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Thread: Staying Alcohol Free

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    Australia Avalon Member s7e6e's Avatar
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Never believed in alcoholism or not trusting yourself to have a drink once in a while and or without getting drunk. I find people unable to control themselves as weak.

    Had my 2 years "episode" of getting drunk pretty much every single day and missing alcohol when not having it. I indulged myself because it made days pass by easier, having the roughest patch of my life at the time. But after missing a baby in a cradle by an inch while wheelying on my motorcycle I realized enough is enough.

    It took 3 months for the craves to subside after which had my first beer. 10 years later, if I drink more than 2 beers in a raw, an invisible valve opens wide and feel the urge to have 5 more. But I never give in. I can drink whatever and get buzzed but passed that, I always put a stop to it.

    Have quit regular smoking as well and went cold turkey 15 years ago after smoking 20 years. But I wouldn't trust myself having a "one off". Weak bastard..

    I'm in the process of giving up sugar. The force is strong in this one, don't let anybody tell you any different.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Quote Posted by Hym (here)
    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    One of my literary hero's, Bukowski, said he would have killed himself early on in life were it not for alcohol. Hemingway said something similar.
    And then Hemingway did kill himself.....
    Yes he did, sadly. Not alcohol related though. He'd suffered some very damaging concussions throughout his adult life. After the last, a plane crash, his behavior became erratic and his mood dark. He became despondent over his lost ability to write. He was also very paranoid about what he believed was government surveillance at the end of his life. Turns out, he was being surveilled. This caused him enormous stress. This, plus his deteriorating mental condition due to being repeatedly concussed are the recognized reasons for his suicide.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    According to the research Dark Journalist did on the Hemingways, Ernest was an early "Targeted Individual" and his daughters may have been as well.
    He was very interested in the ruins underwater off shore from Cuba for one thing, and the secret government didn't like that at all.
    He was also friends with JFK.
    Some fascinating info in DJ's show here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL9U...VCR7Cpui9wElEg

    (
    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    Quote Posted by Hym (here)
    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    One of my literary hero's, Bukowski, said he would have killed himself early on in life were it not for alcohol. Hemingway said something similar.
    And then Hemingway did kill himself.....
    Yes he did, sadly. Not alcohol related though. He'd suffered some very damaging concussions throughout his adult life. After the last, a plane crash, his behavior became erratic and his mood dark. He became despondent over his lost ability to write. He was also very paranoid about what he believed was government surveillance at the end of his life. Turns out, he was being surveilled. This caused him enormous stress. This, plus his deteriorating mental condition due to being repeatedly concussed are the recognized reasons for his suicide.
    Last edited by onawah; 28th April 2021 at 06:41.
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    I virtually never get drunk but do have a couple of glasses of wine almost every day. I'm full of stress and anxiety and it helps me deal with that. If I had access to weed I would use that instead. I've tried meditation many times to deal with my stress but I just can't seem to get into it.

    Any suggestions for dealing with stress/anxiety would be most welcome.
    Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    I occasionally have a glass of wine. But it is rare. I used to drink. We had social events at work and alcohol always flowed. It was at one of these events that I realized I really did not like the people I was around, especially when they were drinking. My father told me once that a person's true personality comes out after a few drinks. I have found this to be true. Out here in the woods I have discovered I really don't care for the taste of alcohol and was only drinking because everyone else was......what a bad reason!
    "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.” William Blake

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  11. Link to Post #46
    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    I don't drink too often these days. But when I see my father I do. Although he's fit and healthy, my thinking is that he's getting a little older now and you just never know how long people will be around. So, I won't pass that up. Having beers with Dad is a special thing. He visited me recently and I had a few too many, and boy I suffered for it. People will likely think this is strange - and it kind of is! - but there's a Wynn Dixie grocery store here in Florida with a bar in the middle of it lol! It's quite a novelty. And you don't even have to sit at the bar to drink! You can roam the store all you like with a beer in your hand, do your shopping, so forth. We were so charmed by the whole thing that we sat there for hours. That was days ago, and I'm still feeling the effects. I'm getting older too
    Last edited by Mike; 28th April 2021 at 17:17.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Thanks Onawah and Mike. That makes much more sense to me now, knowing a clearer picture of Hemingway. I have experienced those tragedies in my family from drinkers who not only took their lives while under the influence, yet more importantly whose many living days clouded all that I liked about them while they were not drunk.

