I’ve finally completed my interview with Rod. I’m grateful for his vulnerability. I think when we are honest and open about our life challenges, our insecurities, our fears, our mistakes, we enter a deeper, more meaningful relationship with everyone around us, including ourselves.
This episode is about alcoholism. Rod's openness about what finally made him quit, leads me to question what are some of my own avoidance behaviors, what are some negative patterns in my life that I can change. There are many forms of addiction, not just substance addiction.
The gift of vulnerability is that it makes us braver and softer at the same time. We can face the storms that will come and go, with more resiliency and grace. And Rod has discovered this in the most amazing ways.
Flora: OK. How many years would you say you were addicted to alcohol?
Rod: I started drinking when I was 14, and I probably started drinking every day when I was 20, 21. Maybe not every day then, but pretty close, so 23 years.
Flora: How long have you been sober?
Rod: I’m about 2 weeks short of 3 years.
Flora: Yay! Congratulations!
Flora: How does it feel?
Rod: It feels good.
Flora: Good. You’ve mentioned that one of the ways you dealt with your marital issues was with alcohol. Tell me more about that.
Rod: That routine of drinking was I guess comforting. Go to school all day, and then come home and drink, and then later, go to work and come home and drink, where there were problems in the marriage, it was easy to let it pass. It made things that weren’t normal seem normal. Like the drinking itself wasn’t normal, but it seemed normal because I’ve been doing it every day for 20 years!
Flora: Did you guys fight about it? Did she bring it up? Did she tell you to stop?
Rod: No, we didn’t fight about the drinking. I smoked marijuana for many of those years, and she didn’t like that, and we did fight about that, but I quit that almost 10 years before I quit drinking.
Flora: OK, so talking about smoking marijuana, I was going to ask you, were there any other things that you were addicted to besides alcohol?
Rod: Well, I was a regular cigarette smoker, and that was the first thing that I knew I was addicted to because I tried to quit it, and it was hard to quit. I wouldn’t say that I was addicted to marijuana. I don’t know if people get addicted to marijuana. I guess maybe not in the same way, like a physical addiction, but I mean, it was a habit. But it wasn’t something that I did every day. I’d smoke it until it was gone, and then I wouldn’t buy anymore sometimes for, you know, a couple of months or whatever. So it’s not the same kind of daily, I gotta do it.
Flora: Going back to smoking cigarettes, how did you quit?
Rod: That one I quit several times over the years. I was constantly quitting, and I think the experience of quitting cigarettes helped me quit drinking because I knew what didn’t work. You know, I hadn’t smoked for a week or something like that, and then I would be like, “Well, it’s a stressful day; I’ll just have one, or I’ll just smoke for tonight” or “It’s my birthday! I gotta drink on my birthday!” or you know… So for smoking, it was usually it was a stressful day, I’ll just have one. Every time I ever did that “I’m just going to smoke tonight” or “I’m just going to have one” or whatever, every time I did that, the very next day I was right back to the full… Probably the most I smoked was probably about a pack a day.
Flora: How many years has it been that you haven’t smoked?
Rod: 11 ½ years.
Flora: Did you answer the question of how you quit?
Rod: There’s no magic to it. It was just, my whole secret to quitting was, when you want one, don’t have it. That’s all. That’s the only way to quit smoking is to not smoke. The only way to quit drinking is to not drink. I got to the point where my motivations were strong enough to outweigh that desire. Like the reason I quit smoking was we decided we were going to start trying to have a child, so I quit. I quit smoking as part of that to, you know, to get healthy, to not be a smoker with a child in the house, to save the money, you know, all those reasons.
Flora: Going back to the years that you were drinking heavily every day, how were you different when you were not drinking and vs. when you were drinking?
Rod: It didn’t feel the same all day, that’s one of the reasons why it’s hard to stop is I would feel normal sober, and I would feel normal drunk, but at a certain point of it’s been so many hours, it’s been 18 hours since I had a drink,I got home from work, and OK, it’s time to relax, I would feel anxiety, like I should start drinking, I need to get a drink in me. And part of it was you need to start drinking to get enough into you to be drunk enough to fall asleep, because at a certain point, it became very hard to sleep without alcohol. So that was a big motivation. You have to start so you can get enough so you can go to sleep and start the whole thing over the next day.
Flora: What was your personality like when you were drinking and when you were not drinking?
