History of Idiocy (page 3)
With that sudden flash of insight came an enormous shift in thinking. It was like the drugs wore off and in walked rational thought, personal responsibility, morality and a bunch of other human characteristics I hadn’t seen in years. In what seemed like an instant, I went from my old and tragically flawed mindset of “The world sucks, all cops blow, if everyone would leave me alone I’d be just fine” to “what the HELL was I thinking, how could I have done this to myself and my family, how could I have been a follower of such blatant ignorance?” I looked back on the past 6 years of my life in utter disbelief. Everything I’d learned, all the things I believed in; it was all bullshit. I looked around at my current situation with anger and disgust. I could do better than this; I WOULD do better than this.
During the remaining months of my incarceration I developed a very strong hatred for what I felt had lead to so many of my problems. And for once it wasn’t the cops, it wasn’t the Judge, it wasn’t my probation officer or my Mom. Low and behold it really was the pot! Or more accurately, the pot and how it affected my behavior and judgment. From one end to the other (including my last offense of stealing money to buy a pound of weed) it had played a part in almost everything I’d ever done wrong and every consequence I’d ever suffered. (And yet, stoned out of my gourd, I never noticed this.) Not only did I feel like a jackass for being so blind, I’d grown good and pissed off at my old buddy “pot.”
By the time I was released from jail (I served 9 months total) I’d so thoroughly associated pot with everything I’d ever hated about myself or my life, the thought of “getting high” was nearly enough to make me gag. Where it once meant “cool” it now meant “stupid.” Where it once meant “fun” it now meant “waste of life.” Where it once meant “who I am” it now meant “who I have no desire to be.” It was the first time I’d ever destroyed my desire to do something (more on that later) and it really did the trick.
Few believed I could just stop without “help,” (after all, you can’t just quit a “disease”) but they were wrong. As I hope everyone someday realizes; ending self-destructive behavior isn’t hard when you’ve literally lost all interest in it. From December 23rd 1985 (when I got out jail) through March 28th 1991 (when I finally stopped drinking) I smoked maybe half a joint (total) spread out over four or five separate instances. In each case I was really, really drunk and even then (after taking a hit or two) I couldn’t stand it. ...Even wasted on booze, my mind stepped in and said “hey man, what the Hell are you smoking this shit for; are you stupid?”
Abstaining from pot brought about many productive changes in my life. I managed to go from being a 115 lb lying, scamming, thieving dirtbag; to a fairly trust worthy, physically improved (better diet + regular weight lifting) reasonably honest young adult with at least somewhat of a plan. Unfortunately for me and those around me, alcohol was part of that plan.
Although I’d sworn off weed, I hadn’t thought much about what drinking could do to my life. (Maybe because I was too focused on what weed had done.) I guess you could say I substituted alcohol for pot, but not completely. I’d spent every waking moment of my life for years stoned; with the booze it was more or less a weekend thing. And thank God for that, because it was truly amazing how much trouble I could get in over the weekend.
In the interest of full disclosure, there was a brief period of cocaine use that took place after my release from jail. I began dating a woman 9 years my senior and some of her bad habits wore off on me. Luckily, I still had a vivid memory of how pot had affected my mind / life and it was immediately clear that cocaine was far more “capable” of doing the same thing. For that reason, my cocaine use only lasted for about a year (1986 – 1987.) I did it a handful of times afterwards, but only when I was really drunk and each time I regretted the Hell out of it the next day. I never got back into it.
Now, I wish I could say there was a fairy tale moment where I suddenly regained all my wits and lived happily ever after. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I still had a lot of growing up to do and there were plenty of “unwise” ideas left in my head from years of living a drug lifestyle. For instance; somewhere along the line after I’d quit doing pot and coke, I decided I was going to deal them. After all, who better than I? I had no interest in using them, I had plenty of potential customers I could trust (my friends) and there was decent money to be made. Most people who sell drugs “small time” end up smoking or snorting away all their profit. No longer doing drugs; I wouldn’t have to worry about that.
When I look back, I realize I was still holding on to fragments of my “sly / criminal” self image. After so many years of believing certain things it’s hard to shed all the misconceptions right off the bat. One of which happened to be: Dealing drugs is the high roller lifestyle and anyone smooth enough to deal them, not do them, and not get caught, is one slick son of a bitch.
