Ending a Lifelong Addiction
A wake up call unlike any other
An open letter to both my Medium and Grasshopper readers
My readers here know me from my writing on politics and climate issues, but there is a human behind that cynical and concerned opinion writer. While I have continued to write about these important topics during a critical time here in America, a personal drama has been unfolding at the center of my life.
I have been a heavy drinker for too many years. In some ways it had come to define me and then to limit my life as a human and a writer, which I view as my core skill.
I’ll get to the point. One month ago I got drunk on martinis at my local posh hotel bar next to my building, got home, had a few more, got up to go to bed and fell, crashing my face into a glass-fronted print on my living room wall.
The glass broke and cut my face open with a near miss to my left eye. I woke up to a nightmare of blood and total confusion but managed to call 911 and get to the ER. A plastic surgeon sewed my cheek up with seventy stitches and I had surgery a few days later on my lower eyelid for a cut tear duct.
All in all, a fun experience. But a life changing one. In the ambulance I made a choice which has informed and changed my life since and will continue to do so for a long time. Maybe for the rest of my life.
I decided I was done with that life, the drinking and everything that went with it, and just as important, I decided to be completely open about what had happened, no whitewashing of the reality.
That choice, which has proven liberating, may be why I am writing this now and sharing it. Remarkably the transition is going very well. I have had nothing to drink for thirty days (stopped counting after that), no cravings, and my wounds are healing exceptionally well, the physical ones anyhow.
This, naturally, has me evaluating everything I am and do and that has been enlightening. Of course, as a writer I am documenting these changes, though I’m not sure when they will see the light of day. It’s way too early to be celebrating with a book or other event.
I have mixed feelings about sharing this here. I have a Substack newsletter, The Grasshopper, where I write about being a writer and it is a little more personal. But my opinion writing is in its way, quite personal as I risk occasionally offending someone, hopefully the former president.
So, I feel my readers do see more than a bit of my life.
I know there is a whole category of writing about addiction here, and I have dipped into it. And I can see how sharing experience can be helpful to others in similar circumstances because it has helped me over the years. That’s why you’re seeing this right now.
If anything, I am doubling down on my politics and climate writing because I truly believe we are at a crossroads with both, and the direction we choose will define our quality of life going forward for years. It’s important.
But both of these topics are also highly personal. It is an American tradition that we are entitled to our own opinions on matters of national interest and these opinions are often central to who we are, not unlike choices like those I was making with my lifestyle.
The difference is that an opinion about an issue is different than a lifestyle choice that can be limiting or even dangerous. But when things are personal all of it becomes mixed up together and, as a writer, I have to debate what to share and why.
Not just for my purposes but also for what will reverberate with you, the reader. This is one of the things I’m grappling with as a writer right now. I am not planning on jumping into the personal growth arena, though it is certainly very central to my thinking these days.
But I did feel that sharing this was an important aspect of my overall choices as a writer. The where and how will sort themselves out. I don’t feel qualified to dish out advice for those going through similar experiences with addiction or other deep personal challenges. I’m way too close to the subject matter to have any clue how this plays out over the long term or to give out advice.
But all of this will inevitably enter into my writing. I feel online writing is different than writing for books or other media. It is a far more personal connection with each reader, who can choose to comment, follow, or avoid you, as they see fit. So, this feels more like a conversation than a formal ‘writer/reader at a distance’ connection.
Which is why I’m sharing this. Thank you. M