Hustle or Bust – Act 2

Addicts and alcoholics such as myself are extremely resourceful and clever people; the gift of desperation can work for or against us depending on state of mind or, more importantly, spiritual condition.  The following are merely a couple examples of how I, myself, and other addicts I’ve met along my journey have supported the habit.  With that being said, how we did it is not really the point of what I’m driving at. 

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They are found in neighborhoods throughout the country; undersized and red; mostly disregarded or neglected; never in the forefront of busy minds traversing through daily life – work, kids, bills, friends, family, and the list goes on.  They are positioned up or down depending on the situation; their unvarnished intention to notify postal workers of outgoing mail – and what is generally mailed out from homes?  Payments for various personal bills and expenses so, consequently, these indicators also dispatch the same information to criminals and identity thieves looking for a score.  Now, this was never my hustle, but I have heard scores of testimonies about the triggering effect these seemingly harmless red flags have on the drastically desperate addict or alcoholic consumed with obtaining the next fix; even to the point where cruising through a neighborhood on the prowl for upright red flags becomes an entire addiction in and of itself.  The prime targets are obviously checks, gift cards, and even cash if folks are naïve enough to send it snail mail – checks seem to be the most frequent find and its surprisingly somewhat simple to execute check fraud once the check is in the wrong hands – all it allegedly requires is a little sandpaper, a pen, and some balls to go through with it.  I’m certainly no expert in the business, but I imagine there are all sorts of other ways that it can be done as well – this is purely the version I’ve heard.

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Getting back to my own lunacy…

As I retreated from laying my soldiers to rest in the dumpster of the high school across the street, I schemed and analyzed – thinking of anything or anyway I could diminish my distress; this unrelenting, incessant desperation digging deeper by the minute; by the second; completely overtaken as my head relays to itself an urgency; deprivation has become a threat to my survival – it’s out of my control, the power of choice stripped away.  The hour of insanity draining little drops of liquor into a medicine cup was, for all intents and purposes, just a teaser – undisputedly igniting the over-powering phenomenon of craving; it was alive and in full force.  Distraught and on edge, I paced the kitchen when all of a sudden it hit me like a sack of bricks.  Out of all the fucked up things I’ve engineered, plotted and carried out over the years to support my addiction, what popped in my head that night was the lowest – at least it was to me – from a moral standpoint; hell – just from a human being standpoint.  But nonetheless my mind was foggy and overridden by selfish desires so I walked towards the kid’s room, slowly and quietly, every effort and measure taken not to wake them.  I turned the doorknob and peered in – two sleeping children; just what I wanted.  I slid in, shut the door behind me, and laid cold, dead eyes on the target of this mission.  The Spiderman nightlight provided just enough glow to guide the way while also reminding me that I was preparing to army crawl through an innocent child’s bedroom in pursuit of a piggy bank; I had become desperate enough to commandeer quarters from my five-year old.  No words; no justification – just shame and guilt and remorse.  Addiction in its cruelest hour.

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I’ve also manipulated people in my family for money, sold valuable belongings to pawn shops, and cashed out gift cards; all pretty typical in the world of addiction.  I’ve heard stories anywhere from folks selling drugs to selling their bodies on the streets of wherever it is they came from – the desperation factor is incredibly strong when it comes to getting that fix; that tiny taste of relief I talked about – soon to demand it again, and again, and again – where does it end?  I work and scheme and think and plot; I plan well in advance; I deceive others; I fool myself; it rents space in my head from the moment I wake up until I pass out into oblivion; and even then it haunts me in my dreams – the effort it takes; it’s an extraordinary undertaking when I really think about all the time and energy it takes to keep an addiction active and alive; all the willingness I had in me to chase bottle after bottle.  It’s commonly agreed upon in treatment centers around America that if we, as addicts and alcoholics, would put a fraction of that energy towards recovery, our chances of successfully remaining clean and sober would significantly increase; yet we continue to relapse, and at a rather alarming rate – why is there virtually all the willingness in the world towards killing ourselves via substances, yet virtually none to break free of the bondage and actually live? 

