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The Really Scary Part-Getting Out of Denial

Old 11-28-2011, 06:33 PM
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The Really Scary Part-Getting Out of Denial

When I think over all the problems I had getting into recovery I often get scared all over again. Here is this hideous and humiliating illness (or whatever you choose to call it). If left unchecked it can (or will) kill you. But before it does that it can take away your home, your job, alienate you from your spouse, your kids, the rest of your family, rob you of self respect and leave you alone with a bottle or whatever drug you happen to have chosen. But thatís not the real scary part. The real scary part is how often, when I felt really down and out, when I admitted that I had become addicted, when I determined never to drink again, to seek ďhelpĒ, to do whatever was necessary to get sobriety, when I did all these things, when i really convinced myself that this was the end of my addiction- the really scary thing was how often, how very often, after a month, several months, or in a few cases, several years, the thing would suddenly be there, having crept up behind me and there it was again- the whole house of cards would collapse.
So the scary part is -how can I be sure? How can you be sure? Even after 23 years? Is it still there waiting for me? Maybe thatís why Iím writing this, why I often log on to this website. Is that why you're here too?

W.
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:43 PM
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I can understand being scared - my addiction just about took everything from me - including nearly my life.

I was certainly deathly scared of relapse for a while.

But I've spent a lot of time dealing with my addiction - I know I can deal with everything it has to throw at me.

I've also spent a lot of time rebuilding my life and my self. Still a work in progress but I like the results so far.

I know for a fact I put all that at risk if I drink again.

I'm no longer insane so the old thoughts really lack any power now.

So no not scared - still respectful of the relentlessness of my addiction sure, and not complacent or smug...but not scared...not any more.

That's not why I'm here

Don't you feel that way too wpainterw?

D
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:44 PM
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Scary post. Something I wonder about myself. I was proud of myself for just making it 22 DAYS and I messed up during what was a harrowing holiday weekend. What can I do but just keep on trying with the hope that one day, I'll get it right?

The bad thing (also scary) is that there are things I actually like about being drunk. I guess I need to instead remember what I DON'T like about it, and the list is much longer.
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:56 PM
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I don't feel that way because I feel like I know things now that I didn't know when I was drinking. I've uncovered the lies that kept me drunk. I can't really 'unlearn' that stuff.

I don't see myself convincing myself that I can moderate and I see nothing attractive in going back to drinking my head off every night. I'd miss real life too much!

You have been sober for 23 years?
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:56 PM
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Thanks Dee. Well, I admit that I'm less scared than I was many years ago. But having been through all that I still make a point of keeping a good watch posted,as they say in the military. Let me put it another way. For around 30 years when I was "struggling" with this thing, trying to get into recovery, for all those years I thought I was scared but in retrospect I don't think I was scared enough. Denial is like this- "I'll get counseling, I'll be honest with my doctor, I'll admit I'm powerless over alcohol, etc. etc." But this is all window dressing unless something happens to cause a real change of some kind. Otherwise you're talkin' the talk but you're not walkin' the walk. That started with me when I got into a program. It happened to be AA and frankly I've still got some problems relating to all of that. But I guess I managed to get enough of it under my belt to get things started. In retrospect I think that, although some folks seem to have done this alone, I found that it was necessary for me to have some kind of a program, some help from other alcoholics, to get anything done. It doesn't have to be AA but it often is.
So you ask why am I here on this website? Yes, that's why I'm here. I'm here to remind myself to be vigilant and hopefully to help others do the same thing.

W.
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:01 PM
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I find that knowing that I have control of not taking that first drink & just taking it all one day at a time helps me a lot.

In regards to fearing a relapse, well I guess I don't fear it right now because I feel so far from that thought right now. I think Dee covered it pretty well above.

All of the best my friend you can do this.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:05 PM
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I think part of recovering is fear. But it's a healthier fear than the fear of running out of booze. It is part of our make-up as alcoholics. I think even though we have basically dealt with issues of why we are drinking there is still that magnet to WANT to drink. Even though it made us useless and shameful there is still the thrill and excitement about sauce. Sure, it is scary. Every true recovered alcoholic should still hold on to a shred of fear -it is that fear that keeps us sober. We know what will happen. We know the consequences. We know where we will inevitabley end up.

Here are two analogies I found online about relapse. I thought they were interesting and scary.

A cucumber gets pickled but is pulled out of the pickling solution before it is eaten away or shriveled into oblivion. Does the pickle ever return to being a cucumber again? No. It will forever remain, a pickle.
We are like "pickles". If we stay out of the solution we can save ourselves but we will never be cucumbers (normal) again.
Staying out of the solution takes changing our mindset plus seeking spiritual help.