Rod: I don’t know if this term has a real, clinical definition, but I always thought of myself as a functional alcoholic. Like, I could go to work all day and not drink and be normal, and I never got, like, you know, the shakes or whatever heavy drinkers talk about. You know, I didn’t get up in the morning and start drinking. That’s why I never lost a job because of it, and you know, I told myself that I was fine and I was normal because of those things. I didn’t destroy my relationship. I didn’t destroy my job. I didn’t destroy my life.
Flora: So no one noticed? So your family members, friends, co-workers, employers, no one noticed?
Rod: Yeah. That’s where I was going with it is that I could be normal either way. When I did quit, and I started talking about how much I had been drinking, there wasn’t anybody who knew me who heard that who didn’t say, “Wow, I had no idea. I had no idea that you were drinking that much.” So, I think I kept it enough under control that it wasn’t a noticeable thing to the people around me. I don’t think I was a different person one way or the other. It just made it easier to not notice that I was unhappy, depressed, and not going anywhere, undermotivated, you know, that my life was a rut.
Flora: Do you think your depression came after you started drinking? Did you start drinking because you were depressed?
Rod: It’s some of both. I don’t think I started drinking because I was depressed. I think I started drinking because my first experience with drinking was when I was 14, and I went out of the country on a Boy Scout trip, and we all stayed in host homes, and everybody was in a different home. So I was in a host’s home by myself. My father was in a different host’s home. And that very first night when we were there, at dinner, the host family asked me if I wanted a beer. And I was 14, and in the United States, it’s not accepted for a teenager to have a beer with dinner. But there, it was totally normal. That trip with that first beer, I was infatuated with the idea of drinking, like it seemed like a grown up thing to do, and there were additional things on that trip where I got invited to parties from the host scouts, the kids my age took us to parties. I remember one of them was just a huge I guess like a block party, but it was out in this big, empty field, and there were all these cars pulled up for lights, and there was music, and everybody was drinking and passing around alcohol. And it made me feel included. It made me feel welcome. It made me feel grown up. It made me feel sophisticated. And it was so much fun, and it was so different than anything I’d experienced in my childhood before that that it made a huge impression on me. And then I had a couple of incidents on that trip where I did some binge drinking, got really drunk, and I remember a wild night where we had gone to like some clubs in one of the bigger cities, and I got drunk, and I got us thrown out, and we were being chased through the streets by some locals that were yelling things about the gringos, and… I mean, it was just, it was a wild time unlike anything I’d ever had before. It was a big adventure, and it made a big impression on me, and I think through my teenage years, I chased that feeling by drinking and going to parties, and going to parties with kids that were older than me, and it just established a pattern. When I went to college, I continued that pattern. When I got out of college, and it wasn’t so much about partying and wild time and fun. I still kept drinking. That’s when it became a daily routine rather than a wild time, you know. I don’t think I started drinking because I was depressed. And I don’t think I got depressed because I was drinking. I think drinking made it easier for me to get into a rut, being stuck in a rut, and alcohol was part of that rut, and alcohol made it easy to ignore the fact that I was in a rut. So I think somewhere in there, as my marriage started to fall apart, and I got more and more depressed over the fact that I wasn’t going anywhere, alcohol certainly didn’t make that better, and it made it harder to break out of it.
Flora: Do you remember doing anything that was really embarrassing while you were drunk? Anything dangerous, like car accidents? Jail?
Rod: No. And that was one of the reasons why it was easy to ignore that I had a real…
Flora: Drinking problem?
Rod: Yeah, a real drinking problem was I...
Flora: And also others too didn’t notice.
Rod: I never got fired. I never ended up in jail. I never woke up after a 3 day blackout binge. You know. I just… I lived my life, but part of that life was drinking. A lot.
Flora: It’s such a socially acceptable thing to drink every day, especially after a long day of work. When did you realize that you drank too much, and that it might be alcoholism?
Rod: Well, the volume that I was drinking, the amount of money that I was spending on it, it seemed pretty clear it was a problem, but it’s really easy to rationalize that when you want to keep doing it. It’s easy to tell yourself it’s OK that you’re doing it. And people who drink tend to have friends who drink, so the people that I was around drank a lot, and if we went somewhere… You know, going out meant drinking. Having a party meant drinking. So, socializing meant drinking. So it was easy to think, “Well, everybody does it.” So I never felt like it was radically abnormal, but I periodically over the years thought I should quit, but it’s easy, it’s really easy when you’re addicted, or when you’re in that pattern of doing it to tell yourself that you can quit tomorrow or, “Well, I can’t quit before the weekend, so I’ll quit on Monday.” And then Monday comes, and you think, “Well, wow, that was a really crappy Monday. I’m going to have a drink. I’ll quit tomorrow.” Then, “I can’t quit on a Tuesday, so I’ll quit next Monday.” It’s really easy to keep pushing back the date that you’re going to do something about it. And to do that over and over and over again until years have gone by.
