Just a Little More

19 May

You may have heard the recent news about the death of Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell.  While the story is still unfolding,  his death was reportedly a suicide by hanging.   Cornell was only 52 years old and a recovering addict.   His family is questioning whether the drug Ativan played a role in his death. Cornell had a prescription for the anxiety drug but may have exceeded the recommended dosage. The possible side effects for the medication are suicidal thoughts and impaired judgement.   Was it the addict in him that led him to take “just a little bit more” for added benefit?   Cornell went public about being newly sober with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous in 2003. He remained clean and sober for many years. And then this.  A tragic, preventable death.

But what you didn’t hear about in the news was the passing of a lovely, elderly woman who battled alcoholism for decades. I had the privilege of meeting her “in the rooms” and getting sober having her “experience, strength and hope” to guide me.   She was an animated Southern belle, who said the serenity prayer and Lord’s prayer next to me in meetings with her trademark slow, Southern drawl. Her death brings sorrow and grief to those who knew and loved her, but there is also a certain amount of peace surrounding it because she died a sober woman. She fought the “cunning, baffling and powerful” disease for decades. And won. I’ll always remember her humorous stories and infectious laughter.

So the contrast? A famous lead singer in a popular rock band. A little-known, elderly Southern woman. Two completely different worlds.   Suicide vs. natural causes. The common factor? Addiction. Supposedly both recovering alcoholics/addicts.   Vastly different people bonded together by sharing the same disease.  I guess Cornell’s toxicology report will shed some light on whether or not he was, in fact, still in the throes of his addiction. Regardless, I pray for both of their families and that they both rest in peace.

The death of famous actors or musicians tends to raise awareness about addiction, temporarily at least. But what about the millions of “normal” people who battle the disease valiantly out of the limelight but succumb to its power?   Their passing isn’t plastered on newspapers and magazines or online publications. Some die on the streets a horrific, lonely death without anyone even knowing. Not sure if that is worse or if being the loved one having to watch someone die from alcoholism is.

This isn’t one of my more upbeat blog posts. But it needed to be written. The death of an addict, famous or not, serves as a good reminder of why we fight the fight every day. As has been said many times, alcoholism is “cunning, baffling and powerful.” It takes strength and determination to win the fight. It takes discipline. It takes HELP. If you need it, ASK for it. Many recovering alcoholics or addicts, including myself, take prescription drugs for anxiety, depression or other things.   We need to remain diligent and not let ourselves go to that place where we may think “just a little more” will help.   Cross-addiction is something that we hear about all too often.

When I drank, it was always “just a little more.”   Just one more drink. Just a little more wine. Just another shot. And it always led to just a little more trouble. Now, it’s “just a little more” in a much different way. Just a little more time without a drink. Just a little more serenity. Just a little more strength. Just a little more help from my higher power. There are many things for which more is better. Alcohol and drugs aren’t examples of those.

I’m in NYC this weekend celebrating my upcoming anniversary of 5 years of sobriety. Back to the last place where I had a drink, Memorial Day weekend of 2012. I am so much stronger than I was back then. So much more grateful. And honestly, I’m just a little more proud.

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self- given. Be careful. “ – John Wooden

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6 Responses to “Just a Little More”

  1. soberinvegas May 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    what a beautiful post, thank you so much for sharing. and have a great trip celebrating your 5 years ❤

  2. Chevonna May 19, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

    Powerful, touching and honest read. Thank you!

  3. Bob Hisel May 20, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    I have never heard of Chris Cornell but I do know the Southern Lady of whom you speak. Ours is a serious disease fully deserving of serious commentary. I will celebrate 18 years on June 10th, AA’s birthday as well. That was Dr Bob’s sobriety date in 1935. Congratulations to us both but “Stay Vigilant!”…………………..Bob

  4. Christy May 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    “Cunning, baffling, powerful, three adjectives of addiction that can either kill or help a recovering alcoholic be ever vigilant. You explain this so well in your blog AG. Sometimes we have to get serious about the disease that knows no gender, class, age, nationality, social status of upper and lower echelon. The valet who parks your car, the person sitting next to you at the play and the leading actress in the play all can succumb to this disease. A very thought provoking piec. I know your gratitude is enormous right now as you leave NYC a sober woman and how much your life as changed in almost five years for the better. I am a lot more proud of you AG. I love you Atta Girl 💗tu

  5. Paul S May 25, 2017 at 9:12 am #

    I love this, and I have to say that I would rather hear the stories of belle’s like that rather than the famous ones. I have to say that I am not a big star gazer, so frankly I don’t hold those recovering alcoholics / addicts up on any pedestal. They are just like you and I, except more people know about them because of their jobs. I have my reservations about just how much they “raise awareness” of things when they pass. I feel it’s just a footnote. Does someone go into recovery after a star dies from OD? I don’t know. If they do, they that’s fantastic. But people plod away in their lives regardless. (I know this sounds downer and such, but that’s my view!)

    On a positive note, I LOVE that your friend passed sober. I told my wife that that is how I want to go. I want it to be known that I died sober and happy. I think THAT is how we attract. I think that is how we show that it can be done!

    And an early congrats on your five years! I am so excited for you.

    Blessings
    Paul

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