First it was dope. For the first few years after I went down the rabbit hole in Kenya, smoking dope was delightful. I started good Kenyan bangi and jamming at the same time, with the guys in Once Upon a Tryp. I'd played music before, but with Purcy and those guys I learned to jam, to improvise, to create something in the world of music. We were playing music I loved. In college, dope became my musical companion. I got stoned and listened to progressive/psychedelic rock: Spirit, ELP, Yes, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd. The cultural divide of the day wasn't Beatles vs. Stones, it was Airplane vs. The Dead, and I was no deadhead.
Then I went back to booze. Despite my initial indiscretions I was enjoying booze in Kenya before I got turned on to pot. Booze was happy to take me back when daily dope smoking got me so addlepated I couldn't maintain a train of thought long enough to write a simple essay. Pot and other psychedelics were also making me feel alienated and paranoid. I got to feeling burned out on the whole idea of tripping and mind expansion. I turned to booze to calm me down and sweeten my life. My good friend and roommate Bob helped me out with that. I soon became a happy drinker. My addictive mindset took over. When one group of recreational drugs became a problem I just found a different drug. Getting clean was never on the table. I didn't even consider going without drugs. Later in life I had occasional thoughts of cutting back but quickly forgot about them. I was one of those who are different, as they say in AA, who can't use drugs of any kind casually. Leela was behind that, and it was a brilliant long-term strategy: it worked.
The introvert's best friend? For most of my life I never thought about introversion one way or the other. It was just one of those psychological terms. Then in the mid to late 2010s articles about introversion started showing up in magazines and social media. Introverts' manifestos, self tests, care and feeding of introverts, all that. For a year or two it was hip to be an introvert. I read some articles, took a few of the self tests, then did a little reading in more serious sources. Turns out I'm an introvert; who knew? It all felt mildly empowering. What I see now is that starting in Kenya in the mid 1960s my life became a staggering dance between introversion and drinking. Before Kenya my introversion was no problem. I connected with the world via nature, and I loved it. Most of my peers in Marianna and Asheville turned into small-minded southern hicks and thugs as they grew up. In Kenya I started drinking right off. I'd gotten interested in girls, and drinking helped me work up the courage to act on that. From the early 1970s until I quit drinking in 2016 I relied on booze as a psychological crutch in social situations, even in my own home. Booze gave me a fake extended family: the fellowship of users. But the more I drank, the more booze I needed to defeat my normal healthy introversion. Booze was slowly killing me.
More is better. Or at least that how I acted through the five plus decades I drank. Not frat boy style, drinking until I puked. I did have some class. But I slowly drank a little bit more, bit by bit. If one beer's good, two's even better, eh? As long as I still felt good and wasn't having hangovers. Little did I know I had a special dispensation: Leela helped me along my way to full-blown drunkenness just in time to quit. She had a long term plan for me, and making drinking feel easy on me was part of it. For the climax of Leela's plan to work I had to surrender to her deeply. I had to give up safe, commonsense approaches that didn't work and follow crazy, counterintuitive guidance. I did, and Leela's left hand path worked perfectly. She saw through time to a successful finish and she led me there, step by step. It was exactly the right solution for me in particular, and Leela helped me prepare for it for decades, the solution to a problem that had ruined my life an uncountable number of times. She then delivered me to the cure at exactly the right moment of my life. Leela's plan relied on the conscious connection I had with her via muscle testing and body sensing. Those techniques had proven to be reliable. I used them to lose fifty pounds I needed to lose without going hungry or being miserable. They guided me out of a failed marriage to a new life I was loving. I was able to feel in my body what kinds of food and drink were right for me and what to avoid. I had developed deep trust and confidence in Leela's guidance. That made it possible for me to surrender.
Glow. Of course I was concerned about drinking. I was drinking every day, and I was no lightweight. I would prefunc at home, and then wherever I went I had a bottle with me to swig out of, usually spirits. But whenever I did muscle testing or body sensing about drinking it was always A-OK, a nice warm glow, enjoy, full speed ahead. I never got hangovers, I always felt great the next day.
Rx. But then my guidance changed. I was prodded to drink more. Nudged from beer and wine to cheap vodka and brandy. In just a few months I went from social drinking to full-time drunkenness. But no ill effects, just encouragement from my body. So I had already been drinking the day I had an appointment to get an Rx refilled. I needed bloodwork for that, and the ARNP asked if she could add a liver panel. She had asked me about my drinking; I was quite open about it. Test me!
4x. A week later I got a call from the clinic. They wanted me to come in. They were concerned about one of the numbers on my liver panel. It was four times higher than the safe limit. I mumbled something on the phone, hung up, and collapsed into fetal position. Leela was right there. This means I have to stop drinking or die, right? Right. Right now, right? You got it. So I stopped drinking. I never went in for that appointment.
Detox. That was Monday July 25, 2016. Monday meant Waltz etcetera. I felt OK through the afternoon, just a headache as the morning's booze wore off. But by the time the dance started I was a shivering wreck. I sat behind the DJ table that night with my head down, shaking and hanging onto my sweetheart Ruth for dear life. I was in no condition to drive, but I made it home to safety. Ruth followed me to make sure I did. She moved in for the next few days and stayed with me as I shivered and sweated my way through detox. And that was the end of my drinking. Famous last words. About ninety days later I fell off the wagon. I spotted a half-full bottle of vodka in my cupboard and I was like yeah, that'd feel great! I started drinking again like I'd never quit. Ruth was coming over for dinner that night, so I bought us wine and was ready to offer her some when she arrived. She broke up with me on the spot and left me there all deflated. I launched into an eight-day bender that didn't end until I confronted death again. This time I wasn't just hearing about doom on the phone, I was feeling doom right here right now in my body. I woke up in the night just burning up inside. I wasn't just hearing about liver inflammation, I was feeling my liver burn up, with horrifying intensity. I could feel how I was killing myself with booze. I stopped drinking again, and this time it stuck.
Fallout from quitting. Giving up booze had all kinds of unexpected consequences. When I started drinking again after ninety days it wasn't because I was having physical cravings. I never had cravings for any drug except tobacco, and they were pretty mild. What I had was a heavy psychological dependence on booze. I started drinking again because I didn't like the sad sack I'd turned into, moping around and dull. I missed being the jolly fellow booze made me. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. I can see now that quitting booze set in motion both my breakup with Ruth and my long slow descent into momentary homelessness that precipitated finding my new home. Ruth and I fell in love when I was a moderately heavy social drinker. I was under the influence essentially all of our time together. She was not enchanted with the quieter, more inward guy I turned into as my natural introversion reasserted itself. As for me, when my boozy life receded I started feeling how lonely I was as a poly widow with a part time girlfriend. I had successfully drowned that sorrow in booze for six years. We didn't break up for two and a half more years, but the seeds were sown in detox. Quitting also separated me from my housemates, who both drank of course. I didn't realize it until long after, but that was when I gradually started feeling ill at ease in the Crown Hill house.
Dry drunk is an AA term for someone who stops drinking but continues a life that's still broken, an addicted life. My life was still broken because I still unconsciously believed drugs could be a legitimate way to feel good. That belief was hidden from me, so it had to be exposed and rooted out. I had to get all the way clean of drugs before I could see that delusion for what it is: spiritual poison. So Leela arranged for me to get all the way clean. She forced me to take up cannabis by calling on my unconscious belief in the value of drugs as a legitimate way to feel good.