Flora: Do you think there was a root cause for your addiction?
Rod: No, I don’t think there’s a root cause. I wasn’t abused and drank to drown out my pain over that, or… You know, there wasn’t any single incident that I can point to and go, “Ah! That’s why I started drinking!” Except maybe that experience of travelling to Central America and having an amazing time that in some ways centered around alcohol, and that making alcohol seem like a very special thing.
Flora: Do you feel like maybe you had social fears, and it made it easier when you drank to socialize and be loose and all that stuff?
Rod: Oh absolutely. I mean they call it a social lubricant for a reason. It reduces inhibitions, and I had a lot of inhibitions, and I was socially awkward, and I would get nervous about being around people, or especially about meeting new people.
Flora: OK. Let’s talk about your recovery now. Tell me how you stopped drinking and why. Because you say you tried several times, so the last time you tried, what was the difference? What happened?
Rod: The first real success I had in quitting drinking, or a big success, was when my wife was pregnant. When she was pregnant, I said OK, I’m not going to… She can’t drink through the pregnancy, I said, OK, I’m going to quit drinking through the pregnancy, you know… Like a show of solidarity. And I didn’t make it through the whole pregnancy. And I made it probably 3 or 4 months. And again, just like every other time, it was something happened. I don’t remember what. I started drinking, and immediately it was right back to drinking every day. And that’s what I’d done with cigarettes always. So when I did quit, that was the big lesson that I’d learned is, there can’t be any, “I’ll just do it a little bit. I’ll do it now and then. I’ll do it now because it’s a rough day, but I won’t do it tomorrow.” I knew enough to know that if I did that, it would be all over, and I’d be right back to drinking. So, there were 2 things that came together to give me the motivation that I’d never had before to really make the effort. One was, I’d gone for my annual physical, and I got a voicemail from my doctor’s office telling me that there were some numbers with my liver tests, abnormal or whatever they said, and I needed to quit drinking immediately and schedule a follow up appointment, and that kind of scared the shit out of me because that had been in the back of my mind about drinking for years was drinking damages the liver. And it was easy for years to go, “Yeah, sooner or later it’ll be a problem, but I can keep drinking this week,” You know. “I’ll deal with it later.” And that was something that said, no, you better deal with this now. And the other thing was, right about the same time, about a week before that, my wife had said she wanted a divorce. And while the divorce wasn’t really about the drinking, it was something that I knew in my heart was a problem, was a fault of mine, something that I needed to work on to make myself better. And I was still thinking at the time that if I could make myself better, I could save the marriage. So it wasn’t necessarily that I need to quit drinking to save the marriage, but it was that I needed to make improvements to myself, make changes in my life, and that that might help save the marriage. So with the doctor’s office calling and my wife wanting a divorce, it finally hit me that there is no tomorrow. It’s now. Now’s the time. It has to be now. And so I quit drinking. And it wasn’t like, “I will quit drinking on Monday.” When I got that voicemail message, it was like, “I need to quit right now.” And I quit that day and never had another drink.
Flora: Did you tell anyone? Who was the first person you told?
Flora: That you were going to stop drinking, or drinking was a problem.
Rod: I thought about how am I going to do it, and I didn’t really know. I knew about Alcoholics Anonymous, and I knew that there were treatment options. I didn’t really know where to start to get help, so I went to one of the smartest people that I know who just happens to work in that field, and that’s my Social Worker Sister-in-Law. She works in adolescent substance abuse. She gave me a whole big 3-ring binder full of resources and knew who to call, where to start, how to get in touch with local AA. She’s great at setting aside the emotions of our personal relationship and just going into social worker mode, and she was the person that I went to at first to talk about the end of my marriage and what I was, how I was going to deal with that and how I could maybe try and salvage it. You know, I talked to her about all those emotions that went along with it, and I talked to her about the quitting the drinking. And she was a huge help on both fronts.
Flora: So now that she gave you all those resources, what are some of the action steps that you did since then?