~And~

You create this tiger as you ingest your DOC. The tiger grows as your addiction grows.

Now, if you can stop drinking, this tiger will eventually calm down and go to sleep. Keep up the sobriety and the tiger will never wake up.

But here is the trick - the tiger continues to grow larger, even though you have stopped the drinking. This tiger gets bigger and bigger the longer you stay away from your DOC.

Now, what happens when you decide to "reward" yourself for being clean so long. You take a drink. You are unique, right? You can take a drink and walk away, right?

Wrong. You have just woken up a 500lb beast that wants to be fed. And you will be compelled to comply...Never wake the tiger up.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:39 PM
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P.S. Am I "scared" right now, right this moment? No. But when I think back on what happened during those years and what could have happened, and all the times I had convinced myself that I was out of danger but wasn't really, I can't help getting spooked. I feel like there's a shadow still around somewhere and I've got to be vigilant. Also, I still can't explain what made it all turn around and get better, except that I needed the help of other alcoholics.
So put it this way. I'm not scared right now but I remain vigilant and I'm trying to give back some of what I've received. Whether a person takes part in AA or some other program or even tries to do it on his or her own, it's that first big step that's the tough one. You may think you've taken that, that you're on your way to recovery, but it's a very tricky business, a struggle for complete honesty and that's where other alcoholics can help. At least they helped me.

W.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:41 PM
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W.
Maybe as uncomfortable as that fear is, it is healthy. I think that realizing how vulnerable we are is uncomfortable.
But when we know our weaknesses, we can fight them.
Maybe when you feel vulnerable it is a sign that you need something. Maybe some special fellowship with some really wise recovering a's, like yourself
I think you have a special gift- teaching. I am glad you are here. Thank you for sharing, it makes me feel less alone, to hear others voice their doubts and fears. We are really all so very much alike, it seems.

I love Red Green's famous saying "Remember, we're all in this together- I'm pulling for ya".

hugs
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:46 PM
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Thanks Chicory: Put it this way. It's largely the memories which are frightening now. What could have happened but didn't. What did happen but shouldn't have. How confident at the time I felt when I thought I'd beaten it and how wrong I was. And how stupid I was when it kept coming back and back. And, finally, how completely weird it was when it started getting better and kept doing that. Addiction is a frightful thing. Because it's not like losing a leg or two. It's like losing yourself. And once that happens all bets are off as to whether you're ever going to get yourself back again.

W.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wpainterw View Post
When I think over all the problems I had getting into recovery I often get scared all over again.

So the scary part is -how can I be sure? How can you be sure? Even after 23 years? Is it still there waiting for me? Maybe that’s why I’m writing this, why I often log on to this website. Is that why you're here too?

W.
Hi W,

Yeah, there is absolute surety in a steadfast sobriety available for all of us, its all there for us even in spite of our past fears and experiences and inner demons.

I can be sure based on my sober experiences since July 1981, so about 30 years. No lapses or relapses - just everyday sobriety day after day.

I've experienced poverty, richness, medical challenges, job loss, divorce, family emergencies and breakups, suicidal ideations, depression and anxiety, mental illness, anger issues, isolation, re-marriage and finally just old fashioned despair and dumb-ass selfishness.

Stayed sober through it all. Very sober, not white-knuckling it, not fighting against taking that drink. Once I surrenderd back in my first three months sobriety was always there for me to lean on and trust my life with.

23 years is a hell of a long time, W. If you are having doubts about being sure of sobriety with that many years under your belt, that would be an awesome amount of pain to carry around, and I hope you realize that its never to late for us to dump our pain and live a new life without all the fears of our alcoholic past.

I'm not here because of pain or fears. I logged on here first time in June 2008 because I wanted to get on with my life following my separation in 2007 from my ex-wife of 22 years marriage, and then my divorce finalized in 2009. As it turns out, I met Melissa, (Ajax here at SR) and we got happily married in October of 2009. So for me, what I wanted out of SR I got: new relationships in my new life as a single man. I did not plan on marrying anybody from SR, but my HP and God, and Melissa had their plans too, lol, I soon discovered. I also had plenty of chances to share my sober experiences as well here on SR.

I've never posted any shares of me being in trouble or otherwise having a difficult time with my sobriety. Dosen't mean I haven't had some significant life challenges: I lost my home, and my job, and my money, in my divorce. I had a lousy '93 Ford Aerostar, a big screen TV, a computer, a desk, some clothes, and my seventeen year old daughter who wanted to live with me and not her mother.

