M(3), 2/10: Remembering Your Last Drunk

Despite yet another bout of snow (for those keeping score… yes, my school district did decide we needed a two-hour delay), we had a great turnout for the Monday meeting.  The literature for week two in the monthly rotation is Living Sober.  Having been reading/watching about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I chose two chapters to read:  “Remembering Your Last Drunk,” and “Staying away from the first drink.”  The discussion was lively enough with the first chapter that we never got to the second one; I couldn’t ask for anything more in terms of sharing!

The point of this chapter is simple, but critical:  it is crucial for anyone choosing recovery to keep fresh in their minds the negative feelings, circumstances, and, most important, consequences of the last episode of mind-altering ingestion that brought him or her to the conclusion that sobriety is necessary.  The authors of the book choose the words “last drunk,” rather than “last drink,” deliberately.  A “drink” connotes, for most of us, happy memories, celebration, joy.  Drunk, however, brings more realistic, and more graphic, images to mind:  erratic behavior, harsh words that we couldn’t be paid to say to another while sober, life-altering decisions we wouldn’t dream of making while not under the influence.   Most important, at least for this alcoholic/addict, “last drunk” brings to mind the vicious, hopeless, cycle that was my life while in active addiction.  The antidote is so simple, it’s almost laughable, and it’s the name of the second chapter we did not get to read this morning:  “Staying away from the first drink.”

I mentioned Philip Seymour Hoffman as the reason for selecting this chapter, because I have drawn the conclusion that he must have forgotten his last drunk, as has anyone who picks up a drink or drug after significant time in recovery.  How can this be?  How could someone forget something as critical as this?  Sadly, it is all too easy to do.   It’s just how life works:  we clean up our acts, remove the addictive substance from our lives, life gets better, and it becomes far too easy to lose the intense feeling of our need for sobriety.  The memories of how bad it was become hazy as time passes.  Life comes at you, as life does, and the overwhelming solution presented by society is to take a break from reality, cut loose.  Life coming at you can be catastrophic, or it can be celebratory, the societal solution is the same:  have a drink, kick back, relax!

When that solution is so omnipresent, and the memories of the negative consequences of addiction are so fuzzy, it is not difficult to see where someone, even someone with significant sobriety, can get off track.  And for those of us that call ourselves addicts, it is, without a doubt, a huge gamble.  From all accounts, Mr. Hoffman lost his sobriety date sometime in 2012, by 2014 he no longer has the opportunity to regain his seat in a 12-step meeting.

For the record, my last “drunk” was monumental in its mundane-ness:  I did that day what I had done almost every day for the 8 months that preceded it (the worst of my active addiction).  What’s monumental about it would impress only me.  First, I had the realization, so strong I actually said it out loud to myself:  “there is absolutely no part about this that is fun anymore.”  I had never drawn that conclusion before that day.  Second, the aftermath of my “bottom:”  husband confronting me, resulting consequences, dealing with family and friends, cement for me every second of that last drunk in a way I hope I never forget.

Because, like Mr. Hoffman, I don’t know if I will ever have the chance to reclaim my seat, so I choose not to vacate it today.

Today’s Miracle:
I am grateful that I still have my seat in my 12-step program, and that I choose to keep it.

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Posted on February 10, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I hope I never forget…writing it down and re-reading it helps. Thank you for the reminder! 🙂

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    • And thank YOU, Jen, for taking the time to leave a comment, it means so much! I agree, writing it down really does help. At my one year anniversary, I did a series of posts that described my descent to my personal bottom, and I will occasionally go back to re-read and remind myself. Powerful stuff!

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  2. Yes, thank you for the reminder. I don’t remember the last drunk so much as the excruciating hangover I drank to get rid of. I always thought my hangovers saved my life. I hope I never forget, but know I must do my part to remember. Thank you for choosing to write about this today.

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    • Oh my, this comment is better than the post… “the hangovers saved my life.” Kristen, as the kids says, FOR REALSIES, write a post on that, it is gold!

      PS… ready for tomorrow night?!? I am consciously enjoying today and tomorrow in anticipation of what will surely be a 5 day weekend…

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      • I was ready. Until I read the thing about the 5 day weekend 😉 No matter, bring it. And I will do some brainstorming on the hangovers. I have some real material there. Thanks. And good luck!

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  3. Great reminder, Josie. I know people attach the slogan “Remember when” to these kinds of thoughts. While I don’t linger on my last drunk (or drunks), I certainly do keep in the mind the 25 year jackpot I put myself in because of the drink. Ugly. The problem occurs in many of us that we too can handle the solution as you mention there…ego rebuilds and takes credit for what God has done for us. So ego tells us that it’s still in charge and says, hey, I’ve taken you here and look how well we’ve done! So let’s just kick back – we’ve earned it. And that comes from a great spiritual pullback and disconnection.

    I think the way you describe it is bang on. Wonderfully stated. And sad in it’s execution as it serves to try and execute us. Ugly.

    My last drunk was pathetic too. Dull as dishwater. Sad and pathetic. Lonely. Never want that again.

    Thank you for this…one of my fave posts of yours.

    Paul

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  4. What a great post, Josie. It’s definitely a good reminder, one that we all need. I often feel such gratitude toward the newcomers in the program because they help me to keep it fresh. When I see them, I can remember, vividly, what it felt like to be in their shoes. I don’t ever want to go back there. Also, my husband recorded my last drunk…it was horrible. I know that if I ever consider taking another drink (God-willing that will never happen), all I have to do is look at that video. I’m so glad that he did it.
    Thanks for the reminder,
    ~Jami

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    • Jami, I am heading over to your update on meditation momentarily, I was thinking about you this morning as I was (distractedly) saying my morning prayers!

      Having a video of your final tangle with alcohol… that’s a priceless gift, one that not too many of us get. I still have no accurate picture of myself while under the influence, and that’s truly frightening.

      I could not agree more about the newcomers, one of the most important reasons I “keep coming back!”

      Thanks for the comment, Jami, I’ll be over in a minute:)

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  5. You have so much courage everyday to do what you do and share what you do. I can also tell by your writing style that you are both a great writer and intelligent. I am so happy for you that your energies are going into such a productive and fulfilling life now. Keep up the awesome work! ~Thea

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  6. Great post, Josie, and a valuable reminder that none of us are out of the woods. Unfortunately, I can’t remember my last drunk since it was done in a blackout. But I remember coming to from it the next day and seeing all the physical wreckage. A smashed-out front door. Blood and glass everywhere.
    I keep that image fresh.
    Thank you for writing. And doing the deal.
    Marius

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