    One of those close to me had a story like Hemingways, with deep gov't. contact and was poisoned beyond the drinking....too long to tell here. That turned me away from looking into Hemingway's death, but now it all makes things clearer. Yes, I see where release and relief from pain is temporarily helped by alcohol, but the downside and the excess from drinking nullifies the gains and sometimes even the life itself.

    Also, it is not uncommon for those who suffer concussions to turn to drink instead of nutraceuticals and a stronger nutrition base, and spending time learning how to control their pain with breath techniques. With more than one brain injury CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition only compounds the effects of saturating the brain with neuro-depressants like alcohol.

    We see those suffering from concussions who've been in accidents, football players with recurring brain traumas, boxers and mma fighters switch from compassionate personalities to excesses in suffering from depression and outbursts of aggression as their brains and their personalities cope with the injuries. Adding alcohol to the mix only furthers the degeneration of cellular health.

    The liver, as the cleaner and functional creator of new cells body wide, eventually loses it's ability to filter out both naturally dead cells and any of the many added toxins we are exposed to in this modern world, whether it is from alcohol induced mitochondrial necrosis/death or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

    In either case the solutions are learning how to remove the habit by taking on healthier ones. There are endless examples, maybe more than those tragedies and life-changing regrets from alcohol abuse, of alcoholics whose lives have been revived by focusing on nutrition and a little consistent exercise. Learn how the liver functions and it's vital importance to the quality of life and longevity.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    One good example is one I went thru.

    Hearing that my ex, with her most recent drinking excesses, was in the hospital, my son and I dropped everything and immediately traveled to see her.
    When we arrived, she was heavier than we had last seen her two years before.
    Her sclera, the whites of the eyes, were yellowed, and her skin looked pale.
    I saw the drawer full of candy that her mother had left her and the crap they were feeding her for lunch and dinner in the hospital.
    I asked the doctors if I could cook for her and they said yes, if I kept it low or no sodium/salt.

    I then went to a sister's house and cooked her a healthy dinner.
    She appreciated the change in food and more than that, it had an immediate affect on her.
    In just 45 minutes the yellow disappeared from her eyes and her face, her skin got back it's color.
    In the 3 days I spent with her, feeding her, throwing away the candy, massaging her, sleeping in a chair next to her, complaining to the nurses calling me her husband when I knew she had a boyfriend by then, somewhere....
    She had lost 21 lbs. from her edema/swelling, her bp went up to normal and her oxygen saturation went from 89 to 95, all signs of recuperation.

    When we had to leave for me to get ready for a teaching gig I had coming up, and with our son out of the room, I asked her if she was going to make it and she said No.
    She passed 18 days later when her mother pulled the plug without telling our son.

    The hospital sucked so much at taking care of her, and they sucked in so many ways, that a few days after her passing I called the county coroner to request an autopsy, to no avail.
    He did call me up during my class's afternoon break and when the class heard some of the conversation from the nearby hallway they gave me the rest of the day off. Good friends.

    The coroner told me that I shouldn't have left her and he was right. Because the nurses told him I had taken care of her and him somehow thinking it was worth him taking the time to tell me exactly what he knew, without keeping anything out, he was right. Maybe he knew I'd share the tragedy to warn others about the many things wrong with the system itself.

    After getting the 2352 pages of her stay there, and learning the many ways they f'd up her care, mixing her meds, injuring her by dropping her, etc..... confirmed what he shared. He was right in more ways than he likely knew. And this....all the result of the many things that institutions deliberately fail, alcoholics included.

    He told me that he has told his wife that if he's in the hospital for more than 4 or 5 days, and if she doesn't come and get him, and if he can't walk out, he'll crawl out. This to save himself from the neglect, misdiagnosis and abject ignorance of the hospital industry. He should know, being the coroner for the largest county in the country, where he saw the results many times, every day he worked.

    Though I am not responsible for any of her choices, I share this so that those who may not know the full tragedy of human loss will get another insight into how far addictions affect those around them.
    Last edited by Hym; 28th April 2021 at 17:30.

