My Obsession & its Removal – Joe T_Apr 2019

I knew I had an addiction that I couldn’t escape. I had tried, a myriad of permutations, to stop of my own accord. There was a true experience of awe and terror when that realization began to drown me like the tide coming in. I was going to die, slowly, and I was so vastly underequipped to address the addiction that panic would overtake me.
I obsessed all day over when, what the exact time and place would be, I could drink. I would imagine and crave to the point of smelling and tasting the drink. I would reminisce, stoke fantasy, and recall the feelings I knew I would enact: that slipping feeling, the place exactly after loss of control, the sweet inescapable point-of-no-return into the void of another blackout. I would hunt for and seek out opportunities to justify drink; I was never without excuse.
My addiction, my mental obsession, was a dark storm that never really cleared from the valley of my life. The dark storm of inevitable inebriation always loomed over me. And I knew I could do nothing to stop the storm from consuming the whole sky. The storm would happen, with or without my consent. There was absolutely nothing I could do to protect myself or evade the storm’s path.
And the storms always came. The sky would darken and experience without record would debit my life and my time in life. Some storms would break by the next morn, while others would pour down on me, unrelenting contiguous darkness, cold and filthy; the longer storms would often persist for months.
One journal entry stands out to me, as I found my lapse of memory to be over a year. There were pictures and videos from the 1.2 years, but my mental faculties were disallowed access to any memories from behind the blackout’s veil. There were so many journal entries capturing only fragments of memory during the alcohol and drug induced storms whose lightning was debauchery and thunder depravity. And there were uncounted tear-smeared pages of life hatred.
Terror possessed me and each breath was a panicked, jerky tug for air. It truly dawned on me that I was going to die of alcoholism. I could do nothing about it. The storm was going to drown me. I wanted no part in a life of such servitude. But something happened.
I sat on the edge of the sofa in my apartment, gun loaded, cocked, and in my mouth. Drunk, again, tears rolling down my face as the much-too-loud music played suicide-themed songs, I deeply considered taking my final exit. I had lost everything, had nothing left to live for, and the only foreseeable future was one filled with financial obligations, long fruitless hours of labor, and continuous suffering in the storms of my addiction.
I had a metallic taste from the gun in my mouth, as I iterated through lists of reasons to end my life. My eleven-year-old Weimaraner obediently sat directly in front of me, eyes locked on my face. His eyes never really lost the puppy blue coloring. It was as I was squeezing the cold metal handle to extinguish my life, that a thought raced through my mind and hit me with such overwhelming power that I immediately put the gun down and began to cry, weeping like a sobbing child.
I look back on that thought, that feeling, and don’t know if it was a voice speaking it’s words, a rush of images of my life and feelings, or something else, but that thought hit its mark.
I was supposed to go through this. This was all supposed to happen.
I liken this experience to watching a storm finally break and a single thread, a powerful beam, of sunlight cutting through the darkness. With the exception that the beam of light and warmth was now enveloping me.
I went to my first A.A. meeting the very next day. I stayed sober that day. I went to another A.A. meeting the day after. I stayed sober that day, too! This pattern of attending a meeting and staying sober lasted about a week before the next storm rolled over me.
Dark emptiness consumed another month.
When I came to, I was asleep in the master closet of my apartment, sleeping on a pile of dirty clothes. There was vomit down the pile and filling the shoes below. I didn’t know what time it was or even what day it was. I was overcome with fear for my employment. However, it was a Sunday afternoon and I still had my job.
That night I went back to the first meeting I had ever attended. It was a speaker meeting; the topic was sponsorship. I don’t remember specifics of the meeting, but I was so moved that I asked the speaker to be my sponsor. He said no but pointed me to another man who said yes.
I had one last planned drinking session, which at the time I called a relapse. But have been sober since.
During the next year something wonderful and amazing happened. I honestly wish I knew when or how it happened. But over that year, I kept my head down and did the next right thing, putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next step. When I looked up? To my astonishment, the storm was no more. More accurately, I had hiked out of the valley where the storm remains.
I was now free to see a world with a clear blue sky, filled with miracles and opportunities. And this is the miracle machine where we get to participate as the witness of self in correcting fear with love.
-Joe T.

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