Tag Archives: alcoholism

Late Night, with Jimmy Falling

 

Drunk in a Forest

 

Every once in a while I’ll see or hear something about someone’s drinking that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, a phenomenon interesting to me because while it could easily be mere physiological speculation on my part (i.e. neck hair stimulation it isn’t scientifically quantifiable, and therefore doesn’t mean jack squat), there’s also a deep level of knowing which hovers beyond my control somewhere around the pit of my stomach (i.e. my gut) that I can’t ignore.

Whatever you might think about that, please try to believe me when I tell you that I don’t suffer from some twisted sense of schadenfreude where I hope people are alcoholics or addicts because I’m a little Sober Sally who thinks she knows everything, including what is best and right for everyone else, and enjoys lording her superior self over all she surveys  – I don’t. I wouldn’t wish addiction on my worst enemy – and I really, really disdain some people, OK? – much less on someone I either don’t know or do know and actually like.

Every once in a while, though, as an observer with personal recall of certain experiences, I can sometimes discern the handwriting on someone else’s wall, and shiver at what I find there.

Such has been the case with Jimmy Fallon, the newest, most popular host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, a fellow I’ve adored since his days on “Saturday Night Live” (you can see some of his “Best of” sketches here if you can hack the stinkin’ T Mobile ads. My apologies). Not only is he warm, accessible, incredibly versatile, and genuinely hysterical, not to mention cute as a button, to me he’s the best reflection of everything I loved about growing up in the 80’s, from the comic sensibilities and musical influences to the explosion of popular culture we were exposed to through such mass mediums as Mtv, from then on through to the internet in the 90’s and beyond.

But as links in this recent EW article attest, he seems to have become somewhat…accident prone in recent months. Accidents that have had explanations attached to them that seem a little, well, I don’t know… kinda sorta like explanations abuse victims give when someone inquires about the visible bruises, cuts, bandages, scratches and/or other injuries on their bodies. “Oh, can you believe it? I tripped over our cat and fell down the stairs” scenarios are certainly plausible enough to buy once or twice, but after a while, when there are no stairs anywhere in this person’s general vicinity and they don’t have a cat,  these tales more practically serve as A). reminders of further need for the victim to cover their injuries up much more carefully in the future and 2). cues to the inquirers to shut up and mind their own damned business. 

This is especially true when it applies to people who don’t fit our ideas or expectations of what someone with a “real” problem looks or acts like. Someone too smart, talented, and  successful, who looks too well and is too much of a family/people person with way too many friends in high places and far too powerful to have these sorts of…issues.

No, those people with the black eyes are easy to spot a mile away, and isn’t it too bad for them? Such a shame they can’t pull themselves together… These people are too likable and way too great for their peers and superiors not to back them 100%, even if the things they say seem a tad misconstrued. And hey, Jimmy hasn’t hidden anything about his little gravitational scrapes. If anything, he’s been most upfront about them and shared them for all the world to see. 

So, he tripped over a rug and nearly severed a finger. So, what? You’ve never tripped over anything and ended up in the hospital before?

So, he tripped again at a Harvard Lampoon event and injured his other hand. What do you expect – it’s the fucking Harvard Lampoon!

So – to recap, in a slightly redundant way – he nearly cuts off a finger on one hand, injures the other hand, and then he chips a tooth while trying to open a bottle of pain medication, but you think the guy’s got a drinking problem?! Get outta here…

Even though a large percentage of the internet fancies itself way too perceptive for its own good (and no one else’s), apparently I wasn’t the only one having a Maalox moment over all of this, so NBC executive Bill Greenblatt felt he had to go out of his way to assure everyone that Jimmy doesn’t have a problem, OK? He just likes to party a little, that’s all. He’s fine. (Except saying someone’s “fine” is usually the best indicator of their un-fineness.)

Most interesting to me, and the point of this random rumination, is the fact that the same scenario plays out day after day, year after year because believing somebody who appears to be worthy of all the reasons we like/love/respect/admire them is an alcoholic is just way, way too awful a thing to contemplate. If it was true, not only would it mean they and their lives are screwed up in a way we’ll never understand forever, it would force us to have to think differently of them in a way that simply wouldn’t be right. It would be almost like trying to convince yourself they’re a murderer or something equally horrifying –  I mean, you have to be a really, really bad, fucked up, amoral idiot of a person not to be able to handle your shit, or to continue drinking if you can’t handle it. We know this. So how in the hell could you allow yourself believe that about someone like Jimmy? (Or your Mom, Dad, spouse, sibling, kid, friend, beloved co-worker/employee/employer/superstar. Yourself?) No one with a heart or a brain would do that to somebody, would besmirch them in such an egregious way. 

Would they?