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    United States Avalon Member Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Quote Posted by Hym (here)
    Thanks Onawah and Mike. That makes much more sense to me now, knowing a clearer picture of Hemingway. I have experienced those tragedies in my family from drinkers who not only took their lives while under the influence, yet more importantly whose many living days clouded all that I liked about them while they were not drunk.

    One of those close to me had a story like Hemingways, with deep gov't. contact and was poisoned beyond the drinking....too long to tell here. That turned me away from looking into Hemingway's death, but now it all makes things clearer. Yes, I see where release and relief from pain is temporarily helped by alcohol, but the downside and the excess from drinking nullifies the gains and sometimes even the life itself.

    Also, it is not uncommon for those who suffer concussions to turn to drink instead of nutraceuticals and a stronger nutrition base, and spending time learning how to control their pain with breath techniques. With more than one brain injury CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition only compounds the effects of saturating the brain with neuro-depressants like alcohol.

    We see those suffering from concussions who've been in accidents, football players with recurring brain traumas, boxers and mma fighters switch from compassionate personalities to excesses in suffering from depression and outbursts of aggression as their brains and their personalities cope with the injuries. Adding alcohol to the mix only furthers the degeneration of cellular health.

    The liver, as the cleaner and functional creator of new cells body wide, eventually loses it's ability to filter out both naturally dead cells and any of the many added toxins we are exposed to in this modern world, whether it is from alcohol induced mitochondrial necrosis/death or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

    In either case the solutions are learning how to remove the habit by taking on healthier ones. There are endless examples, maybe more than those tragedies and life-changing regrets from alcohol abuse, of alcoholics whose lives have been revived by focusing on nutrition and a little consistent exercise. Learn how the liver functions and it's vital importance to the quality of life and longevity.

    Yeah, I doubt the drinking helped at the end of his life. Had he treated his injuries nutritionally instead of drowning them in drink he might have had a chance.

    But there were other factors as well. They fried his brain with electrotherapy for starters. It just ruined him. And he was impotent towards the end of his life too. For a man of such bravado, this must have been devastating. And worse of all he could no longer write. Kind of a "perfect storm" of events there

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Quote Posted by Alan (here)
    Any suggestions for dealing with stress/anxiety would be most welcome.

    Try playing a guitar in 432hz. It will lower stress esp. caused by 5g.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Find a quiet, peaceful spot outdoors and lie on the earth, near running water or in a wooded area, if possible. See:
    https://projectavalon.net/forum4/sho...l=1#post992825
    https://projectavalon.net/forum4/sho...=1#post1006140
    Certain housecats can be great healers--the relaxed ones that really likes to cuddle and purr.
    (Or a dog if you prefer, or any animal you can form a connection with for that matter. I've even had pet parakeets that were great companions.
    But cats and dogs seem to be especially attuned to humans.)
    See: https://earth-keeper.com/animal-cons...-of-cats-dogs/
    Quote Posted by Alan (here)
    I virtually never get drunk but do have a couple of glasses of wine almost every day. I'm full of stress and anxiety and it helps me deal with that. If I had access to weed I would use that instead. I've tried meditation many times to deal with my stress but I just can't seem to get into it.

    Any suggestions for dealing with stress/anxiety would be most welcome.
    Last edited by onawah; 30th April 2021 at 18:36.
    Each breath a gift...
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Quote Posted by onawah (here)
    (Or a dog if you prefer, or any animal you and form a connection with for that matter. I've even had pet parakeets that were great companions.
    But cats and dogs seem to be especially attuned to humans.)
    Onawah, thanks for your comments. I agree with your comment about dogs, we have 2 beautiful Labs who have been a tremendous source of love and joy in our lives.

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    Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Meditation. Some basics.
    Having a routine helps. When we plan to spend even 1/2 hour a day on anything that gives us health, we create a habit of feeling better. Our entire being, body, mind and soul creates an expectation that supports the daily practice. Meditating fits in the best.

    There are few things that cannot be considered meditation.
    Life itself is an endless meditation. It is focus. It can either release or severely constrict healing. It is always our choice.


