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"I'm climbing through the wreckage
Of all my twisted dreams,
But this cheap investigation
Just can't stifle all my screams
And I'm waiting at the crossroads
Waiting for you
Where are you?"

"Coma" - Guns & Roses

Some call it hitting "rock bottom", others the "end of the line". I prefer to call it "the crossroads". It's not the end, it's just that a decision has to be made.

It is the choice between recovery, death, insanity or further other unpleasant forms of deterioration. I guess many of us hit what we thought was "rock bottom" many times in our using/drinking careers - only to find it actually can get worse. Much worse.

For me, it was a strange sequence of events. My blackouts were becoming more frequent, and my behavior during them was worsening. A blackout is a loss of memory whilst under the influence. You may seem at times quite in control to others, but you can't remember anything of it the next morning. Unfortunately, during blackouts we are not in control and this tends to be when the really negative stuff happens. It is also the point when physical brain damage is occurring - that's why you can't remember events. The frontal lobe of your brain is affected. Many murders and other violent crimes are committed while people are in this state.

I have experienced a number of blackouts that exceeded 24 hours. I have woken up in towns that I have no recollection of traveling to. Coming out of a blackout is quite frightening and is usually accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Emerging from a blackout is worse when you see the faces of your loved ones around you, and they have expressions of fear and anger. What did you do? "No, that's not possible...I could never do that". Sorry to tell you, but it is possible, and you did do it.

When I was straight and dry, it was hard to tell (for outsiders anyway) that there was anything wrong with me. But when I drank, a good deal of the time I had no memory of events that occurred. I went from being a gentle person, to an acidic, spiteful, sarcastic scumbag... no other way to describe it.

The afternoon of the beginning of the end was much like any other. I was studying at the time, trying to better myself. The only problem was that I wasn't attending to the deeper, darker problems of my life. Sure, I had been to various counselors and psychologists over the years to "sort things out", but we never tackled the real issue - an issue that I hid as best I could. They were the "cheap investigations".

After the day's studies, I went to a pub (bar) with a few colleagues to have a beer. A beer. One. After all, we had little money and my partner was expecting me home. Sound like a familiar story?

2 weeks later I was still drinking that beer (plus doing other things). In that time I had called my partner and told her I wanted nothing more to do with her or the step-children. I cleared out our bank accounts, leaving them with nothing. I spent most of the money. I wound up in another State. I remember very little. Thinking back on it right at this moment, a shiver runs up my spine and my face is flushing with shame. It was bad, very bad. I guess the reason I am writing this down is not so much as a "confession". That has already been carried out as part of my recovery process. I wish to assist others who may have done this type of thing, or assist the families of those who have suffered as a result of having this done to them.

To those who have done the same things as I, I feel for you. Most of you would experience the same revulsion towards yourselves as I did (and sometimes still do). This can stop you from seeking help. Guilt overwhelms us and drives us back to look for oblivion, because that is all our drugs and drink can offer us by that stage. There is no more "high"...there is only numbness and darkness to escape into. 

Let's face it. I/you/we did bad things. But that does not necessarily mean that I/you/we are evil people. We can make amends. We may never be forgiven by those we hurt. But we can show remorse by living our lives with the purpose of trying never to hurt another soul in this way again. For as long as we live. And how do we achieve that? - we go into recovery. As I mentioned in another article, suicide is also an option - but it is just another damned mess we create that someone else has to clean up. You may say to yourself "at least it will be the last mess" - but it will be one that stays with those you love forever. In recovery, you will learn ways of dealing with the guilt and how to make amends, your renewed strength will give you courage to face the past - a much better and positive alternative in my books!!!

With the knowledge conveyed in this article and others, I also impart the burden of self-responsibility onto you. Education has it's price. Responsibility for your own illness is the amount.

To those partners, friends and families who have experienced the situation I described, I don't know what to say. I want to apologize on behalf of every drunk and junkie on the face of the planet. But that is not my right, not my role or privilege and does nothing to heal the pain that you have experienced. I make no excuses or rationalizations for this type of behavior, it is unacceptable and inexcusable. But if you can find it in yourselves to forgive the person, it will assist in your healing process. This does not necessarily mean accepting the addict/alcoholic back into your lives and leaving yourself open to it happening again. Nor does it necessarily mean telling the person that you forgive them, but just to know in your heart that you do will ease the pain. Sound strange? Try it. 

I would also suggest that you get some outside help in dealing with the issues as they run deep and raw. Addiction is a disease the whole family gets. Because you have probably been living with an addict for some time, their attitudes rub off on to you. Life is fearful and insecure. "Normal" is warped. There are many organizations out there whose sole purpose is to assist you in finding a peaceful life again. But as in the case of the addict, your healing is your responsibility. What happened to you is wrong and tragic, but it cannot be reversed.  To hold on to the pain and hurt is of no value.

I continued on my path of oblivion for a little while longer, drinking for a few hours, becoming unconscious, waking and repeating the pattern. I became so unwell and paranoid that I could no longer go outside. There was methylated spirits in the house where I was. I drank that too. The last time that I woke during this binge, something inside me literally snapped. My "soul" felt as though it had been ripped from me and I was merely a shell, an alcoholic automaton. I can never properly convey that feeling. To be alive yet dead was quite frightening. I guess the only way I can really describe it is to state that I was spiritually bankrupt. On other occasions over the previous years I had been physically in worse condition, but not so emotionally barren. There was only pain.

So, what did I do?......I picked up the phone, dialed someone I had never met before in my life and begged him for help. He was from AA. I was admitted to hospital about 2 hours later. My partner was notified. She arrived shortly afterwards. To demonstrate just how powerful this disease is and how it affects those around the addict; the first thing she did was not to swear at me and curse the day I was born. She "protected" me. She said I had been under a lot of pressure. Addiction is a disease the whole family gets. Our families and friends are so used to covering up for us that it becomes automatic. More on that in another article.

I don't remember much about the next 2 weeks of detox.

But I do know that finally, the right direction was taken when I hit....

The crossroads.....

Michael Bloch

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