Luckily I never got caught dealing and the few times I decided to give it a shot only lasted a couple months. My last adventure in dealing brought me severely close to getting caught in the wrong state with the wrong drug. In fact, I had came so close to being absolutely screwed that I wondered if my extraordinary “luck” in the matter was perhaps a little more. ...Like somebody upstairs was trying to show me I wasn’t nearly as “slick” as I thought I was; like I was being shown, regardless of the precautions I took, I could have my life destroyed in an instant. I’m glad to say I took the hint. I looked at what nearly happened and said “enough is enough; it has never been and never will be worth the risk, thanks but no thanks!” Fortunately that was the end of that.
So, to briefly sum up 1987 – 1991, I was basically your average everyday guy who had stopped getting high, but still drank on the weekends. I had a few high roller visions of grandeur about dealing that I eventually outgrew. The one glaring difference between me and the average everyday guy was: when I drank I had a tendency to turn into a completely psychotic moron capable of just about anything.
As if you couldn’t have guessed, it was just a matter of time before I was once again viewing the world from the confines of a jail cell; this time for my drinking extravaganzas. My highlight reel included things like: Breaking into a closed pizza shop to make myself dinner. -Standing in the backyard of my “suburban subdivision” home with a 38 revolver; repeatedly loading it and then unloading it into the ground. Kicking out arresting officers back windows, intentionally cutting myself with razors, knives or broken glass to watch myself bleed; fighting, shouting, acting like a complete idiot and racking up more driving violations than most families do in a lifetime. (I think I have 75 entries to date.)
Needless to say, things were not going too good and being the logical fast learning man I was (ya right) it only took me about 5 years to figure out that alcohol was causing me just as much grief as pot had and, once again, I was looking at spending a lot of boring time behind bars. –Different charges; same result.
On March 25th 1991 I was cited with my fourth D.U.I. It carried a penalty of up to two years in jail. Three days later, drunk out of my mind, I decided I didn’t like “no parking” signs. My solution was to spend a few hours driving around with a friend of mine running them down. (Fortunately, I did not get caught or I surely would have been cited for my fifth D.U.I. among other things.)
For me, March 28th 1991 was the final straw. Here I was still facing up to two years in jail for my fourth D.U.I. on the 25th and I’m out (just a few days later) drunk and driving AND intentionally running over street signs. When I woke up the next morning, my inner dialogue went something like this: “What are you, a fucking idiot? Do you want to destroy yourself? Are you actually trying to ruin your life? Is this all you expect of yourself? Are you willing to accept this?”
It was that last question that really hit home. It reminded me of what I’d done to myself with other substances and the subsequent unacceptable behavior. The answer was an unequivocal “NO.” Again, I was disgusted with the choices I’d made and concluded: “Screw this shit, it sucks, it’s ruining my life...I’m done.” And I meant it.
OK, I’d made up my mind. Now it was time to deal with the social attitude that I couldn’t just quit drinking without help from AA and the program. You’d think my prior success in quitting drugs (despite having been given the same doom and gloom story) might have won me some confidence from the “well intentioned” masses…not a chance. Seems they figured I’d just substituted booze for drugs, so my accomplishment in that department (and other subsequent improvements) didn’t really count. Even my friends who’d seen me stop smoking cigarettes, pot, doing coke, etc. didn’t really believe in me.
Well, I’d been through “the program” many times (during in-patient treatment, and as punishment for each of my prior D.U.I.’s.) If I was absolutely sure of anything it was this: The Program was not my cup of coffee. I hated the principles, procedures, pity, steps, prayers…basically everything about it. It just didn’t feel right to me. At best, “the program” came off as a flimsy crutch; at worst, a potentially dangerous and debilitating belief system.
If I was going to stop drinking; I wasn’t going to do it using “techniques” I didn’t believe in. Like I had quit smoking cigarettes, quit doing coke, quit smoking pot (quit lying, quit stealing, etc.) I wanted to uncover and destroy the self-destructive thought processes that were driving my unacceptable behavior. I wanted to replace them with (for lack of a better term) “self-productive” thoughts and actions. And despite the naysayers (with their cynical / mocking tone still ringing in my ears) that is exactly what I did. I found what I’d hoped all along I would: It’s easy to trade a bad life for a better one as long as you realize that is what you’re doing. -----> Continue to "The 12-Step Approach"