A Motley Crue Drunk-a-log

motley

Halloween circa 2003…wish I still had the outfit for tonight’s show.

I realize this is a bit of a departure from the topics that I have been addressing lately…needless to say, it’s a part of my story, and needs to be told.

Number Ten (Jeff) and I are hitting up the Motley Crue/Alice Cooper show tonight down in Eugene, OR.  Earlier this year, when verbalizing some of my fears, I admitted that I was, for some reason, nervous that I’d miss the Crue’s last ever tour.  That fear is no more as Ten and I will be there, period.

Being sober at a Crue show doesn’t make me as nervous anymore as it might have earlier in my sobriety;  Hell, Nikki Sixx, their bassist, has been sober 14 years…so at least there will be two of us at the show tonight clean and sober.  That being said, tonight’s Crue show does take me back a few years to the summer of 2011 when my excessive drinking got the best of me…in a bad way.

In August of 2011 I was fresh off a total burnout from road cycling, having all but quit the sport after a rough incident at that year’s Cascade Cycling Classic.  At the conclusion of that event I went on a self-induced, one month, all-out, bender.  Booze, speed, Rx pills, downers, you name it.  Within that month I went to a Motley show, sort of…  Here’s how it went down (I’ll keep the full names of the people who were there out of the story for the sake of their anonymity).

The day of the Crue show a group of friends and I drove up to Portland in the early afternoon to get the party started early enough to make the event as Motley as possible.  The events of the day are a bit of a blur…here’s a synopsis of what I can remember.

During the 3 hour drive north to Portland, from Bend, without any food in my stomach, I hammered two Four Loko’s, a disgusting, alcohol filled version of Red Bull, along with a variety of speed pills that I had stolen from a friend earlier in the day.  I was feeling good, ready to ramp up the party.  When we arrived at our hotel in Portland I was feeling really good and primed to ramp the party up even further.  After we checked in to our room our group promptly B-lined it to the hotel bar, which is where things start to get fuzzy.  Again, with no food in my stomach, our group of 4 quickly lined up a dozen shots of Jack Daniels and proceeded to take them all down in one fell swoop.  It must have only been 4 or 5PM in the afternoon, and I was completely shit-faced, incoherent to say the least.  Then, if I remember correctly, our group boarded a bus that was driving a bunch of folks up to the show at the Amphitheater just north of Vancouver, WA.  Desperately needing a second wind I took another handful of mystery speed pills on the bus ride, knowing that I might have gone too far too early in the day.

I vaguely remember arriving at the show.  The line-up for the evening was some local metal band followed by Poison and the Crue.  After the local opener I completely blacked out.  Apparently I was rocking out when Poison was on stage, I don’t remember.  Next I briefly came to when a security guard was escorting me and a friend out of the arena…I was puzzled, confused, and drunk as hell.  I had been asked to leave the arena because I was too intoxicated.  I had been kicked out of a Crue show.  Wow.  I suppose it was the Motley thing to do. I don’t even remember the Crue being on stage.

Somehow, after being kicked out, I got back on the bus that had taken us to the show.  The next thing I remember is being in bed at our hotel around midnight, still dressed in my concert attire, trying to find comfort that I was safe, and not dead.  Fortunately, my friends, knowing that I still had not had anything to eat that day, had brought back a bag of Taco Bell to the hotel to help nurse me back to health.  Apparently they had been having a blast without me, having seen the show, continuing to party in my absence.  After the Taco Bell feast things get fuzzy again.  I remember a friend from Portland showing up at the hotel later that evening and staying with me to help me even more, by comforting my destroyed body.

The next morning I woke up in a complete haze.  With my Portland friend by my side the group of friends that I charged up to the show from Bend with busted into the hotel room saying that we had to leave immediately to stay on schedule.  I think one of them had to be at work later in the day.  I couldn’t move, I couldn’t even think.  I told them to leave without me, effectively stranding me in Portland.  I felt sick and all I wanted was the comfort of the cold hotel bathroom floor with a toilet by my side.  It was a low moment.