So, is Jimmy one of us? I have no idea – before now I didn’t even know he drank much. But even if he isn’t, and truly, I hope not, I’m still left with a simple question: If someone doesn’t have a problem, then beyond all the obvious reasons (he’s NBC’s better-than-Jay Leno, 21st-Century-Johnny Carson, late night gravy train they’ll want to be riding ’til doomsday – oh, and Johnny drank and smoked, y’all!), um…why go to the trouble of publicly announcing it?

Oh, and what’s up with this “Dry January” crap?

~~

 

New LifeRing Meeting in Walla Walla, WA!

Your future is created today

LifeRing is pleased to announce there is a new meeting in Walla Walla, Washington, beginning on January 6, 2016. This has been in the works for a while thanks to the meeting’s convenor, and just goes to show that desire + persistent diligence = getting good stuff done! Check out the information below:

When: Wednesdays at 7:00 PM

Where: First Congregational Church, Fireplace Room 3rd Floor, 73 S Palouse Street, Walla Walla, WA 99362

Convenor: Tim K.

Contact Information: liferingww@gmail.com

Congratulations to Tim and future meeting members – we wish you all the best!

~~

On LifeRing’s 2015 Annual Meeting: Hope for the Future

So, here’s the deal. Even though I’ve been involved with LifeRing since the very beginning of my sobriety in the Fall of 2007, this is the first year I’ve attended its Annual Meeting and Congress. Not because I haven’t wanted to go of course, but because, well, hanging out in enclosed spaces with a bunch of people I don’t know has never been my forté.

So why go this year, then, as opposed to, say, never?

Some of it has to do with becoming LifeRing’s “blog mistress”, some of it this year’s venue in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah – not only does LifeRing have a fantastic presence there, but I also have family I hadn’t seen in far too long there – and some of it the need for an extended road trip with my hubby and fellow sobrietist Rich from our home in California through some of the Southwest’s gorgeous canyonlands on our way to and from SLC.

But I digress. This is my take and report on the conference, and here’s the real deal, Holyfield:

Recovery in America is changing, my friends, and all for the better as far as I’m concerned.

Friday afternoon consisted of checking out the Meeting venue and greeting some of our fellow attendees. Mahala Kephart, LifeRing Board Member and one of the main reasons we have the presence in Salt Lake that we do, was this year’s event planner and coordinator extraordinaire, and from the moment she greeted us as we walked in the door of the Marriott Library on the University of Utah’s lovely campus, I knew it was going to be a great weekend.

LifeRing Annual Meeting M Nicolaus 2

The LifeRing Annual Meeting was held at the Gould Auditorium in the Marriott Library on the campus of the University Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo courtesy of Dan Carrigan

The bulk of the meeting was held in the Gould Auditorium inside the Library, an open, airy, well-lit and yet still intimate-feeling space. The Friday afternoon Meet and Greet was a casual, low-key affair that actually made it a pleasure to meet some of our fellow attendees, many of whom like us had also traveled from afar, such as LifeRing Colorado‘s delightful Kathleen Gargan.

Joseph Mott, M.D., in the center, talks with fellow LifeRingers Kathleen Gargan, on the right, and Mahala Kephart, on the left.

Joseph Mott, M.D., in the center, talks with fellow LifeRingers Kathleen Gargan, on the right, and Mahala Kephart, on the left. Photo courtesy of Tim Reith

On Saturday morning we arrived in time to hear Kevin McCauley, M.D. from The Institute for Addiction Study speak about his personal experience as an addict as well as his professional experience in becoming a part of the addiction treatment solution. It was heartening to hear a physician say that more needs to be and can be done to give addicts the best chances possible to get and stay clean, whether it be through using medication like naltrexone to quell drug receptors in the brain or by giving patients a choice in which recovery group to attend, such as…LifeRing!

To say Dr. McCauley’s talk was refreshing would be an understatement, particularly when what I’m used to hearing from pretty much every practitioner involved in the medical community is something akin to what Dr. Drew Pinsky – accepted as the medical “expert” in the field of addiction medicine – has to say about the necessity of the 12 Steps in recovery, without which “…recovery is not possible.”

Next was a fascinating and informative talk given by Peter Gaumond, SAMHSA Recovery Branch Chief, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, about building and giving voice to an inclusive and engaged recovery community, including those involved in the “alternative” recovery movement such as LifeRing. He spoke about the significant changes needed to our current drug control policies, such as offering addicts treatment as opposed to mandating prison sentences.

