Faces On Demons

Oh the (dark) places we go,

if only Dr. Seuss could remedy all,

perhaps the quiet abyss might no longer,

contain the strength,

the grasp sometimes

inherent in my every step,

the outlook of my day.

 

I sometimes wonder the strength of my addictions,

are the reason I move slowly,

perhaps in reason the justification

of lost principle,

allows me to wallow in my

sad and lonely way.

 

I’ve made mistakes,

they are plain to see,

unless you wouldn’t know me,

then maybe,

I could walk around in circles,

seem,

a bit more mistake free.

 

It is an inherent trait in our society,

to judge the person on your left and right,

in order some would argue,

to set your own demons free,

or am I only speaking of me.

 

I sometimes reflect on a world

of alcohol and drugs,

oh the sweet nectar

of setting myself apart

from every

symbol I felt of hope and faith.

 

The gambling arm,

set in tone the rest of me,

and for the little time I’d known,

I would seek refuge there,

only to come to terms,

with another bottle of scotch,

with an endless pour.

 

There is something remarkably beautiful

about peace,

peace of mind,

a peace to build our hopes upon.

finding peace,

inside the miracle of time.

 

I look to find all the faces,

that disturb my sleep,

in the middle of the night,

left staring at a wall,

rather safe than closing my eyes,

to once again,

know,

in the middle of a dream,

would there be an onslaught …

faces on demons.

 

We might suppose,

they’ll always be there,

quiet reminders,

like skeletons with favorite postures,

we liken them all,

to our own sheltered storm,

inside an expression at the county fair,

won’t allow a soul,

to imagine any other pain,

otherwise.

 

Occasionally when walking alone,

I do,

I choose with earnest,

to put my own,

face on demons,

I suppose it may appear absurd,

but rather than in a crowd,

I can own my own expression,

no longer under a shroud.

When Yesterday

When we start to think about

our yesterdays,

we get scared, well some, me, suppose

the words need only be self-directed,

if validity

is the goal of my game.

 

I contemplate my day before notions,

those of consequence and reward,

I try to recall the best, when especially drawn

into the abyss of the mess.

 

A hundred years ago, my embellishment

landed me in places I couldn’t defend,

only wished I had found a way to mend

the indifference,

self-righteous patterns of wanting everything,

my way, my game, my gamble, my favorite

addiction.

 

I lost at every step, remembering when leaving

fearing skid row might be my home address

in six weeks or less,

less the confidence, less the support,

lest I drag my ass out of the gutter and realize

there is a life ahead.

 

However, there is always the readiness,

not choice by personal desire,

but the savior whomever that might be in our lives,

the one and only,

Grace,

the epitome of letting go,

realizing we cannot, and will never need to do this on our own,

alone.

 

Yet today, I do think about my yesterdays,

and wonder if I might ever step away,

to enjoy the beauty of this,

namaste.

 

Lost Generation

Fan Duel & Draft Kings – Gambling Facade

I love the game of football. I used to play fantasy football many years ago. Back then, it was fun to put together a team with your friends and see who might outdo the next guy or girl in the league. Back then, we only threw a couple of dollars into a pot, and there was an innocent winner at the end of the season. Back then, fantasy football hadn’t exploded into an enormous industry. Back then, I used to be a gambler.

Fantasy football wasn’t an issue for me, my games were the casino and texas hold-em. Nearly destroyed my family, our finances and me. I was actively suicidal and there was no one I could talk to about the addiction. My wife knew about it, but she enabled me much like she would my alcoholism. How could she possibly confront a controlling jerk that was unwilling to admit his own denial of a compulsive addiction? I managed to kick my addiction to gambling, a couple years after I managed to get a handle on my alcoholism. I’ve been in recovery for over ten years now, and my life is so much easier than it was when I was in the business of lying through my teeth to make it to my next game or shot of scotch. I got lucky, and walked away with a lot of support from my family, friends, and recovery.