Later that afternoon I woke up again in the comfort of my Portland friend’s apartment, snuggled up in a blanket on her couch.  It was heaven, if heaven meant being hung over and sick with a bucket by my side to catch any of the spew that was still coming out of my body.  The rest of that day was spent doing intervals back and forth from the couch to the bathroom.  No pill, any type of booze, or anything for that matter, was going to help me get through this period of pain and sickness.  Time was my biggest ally. Now that I think about it I still owe my Portland friend a bouquet of flowers for taking care of me.  Thanks LK 🙂

Ultimately I ended up catching a bus back to Bend the following day. That ride was absolute hell.  My two-day hangover was still in full force as my sickness continued. The end of that bus trip back to Bend culminated with me running into the bathroom at the bus stop to get sick once more.  And my solution to my sickness problem now that I was home safe?  Go to the nearest 7-11, purchase 3 CAMO XXX Malt Liquors, drink accordingly, and get “well.”

Looking back and recalling this ridiculous chain of events makes me laugh.  Today, I feel comfortable with my sobriety, and am in a state of mind where I can appreciate how sick I was.  I see the progress that I’ve gone through since that three-day stretch in the summer of 2011.  That time in my life seems like a whole other life in and of itself.  I’m actually even more amazed that I allowed such a chain of events to occur.  Progress, right?  Right.

With that, tonight I look forward to some fist pumping, head banging, heavy metal action with the likes of the Crue and Alice Cooper.  Even more, I am excited to remember the whole thing.  Crue! Crue! Crue!

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“I cannot live with myself any longer” – Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now

Eckhart Tolle’s book that has helped me to uncover the roots of some of my present day struggles

Eckhart Tolle is my go-to spiritual thinker right now as I search for the meaning of being in the present moment.  I am re-reading his book, The Power of Now. The most profound statement that I relate to comes at the beginning of the book when he describes realizing that something was amiss. During an intense period of hardship in his life, he remembers saying to himself, “I cannot live with myself any longer.”  Soon thereafter, he determined that “I” and “myself” are two separate aspects of “him” being represented in that statement, “I” and “self.”  He continues: “maybe, only one of them is real.”

After years of contemplation, Eckhart decided what had happened that night was that his consciousness was forced to “withdraw itself from the identification of the unhappy and deeply fearful self (the past), which is ultimately a fiction of the mind.”  In summary, once this withdrawal occurred, then what was left was his true nature as the ever present “I am;” i.e., consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with any other form.

As I ponder the meaning of Eckhart’s revelations, the word “I” seems to stick out the most to me. I seem to use the word “I” a lot.  Perhaps my biggest day to day challenge is grappling with constant stream of thought that circulates through my brain.  When it comes to identification of form, as Eckhart mentions in his realization, the majority of that stream of thought has to do with NOT being in the present: living in the past and creating scenarios about what has NOT occurred yet, i.e., I was this and I will be that.  Somewhere in the middle is the present: being in the moment.  NOT being in the moment and identifying with form (in my case, material stuff) seems to throw my thought processes off course.

Here’s what I mean:

This past weekend I was in Bend, Oregon, enjoying some time in the mountains, re-connecting with friends and being in a town that has a deep meaning in my heart to its very core.  On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting at a coffee shop downtown waiting for a friend to arrive.  As I sat waiting I took notice of a few things, most notably people, places and things (which, in Eckhart’s terms represent “form”) with which I, as a former Bend resident, used to identify.  During that ten-minute wait, I actually uncovered a few resentments occupying my mind for some time.  As I looked down one of the downtown side streets, I noticed that every third car costs $50k+ and that people were casually sipping cocktails at one of my old haunts.  The fact that I wasn’t one of those people driving a fancy car or drinking outside in the sun made me jealous. Why? Because in my mind I relate to Bend as being MY town and in MY town I want to have control over certain situations.  Because I don’t drink anymore and I don’t have the means to buy an expensive car (my ego’s way of identifying with “form”) then I fall into a tailspin, from which resentments build.  I felt as though I had lost control, a very ego-centric way of thinking.  Is this line of thinking real? At this moment, yes, because I am very much still in the midst of identifying my ego.

Here’s how being in the present kicks in though. This jealousy, triggered by seeing expensive cars and people enjoying drinks in one of my favorite places in what was to me the best possible town ever, has to do with living outside of the moment.  If I were to follow Eckhart’s lead and be in the moment, as opposed to dwelling on past experiences or being upset that the future as I see it is not predictable, then I should have been able to look down that side street in downtown Bend and relish in the beauty of being amongst the classic style brick buildings, the warm sunlight, and the town that is so familiar and important to me.  Are these “things” important to me now?  Again, yes, to my ego, but, in reality, no, if, and only if, I am living in the present.  Having had that brief Bend experience demonstrates how my mind and line of thinking very much continue to hover outside of the present moment. I am still wrapped up with form- material stuff- that I largely used to parallel with the notion of success and wealth.  My ego was fully active during that ten-minute time span.

