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Bottle Freedom I
Finding "Freedom" in the Bottle I
The Delusion of Brother Thomas !
Version A 7/9/2000
I was, by my secret reckoning, a social misfit, and drinking alcohol would make me one of the boys. And, it seemed to work, at the time.
In an effort to have some sort of social presence, I took a correspondence course with the California Wine Institute. At its completion, I received a card certifying me as a Wine Connoisseur. That was something to talk about, and, with pizzazz, I displayed my prowess by ordering the right wines with the right foods. I was special - a cut above, so I needed to prove, and so it seemed at the time.
Then there was the flavor. I bought a nice brandy snifter. Following the ritual of swirling, sniffing, sipping, sloshing, breathing in through the mouth, breathing out through the nose, and drizzling down the gullet I maximized the drinking experience. This technique worked, too with Green Chartreuse, Benedictine and LaPhroaig scotch (my favorite). I only did this in the beginning and with the first drink of good stuff, when I remembered to. Later on, I was to pour the first drink of liqueur onto crushed ice. I only drank half of it, then refilled the glass with vodka. This drink-half-then- refill continued until the ice was melted, at which time I often took a timely nap. As time passed crushing the ice proved to be an onerous burden, so I used cubes, - until that, too, delayed my drinking excessively.
Then there was the buzz. Alcohol didn't really give me a thrill or a rush, the kind I hear about from cocaine users. My trusted booze simply mellowed me. When I noticed the buzz, I knew that things were getting right.
Entertaining always involved alcohol. I carefully decanted the Red Mountain wine into a crystal decanter, hid the LaPhroaig, and proceeded to get my guests in an amicable state. I, of course, had a few to get ready for their arrival, and I maintained my lead until they left (or, accommodated me by passing out). Here is a special hint for entertainers who wish to conviviate their guests - make glug (a gallon of port wine, orange peels, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, blanched almonds, and raisins, topped with a fifth of brandy after mulling for 3 hours). The important guests should have their glasses filled up with lots of raisins along with the spicy beverage. The raisins absorb much of the alcohol.
Yes, alcohol helped me to justify taking liberties with my guests that could not indulged in while we were sober. I never felt that I was physically attractive, so it was necessary to dull the pickers of those I chose.
For quite a few years I was invited to parties. This was a ritual. First of all, it was necessary to get ready to leave - meaning have a few for the road. I usually arrived about an hour late so that everybody there would be there and convivial. I found the bar, poured a stiff one, marked the level of my bottle's contents, and hid the bottle. After making a tour of likely prospects among the guests, I established the location of my mid-party nap, and I proceeded to enlighten the crowd with wit, charm and correct thinking. When my torpor rose, I napped for a while. I returned to the fun after the host suggested that I should join the last of their guests out the door. I was a good guest. I did not get violent. I rarely got sick. I always had lots of deep and provocative things to say.
I also frequented bars looking for sex objects. It was necessary, of course to get fortified in advance, because the drinks were outrageously expensive. I was too shy to approach prospects right away. When my resolve finally arrived they were otherwise occupied, so I had another drink. I was very fortunate in not having any accidents or arrests on the way home. My driving was pretty bad near the end. On the rare occasions in which I " scored", there was the inevitable remorse in the morning - or even before when I discovered who or what I had passed out with. Then came the chore of easing myself out their door or, even worse, inducing an unwanted partner to depart through my door.
Seeing as I was having so much fun drinking, why did I quit?
The Delusionarium. As I review these reasons for my drinking I note that few of them were true in a positive or beneficial sense during the last half of my alcoholic career. However, I was not aware of the fallacy of alcohol. I was a habitual drinker. Upon retrospection, I thought I liked the effect of alcohol. There was something in the bottle well beyond what I wanted. There was a perception of "freedom" there, but I was not aware of this at the time.
I have since figured out how alcohol seemed to be liberating me. The progression went something like this:
Freedom from God. I was pretty much an agnostic when I was drinking. I thought God was the product of the power grab of the churches, and I wanted nothing to do with them or Him. After the first drink, He was no longer a problem. It was easy to shut off the sunlight of the Spirit.
