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Rum & Resolutions

Rum & Resolutions
January 03
10:50 2020

Rum & Resolutions

By: Mike Rudon Jr. –

I’ve never written this column to get pity, or even attention. I think, maybe at the very beginning, I wrote as a plea for understanding. I’m a decent writer, and I thought that if I could put my struggle on paper, people would get it. And I thought, maybe foolishly, that I could help people who are dealing with the same struggles. None of that has happened quite how I envisioned, and that’s the truth.

I realized some time back that people who don’t drink will never understand people who abuse alcohol, like I have done most of my life. Even family members of alcoholics, I think, rarely get it. That doesn’t mean that they don’t support, or don’t care, or don’t stand there rock solid behind their loved ones who drink. But they don’t really understand how the switch works. How is it that on one day I can be on top of the world, boasting of my sobriety, and the next day I’m piss drunk, acting the total jackass?

This year I can boast the most sobriety of the past decades. Yet, I feel that I failed people who cared about me. And I failed myself. Because the thing is this – you can be completely sober for a week, a month or three months, and the one time you slip, you lose everything you gained. Simple as that. I’m kind of a black and white guy. I can’t slow down. I can’t drink beer instead of rum because it’s lighter. I can’t drink from a ‘bad-man’ instead of a quart or litre. I can’t take one drink and go home. I’m sure there are people who can. I have a friend who just suddenly stopped drinking over a year ago. Just stopped cold turkey. I don’t know if he understands how much that impresses me, and how much I envy him.
I’ve written time and time again about how much is lost because of the abuse of alcohol. I’ve told my own story, which is pretty sad. But this isn’t only about me. Because I know what I see in my own self, and because of the circles in which I travel, I see the wreckage left behind by alcohol. I’m talking families lost, kids lost, minds lost, jobs lost, homes lost, all opportunities and potential lost. Hard to imagine so much destruction coming out of one little bottle right?
I’ve seen another type of wreckage too. Vehicles crushed, bodies all over the place. I’ve seen bodies slashed to pieces, the results of ‘socializing.’ The bottle does that too. I have seen the dazed faces of accused murderers as they are led to Court in handcuffs. And I wonder if they even remember what happened. I can tell you, because I know, that I have lost entire weekends where I could not for the life of me remember what I did, or who I talked to. I know that I have acquaintances who have the same problem. The alcohol just shuts down something in the brain – turns a lot of us into monsters, and then shuts the brain down so we can’t remember. That’s as real as I can explain it.

This year, I learned a lot about mental illness too, and its link to alcohol. I don’t know the clinical phrases, but I know that alcohol is tied to depression, and depression is tied to alcohol. I learned that I am a curious combination of strength and weakness. When my mind is calm, I can sit in a group of people drinking, even pour drinks for them, and feel no compulsion to drink. But then there are times when I get down – and I have trouble pulling myself up. And then I want to drink. I know what it does to me. I know what it has done to my life. I know what I have lost by drinking, and I know what I stand to lose. And still, I have done it.

I am a reasonably intelligent guy, a lover and not a fighter, a father who would kill or die for those I love. Yet, I still have times when I want to drink. When I get down and overwhelmed, I want to drink. And when I drink, I am so consumed by remorse and guilt and a sense of my own failing that I get depressed. It’s a hell of a chicken and an egg scenario.

And still, I am here. This year, 2019, was about successes and failures. I have hurt others and I’ve been hurt. I have lost people I care about. But I also found out more about myself. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I will keep trying, for my kids and for those who have confidence in me.

I know your struggles. I feel your pain. Just keep trying. If there is even one day, or a weekend when you want to drink, and don’t, then be proud of yourself. A young man said something about me a while back which touched me. He told someone who was having trouble coming to grips with my drinking, that the truth is I will be tempted every single day. Some days I will win the battle, and some days I won’t.

Like I said, I’m a black and white kinda guy. I prefer to believe that I am well on the way to spectacular success, sober success. Nobody said it would be easy. But I’m still here, and still fighting. The day I stop fighting is the day I die.
Stay safe and sober this New Year. For your kids, your loved ones, and for yourself.

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