As I wrote in the recent post How It Works, it's time to tell my story. The format is taken from this line from Chapter 5 of the Big Book: "Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now."
This is my second shot at this (more accurately my seventh or 10th <smile>). First ones were waaayyyy, too, long and detailed. The writer editing his own is not the best of worlds. It is my world at present, so... Here goes...
Best to start with some fun, so...
"My mother made me an alcoholic."
The great rejoinder:
"If I give her the yarn, will she make me one, too?"
It took decades to become a 5th-degree black-belt alcoholic. I mastered it the way most anyone masters anything— be it a music or marriage, bee-keeping or business.
"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" The out-of-towner wanting directions asked the New Yorker.
"Practice. Practice. Practice."
That's how I mastered being an alcoholic.
My "Art of Alcoholism" evolved over a span of 40-plus years.
My father, Stewart Kirby Fogg, was an alcoholic. It killed him— half of him. Cigarettes and emphysema did the other 50%. His brother Jack, Dr. John M. (as in Milton) Fogg Jr., was a drinker well. Killed him, too, as I understand. Jack was a charmer when drinking. My dad was not.
My father was a drunk and... I hated him for it— more for who he became when he drank. To this day, I cannot stand the smell of rye or any other "dark" whisky. It reminds.
So does it makes sense that I would become an alcoholic-smoker like my dad?
I began my alcoholic career as a nervous novice at college "beer blasts." I quickly learned from the "pros" to eschew the piddling paper cups and show up with a 60 oz. plastic pitcher. Although I wasn't much for dancing— way too inhibited, uncordinated, fat & white <smile>— I did quickly learn the twists & turns, steps & staggers of an under-age, falling-down drunk.
I had to learn to "like" the taste of beer, but I trained well and hard. The taste never was the thing for me. The high was. The higher the high the better.
Although I had more than my share of memorable drunkathons, I (by the Grace of GOD) managed to stay out of jail and away from harming others— life & limb speaking. Psychologically & spiritually... That's another matter.
Most of my adult life I was a weekend alcoholic. Until I spent a ridiculous summer between houses. My wife and kids were living out of a Subaru station wagon on the road crashing with this friend and that relative while I was bedded down in a beach town on Long Island developing a personal growth course (boggie-boarding and weight-lifting) with my then best friend and drinking more beer than... Well, we took our empty cans back to recycle in green lawn trash bags. Three times a week. Minimum. Our motto was simple:
24 hours in a day.
24 cans in a case of beer.
Once there— consumption wise— I pretty much gravitated back to that bottle- and can-point-average whenever the circumstances permitted.
In the 90s, I became increasingly successful. A well-known author in my field, with (not one but two) million-selling books, and a few dozen others-for-others under my belt— what Social media now calls "an authority figure." The financial success, coupled with speaking gigs around the world, afforded me the expanding resources to upgrade from beer to wine. I became both a fan and a fanatic.
My recovery program's first step reads: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable." I knew I was "probably" an alcoholic (and honestly didn't mind saying so), and all superficial evidences— million-dollar home, 1983 Steinway, Mercedes & Rolex, etceteras— to the contrary... I know "undoubtedly" my life was becoming unmanageable. Very.
Ignoring my intuition in favor of my ego's false courage & judgment, I took on new business partners— for the wrong reasons, and as the 80's cop shows were fond of saying, "They were wrong." Perpetrators indeed and in deed, and criminal in fact, as it turned out. They bankrupted the company we took 10 years to build in less than three.
It's taken me a full decade to admit how devastated I was by the loss of my business. It was my adult life's work— and I was my work. In many ways, I still am.
That was the beginning of my end. Everything save my wine consumption went downhill from there. My self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect— admittedly my lower, false-self, but at the time the only self I was aware I had or was— was ground into the dirt (even though it would take 10 years until I realized it was my own jackboots doing the grinding).
In the interim I managed to drive two women crazy, alienate and abuse the spirits of four remarkable & precious children, get so far in debt I may never see the light of one day's credit again, and pile up a mountain of personal & professional garbage that would make New York City's sanitation department declare its removal impossible.
You may say I'm being too hard on myself. Thanks. I appreciate that. And, I disagree.
My final year-ish of alcoholism (2011 and the first three months of 2012) was a confluence of rivers flowing straight to hell. Again, I missed jail (so far...) and taking a life or lives— including my wife & kids— while driving drunk (unforgivable, truly), but all else— my relationships, finances, career, personal & professional commitments, health, emotional stability, mental clarity... you name it, I blew it all.
Of course there's more. As my Big Book instructs I need to "disclose in a general way what I and my life used to be like." I've done that. With very little between-the-lines effort you can probably fill in lots of blanks.
I've naught to hide. It's part of my program of recovery that I explore & expose all I need to make amends to others for with the only caveat being: "...except when to do so would injure them or others."
Well, I'm suppose I'm supposed to feel better now. I'll try. And screw Yoda. I will TRY. Best I can do now.
Next stop on the Recovery Unlimited, "What happened?" that had me stop drinking and begin to recover & reinvent myself.
Short (and only possible) answer: A miracle.
Please, let me know what you think & feel in the Comments box...
I appreciate you!