Freedom from YOU. The first comfort came in the dulling of my pre-frontal lobes wherein lives my social consciousness. My fear of approbation, of not being accepted, or being discarded came from some concepts that I had shoved into my understanding of what YOU expected. I had created an approval monster that interfered with my life horribly. Through it I saw myself through your eyes. It kept me from being free to do what I thought I wanted. After a few drinks the monster of society took a nap. Wow! I was free of social inspection and direction.
Freedom from conscience. After another drink or two, my right and wrong governor was calm. What had been unthinkable before drinking became an option. What had been necessary, became simply one of many choices. I was free of morality, or so it seemed at the time.
Freedom from reason. I am no dummy, not by a long shot, and I suspect you are not one, either. My credentials include Phi Beta Kappa at one of the finest colleges in the world and then a Master's degree from Harvard. Not only that, I have been declared an officer and a gentleman by act of Congress. A mental slouch I am not. And reason was a problem. With my enhanced thinking I could usually justify things that would appear irrational to more normal folks. But, thinking things through got in the way, and it was necessary to take control. After the next few drinks, two plus two did not necessarily add up to four, and just because I had always hurled (my nice word for upchucked) after drinking for the last year, I would find a way to not regurgitate (another nice term, even though a bit technical) this time.
Freedom from myself. Although I did not consciously want to evacuate my own mind, I did have what is called a blackout on at least one occasion. The next morning I had no recollection of what had happened. But, there was ample evidence that something had.
I never seemed to notice that there is a time lag between the taking of a drink and its taking full effect on the mind and the body. When I felt like I needed still another, the ones already in me were more than enough, I just didn't feel them enough yet.
Actually, the progression of the effect of alcohol went beyond my mind to my body. The first symptom was slurred speech, next came the tick in my right arm (my drinking arm, darn it) and in my left eyelid. There might follow some dysfunction in balance, and then I simply went away - I passed out. I was usually awakened by some urgency in my esophagus, and it was necessary to choose kneeling before the porcelain altar or risking the whirlies in bed. During those final months I got some daily prayer practice on the tile.
If my drinking had continued, there might have some serious consequences (the effects above happen to all drinkers, don't they?). Acetaldehyde could have destroyed more brain cells that it did. They say several thousand go with every ounce of alcohol. My liver could have become so diseased that it would have stopped its housekeeping. If you want to learn more about the nutritional and medical consequences of alcohol consumption there are many horror sources.
So, that is how I found freedom in the bottle. Or, so it seemed at the time. It would be obvious to the non-alcoholic - we sometimes call them "normies", that I was not achieving freedom at all. What I experienced was the twisted illusion of freedom. The true effect, actually, was just the opposite of freedom, it was entrapment in the bottle, and the longer I sought solace in the bottle, the more elusive any freedom or sense of comfort became. Like the good alkie that I was, though, I solved that problem - I changed the brand, or I just drank more. There was even a time when I ate butter on an empty stomach to allow me to drink more.
A question that would then be asked by our normie would be "Why do you feel it necessary to drink so much in the first place?" That one annoyed me, and I spent more time justifying my drinking than I did in really wondering why I found it so necessary? It never crossed my mind that my precious and habitual, yet irrational drinking habit stemmed from irrational needs within me.
In summary, my perception of what I ought to be was far distant from my perception of who and what I was. The alcohol seemed to ease the increasing tension, which it actually aggravated. Note the word "perception" here twice. My concepts of where I should be and where I was were not based upon fact. They were but shadows lurking as a veil before my self-respect.
So, as I found freedom from God, society, conscience, reason, perception, and, almost, life itself, I deepened my entrapment in voluntary servitude.
Real Freedom. I have come to see all this in Alcoholics Anonymous. However, not being drunk and being released from deep seated illusion and delusion are but the beginning of my new found exhilaration in living. By just going through the motions of recovery, meaning actually following direction, I have found myself on a new basis. I have been entering the realm of the Spirit.
The sober life I have come to enjoy is not something from which I am driven to escape into a freedom-fallacy. I like being here. I cherish awareness of the reality of my life. I am truly blessed by being freed of my old self.
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