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My "Goodbye Letter"

This next Thursday I will conclude my 6 week intensive outpatient rehabilitation program regarding my alcoholism. The program ends with a ritual reading of one's "Goodbye Letter to Alcohol" (or whatever other addiction they might have.) I have undertaken this afternoon to try to get my thoughts down about this. I have found the exercise heart-rendingly traumatic. So many here have held onto us and supported us and assailed us as we have gone through this revolution in my / our lives, I thought perhaps some of you might be interested to read this.

Thank you again for all the support and caring so many here have lavished on us as we have struggled through this.

The following is "My Goodbye Letter"

Alcohol, you have been my continuous comrade, my ally, my curse, the object of my love, the cue for me to feel adult, to feel powerful, to feel rebellious, to feel lustful, to feel proud, to be grown up, to have fun, to feel alive, to celebrate, to be a parent, to be a lover, to be an executive, to be a potent political advocate, to be a leader, to be a speaker, to be FUN, to be experimental, to be a sophisticated gourmet, to make friends, to feel superior, to feel useful, to feel accepted, to feel masculine. Most of all , you were a partner I had fervently wanted to live with forever, to grow old with, to be the source of my knowing I am a man, a human, a valued being, who lives a life of joy, love, power, sex, intimacy, and boundless energy.

I now find this aspiration, this love which is quite entirely intertwined in my soul, cannot continue to be as it is. Evolving our relationship from one of continual intercourse, daily ingestion, a constant ritualized choreography of my joy at being alive, must evolve to a new phase that I have no option but to accept if I am to live, love, play, and have peace with society. I thought I was strong enough, free enough, wise enough to make “us” work. I was wrong. I’ve failed miserably just as I did in my career, in my parenting, in my financial life, and in my ability to even live a life free of the criminal justice system.

I have come increasingly to become dangerous to my family, to those whom I love and cherish most, when I embed you in my brain. I have come increasingly to behave so insanely, when you and I meld, that I am embarrassed, ashamed, and at risk. I have spent two weeks of the 61st year of my life incarcerated as a result of my taking you into my body. I have been locked up in jail without clothes, without toilet paper, without soap, without bedding, without the food I require to be healthy because of my surgically altered physiology, without the medications I need to be well, without legal help, hauled around in the snow in my bare feet, barely clothed, in chains and dragged into court, where I was treated as though I was a public menace, and as a subhuman life form. I now have two convictions that make it impossible for me to ever again have any of the professional positions I have had previously. I have caused the two people I love more than anything in my life,
life-threatening physical danger, pain, terror, and harm. I have had them flea in the night in the middle of winter to be safe from my raging violence. They have had to become violent with me to protect themselves and me, from me. They have twice called the police, knowing that I needed psychiatric care and intervention, and knowing that in my community one does not receive psychiatric care but, rather, police and judicial abuse and neglect when police intervene. They had no other options remaining for them to protect themselves, and me, from me.

I have no desire to divorce myself from you, but I have no way to continue my life, or to love my family, or to even have my family, unless I do. This is not because they are imposing their will over my choices, or my joy, but because they cannot live, love, work, and play with me, or anyone, if they cannot have even basic safety and security. They cannot be loved by me if I unpredictably move in and out of fits of suicidal and or homicidal rage.

For decades (4.7 of them precisely) I managed to collaborate with you, and I felt huge joy and power in our daily union. Now I lack the power to live, if we continue as we have.

It is not that you will not still have a hold on my soul. It is clear that the rest of my life will be spent in fellowship conclaves with groups of others who have had to move beyond direct union with you. It is clear that your power is great enough over me, over us, that we can only manage to avoid merging with you daily, by living our lives in reaction to your continual absence, and loss, and reminding ourselves how devastating the consequences are that we will experience if this day, any day, we ever have you in us, with us, beside us. So we rely on magical powers and rituals to divert ourselves from the ashes our lives will become if we continue with you, as in the Zen Buddhist Upaya the loving father relied on his golden cart and giant gold oxen to save his lost children from the conflagration that would have consumed them in a horrible firey death.

I am lost now. I don’t know who I am without you. I do not choose to be without you. I have no choice. I am powerless, defeated, and worthless, but I do not have the courage to die this way, or the sadism to inflict myself further on those I love, as I am when I become one with you.

This is supposed to be a “Goodbye Letter.” It isn’t one. It is clear that the only way forward for me is to live my life in continual opposition to the attraction I feel for you, so that I may survive and not sacrifice the human loves that I hold dearer than even the love I have for myself.

So, I will be seeing you around, pretty continually, not alone very often anymore, and never again as my united ally, my life mate, my fellow celebrant. I have a whole network of new allies, who will be with me as I confront you in the future, who are as dedicated as I now am, to living their lives in disunion with you. Too, you will never again get to make me insane. When I do that again, it will be entirely my own doing.



  1. Continued encouragement as you live these days.
    I hope that peace will be yours, all of you, soon and for always.


  2. Powerless - to some degree, yes; defeated, maybe, but nothing unusual about that, defeats always happen and then are followed by victories; worthless?? don't think so. No-one is worthless.

    Almost everyone does not know who he really is. Everyone identifies with his personality - alas, for when that personality takes a hit, as happens from time to time, that one has the illusion that who he really is has been wounded, even irreparably.

    Why else would the sages give as their lesson to novices, "Seek to know who you are. Ask continually: Who am I?"

  3. Powerful thinking and powerful writing...the words may not be the ones usually associated with power, but it takes a strong person to look so deep inside himself and see the things he wishes he didn't have too. Sending love and support.


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