This NFL season, fantasy football began a new venture in their industry. They introduced Fan Duel & Draft Kings with an advertising campaign that would rival the likes of any casino showcasing that elderly couple who ‘unexpectedly’ won a Cadillac with a $2.00 bet. The promotion talks about that easy bet that could turn into millions of dollars for the winner. Already both companies have fallen under scrutiny for insider trading with their transactions. Already both companies are under investigations by government agencies across the country, trying to justify or decry their status as a skill based game versus an industry of luck.

If you have ever played a league in fantasy football, you certainly know one of the tenets of a successful day is putting the correct team on the field on any given Sunday. However, one can also clearly see that picking the right players is certainly ‘a gamble.’

I actually become physically sick when the ads come across my tv, not because I am necessarily afraid of buying into a game, but more importantly because of the immediacy of my reminder toward how quickly I was drawn into the insidious nature of gambling, coupled with the ease of wanting to take that first drink again.

I’m asking my sports fans out there to look carefully at what is literally being dangled before you – a game of chance, that moves beyond just having fun and camaraderie to a game that clearly puts a vulnerable person’s financial stability at risk if they are willing to take chances with their impulsivity.

Be careful out there football fans – there are no Kings in the game of Draft Kings, only losers that could ruin their’s and their family’s lives. There is no legitimate duel going on at Fan Duel, only a sham to steal our money. In the end, not only will you hate the trade itself, you’ll lose your perspective and love for the game of football. You’ll be hooked. Don’t bet on any happy endings here folks. Be smart, and just watch the game, not the industry sharks waiting to reel you into their web of deceit.

Gambling is a very real and treacherous disease. The thrill of the win is far less impactful than the misery of loss.

Cleaning Up

I recall just how difficult it was. Every episode, battle to rationalize, reason to do the things I did, for myself and no one else. I remember weeks of justifying why, or who, or what need I was trying to fill. Driving through my neighborhood one night, just trying to avoid the lawns, staying in the middle of a fortunately quiet residential street. I kept wondering if everyone in the neighborhood knew I had them all fooled. Knew that I was a hard liquor guy that nobody knew. I remember wishing I could answer my own questions, but every time I tried, I needed to find another way to bury my emotions. I remember the day I decided to finally clean up my act.

I had been down this road before, that path of being completely detached from what is real, and only concerned with my next drink, the next card game, anything to keep the machine rolling, spiraling more than I wanted to imagine. I couldn’t, it was far too important to get my fix. In society we crucify the junkie for being such a mess, but the alcoholic, we call it a social disorder, that even though he made it to work everyday, he could still hold his liquor. I never knew of a heroin addict that could hold their high. Truth is I never actually knew a junkie that could fool the world as well as me.

For many years I blamed everything around me, rather than looking directly at myself. i would make a plan, this weekend I’m not having a Bloody Mary, and I would be drinking one an hour later. The socialization was attractive, I always figured that was my motivator, but in the end I came to terms with the idea, that chasing women was only caveat, the real pleasure was getting trashed and forgetting how miserable a human being I had become. See, the vicious cycle allows us to judge ourselves with extreme scrutiny while at the same time freeing our mind of any responsibility. I could always hide behind addiction.

My kids were young, and my wife was helpless to my controlling personality. She didn’t enable me, she feared for my life. She actually knew the harm I was causing to our family. I have often said I am glad my kids never saw me drunk, but that was an allusion. They may not have actually seen me or been too young to realize, but they always heard me in the middle of the night, and wondered why their Dad was never home. I lost a lot of years with my children and my wife due to my drinking and gambling.

I have been sober for 30 of the last 35 years, and I often speak to that five year window that was so indicative of my alcoholism. I couldn’t stop once I got started, and if not for some mild consequence, I would continue drinking until I killed myself or did something impulsive to ruin my life. If not for opening my checking account to my wife, I would have used gambling as an excuse to take my own life. I couldn’t find any solace anywhere, and I always had to bury the loneliness, of not being able to talk to anyone about my problem. The reality was, that anyone I spoke to would approach the subject with trepidation. I remember so many friends being relieved about my sobriety, shaking my hand, giving me a smile. This was so much more appealing than the serious expressions, the patronage a close friend gave me when I justified my drinking. The gambling was different. I could walk around and just look tired, without the stumbling slur of alcohol. The loneliness was excruciating. There was no-one at all whom I could reveal my gambling. If I told anyone that I was spending six to eight hours a night online playing poker, they would have no respect for me.

