Tag Archives: Addiction

I Don’t Know

What will 2018 bring? I don’t know.

Will it be better than 2017? I don’t know.

Will I be a better person in 2018? I don’t know. (Hopefully!)

Will I stay clean & sober in 2018? I don’t know. (I’m gonna take that “One day at a time.”)

Will I have an opportunity to make amends in 2018? I don’t know.

Will some of my friends “fall off the wagon”? I don’t know.

Apparently, I don’t know much, do I?

What DO I know?

I agree with the wise Davos Seaworth that “Nothing fucks you harder than time!”

I have entered that age group where I have begun to lose friends and relatives with greater frequency, some of whom are not terribly older than myself.

As each day passes, it becomes more and more difficult to suffer the ignorance and rudeness of people I must deal with.

Dementia, Alzheimers, and strokes scare the shit out of me. I figure that I will survive a heart attack, or I won’t. A stroke can minimally affect me, or more likely, disable me in one or many different ways, none of which are predictable. Dementia and Alzheimers are both slow deaths where my awareness, cognitive abilities, and knowledge of self and the world around me will disappear, one day at a time, until one day, I may as well be a lump of coal.

There is so much that I have not accomplished. Some of this is just the universe at work, and some are my own poor choices, misplaced efforts, stubbornness, or just stupidity.

There is the awareness that some amends will never be realized and affected.

There is a growing certainty that time is moving faster for me and there’s so much less of it for me to work with now.

Decisions made have a far more immediate and consequential impact on my life now than in the past.

I really must buckle down and begin to focus more on the things I want to accomplish even as I attempt to pay bills, maintain a home, and relationships.

These are the things I do know.

There is one more thing that I know, without question: Without being clean and sober, nothing is possible except decline and death.

Today’s Post 42 Years In the Making: I Quit!


Yep folks, today’s post has been in the making for 42 years. I started smoking when I was 13 years old. That was a long time ago. At various points in my life, I smoked as much as 2 packs a day, either Pall Malls or Camels. Yes sir, 2 packs a day of non-filter cigarettes while I was stationed near the DMZ in Korea when I was barely 18. That went on for maybe a year.

I was the type of smoker that really enjoyed smoking. The draw, the taste, that first smoke of the day with that first cup of coffee. Oh yeah baby!

At various points in my life there were “warnings” that perhaps I should quit, or at least slow down a bit.

Like when I went into rehab to address my alcohol addiction, I should have quit.   Later, when I was diagnosed with “exercise induced asthma” by the military, I probably should have quit then too. Then of course, there was the first time I got pneumonia. I could barely smoke 3 cigarettes a day, and it was like getting stabbed in the lungs with long razor blades, but there I was, smoking those 3 – 4 smokes because I “had to.”

Last year, around Father’s Day, I decided I was really needing to quit. I got winded just tying a pair of shoes! I was thinking, “This is freakin’ ridiculous!” There have been various points over the course of the past year where I would go one, two, sometimes even three days without smoking. Invariably, I would always start smoking again because I felt like I was missing something. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and I couldn’t tell you what that something was, but by God, I was missing out on it!

It’s amazing to me that no matter the addiction we are dealing with, the behaviors are always the same. We will try to “control” the addiction; “I’ll only smoke 7 a day.” “I won’t smoke before 10:00.” “I won’t smoke in the car, truck, etc.” Actually, that one I adhered to.

Then there was “I’ll only smoke filtered cigarettes.” “What will I do with myself if I don’t have that first smoke/after dinner smoke/I’m going to bed smoke?” Yep, it was the classic, “I’m losing a friend” insanity. Shit … addiction is SO insidious!

Then there is the also classic “Fuck You!” conversation that you have with yourself xx times a day:

Me:  I am not gonna smoke dammit!
My Addiction: You want one! Think about how good it will taste!
Me: Fuck You!
My Addiction: No, Fuck You! Have one! There now; Isn’t that better?

Well friends … today is the eighth day I have not had any cigarettes.

There are still times when I can not breath as well as I could be, but to some extent, that will improve.

I’ve saved $25 not spent on 3 packs of Camels. I have not had to wash and dry my face, neck, and hands every time I had a smoke because, well, I’m not smoking. The clothes I wear each day do not smell of cigarette smoke, and neither do I!

There is still that nagging feeling of “wanting one,” but now it is a more subdued, quiet, in-the-background kind of whisper I have not answered for eight days now. That unanswered whisper is becoming more and more faint as each day passes. I am still trying to find things to do with my hands! I am drinking more of my beloved Imperial & Dragon Well Green Teas, and much more water and coffee as well.

