Crawling Back From Oblivion

By Bill Danskin

The Holiday season is a time of year that produces a wide-ranging set of emotions and behavior from people. It is a time of happiness and giving…but it is also a time where people experience isolation and reflect bitterly on their lives and their current reality.   For many it can be a compression of emotions felt throughout the year, both good and bad.   For me, it is a time of intensity and a test of strength. It is a time when I search for answers and take inventory of my life and reflect hard on my sense of self and wellbeing.

In my life it is a crucible of critical importance.   It boils down to one thing for me that is crystalized during the holiday season.   I am an alcoholic.

There are 17 million alcoholics in the United States, 11 million men and 6 million women.   88,000 people die from alcohol related deaths each year, making it the 3rd most common preventable cause of death in the US.   10% of children in this country have at least 1 alcoholic parent. There are 60, 000 chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous with 1.3 million members. Suffice it to say it is a problem of massive proportion and one that has a devastating effect on families and individual users.

However, while these statistics are meaningful and enlightening, the issue of alcoholism comes down to the struggles of one person at a time and the roads that they choose to take. For what its worth, here are the salient points in my own story:

I drank form the time I was 13 and quit drinking at age 37 (solely because I wanted to be a better father to my kids). I stopped for 16 years until I was 53.   I did not have a drop in my 40s.

For reasons that I won’t go into here (and that I’m still not sure I understand) I started drinking again in 2006.   I drank in rapidly increasing quantities for 5 years.

During that period, I experienced an escalating intensity of my addiction that resulted literally in a life or death choice.   I reached a point that needed a drink every 20 minutes for maintenance and at night I was afraid to go to sleep in the fear that I would not wake up.

I considered suicide and was taken by police to a mental health hospital ward for support and treatment.

In 2011, I went to 3 rehab facilities – 2 for detox and 1 a month long stay.   I was in and out of hospitals that year for a variety of alcohol related illnesses.

It was the most difficult year of my life and one where I faced the most basic question that one can have.   Do I want to live or do I want to die? I chose to live.

On December 23, 2014 I will have been clean for 3 years.   While I am not a devotee of AA, many people are and I can attribute my own ongoing recovery to an acceptance of the 1st of the 12 step program.   I admitted to myself and internalized the belief that I am powerless over alcohol.   I simply can’t drink again.   I know that I can’t control it. It came very close to killing me and I won’t let that happen. No way.

It is a familiar story, I know, but I feel compelled to tell it and share with anyone who might have a similar problem. There is a happy ending. I want to let the reader know that there is a way back from certain oblivion.   Back to a world where friends and family exist, where isolation and solitude are not the obligatory norm, and where the human spirit can rejuvenate and heal itself like a self -diagnosing and wonderful machine. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens each day as I crawl through the problems of life and endure, even triumph, occasionally.

In my own life, I still hear the ice hit the glasses. I still can feel the warmth and security that comes with the 1st and 2nd drink.   I can taste the cigarette that comes between them. But I can also feel the sickness, the vomiting, the uncontrollable shaking that comes from an insatiable appetite for alcohol.

So as the holiday season unfolds, I reflect as always. I scrutinize my place and attitude toward life.   But my life is not what it used to be. I am living, thriving and feeling a happiness I have not felt in many, many years.   Like all of us, I have traveled a long road but I have escaped the abrupt dead end and have now entered a new, and better highway.

It’s not just that I stopped drinking. I am over that. Its is that I have found a new way to live; a way forward where I see myself as part of the world rather than doing everything I can to shut it out.

For that I will be eternally grateful.   Happy Holidays everyone!

2 thoughts on “Crawling Back From Oblivion

  1. You also have a unique way with words. I am very happy you have found your way. everyone is on this planet for a reason and it looks like you have found yours. above all your children have hopefully found you to be an upright person and one who has chosen life over the alternative. I have watched a very dear relative go thru it also and he is now over 125 days and i couldnt be prouder. have a awesome holiday and I we will keep in touch via social media. god bless


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