    When we look at meditation and the mind, one of the best ways to make the mind, in it's complexities and in it's simplicities, come under the control of our soul, our will, and to fulfill our desire to release itself from it's connection to an unhealthy addiction, is to control the breath.

    Any breath rhythm that is balanced will do. Breathing in thru the left nostril and breathing out thru the right nostril is a good start. Then switching out, by breathing in thru the right nostril and out thru the left will bring the mind and the body under your control.

    Breathing in and holding the breath in creates release, apana/uhpaanuh.
    Breathing in, then out, and holding the breath out creates energy, prana/praanuh.

    There are many more. Like breathing in 8 steps and then breathing out in 8 steps.
    Find what suites you and be consistent.

    One common misconception about meditating is that it brings some sort of transcendent state of awareness, as if that is the goal. That couldn't be further from the reality we experience. Good for you if you jump from the beginning to the end, but that's not the value, nor the purpose if we do it right.

    In all valuable forms and in the most normal, the most healing and worthwhile types of meditating we go over our daily lives. We see the good and the bad, according to our living. We evaluate ourselves more clearly while meditating and we often learn, quite naturally and without coaching or dogma, how to let go.

    If you're not seeing the junk along with the better parts of your days and your life, you're most often not meditating, you are fantasizing. Don't worry. Once those things are faced and released, the journeys are always there to take.

    It takes no effort but the nature of your soul to guide the self discovery, how long we stay on a problem that needs our resolution, or when we go on to another, or......when we go elsewhere. Controlling our breathing releases worries to being solved, resolved or accepted...but it comes into real perspective of where we are.

    It does arrive at the point where we release the entrainment of thought itself and find ourselves not actively living chained to words, concepts or images. If I never had experienced any of those states of awareness beyond self examination I would still consider the time meditating as extremely valuable.

    If there is one thing to remember it is self forgiveness. If there was one power I could have in the lives of others it is only that, and that alone. None of us have that power and we weren't meant to have it, for it is a choice made by the soul to heal itself, the one redeeming and sure guarantee of real healing and enjoying the challenges of living.

    If you feel the need to make amends, then certainly do so. Often it may be an apology and not more. However, there are healthy limits to making amends. If the injured hold on and if amends have been made, it's on them, even as contradictory as that seems.

    There is no better mending of a wounded life than living a good life. When someone really loves you, maybe more than they should or more than you love yourself, they just want to move on and enjoy the living with or without them. There truly is no time but now, and love lives in the eternal space of now.

    Meditation, in most worthwhile forms, is perspective. In that perspective we naturally let go of those concerns being allowed to dominate our lives. We don't forget them. We put them into perspective.

    On a physical level you may find your tongue touching the upper palate during meditation. That is the heightened sensory aspect of your body touching, activating, it's connection to higher consciousness. There's more you'll find as you carry on.
    Last edited by Hym; 3rd May 2021 at 22:57.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Quote Posted by Alan (here)
    I virtually never get drunk but do have a couple of glasses of wine almost every day. I'm full of stress and anxiety and it helps me deal with that. If I had access to weed I would use that instead. I've tried meditation many times to deal with my stress but I just can't seem to get into it.

    Any suggestions for dealing with stress/anxiety would be most welcome.

    you could try hypnotherapy

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Quote Posted by Alan (here)
    I virtually never get drunk but do have a couple of glasses of wine almost every day. I'm full of stress and anxiety and it helps me deal with that. If I had access to weed I would use that instead. I've tried meditation many times to deal with my stress but I just can't seem to get into it.

    Any suggestions for dealing with stress/anxiety would be most welcome.
    I deal with stress with the following; Lots of exercises if you can do it under the sun and in nature, much better; Music; water fast, and magic mushroom. Meditation does not work with me too. Stress is normal to almost all people. everyone go through it at some point. Though people in the cities are more stressed than people living close to nature.

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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    More about Hemingway and particularly his interest in the Hot Zone (remains of the underwater Atlantis colony) in Dark Journalist's latest here starting at 49 minutes in:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxK63YETgC8
    ...which really helped to make him a Targeted Individual.

    Quote Posted by Mike (here)
    Quote Posted by Hym (here)
    Thanks Onawah and Mike. That makes much more sense to me now, knowing a clearer picture of Hemingway. I have experienced those tragedies in my family from drinkers who not only took their lives while under the influence, yet more importantly whose many living days clouded all that I liked about them while they were not drunk.