For now, as with my program of recovery remaining clean & sober, I will take this not smoking challenge “one day at a time.”

2 Chairs At Sunrise

A New Viewpoint …

©Kerzner 2002/2012

©Kerzner 2002/2012

*** As you may have noticed, I have been absent for a while here. Not to worry, all is well! I just elected to step away and take care of some other pressing matters that needed attention in one form or another. So, I am back. Thanks for visiting here with us. ***

It has been several months since I have posted here. I have been thinking over some things, working through other things, and just assessing where I am at in my life, and my recovery.

One thing I have noticed is that I try to be more thoughtful before taking a course of action. In my experience, as I get older, the consequences of a decision seem to have more impact and last longer than when I was younger. As a younger person, much more of life seemed to be “black and white.” Now, there are shades of grey that in my mind, figure into decisions as well.

Time seems to be moving faster as I age. I think about events, and then pause and realize that so and so happened 25 years ago, and yet, to me, it seems as though it was only yesterday.

Friends have come and gone. “Friends” have come and gone as well. I am more particular about whom I share time with, and/or devote my time to. I have done some “shit-canning,” or 86ing as most would refer to it; it is the practice of divesting one’s self of baggage. People, places, and things that are not constructive to me, or my recovery are being cast off. One sided relationships have become fewer and fewer, not because I am an asshole, but because some people and places are just not worth my time anymore.

Another reason I have not written is that I have been working on quitting smoking cigarettes for over a year, and still have not quit. For a time, I thought I was being a hypocrite writing about addiction and recovery, and here it is I have not quit the smoking yet. After all, I have been clean and sober since 26 December 1988, but this smoking thing … I have cut back to under 1/2 a pack a day. I have even gone 1-3 days without any. I have concluded that I will quit completely when I am ready, and apparently, I am not ready yet. But, I am working on it.

So, there you have it. I am still evolving, growing, and working on maintaining my recovery. I will continue to work on the areas I am not satisfied with, realizing that some things take time.

About Addiction …

the shining

The recent death of celebrated actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has sparked a very public conversation about addiction. Some of the opinions expressed have come from people who are informed about the many facets of addiction, and some have come from folks that have no clue what addiction is about.

Personally, I have found this public conversation eerily similar in nature to the public discussion of mental heath. On one side there are the professionals that deal with the many aspects of these two diseases on a daily basis. On the other side are mostly well-meaning, but uninformed people.

If someone’s life has not been touched by addiction in some way, then they have not experienced the often gut-wrenching, frustrating agony this disease inflicts on individuals, families, and society as a whole. They have not had to rebuild in the wake of the destruction the disease leaves in its wake.

First and foremost, yes, it is a disease. Wikipedia defines a disease as:

A disease is an abnormal condition that affects the body of an organism. It is often construed as a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by factors originally from an external source, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune diseases. In humans, “disease” is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes paindysfunctiondistresssocial problems, or death to the person afflicted, or similar problems for those in contact with the person. In this broader sense, it sometimes includes injuriesdisabilitiesdisorderssyndromesinfections, isolated symptoms, deviant behaviors, and atypical variations of structure and function, while in other contexts and for other purposes these may be considered distinguishable categories. Diseases usually affect people not only physically, but also emotionally, as contracting and living with many diseases can alter one’s perspective on life, and one’s personality.

There are many who believe that addiction is simply a matter of “will power,” and can be turned on and off at will. In the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman, he was clean for over 23 years. What a lot of people don’t understand is that there two distinct sides to that statistic.

The first side is that yes, he did stay clean for a considerable period of time. And yes, he stayed clean because he didn’t use. Simple, right?

The other side of this statistic is all the work that Hoffman did to stay clean. He changed his playmates and playgrounds. He didn’t place himself in positions where he was overly vulnerable to the temptations of using, or where his drug of choice was easily obtainable. He probably maintained some schedule of attending meetings in a 12 Step Program. He valued himself as a person, and he valued the life that he had, and was continuing to build. Being in recovery, staying clean, is work! And, it is work that must be done every day. There can be no days off in recovery.

A person in recovery is always vigilant. They are always on the lookout for signs of “stinking thinking.” They, more than anyone, can not afford the luxury of harboring resentments. We all have those voices in our heads that say silly things to us at one time or another. For an addict, these voices can be deadly because they tend to tell addicts how undeserving they are of what goodness they have in their lives.

Someone who is not an addict, and/or not in recovery will never understand this because to their mind it would be absurd to give in to these voices. They understand that everyone may have a bad day, or a “rough patch,” but in their mind they deal with it, and move on. It does not fester like an untreated wound.