This is the question I desperately want an answer for, but I still haven’t found – I’m not sure there is an answer…that I want to hear that is; maybe I’m wired wrong and I’ll leave it at that – it could be something greater than just that alone.  The Big Book conveys a message somewhere to the effect of no human power having the ability to relieve our alcoholism; we suffer from a spiritual malady; in which we need a spiritual solution.  I don’t like that answer, I don’t like that solution; it’s not tangible; I can’t see it – it’s too hard for me to reason with, or analyze, or the number of other ways in which I want to find that easier, softer way.  I want to fix this myself, but I am human, and all I have is human power which suggests that no matter what I try, no matter how hard I try it – I will never fix this myself; it’s literally impossible and it’s one of the biggest resentments I have in my life – it tears me up, I crumble over and over at its mighty hand.  I know all this; the information is in my head, and after everything I have put myself through, I still yearn to find a different way.  I despise doing things that are difficult, and recovering from active alcoholism is exactly that; it’s my big white whale.  If my hustle doesn’t change, I never will – this cycle of bringing about still more and more pain will continue with no care or regard for me and my life.  Actions speak louder than words – the cliché thing to say I know, but it’s true – conceding that I cannot do this by myself and putting all my knowledge of this disease into action will be the hardest thing I ever do this lifetime. 

13 thoughts on “Hustle or Bust – Act 2”

  1. Wow. Amazing. You’re honesty not only on your addiction but your views of recovery in regards to you is simply satisfying. And I can identify. Immensely. Thank you again for sharing some of your story. I appreciate it.

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  2. Hey Chris, incredible blog! I respect your creative writing and strength in sharing the dark truths of what you’ve gone through. I myself have been in many similar situations. I think with people like you and I, sharing the ups and downs- no matter how ‘shocking’ they may be to others- is the truest form of expressing the dangers of addiction.
    Jason
    helpingaddictsblog.wordpress.com

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    1. I sure hope so…I’d love to tell about my hustle in AA, staying sober, getting my life back together, and carrying a message of hope — because right now, my life is a complete and utter mess, a lot of which I can’t even share for legal reasons. So, yes – I would love to write an act 3 sometime in the future.

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  3. I believe that all addictions are multifaceted. There is a physical need for substance/action because our bodies become trained to need that thing and there is the brain/ego that keeps taking us down the path no matter how hard you try to get off it. So I agree with you it isn’t all spiritual and prayer, it’s finding someway to break the physical/brain need and the brain talk at the same time. Have you found physical things that help you ‘wean’ away from the alcohol?

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  4. I really feel your pain and the shame of confessing that you were raiding your kids piggy bank. Good luck with getting your life back on track and sorting out your legal issues. Re no human power can relieve us of our alcoholism, for large parts of my recovery I have believed in God and prayed, but I’ve been exposed to a lot of very intelligent people online who don’t believe in God so now I am not sure God exists. Also I have friends in recovery who are 30 years clean who are atheists and don’t believe in God or a Higher Power. I think what we need as addicts is to have a circle of people we trust that is bigger than ourselves that we can run decisions by. My decisions for example as an addict were to buy a Dior bikini and 3 pairs of matching sunglasses instead of paying the mortgage which meant my house was almost re-possessed. This extended circle of people we trust can be our Higher Power even if we don’t believe in God.

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  5. I desperately want an answer to that question too. As the ex-wife/girlfriend of two alcoholics, why? Why hurt yourselves, your loved ones? Why wait for ‘rock bottom’? Why loose everything that matters? From the outside looking in, its as if you are resigned to failure as the cycle repeats over and over again. Isn’t the anguish, shame and guilt enough to make you despise what alcohol is doing to your lives? I don’t know if this is an appropriate question and I certainly don’t intend to offend or judge anyone. I’m bipolar so I’m the last one that can point fingers. I’m just trying to understand.

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    1. The thing about anguish, shame, and guilt is that we generally don’t want to feel them; it’s uncomfortable – I can really only speak for myself, but I’ve been in the company of countless alcoholics and that’s the general consensus from what I gather – and we know the best way not to feel is resorting to what we know works – it’s found in a bottle; we can be absent from life in the bottom of it – totally numb. The sick, twisted part of this whole disease is that the very thing that drives our lives into the gutter, is also the same thing that brings us so much relief from it – that’s why it’s so difficult to break the cycle. Rock bottom is usually necessary only because desperation is the most powerful motivating force; if things aren’t that bad, why stop? – any question is valid, don’t feel bad and I’m pretty difficult to offend so no worries…I’ll do my best to give you the answers that I know, and by now I should have a Master’s Degree in alcoholism and addiction…

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  6. I love your honesty. It’s brave to put a face on the realities we live with. I had a great conversation with a friend the other day around my belief that if we removed the social stigma from this disease, and humanized it, the permanent recovery rates would increase…

    When I accepted that I am in fact wired differently, I found that a little freeing, but I can relate the frustration of the why? I have decided I’m probably never going to get that answer.

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    1. Thank you my friend – yea, the struggle is real so I totally get it. Just know that there is help out there should you want it bad enough; when that desperation hits and it becomes vital to survival. It’s pretty amazing what I have heard folks overcome in the face of their addictions; nothing is impossible…hang in there pal.

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