Gaumond also spoke about newly acquired information, such as studies which showed the need for using different language when talking about addicts and addiction. A study they’ve recently done showed that when people are described as having a “substance use disorder” as opposed to being described as “substance abusers” or “drug addicts”, the public’s perception of them – and how they should be treated – was significantly altered. People with a disorder are deserving of and should be given various and sundry treatment. Substance abusers, however, should be thrown in the slammer for as long as it takes to get it through their thick skulls that they should just…say…no.

Très intéressant, no? He also touched on the fact that the U.S.’s new Drug Czar, Michael Botticelli, is himself a person in recovery as opposed to, say, your garden-variety governmental policy wonk.

The final speaker of the morning was our own Martin Nicolaus, J.D., co-founder of LifeRing and author of its principal texts “Empowering Your Sober Self” and the subject of his talk, the “Recovery By Choice” workbook. His demonstration of the dichotomy between the “Addicted self” versus the “Sober self”, and the role the workbook can play in helping one empower their Sober self was enlightening, entertaining, and informative. The talk was a privilege to listen to from the man himself!

LifeRing Annual Meeting M Nicolaus

Martin Nicolaus at the podium speaking about how to empower your sober self by using the “Recovery by Choice” workbook. Photo courtesy of Dan Carrigan.

After a delicious lunch buffet, people not used to early mornings capped off by warm, full bellies such as my husband and I (a coupla night owls who typically arise somewhere around mid-morning and most usually consider a fruit smoothie a complete lunch) felt compelled to skip the early afternoon sessions to go back to our hotel close to University and take a nap.

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Keeper of the Month – April

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

  You gotta do what you have to do

LifeRing’s major mission is helping addicts learn to practice “The Sobriety Priority“, which means making recovery the most important thing in one’s life. When done, everything one does or doesn’t do thereafter involves considering the impact upon their recovery, and making self-care and life decisions based upon those principles.

Sometimes people in early recovery have a difficult time wrapping their minds around what, exactly, this means or why it’s necessary. This month’s Keeper is a LifeRing “old timer” answering those very questions posed by a newcomer:

 

From my point of view, sobriety is about learning how to live life, in whatever permutation you choose it to take. The thing about it that’s always appealed to me is the very possibility of that, whereas when I was drinking alcohol my choices were extremely limited, usually to more of it, and less of pretty much everything else.

Most active alcoholics, contrary to popular belief, are able to hold down jobs, mortgages, marriages and families, hobbies and almost all other vestiges of daily life precisely because they smack of “normalcy”, and allow the drinker to point out to themselves and everyone else that, since they’re not sitting underneath a bridge somewhere, swilling things out of brown paper sacks (or some other horrific fate worse than death), then they must be OK.

Some are more or less successful at this depending upon to what degree they are willing to work to maintain operating under the illusion that they’re running the show, while shackled in chains.

When you sober up, one thing that happens almost immediately is that you begin to notice the detritus left scattered about from your own personal, slow-motion train wreck, all of which was generally observable the entire time, only you were too drunk to notice or care. Without the blinders of alcohol, it can seem overwhelming.

The part of your brain that’s responsible for the whole thing, conveniently, thinks the solution to seeing the light of day is to put the blinders back on, and carry on with the chief fallacy of every addict’s life–“You can’t deal with all this! It’s not a good time, not a good time at all. You’ve got this (insert adjective of importance here) to do right now, and once that happens, then you can think aboutquitting drinking. How about we wait and pencil it in for next Thursday?”

It seems, to me, that the real key to freedom, to life, is learning how to sort out the truth from the lies–reality versus illusion–and what of either we choose to believe. The reality is, the rest of your life can be a long time, but it won’t happen next Thursday, after the illusion of some other self-imposed condition has been improbably met. It begins when you begin it, and it continues if you sustain and build on what you’ve begun.

Since life is not an instant but begins (and ends) in them, and instants become moments, and moments unfold into days, all you can do is take them as they come; some days are better than others, but through continuous practice – and yes, some monumental effort – and often to your own amazement, you realize you’re able to point your life in the direction you want it to go for the simple reason that you’re finally able to lift your aim that high.

You may not find that out for a while, but there’s plenty of time for it, and anything else you’d like, if you’re willing to give it to yourself.

~~

 

 

 

The Essential Recovery Toolkit

Leonard Nimoy Quote 2

 

Hi Everyone,

Since I’ve been fiddling around while Rome burns (i.e. working very, very, slowly on new blog pieces), I’d like to direct you to a new page placed on our website today that, in my humble opinion, is truly the most remarkable collection of recovery toolkits I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Made up of real tools contributed by LifeRing members, including links to LifeRing-related tools here at lifering.org, it’s the perfect starting place for newcomers, go-to for those in early recovery, and a great refresher for those long-timers who can use one.

Please have a look-see at it here:

LifeRing Recovery Toolkit

Enjoy!

:) Bobbi C.