Rod: Well, I looked at the binder, and I started calling about what kind of coverage my health insurance had and what kind of programs I could get into. I talked to some people, and I went to an AA meeting down the street from where I lived, and I read…Alcoholics Anonymous has a book. Reading the book was helpful. Reading the stories about quitting. Reading the stories about quitting and relapsing and quitting and relapsing and quitting and relapsing. All that stuff helped a lot, and I told myself that I was not going to do any of that. And I went to an AA meeting, and they were all super nice. I sat, and I listened to stories, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to talk that first night. But you know, she asked if there was anybody new, and I was new obviously, they all kind of knew each other, I stood up, and I said the thing: “My name is Rod, and I’m an alcoholic.” And as soon as I said it, I started crying because it was the first time I’d thought, or first time I’d said it out loud, “I am an alcoholic.” I always thought, “I’m not really an alcoholic. I drink too much, but I’m not really an alcoholic.” And that was the first time I said it out loud, or said it that directly to myself. I was really glad I went, and I think it helped to go, but I never went back to another one because it just didn’t feel like it was for me. It didn’t feel right for me, partly because of all the stuff about God, which they say, you know, that that’s not as important as people make it out to be or people think it is. You can substitute for a higher power. It doesn’t have to be God. Like somebody at that meeting said you can substitute a doorknob for higher power, just whatever you need to do to get past that part, but that didn’t help me. That didn’t help me get over it because I was like, that’s just semantics. You’re still talking about God. You’re still talking about a higher power. And maybe it’s ego. And I didn’t want to give up power over my own life to a higher power that I didn’t believe in. And I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life talking about alcohol, going to meetings and talking about alcohol. I wanted to be done with alcohol. I felt like if I went to AA, it would continue to be the center of my life, and I just didn’t want it to be the center of my life anymore. So it didn’t feel like it fit. So I never went to another meeting.
Flora: So then what were the things that you did to help you with recovery, like medicine, therapy?
Rod: I went to a counselor who was great. I don’t know that we talked much about drinking or alcohol, but having her to help me deal with all those feeling about myself, to start seeing myself differently, to process the feelings about my marriage and its end definitely helped a lot. I went and saw my doctor, my general practitioner, I went and saw him and talked to him about it, which I think was a big step for me, because I had never told any doctor how much I was drinking because I thought, what’s the point? I know what they’re going to say. They’re going to say quit. So I never told anybody. I told him that I thought part of the end of the marriage was about depression, that I didn’t have any idea of what the next step in my life was supposed to be, and I had no idea where to go, and I was depressed over that fear of the future, that uncertainty, and he said, “Well, you know, sometimes people get on antidepressants, and it doesn’t have to be forever, so why don’t we just put you on something low dose for 6 months to help you break out of the rut.” And he also prescribed a sleep aid which was extremely helpful. I was reluctant to take it too much, because I didn’t want to substitute one substance for another and end up addicted to sleep aids. So I tried really hard not to take it, but I did take it 3 or 4 times a week for the first couple of weeks to help me get over… Like, when I tried to sleep sober, I would… You know, that… like a lot of times when people doze off, they’ll get that feeling of falling and then jump or twitch. I would do that over and over and over all night long when I first quit drinking and tried to sleep without an aid. I could never sleep because as soon as I started to doze, I would feel like I was falling, and I would jerk myself awake again, and so I would be awake all night long. So I took the sleep aid a couple of times to help me get through the first few weeks until that part of it faded away a little bit. So I think those 2 things of being on antidepressants for a few months and being able to use sleep aids to help.
Flora: How was it during those first few weeks? How hard was it?
Rod: It was extremely hard because all of the triggers that had ever kept me drinking, all of the excuses I ever had for I’m just going to drink tonight, they were all there and worse than ever, because that was my marriage falling apart. And there was stress and animosity, and everything between me and my wife. We were not relating well, and that was extremely stressful, and stress was a reason for me to drink all those years. And so I had the stress of the end of the marriage on top of the stress of trying to quit drinking, one on top of the other, and it was very hard to do, but I had the motivation to just power through it, and over time it got better. And it didn’t take me as long as I thought it would to get to the point where I didn’t even really want to drink. You know, it was probably a couple of weeks of, “I really want a drink, but I’m not going to have one” before I got to “I don’t really want to.” And then not long after that before I got to “I made it through the hardest part. I’m not going to fuck it up by going back.” And that’s where I’ve been ever since is I don’t really, I don’t struggle with wanting to drink. I don’t, when I’m around people who drink, I don’t go “God I wish I could have a drink too.” And I don’t know why. I don’t know you go from drinking heavily every single day for 20 years to not drinking at all without God or meetings or whatever. I don’t know. The motivation came together in the right way for me that I could do it, and maybe there’s something about my personality where it’s I’ve got a 3 year streak going, and I don’t want to mess it up. I don’t know.