    One of those close to me had a story like Hemingways, with deep gov't. contact and was poisoned beyond the drinking....too long to tell here. That turned me away from looking into Hemingway's death, but now it all makes things clearer. Yes, I see where release and relief from pain is temporarily helped by alcohol, but the downside and the excess from drinking nullifies the gains and sometimes even the life itself.

    Also, it is not uncommon for those who suffer concussions to turn to drink instead of nutraceuticals and a stronger nutrition base, and spending time learning how to control their pain with breath techniques. With more than one brain injury CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition only compounds the effects of saturating the brain with neuro-depressants like alcohol.

    We see those suffering from concussions who've been in accidents, football players with recurring brain traumas, boxers and mma fighters switch from compassionate personalities to excesses in suffering from depression and outbursts of aggression as their brains and their personalities cope with the injuries. Adding alcohol to the mix only furthers the degeneration of cellular health.

    The liver, as the cleaner and functional creator of new cells body wide, eventually loses it's ability to filter out both naturally dead cells and any of the many added toxins we are exposed to in this modern world, whether it is from alcohol induced mitochondrial necrosis/death or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

    In either case the solutions are learning how to remove the habit by taking on healthier ones. There are endless examples, maybe more than those tragedies and life-changing regrets from alcohol abuse, of alcoholics whose lives have been revived by focusing on nutrition and a little consistent exercise. Learn how the liver functions and it's vital importance to the quality of life and longevity.

    Yeah, I doubt the drinking helped at the end of his life. Had he treated his injuries nutritionally instead of drowning them in drink he might have had a chance.

    But there were other factors as well. They fried his brain with electrotherapy for starters. It just ruined him. And he was impotent towards the end of his life too. For a man of such bravado, this must have been devastating. And worse of all he could no longer write. Kind of a "perfect storm" of events there
    Each breath a gift...
    _____________

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    Avalon Member leavesoftrees's Avatar
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    Study finds that even moderate drinking reduces density of brain's grey matter

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/...in-finds-study

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Staying Alcohol Free

    I'd like to share this searing, extraordinary piece of writing, published today. It comes from iconic rock climber John Long, regarded by many as a kind of hero and [almost!] universally loved.

    Off-topic on this thread: on the Contemplating mortality thread I posted a marvelous, self-effacing piece that he'd written in 1982, still celebrated as one of the greatest and most evocative short articles in climbing literature — a day when he came seconds from death when he took on just too much. I do recommend it.

    Here's what he published today. Trust me, it's a most exceptional piece of naked self-exposure.

    I tell you: this is the writing of a great soul. He's going to save lives with this.

    ~~~

    John Long Comes Clean on Alcoholism

    I’m doing a new book and my publisher received an email from a woman (“Jill”) in England who called me out as a womanizer, a fraud, a liar and creep who took advantage of a situation when I was supposedly trying to help her organize her writings into a book.

    Instead, I hit on her. Nothing came of it. No fling. No twisting arms or anything like it; but the episode shattered her trust and turned her inside out. Jill was raging mad. I’d been all of those things she’d accused me of, and several more as well.

    Jill’s email threw me into a surreal state of self-centered fear, which caught me totally off guard. The Jill incident happened years ago. I can’t be sure how many years because I was in the tail end of my active boozing and acting out, and that whole time looms behind me like a dark and boiling ocean.

    Eventually, I got into recovery for alcoholism, and after a hellacious initial year, I finally started grappling out of the darkness. A key part of recovery is “cleaning up the wreckage of the past,” but I had so much troubled water to traverse, four or five years passed before I even remembered the incident with Jill.

    I immediately emailed her, hoping to make amends. She was moving to England, she said, but was encouraged I had gotten hold of her to try and make things right. She would get back to me when things settled after the move. I heard nothing more from her till her letter to my publisher.

    My terror at that moment was not so much about getting retroactively called out. Rather, that the narcissist I had become as an active alcoholic could jump back from the tar pits and wreck the same havoc and harm it once did when it ruled my life.