People say we don’t choose to get ourselves cleaned up. We get caught and we are forced to fix ourselves. There are some, that when deep in the mire their conscience just eats them alive. I’m pretty convinced that was my saving grace. If I didn’t feel the destruction I was actually creating, I would have kept on going. If I didn’t a loving wife that stood by my side despite the ass hat I was, I would have lost everything. I did get caught, but I am so happy, so delighted to have an opportunity to live a good life, and know the people around me are breathing a little easier.

I’ve been sober now for a decade, and the gambling ended eight years ago. I don’t judge people for their choice to drink or gamble for that matter. It is their choice, but I do suggest I will be there when the conversation merits a decision to look addiction in the eye. I still have my skeletons, but they’re a bit easier to manage with a clear head, one that is forced to constantly scrutinize the choices I make every day of my life.

To me, cleaning up means acceptance of my vulnerability as a human being. My actions were not caused by alcohol or addiction in any manner, those were my own. Alcoholism or addiction gave me an out. Today, I’d prefer internal peace.

A Gambler’s Run

i would like

if you left me alone,

temptation,

your mask of appreciation,

the one that hollers

from a window out loud

my success is yours,

I can prove it to you.

~

I would like

the soap box advertisements

of our easy lives,

to show the broken,

to emphasize the hopeless,

the ruins, disillusioned, detached

suicidal human beings

your protestations

leave behind the ticker tape.

~

I see it everywhere in our world,

the chance,

the moment winners look for,

the changing lanes that create a risk,

far less than the bullshit

you throw at our minds.

~

Leave the luxury in the window,

with an honest disclaimer,

‘don’t trust us please’

but keep serving the soft drinks,

letting us smoke,

just make the suggestion,

the mob in your pocket,

or admit out loud it’s us,

you,

dangle your chains around.

Shadowed Dreams

child-portrait

See there is this world,

many do not ever understand

or realize

a place of shadows,

shattered dreams that leaves shards

to be again, found aligned,

yet,

the energy to recreate such imagery,

often for some, unforeseeable –

impulse takes over,

leads the way down dark caverns

of illicit response to needs,

the waking is always the most difficult part.

The outsider,

well they can be sweet, endearing even,

offering hugs, solace, understanding,

though the victim or participant

whichever you wish to call the human being

on a given day,

internally might appear spastic to an

affectionate tone

wrapped around the utter chaos of their lives.

In shadowed dreams we protect ourselves.

~

*photo found on Pinterest

8 Years

gambling

Eight years ago, I stood by your side,

listening to your story,

wondering how life could become

such a travesty of pain and confusion.

I felt fortunate to not struggle your loss,

that loss of confidence,

that departure of reasoning,

the ability to throw your life away

without a second’s thought,

all for the mantra of a seething monster.

~

Eight years ago, I stood by your side,

telling my story,

how life had dealt me difficult times,

how my chances were failing,

how suddenly I no longer knew what gambling meant.

I only knew despair, fear, and grandiose notions,

of survival, of playing the game, of beating the odds.

When before I judged the world around me,

today’s court included me,

ownership and honesty knocked on my door.

~

Today, I do stand by your side,

and I am grateful,

but there is no credit in my arena,

that belongs to the power of giving,

all of you my recovering souls,

all of you that wake with every glorious day,

to proclaim to the listening voices,

‘today, I didn’t gamble, today I am clean!’

Today, I rise with each waking sun,

knowing I have been gifted with harmony.

~

Eight years ago, the urge to gamble, an insidious addiction,

suggested my life would be better if I stood next to all of you.