really? Devastating.

    How does that happen? I don’t know, but it does. The wife says I was not in very good shape, even after six days there.

    Sigh…

    On the other hand, “Normies” would be shocked and appalled at the things we laugh about when we’re alone. After this memory lapse, it’s now not uncommon for someone to, say, ask me if I know what day of the week it is or to have somebody I’ve known for five months to walk up to me and introduce themselves.

    The lesson is that I’m going to have to be more careful about what I share with these assholes!  Haha!

    One of the burdens that an alcoholic often faces, particularly one with my background, is that we are destined to go through life not really knowing what we mean to people. Sure, it’s easy to know who does not like or respect us, but it become murky after that. My favorite Henry James quote, however, is “I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.”

    Sometimes the journey becomes overwhelming, but most of the time I’m okay. I’m tired of never having anybody agree with my thoughts and ideas about how this whole thing is going to evolve, and what my transition is going to look like. On an intellectual level, it’s easy to accept, but something is often lost during the 12-inch drop to my heart.

    I have been in a slump for the past 10 days or so, mostly, I think, because I haven’t slept well the entire time I’ve been here. Waking at 4:00, after routinely going down between 9:30 and midnight is the norm. But, better a Clean and Sober Transitional Living blackout than one of Tom’s Blackouts.

    One highlight has been that my in-laws sent me some money for my birthday, and I’m getting ready to finally order my kilt. MacInnes Hunting Tartan, me thinks, which is my Scottish heritage on my Mother’s side. I daresay that I will likely be the first one at Mad House to get his or her 60- or 90-day chip in a kilt, depending when those prickly Scots get it to me!

    And don’t ask. It is impolite to ask a Scotsman THAT question.

    Another highlight is that I have now successfully formatted in my mind the basic structure of my novel, bringing together two of the loves of my life — firefighting and alcohol — and I even have a working title: “Crosses to Bare.”

    I am a little over halfway through my blackout, and my wife and I both agree that I’m getting the best care, education and training I ever got. That’s exciting at some level, and I hope it’s enough. No more promises, no more assurances, just one day at a time, and one foot in front of the other.

    My family is right. I almost gave up on myself last time. I simply can’t afford to swim in those waters anymore.



    • Tom, again thanks for sharing your story. I wish you the right path and continued sobriety,



    • Powerful, Tom. I am thinking of you.


      • Sunny Schlenger

      • May 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm
      • Reply

      {{HUGS}} People you don’t know are sending you light and strength. 🙂



    • Yes, light and strength.


      • Maya North

      • May 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm
      • Reply

      And people that you kinda do are sending you the same… <3

      Do your best. Our love is unconditional…


      • Maya North

      • May 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm
      • Reply

      And people that you kinda do are sending you the same… <3

      Do your best. Our love is unconditional…


      • Maya North

      • May 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm
      • Reply

      And people that you kinda do are sending you the same… <3

      Do your best. Our love is unconditional…



    • I am further along than I have been in a very long time. The planets seem to be aligned, and I have a semblance of peace I have never felt. Thank you all- for your kind thoughts, and taking the time to read my stuff!



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