With an addict, doubt festers, and without attention, it begins to infect the addict’s well being. This is where the work involved with a good recovery program is so important. Just a little seed, a little crack in the armor, unattended, will often lead to catastrophic failure. It doesn’t matter whether the addiction is drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, or whatever it may be; if you are in a recovery program, you have to work that program faithfully, honestly, and judiciously.

Addiction is sneaky. Relapse is really a slow process that begins when the little things that combine to make a recovery strong are taken for granted, or not done as they should be. Every time an addict “gets away with” not working their program, they are one step closer to relapse because they become more emboldened. “Well, see, that wasn’t so bad,” or “Hmm, nothing bad happened there.”

So, little by little, Mr. Hoffman succumbed to his feelings of doubt, loneliness, and pain. He was still wondering if he really was “good enough.” Good enough as an actor, partner, father, friend, human being. All of the above or some of the above, it really doesn’t matter. He did not work his program. To the uninformed, and those unfamiliar with the struggles of the addicted, this seems utterly insane. Welcome to the world of addiction. It is insane! That’s the point. Addiction is not a rational process, so how could rational people understand? They can empathize. They can sympathize. They will never understand.

Several “good” things have been salvaged from Mr. Hoffman’s untimely death. There is now an ongoing public conversation regarding addiction, treatment, and even to some extent, the mental health issues that are extremely relevant in this context. There is a beginning here. People are starting to at least realize that maybe they shouldn’t be so quick to judge another until they have walked in their shoes, and fought their battles. Maybe a new understanding will come from this tragedy.

The real tragedy is that every death from addiction is an unnecessary waste that possibly could have been prevented.

About Heroes …


*** As you may have noticed, I have been absent for a while here. Not to worry, all is well! I just elected to step away and take care of some other pressing matters that needed attention in one form or another. So, I am back. Thanks for visiting here with us. ***

I have noticed that lately, every time I turn on the TV, some media outlet is telling me that “so and so is a hero.” Possibly this has been going on for a while, and I am just now noticing? There are reasons that I am not having any of this. First of all, when did we relinquish our perception, our moral standard(s), and our choice to the great void out there that is “The Media,” including so-called Social Media? Secondly, the entities that are held up as heroes today are, for the most part, “the flavor of the week.” Whatever is being pushed down the public’s throat by someone’s agenda, whether that agenda is political, financial, religious, and/or corporate, somewhere in that agenda resides a genuine “hero” by golly!

In my mind, Johnny Cash was a hero. He stuck to his guns and advocated for the prison population at a time when doing so was very unpopular. (It still is!) He fought his way back from the bottom that comes with the self-destructive behavior that often accompanies addiction. He rebuilt his life from the bottom up. He fought for the love he wanted in his life, even though he had to win her back. Although he was not a perfect man, he was an empathetic, giving, humble man.

I have a friend who is a musician. He used to play guitar, and then he was injured in an accident and can’t play anymore due to lessened mobility in his arms. Although he is now in a wheelchair, he rebuilt his his career playing harmonica. He does as many live performances as he can. This past spring he was nominated by his peers for the Best New Artist CD Blues Music Award. That is someone that doesn’t let life get him down. My friend triumphed in the face of adversity. He is a hero.

Helped fund treatment for a friend or donated an organ to save a life? You are a hero!

To me, a single mother who works two jobs, goes to school, and still finds time to guide and raise decent human beings is a hero.

To me, every soldier that fights for our country, and returns to a mostly indifferent nation, is a hero.

To me, Mohammed Ali is a hero. He stood up for his convictions, even when it cost him the Heavyweight Championship. He took his case to the Supreme Court, and won.

To me, people that stand up for what they believe are heroes:

People that advocate for a Woman’s Right To Choose

People that advocate for Voting Rights for all

People that advocate for Marriage Rights for all

People that advocate for those that are less fortunate than themselves

The teachers in Newtown, CT that sacrificed themselves to save their students from an insane gunman are heroes

Mothers, Fathers, and caregivers who go to work each day, hating their jobs, working long hours for dismal pay, trying to meet their responsibilities at home and pay for schooling to advance in life – they are heroes.

People that advocate hate are NOT heroes.

Politicians that disregard the poorest among us are not heroes.

Those who endeavor to treat women as second class citizens by paying them less than men for the same work, limiting their access to health care and birth control, and forcing them to have unnecessary medical procedures prior to obtaining medical care, are NOT heroes.

I am a firm believer in “I can’t describe it, but I know it when I see it.”

Underneath all the bluster, social media, and BS, we all know who the real heroes are.