I was taken in by my sister and parents and they gave us love and shelter as I slowly got back to my feet. Well, so to speak, because actually, in June of 2008 I had some medical complications that have permanately resulted in my alternating from using crutches and / or my wheelchair. I haven't walked since June 2008, and its unlikely I'll ever walk again.

I also have chronic pain, and I'm told only an amputation of my right leg from the hip will relieve the pain. I don't take pain meds, they just don't work for me. They mess me up and the pain just continues although muted. You can imagine my physical pain if my doctors and myself are considering amputation. I have a long medical history. As a matter of fact, my right foot has already been amputated, back in '83, so I was like 2 years sober then, you know?

Should I go on? Even I find it hard to comprehend what I was dealing with while drunk and now sober.

My alcoholism left me with a life time lasting gift even into my sobriety: a peculiar mental illness diagnosed as undifferentiated schizophrenia. I also have the challenges of attachment disorder since early childhood to deal with in my adult sober life. Again, no meds. They just don't work for me good enough for me to take them. I would if they worked, it would be so much easier, lol.

I find Gestalt Therapy, and sober fellowship with clean alcoholic drug addicts very helpful in my meeting and surpassing my physical and mental challenges, as well my alcoholic challenges are furthur surpassed by my sober spiritual life experiences gained by my living the AA program.

A spiritual life is what saves me from my troubles. Absolutely and completely. I am truly beyond human-aid. Very much so. I have every reason to drink and I don't have the slightest want to drink. Its all been removed. Before sobriety of course, it was a different story, I was always as drunk as I could get. And no wonder I drank, lol.

So today, I'm doing okay. I'm retired. I worked in the addictions field for 20 years, and I "worked" for another 10 years as a foster-father in a group home enviroment with youth from broken families, almost all of them having been devastated from alcoholic backgrounds. I do investing in the open stock market, and I'm doing okay. I have no big debts, my home and 2011 SUV all paid for in full. I'm not hurtin' for money no more

My point is that I have the alcoholic background that does not lead to all that I have today, and yet here I am. Usually alcoholic drug addicts like me just die on the street, getting sober is rare.

I'm trying to say that if you have fears W, then those fears are robbing you of a spiritual life experience that would be your salvation if you could surrender to what is ailing you. You would be the winner. You have nothing to lose but all that fearful suffering for your hardships.

Like I'm saying, I still have hardships, I still endure troubles, I still have dire challenges and I could still be drunk and make it all worse and lose everything if I wasn't living a sober spiritual life.

Yeah, my sobriety is a sure thing. Absolutely a sure thing. And it has always been a sure thing for 30 years now through good times and bad times.

W, do you live a spiritual sober life? I'm not asking about religion, but I'm asking are you spiritual? What experiences are your fears and despairs based on? 23 years is a long time, for any of us, my fearful fellowship brother. How can we help?

warmly,
Rob
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by EmeraldRose View Post
I think part of recovering is fear. But it's a healthier fear than the fear of running out of booze. It is part of our make-up as alcoholics. I think even though we have basically dealt with issues of why we are drinking there is still that magnet to WANT to drink. Even though it made us useless and shameful there is still the thrill and excitement about sauce. Sure, it is scary. Every true recovered alcoholic should still hold on to a shred of fear -it is that fear that keeps us sober. We know what will happen. We know the consequences. We know where we will inevitabley end up.
Sure, in the early beginning fear of sobriety, fear of alcoholism, fear of living and dying, fears of getting on in our day, etc. are indeed a healthy experience as we mature into our sober lives.

I'm a true recovered alcoholic, and why should I hold on to any shred of fear exactly? Its certainly not fear that keeps me sober. Fears weaken me, and steal and erode my faith away. The only good worth fear has in my life is to ignite and bring to life my experience of courage and bravery in the face of my fears.

You of course can speak for yourself, but as for this truly recovered alcoholic it is not fear which keeps me sober. Spirituality in spite of my fears, surpassing my fears, overwhelming my fears, those experiences keep me sober, as do other life experiences and lessons learned as well too.

Hey, so how do magnets work?

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Old 11-29-2011, 04:45 AM
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W, good post (as usual).