So, what exactly am I after here?  Reality says that I need to follow my own path and just let things happen, rather than use Eckhart’s example, as the only way to achieve a sense of being in the present.  On the other hand, my ego might tell me that I am better than Eckhart… that I can come to this realization quicker than the several years it took him, that I’m unique, that I’m smarter, that I’m this, that I’m that, etc..  It seems that truly being in the present moment may help to avoid the stream of thought that includes the phrases “I am unique, I am…”  I know this peace of mind is knocking on the door; it’s just a matter of finding it for me, not for anyone else.

Which one is real for me?  “I” or “self?”  Only practicing being in the present moment over a long period of time can give me the answer and the question will have disappeared.

 

Edited by Lyn Horton

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The new chapter in my life and what it looks like so far

I’m three weeks into the newest chapter in my life, having resigned from my job to pursue my passion for outdoor recreation, mapping out a new lifestyle, and maintaining wellness.  It’s been a very interesting few weeks to say the least.

For the first couple of days after leaving work for the last time, I was definitely in a state of vacation-mode.  The excitement of having a freed up schedule, not having to be at a certain place at a certain time, was a strange experience.  For the most part, for the first few days, I was still pretty wound up from being in a corporate setting. My mindset was still rooted in the routine of going to meetings, sending emails and visiting clients. To exit this thirteen year-old routine, to put it mildly, was a bit of a drastic adjustment.

In this brand new way of life, my initial goal to reconfigure my daily schedule should have started with settling on the time I wake up in the morning.  But my well-founded intentions were quickly derailed by the Tour De France 2015 live coverage beginning at 4/5AM PST.  Habitually, over the last several years I have fallen into the pattern of watching the live coverage, rather than the primetime re-play later in the evening.  So, the sleep thing is on hold until the three week event is finished.

Next comes the athletic part of the puzzle.  Being a rookie in shaping a full time training schedule, I know and understand that I have to arrange my day around each workout, while emphasizing recovery more than ever before.  In order to get the most out of a hard week of workouts, it is imperative for the body to get as much rest as possible in-between sessions.  Napping, being horizontal on the couch, stretching, foam-rolling, increasing the number of times I eat and taking ice baths all quickly become part of my daily routine.  I realize that I will tweak some of these recovery methods as my body adapts to the increased training load, but I want to be extra cautious about getting enough recovery so that planned workouts can be completed accordingly.

Perhaps the hardest reality of the transition from being employed to being a full-time athlete is the disappearance of a regular paycheck.  Last week, I freaked out after I crunched the numbers again to see what I had to live on over the next three months.  It was MUCH less than what I normally used to have in the bank. I realized that I needed to allocate my funds carefully in order to survive in one piece over the next few months.  So I swallowed my pride and figured out how I was going to make it work.

The biggest shift in my monthly cash outlay is purchasing food.  I never used to cook for myself; I always bought meals from the local Co-op. I didn’t understand just how expensive it was to do until I didn’t have a job.  So I made some changes.  I started cooking for myself, shopping for food at different groceries and refrained from indulging in the Co-op’s Deluxe Nut bin at $15 per pound (I eat a lot of mixed nuts).  I am learning to be more resourceful and having a blast trying new foods, cooking for myself, and adjusting what I take in on a daily basis.  And to be honest?  I’m healthier because of my conscious refinement of the kinds of food I eat.

Just because I’m not “working” and seem to be on “vacation” does not mean that I don’t have countless thoughts and emotions streaming through my head.  Every single day I deal with sobriety, with being mindful, with being present and with avoiding future-tripping myself into a whirlpool of anxiety.  Just because I have more time doesn’t mean that I can slack on the personal work to stay sane, to stay alive.  From comments that I’ve received over the last couple of weeks, like “it must be nice to not have to go to work” or “it must be nice to focus your day around running,” I figure that most people think that I have “retired.”  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, I am plunging into doing the real work in this field of independence, decision-making and assuming responsibility for myself to create life as I want it to be. Life is my job.