    Years have passed since this was strictly so, but I haven’t done this perfectly and the fear of falling back into shitheel addict mode felt overwhelming. It once again exposed the hole in the middle of me, a sure sign that I had more work to do. After all these years of being sober, of seeking the truth that had so long eluded me, I was only now getting to the hard part.

    My journey to escape hell is nothing special or unique. There’s an understanding in recovery rooms (especially AA, my path of choice) that we’re basically all telling the same story, but those of us with a genius for denial, dishonesty and self-deception have to hear it over and over to hear it at all. Then we need to keep hearing it to stay the course. “Eternal vigilance.”

    My story started with a bad adoption and unremitting violence growing up. I struggled in school. My only salvation was sports. When I found climbing, and eventually made Yosemite my home base, I was only vaguely aware of my vastly imbalanced mania to prove myself and make a name. At any cost.

    I’d come along at an opportune time in climbing history, had ambitious, driven partners and through luck, chance, and a little talent, managed some historic climbs and got “famous” in a small time way. I dove into adventuring and went to the North Pole, traversed Borneo and Irian Jaya, explored the world’s largest river cave.

    When the bloom started fading from the adventuring life, I went on a film shoot to the Venezuela rainforest (with Jim Bridwell) and we rappelled thousands of feet down Angel Falls for the Guinness Book of World Records TV series. I met a Venezuelan school teacher, who worked in the jungle resort near the falls. Two years later we got married in El Tigre, Venezuela.

    Fast forward a dozen years. I have two daughters and a house in Valencia, Venezuela. My wife was always a little fiery, but a darkness crept into her that eventually grew so fierce and toxic the girls and I were thrown into survival mode. Somewhere in there a cousin told me that mental illness ran in my wife’s side of the family (her mother was likely schizophrenic).

    Whatever her actual condition, I was vastly overmatched by my wife’s erratic moods and behavior, which felt eerily familiar, like family. When my oldest daughter went to medical school and did a semester in a psych ward, she informed me one evening that mamá had chronic depression and who knows what else since she refused treatment.

    She did, however, blame me for everything, and I started feeling torn open and rattled to the core. I was burning inside and tried to douse it with booze, an automatic response to someone who’d grown up in an era and a milieu (Yosemite) where drinking and drugging were expected, even celebrated. Then my wife got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Two torturous years later, she died at our home in Valencia.

    For the last year before my wife’s death, nothing I did could dull the torment. I teetered at the edge. My wife died and I fell. I no longer cared about anything but trying to fill that hole. I became an alcoholic in a month’s time as all sense of meaning, truth, dignity, and value crumbled away. I’d seen various of my original climbing partners fall off the cliff like this, which at the time was tragic to watch. Now I didn’t care.

    How I survived the next 18 months defies logic. How I had any friends who would still speak to me is an even greater mystery. I became so rogue, so inauthentic, so Machiavellian that I lost myself entirely. The hole only widened and burned out of control. All that mattered was immediate gratification. Buying things I didn’t need, compulsive exercise, meaningless, deceitful sex, binging on any and everything, and tossing people aside after their usefulness to me was over. I had no conscious, no empathy, no hope.

    This demonic state became so intolerable that I could only sleep for two or three hours at a time, regardless how much booze I drank. I’d wake several times during the night, pound a couple shots of tequila, and pass out again. The first morning I found myself at a convenience store to buy booze at six in the morning an almost inaudible voice inside of me said, “You’re gonna die doing this. And your daughters won’t care.”

    I somehow made it back to my place and for several hours sat with a terror more easily imagined than described. I was out of control and out of my mind and had no capacity to self-correct. I had just enough wherewithal to call a childhood friend who took me to an AA meeting.


    John Long (right), with Billy Westbay and Jim Bridwell, made the very first one-day ascent of El Capitan in 1975.

    The year that followed proved the hardest of my life. I got a sponsor, Roberto, an aging Mexican American I couldn’t con or swindle because he’d been exactly like me 30 years before. Much to my amazement, putting down booze was the easiest part of the process. For some it remains an ongoing battle, but I’d been scared straight. Back then, the only thing I respected was fear.

    The hard part was coming to grips with how recovery worked and couldn’t work. Admitting the problem defeats some, but I couldn’t deny I was alcoholic, and had acted like one, in spades. Next was accepting that for the vast majority of us, booze and using is only a symptom for deeper issues that got us drinking and acting rogue in the first place.