Flora: When you first told your family and your friends, what were their reactions?
Rod: Well, some of my friends who still drank after I quit, a lot of them were extremely supportive and proud of me and amazed at the idea of exactly how much I had been drinking. They didn’t know. They knew I drank because I drank with them, but they didn’t know all the ways that I would hide how much I was drinking because I didn’t want people to know. You know, it was embarrassing, so I wouldn’t let people know exactly how much. And I had strategies for drinking more without anybody knowing.
Flora: Like what?
Rod: Well, if I was going to go out, of course I would drink before I went out because you got to get that base level of drunk in before you start drinking. Like I remember going camping, and everybody on the camping trip was drinking, and they were mostly drinking beer, but I had a big old bottle of vodka in my tent so… You know, beer was not strong enough. I would have to drink huge volumes of beer to reach the level of… with the way my tolerance was after all the drinking that I’d done, for me to reach a satisfactory level of drunk from beer would take a huge amount, so I didn’t want to publicly drink that much and have people go “Oh my God, he just drank a case of beer by himself.” So I would sneak some vodka in between, you know, then I could go drink 6 beers like everybody else and still get the level of intoxication that I required, and nobody would notice. And it was pretty easy. So yeah, that’s what people would say was, “Wow, I can’t believe that you were drinking that much. It’s great that you quit.” But I was kind of surprised that there were a couple of people who were also drinkers that would say, “Never? You’re never going to drink again? Never? Not even, not… I mean, you’re not going to just cut back to just beer? I mean, you’re not going to come back to just drinking on the weekends? You’re never going to drink? Never? Ever? Never. Never again. Your whole rest of your… Never going to drink. Wow!” You know. That kind of thing.
Flora: And your response was?
Rod: I think I kind of stayed away from other people drinking for the first few weeks or whatever, and once I got to the place where I was comfortable, it was just “Yeah. Never. I’m never going to do it again.” Because I had that experience with cigarettes and with drinking where I knew if I ever went back, I would be right back where I was, so it was, “Yeah. I’m never doing that again. Never.”
Flora: Did it change your social life?
Rod: Not really, because I spent the first year and a half after I quit drinking still hanging out with the same people, still going to their houses where they were drinking, still going to the same, you know, neighborhood parties where everybody was drinking. And I hung out with them, and they all still drank, and I didn’t, and it was fine.
Flora: How did you feel when you were around others who drank?
Rod: It’s different being like the only sober person in the room. Or not the only sober person, but the only adult who’s not drinking at all. Drunk people seem different when you’re sober than when you’re drunk. You know. I don’t know. Everybody thinks things are funnier when they’re drunk. Drunk people like to talk about drinking. I noticed that was the conversation in a lot of parties was, “Wow, we are going to get drunk tonight! Do you remember the last time we got drunk? Do you remember that time 3 years ago when I got really drunk?”
Flora: You don’t feel like you’re missing out?
Rod: No, just the conversation seemed kind of boring. Like, I don’t know. It got to the point… That’s part of why I don’t spend as much time with those same people anymore is when you’re a heavy drinker, your life is about drinking. And your conversation is about drinking. And your activities are about drinking. And I just… When I wasn’t participating, it just didn’t seem that interesting anymore. It didn’t seem that funny. It didn’t seem that clever.
Flora: What about when your girlfriend drinks and then kisses you? How does that feel? Do you want to drink?
Rod: No. It doesn’t affect me. And, like I have this weird thing where I can’t really smell. Like I don’t smell, if my girlfriend drinks, I don’t smell it on her breath, I don’t even really notice, and it certainly doesn’t make me go, “Oh, wow, I really want that.” I think the only things that affect me that way, and only really slightly, it’s just a little twinge, is I used to like to try all kinds of beers, and I had some beers that were favorites. Like, or even alcohols, like I really liked the Dripping Springs vodkas. They’ve got, you know, different flavors. So sometimes if I’m with somebody, and they’re trying a new beer that they’ve never had before, it’s a beer I’ve never had before, sometimes I’m like, “Ah, I’d like to try that.” But I’m not going to.
Flora: Why not?
Rod: Because I’m never having another drink because I really am, I don’t know if afraid is the right word. I think it would be really easy to fall straight back into another pattern by going on that “I’m just going to have one” thing. I think the safest thing for me is to just never do it again. And it doesn’t lower the quality of my life not to drink, so why would I?