Many elements of my present mode of existence are downright fun.  Running in the mountains, eating new foods, exploring Oregon from new perspectives and setting my own schedule are definitely worth the short term risk in leaving my day job.   Long term, I know what I need to plan to make this life successful.  It’s extremely important that I do not lose sight of how I was given the gift of pursuing my dream and to live as authentically as possible.  I am blessed with self-awareness and I apply it day after day after day.

Edited by Lyn Horton

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My definition and experience of a quality conversation

Do you ever find yourself in a social situation or just talking to someone one-on-one, when it becomes clear that the person, or group of people, clearly is not interested in what you have to say?  What are the cues that you pick up on indicating that the conversation is a one-way street?  Lately, especially since I’ve become sober, I’ve been much more attuned to how conversations go and whether or not the person or people I’m speaking with have any interest in maintaining a true “informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.”

Here’s what I mean.  A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with someone, at that person’s request, about life… just catching up really.  Going into the conversation I kinda knew what to expect, based on my history of conversations with this person.  We were in an intimate setting rather than in a social one.  Regardless, the conversation started by my asking how this person was… A completely normal question, given our relationship.  After a while the conversation flipped and my acquaintance asked me about the life-changing journey I was to embark upon.  I began to answer and took notice of how this person reacted.  As I spoke, for what only seemed like five minutes or so, I was consistently interrupted with unsolicited advice and opinions.  To add to the building frustration of being interrupted, this person’s eyes were darting all over the place, showing no interest in what I was saying.

Sidebar: When someone speaks to me, I make an effort to have good eye contact, to actively listen in order to understand what the other person is saying.  My hope is that I would be given the same attention in return.  Isn’t that what a conversation is?  An “exchange” of ideas?  A two-way street? Thinking back on the last several months, I can recall countless attempts at having conversations where the exchange is lacking.  Is my purpose in life to be a sounding board, shut up and listen to everyone?   Maybe that’s how I am treated because I am so public with my struggles that the tone for the conversational dynamic is automatically set.  I wonder if that’s the case.

Back to the story: After about an hour of this one-way banter, I shut the conversation down. It was clear to me that this person was oblivious to anything I had to say.  I had been asked for advice and none was taken. My energy was drained. After all, what was the point of the last hour?  I am beginning to see that non-conversations like this are tiring by nature. Perhaps that is the reason I no longer do well in social situations, especially now that I am not drinking.  When I was drinking it was easy to float through situations like this because, in my mind, I was only concerned with one thing: alcohol.  In fact, I probably used to display the same traits that bother me now: no eye contact, not listening, losing focus on what someone was saying, talking over people, mainly because I was pre-occupied with where I could get my next IPA or Crown.

What perturbs me in conversations is being talked over, especially after I am asked a question.  If you ask a question wouldn’t you want to hear the answer? Isn’t that the point of the question?  Holy shit, it bugs me.  I probably do it too. I’m not perfect, but it blows my mind and ultimately I turn off my brain when someone asks a question and then, as I begin to answer, interrupts me.  When this happens, rather than reacting like I used to do, I just shut off, and stop talking. I am reminded of how I used to behave at my worst. These days, I am more interested to be done with the BS and move on for the day.

Some background: I used to pride myself on how many people I knew at any given event or in any town, for that matter.  Take Corvallis, for instance.  I used to love going downtown, to sit in the Starbucks and see how many people I knew who walked through the doors.  Sometimes I would actually count and keep track of just how many people I considered to be friends and acquaintances, simply to remind myself that I knew a lot of people and those people knew me. It was more important for me to know how many people I knew instead of how intriguing their characters were. My identity was formed by how social, gregarious and outgoing I was.  I always knew how many Facebook friends I had because it told me that I was a likable person.  I even used to scroll through the contacts on my phone until I reached the total number of contacts and see that I had phone numbers for 458 people.  Wow, that many contacts must mean I’m likable, right?  So, what is the root of this behavior, what is the narrative that is running through my head that is fueling the need to know as many people as possible?  My conclusion today is that the narrative is based on my insecurity and my fear of not being liked by others.