    It didn’t much matter why I’d acquired my torment, said Roberto, or who was at fault. We had the “ism.” It was nobodies job but ours to unpack it. What’s more, those of us who sought compulsive defense strategies for avoiding that smoldering hole could and would use any means to fill it. Whatever addiction took us down, we’d have to address that first; but the crucial work ran deeper. Then I had to take stock of who I was and the damage I’d caused and go back and try and make amends.

    If there was any question about the wreckage caused by addiction, and the addicts like me who caused it, I had those questions answered during my first experience with the amends phase of recovery. Dealing with my own family was especially tricky, since both my parents were dead. Both my sisters (including my older sister, a psychologist) were thrown back into the chaos of our upbringing.

    Those were turbulent months. Then all the women to whom I’d feigned interest, even love. The wreckage was real and at a depth I couldn’t have imagined until they were screaming right into my face. I was always amazed when such people forgave me, and not surprised when several others would do no such thing.

    What the Jill debacle unearthed in me was the preverbial conviction that I had been born flawed and had proved as much with my using, lying, cheating and general mayhem. How does a person every recovery from that? I needed “Steve” to guide me through it.

    When Steve was 19, he killed a man in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight. He got life without parole and spent the next 38 years in prisons like Fulsom and San Quentin. I met him at a meeting shortly after the governor commuted his sentence and he finally got out. He was one of the most sincere, rock solid people I’d ever met and we became fast friends. He’d transformed himself in “the big house,” and I needed to know how.

    If he could come back from murder one with special circumstances, maybe I had a shot. But the man he killed could never come back, so how did he deal with that? How could I deal with the people I had betrayed? And the few who would always hold me in contempt, insisting my efforts at amends were insincere, were cons, lies.

    “You can’t roll back time and take it all back,” Steve said. My only option was to try and be the person the world wanted and needed. An actual adult who strove to do the right thing. The whole God mystery, at the core of many recovery programs, always felt slippery to Steve and me.

    We both were inveterate meditators. I’d logged about 800 Zoom meditation meetings during the pandemic and probably would never have seen things so clearly, or at all, had I not spent so many hours on my ass, shutting my mouth and being still. And all those previous epics dealing with those whose trust I had broken and who swore every response from me was nothing but bullshit and defending, that I was doing it all wrong, “So fuck you!” Nothing else would have woken me up—and continues to wake me up.

    But seeking “God’s will,” as we’re instructed from the start, seemed nebulous. I couldn’t get hold of it. But I certainly knew what God’s will was not. And doing the right thing, being a responsible, self-contained adult as the world shakes and rattles around me, was something I’d understood how to do for a long time. The trick was to do it—in rain or shine and in the dark. To live by the philosophy that got Steve out of jail, knowing I couldn’t do it perfectly.


    John Long then and now — clean, sober and planning on staying that way.

    “There’s nothing else to do,” said Steve. And it was always an action step, not a philosophy or slogan or intellectual understanding. Not a concept. It was how we are in the world. Setting limits. Creating safety, trust and dignity. It’s a confirmation of life, which is never just about us and our wants and desires and impulses. And it was not just about “my recovery.” It was far bigger than that. Not an easy path, but it’s all there is. It’s all that’s left.

    Carolyn Tredway’s excellent documentary, “Light,” explored and exposed the perils of eating disorders, which for years had lurked like an elephant in the rooms of gym and sport climbing. Alcohol and substance abuse are particular concerns, but all of these disorders are mental health issues.

    Only now, at long last, is the subject of mental health starting to lose its stigma, and for the prevalence of all the “isms” to be acknowledged and understood, in both the adventure world and society at large. My hope is this short article can do some little part for us “users” what Light did for eating disorders, and the whole issue of mental health.

    The way Steve puts it, anyone can be better than their most destructive action. It all starts with coming out of the shadows and admitting the problem. As Dr. G. said in “Light,” Anyone can fully recover. It is hard. It is a street fight. It is a shit show. But it can happen. You can live free.

    Only then can we chart a way ahead.
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 2nd June 2021 at 18:27.

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