Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dead Air Church: 30 Years

It is my official AA anniversary, folks! Today marks my 30th year without alcohol. (gasp) I can hardly believe it myself. At left: an image from one of the late-60s AA comic books, titled "It happened to Alice."

I am no longer a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, for a variety of reasons. (I touched on some of my issues with AA here and here.) But I still credit the organization with saving my life. Nothing else would have worked for me. The very aspects of AA that are so harshly criticized now, such as the pseudo-cultish environment, are the very things I most needed. My ongoing druggie-party-atmosphere had always provided me with 'friends'--and consequently, when I cleaned up, I needed "new playmates and playgrounds" to take their place... or I was going to run into big trouble. Immediately. The social environment of AA was crucial.

I remember once having the vivid sensation of having jumped from a window on a very, very high floor... and inexplicably, soft, loving hands, dozens of hands, caught me and brought me safely to earth. Often, when I think of AA, I have this sensation, this vision, that I will never forget, of all the hands reaching out to catch me.

Sometimes it makes me cry, because I did not deserve it. Not at all.

It was amazing that this should happen to me, that these loving, kind hands should catch me after all I had done. This is what Christians call Grace. I deserved to crash through the concrete, and yet... I was spared.

It is impossible to come through such an experience unchanged and unscathed. My spiritual curiosity began then, generously mixed with survivor's guilt: Why have I been spared, when other good people were not? As I would hear (ever more often, it seemed) of famous and nonfamous addicts dying (page down here, for my musings about John Belushi, the first famous addict to die after I became sober), I would experience almost dizzying gratitude (and accompanying relief) that I had stopped when I did.

The gratitude has never abated. Perhaps that is key.


Recently in Feminist Blogdonia, there was a huge uproar over a controversial, confessional post, written by a popular male feminist, about violence against women he had committed while still using. This didn't surprise me, but it surprised, shocked, and horrified many others. And from their shock, I learned an important lesson: I had intended to write a longer piece for my 30-Year anniversary. I wanted to tell a harrowing story, since it underscores my gratitude; it makes it very clear that I was in crisis, and how far I have come.

And yes, I have a few I could tell.

I now know that such stories, stories of pain and addiction, stories of insanity, stories of possible death, near death and death itself, need to be kept secret and/or only shared with people we know well and deeply trust. Online is not the place, as Hugo discovered. And that's too bad, isn't it? But I am glad Hugo went their first. As a result, I certainly won't.

And so, I shall leave it to your imagination ... with the help of a few movies.

Warning: these video clips tell the truth.

And a very happy anniversary to me! :)


In this clip from Trainspotting, Ewan MacGregor is in drug withdrawal, hallucinating and haunted by various dead friends, including the baby that died in his apartment (because they were too high to feed her).

Here we learn the important lesson that guilt can become actual monsters that follow you around.

At the end of Clean and Sober--Michael Keaton realizes what the film audience already knows:

From Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, here is Samuel L Jackson as "Gator", with the late Ossie Davis and the incomparable Ruby Dee:

And we end with two trailers from Requiem for a Dream, the best and most honest movie ever made about addiction:


Blue Heron said...

I propose a simple toast on your anniversary...maybe a seltzer.

bryce said...

u got me w/that spike lee video

congratz, d


Renee said...

First, congratulations on your many years of sobriety. I am sure this must have been difficult for you.

As for the hideous Hugo, I think that you are being completely disingenuous. He smugly announced that he attempted to murder someone after he was certain that the statute of limitations had passed and then compared his actions to allowing a dog to run loose. Please keep in mind that he made this comparison while SOBER. That shows me that Hugo has not learned a damn thing. I also think it is worth mentioning that this is not the first time Hugo has said and done something misogynist.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Point taken, Renee... I just don't think that is how most addicts are reading the situation. More emphasis on Hugo NOW, and less emphasis on THEN, would help.

But the catalyst of this foofaraw is what he admits he did THEN, is the thing. (I wish it had been something else... but would it have been?)

Some of us could match his story, easily.

Thank you for commenting!

JoJo said...

Congratulations on 3 decades of sobriety!!

Sweating Through fog said...

Congratulations - 30 years is not easy

La Lubu said...

Congratulations and many blessings, Daisy.

I think that you greatly shortchange yourself when you compare yourself to Hugo merely on the basis that the both of you have struggled with addiction. You have a great deal of empathy for others, something that (from what I've seen) I don't believe Hugo has. Or is even necessarily capable of.

I have seen people change after committing gross acts of harm to others. But what made this possible, is that they were people who were capable of empathy.

I think we also have to be frank that Hugo has never had to answer to anybody. He has always been in a position of power to set the terms for whatever changes he chooses, for as long as he chooses. While I have seen people change, I've never seen anyone do so under those conditions.

Regardless, I'm not invested in the stakes of his recovery; I consider him a toxic person independent of his struggle with addiction. Women especially are strongly encouraged to...ignore red flags, "forgive", always leave the door open....just, no. There's a reason I always mention Gavin DeBecker's work in any discussion of abuse.

Hugo Schwyzer said...

Thank you for this, Daisy. And many congratulations on your sober birthday!

Mama Moretti said...

You rock!

senchi said...

congratulations to you! thanks for the link to the comics.

i totally avoided the whole hugo mess and soooo glad i did. ;)

Gregg Jocoy said...

Daisy, congratulations on 30 years of sobriety! I personally believe we addicts are only understood best by other addicts, although there are plenty of addicts who stay high and mighty and don't want to acknowledge other people's progress. 30 years is amazing indeed.

OMG....I just realized that our anniversaries are so close. Mine is 1-22-95.

I committed crimes when gambling which would make a non-addict's toes curl. I am a good person who did bad things because my head was totally f'ed up at the time. No excuses...just the facts.

I am proud to call you "friend".

Anonymous said...

holy shit- some warning b4 that spike lee movie.

just added RFAD to netflix queue, thx. love Aronofsky

mazel tov !

Renee said...

I'm sorry I'm not one that believes being drunk or in his case stoned suddenly means that one is not responsible for your actions. Hugo wants a pass and he should not get one. All alcohol does is lower your inhibitions but it most certainly does not make you a different person. These things had to already be a part of who he was for them to manifest in the first damn place.

west said...

Congratulations on your 30 years of sobriety. But that begs to question... What the hell were you on when you voted for Obama in '08?

Danny said...

Congrats on the sobriety.

As was said before I'll agree that trying to trash Hugo for being an alcoholic isn't right. (I tried to express that here a short while back.)

As others have said their opinions of Hugo's material have not and should not be effected by this. His disregard for male victims is still bad despite his addiction issues.

Also I still stand by what I said when I think that you telling your story would not have the same explosive effect that him telling his story did. We've disagreed on stuff before but I don't sense the same condescending will from you that I get from him. But I had to admit that that belief was getting in the way of understanding your fear behind telling your story.