Everyone has an agenda…I get that.  I have my own agenda as well; I’m not unique in that regard.  A major shift that I sense is occurring is that I am fueled, not by how many phone contacts or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram friends I have, but how many satisfying conversations I have in any given week.  There are a few people who have come to the surface, especially in Corvallis, who actually want to talk with me.  I know going into a conversation that they will listen to what I have to say and give quality and honest advice rooted in their own experience, which I have come to respect.  They listen, they process, and, in turn, I do the same for them.  These are the people who give me hope when I am feeling down, who don’t let their egos and agendas get in the way of having real person-to-person exchanges.

It’s amazing to me what I actually hear in a quality conversation these days. Trustworthiness seems to be crucial in my perception of people’s characters. If I trust a person, I open my ears and mind to that person’s ideas.  It is unfortunate that I have lost touch with many friends and acquaintances because I have come to realize that conversations with them were utterly without substance, totally draining, and severely one-sided. And that’s okay. I have accepted the fact that if I’m going to work on myself and my struggles, then I need to have supportive, solid, good people in my life.  It’s the quality of people, not the quantity that counts.  Something that I consistently have to remember.

So what’s the takeaway here?  I need to continue work on myself. It has been a longtime habit of   mine to give of myself constantly to help other people feel better about themselves. I still very much want to help others and exemplify how to effect personal changes.  However, I believe, in order to be the best person, partner, worker, and friend to other people, I truly need to be in touch with who I am.

Edited by Lyn Horton

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Four Doors Open to My Vices: 7/11, Safeway, Tri-Mart and the Square K

This evening I strolled into the local Square K market to grab some ice for an ice bath.  Unfortunately, my main-stay market, the local co-op, never has ice so I’m forced to visit some places that have a darker meaning to me. The Square K haunted me because I used to go there to buy booze.

To this day, seventeen months or so months since I have been sober, it still bothers me being in these places because of what they used to serve as…stores to load up on shitty beer for a night of solo indulgences. I should mention also that back then I was severely addicted to Grizzly Wintergreen chewing tobacco. These stores offered that cheap method to feed my addictions. Since February 11, 2015, I have not had a chew.

I sit here tonight reminiscing, in a sense, of what life used to be like when I was drinking, probably because today is my first day not working at the Hilton so I’m a little sentimental.

In many ways I have no idea how I was able to sustain the lifestyle of a closet alcoholic for so long.  There are countless times when I should have been pulled over and hauled into prison for DUI charges.  I never drove my car in a blackout; however, there were plenty of times I did drive when I clearly should have been calling a cab or walking.  How in the hell did I justify this behavior?  How in the hell did I get through alive?  How did I not get caught?  Luck, I guess, of the dumbest kind.

I used to love driving from my apartment down to 7-11 to grab a handful of Ninkasi’s and chew. I felt as though I was in control, on my own, living my life. From 7-11, I’d drive all over town (in my tinted window car bought by design so no one could see me drink) sipping beers, chewing, blasting music, thinking that I was having fun in an innocent way.  No one could see me so I wasn’t doing anything wrong, right?  Again, I was justifying bad behavior. Of course, these routines NEVER led to anything productive because while my buzz was building, my false sense of confidence would take over and I’d begin the texting game. A part of me wonders what the people I texted used to think of all of the texts I would send; did they think I was crazy? I wouldn’t be surprised and I don’t blame them at all for thinking that I was nuts.  Well, because I was:  Completely irrational, full of hubris, fishing for reasons to nourish my unbalanced ego. Insane.

I heard once that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again with expectations that there will be a different result.  I suppose in the case of my old habits the only different result would be that I would get caught by the police while drinking and driving and end up in jail.  I still think about alcohol from time to time.  In fact, I had a dream just the other night that I was at a wedding hammering down Bud Lights with my college buddies, thinking that because the beers were less than 5% alcohol that it didn’t count as drinking.

Back to this evening:  As I walked to the ice case to grab ice, I glanced over to the beer cooler to see if the store still stocked plenty of Hop Stoopid, Tricerahops IPA, and Camo XXX.  And, yes, it was all there. See, it’s summer time and it’s hot out so people go after my old drinks of choice.  And that, my friends, is completely out of my control.

There will always be alcohol everywhere, in every 7/11, Safeway, Tri-Mart and the Square K.  Acceptance is the key to this challenge of staying sober. If, these stores remind of nothing else, they remind me that I have to respect the fact that I have a problem with alcohol.

Oh, and by the way…the ice bath was worth it 🙂

Edited by Lyn Horton

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