I don't know that "fear" is the word that I would use. Having seen my mother live and die with this disease and finally at the age of 43 facing up to the ugly truth that I had become everything I hated in her, I sought help. Sure, initially it was all about fear and the unknown at that point. But you described my memories of her from the age of six or so pretty succinctly:
alienate you from your spouse, your kids, the rest of your family, rob you of self respect and leave you alone with a bottle
In my limited experience the cornerstone of adddiction is denial, and if you can manage true honesty about your addiction and your actions then you have a shot at sobriety. Not drinking for twenty three months doesn't make me any less an alcoholic than while I was drinking. It never goes away, we are like elephants in that respect. Our amygdalae will light up like a christmas tree when we allow the denial to creep back into our lives, and in succession we will drink eventually. We will point to the job loss, an unfaithful spouse, the cruel affects of aging... but it was and always will be denial that causes us to drink.

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Old 11-29-2011, 04:54 AM
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Fear of the bottle ending my life got me into sobriety. today that Fear is gone. If and only "IF" i decide to try the old game again.. do i have to ever feel that fear again.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:51 AM
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New to all this

I'm aware that i'm an alcoholic. I've been drinking on a regular basis for years. I quit drinking for one full week and i've never been more depressed in my life. I came to the realization that alcohol was all i had left. How do i fix this?
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by wpainterw View Post
So the scary part is -how can I be sure? How can you be sure? Even after 23 years? Is it still there waiting for me? Maybe thatís why Iím writing this, why I often log on to this website. Is that why you're here too?
wpainterw: I can be sure that I'm never going to drink again the same way I'm sure I'll never smoke again, starve myself again (I had an eating disorder), sleep with my ex-husband, or engage in other self-destructive behaviors that are no longer part of my life.

I am not afraid. I come here to help others, and I bet you come here for the same reason, at least in part.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:57 AM
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by Rotinaj View Post
I'm aware that i'm an alcoholic. I've been drinking on a regular basis for years. I quit drinking for one full week and i've never been more depressed in my life. I came to the realization that alcohol was all i had left. How do i fix this?
giving the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous a try would be my suggestion.. Good luck to you Rotinaj! and Welcome to SR!
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:01 AM
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RobbyRobot:
Thank you so much for your concern but I'm afraid that you misunderstand my thread. I thought I had made it quite clear that I am not anxious in any way that I might drink, and I am certainly not "white knuckling" it nor carrying a lot of pain around. As to my "spiritual" life, I had, I thought, gone into that in some detail (indeed some might say too much detail!) elsewhere. If you send me a private message I will give you the locus of those reflections.Perhaps you might like to click on my name above my avatar to get more info on me.
Let me see if I can explain it a little this way. Suppose you are home now from a very perilous journey. That journey took place many years ago. You have been home now and happy for years but when you think back on those dangers which you managed to survive you wonder to yourself, "How did I manage to get where I am today?" I have just been looking at a series of movies about men fighting in the Pacific under horrendous conditions in WW2. When they got home perhaps many of them wondered how they ever made it through, and indeed some of them might have a bit of a guilty feeling about having survived when others did not(the so called "Stockholm Syndrome").
So let me assure you. I'm very happy now. At least compared to what I was. I have no desire to drink. I can mix a dry martini for a friend and have some lemonade for myself with no problems. I'm certainly not white knuckling it. Why not go back now and read some of my earlier posts.
Thanks anyway for your kind concerns.

W.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:08 AM
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Yes, Eddiebuckle: The reason I posted this thread was to shed some light on denial. Denial,as you say, is the heart of the matter. And denial is fierce. I am not in denial now. I am not scared now. But I was in denial for years and years and during those years I was not scared enough. And when I look back on all that I'm like a man who thinks back to how, many many years ago his life and everything he had was in deadly peril. And he thinks, "What turned me around?" How did I ever get myself out of that?" And then it occurs to me, "Maybe I didn't do that. Maybe something or some one else did that!" I'll never know. But by God I made it back. I'm not scared now. I have not the slightest desire to drink but I do have memories. Yes I do have memories...
Getting out of denial is half the battle. My whole purpose behind this thread was to say that, to show, at least for me, how difficult that was, how subtle and tenacious the addiction was, how perilous the whole thing was. You think you're in recovery but often you're not. I have no simple solutions to offer except to say this: the best way to get out is to be honest with yourself and the best way to do that is to be honest with others about yourself. The best way to be honest with others is to join a group. It doesn't have to be AA but AA is worth a try. If not that, then some other group. And some kind of a program that you can work.

W
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:29 AM
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As long as I kept relapsing, I was in denial. When I finally realized deep in my soul that I could never drink again it was a relief. It was the beginning of getting out of the fear and loss and loneliness of alcoholism. Now I come here to get and give strength and hope. And helping to keep others sober keeps me sober too as it makes me realize - again - where I came from and how badly I don't want to go back there.
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