Flora: Are you proud of yourself for going through so much during that period when you decided to stop drinking and you did not go back to drinking even through the divorce and next relationship breakup issues and things?
Rod: Yeah, I’m very proud of the fact that I quit drinking and lost about 40 pounds during what was one of the hardest, most stressful, most painful periods of my life. That was an awful, awful time, and what makes it better was that I accomplished things that I had wanted to accomplish for decades and never did. And I finally did them, and I did them at the worst time of my life. That’s pretty cool. I’m pretty proud of that.
Flora: That is pretty cool. You’ve got some willpower. So what would your advice be to someone who is struggling with addiction?
Rod: I said it to someone once about quitting smoking, and it just pissed them off, so I don’t know that I have anything that would help anybody, but the only way to quit drinking, the only way to quit smoking is when you want one, don’t have it. That’s it. That’s the whole secret. You want a drink? Don’t have one. Because if you have one, you won’t quit drinking. I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t know what switch flipped in my mind. I don’t know why I couldn’t do it for years and then suddenly I could, except that it was the combination of those 2 things. One was really scary with the doctor, and I don’t know why that one stayed being a motivation 3 months later, followed up with the doctor after I hadn’t been drinking, and my liver numbers, everything was back to normal, and there was no big terrifying health crisis hanging over me about drinking anymore. It was just by then, I had 3 months, so I didn’t want to go back. But that, being terrified that that health crisis that was always in the back of the mind while I was drinking had finally come, and my marriage was over. Those 2 things coming at almost exactly the same moment finally smacked me upside the head and said, “Look at your life and make some changes.” So I did.
Flora: What are some of the positive things that resulted from stopping drinking?
Rod: I’m free. I feel free. Like I can go anywhere, do anything. There’s never any reason for me to be scared of drinking and driving. That will never happen to me again. I won’t have to worry about getting pulled over. I won’t have to worry about getting myself home if I’ve had too much. I don’t have to be home to make sure I get enough in me so that I can sleep. I can go anywhere, any time, do anything I want. I don’t have to be home at a certain time to get the booze in me. I can’t imagine the money that I spent on it. I should have stacks of money piling up in my apartment, but I don’t somehow. I don’t know where all that money goes now, but…. I just, I’m free. I was chained down by the alcohol, the routine. I had to keep the routine. I had to spend the money. And I don’t have to do either one of those any more, and I can… I’m always the designated driver, so… I don’t know. I’m free.
Flora: Free at last!
Flora: Anything else you want to add?
Rod: Alcoholics Anonymous is an amazing program, an amazing organization. The things that Alcoholics Anonymous does for people as far as changing their lives and giving that same freedom that I have to other people, it’s so valuable, and I don’t want anybody to think that I’m putting down that program in any way because I didn’t participate in it. If it appeals to you, if it works for you, that’s wonderful. My life and the way I’m doing this, I’m the cautionary tale as far as people in AA. I’m sure that anybody that heard my story, that does participate in AA would look at me and think well, it’s just a matter of time before I relapse because I don’t have that support system. I mentioned it in the interview about the dating, that that woman said I didn’t take responsibility for my alcoholism because I wasn’t doing AA. I can’t argue with any of that. I can’t understand why it worked for me without a structured program, but I don’t want anybody to think that I’m saying that you don’t need AA. Lots of people do need AA. And I’m not saying that I’m better in any way for not needing it. It just wasn’t for me. But it is for so many people, and I don’t want anybody to think that I’m saying it’s not a great program. The book itself helped a lot. The loving kindness and attention of the people at that meeting towards me helped a lot. It just… I didn’t have the kind of stories that they were telling about waking up after a 3 day bender and waking up in rehab again or waking up in jail again and not knowing what you did or how you got there. I don’t have any stories like that. I didn’t fit in with those people. I didn’t fit in with the religious aspect, and I’m too egotistical to give up power over my own life. So it didn’t work for me, but it works for a lot of people. And if there’s nothing else that has helped, and you’ve tried over and over again, by all means, try it. I tried it. You should try it. I don’t have any magic formula to give anybody as to what I did and how it worked for me. It just… I don’t know. “How’d you quit drinking?” “I don’t know! I just did.” “How did you quit drinking?” “When I wanted a drink, I didn’t have one. That’s how I quit drinking.”
Flora: So we’re up to my last question, the best one. You ready?
Flora: What is your superpower?
Rod: My superpower is a short memory.
Flora: Why is that a superpower?
Rod: Because I don’t, in some ways literally I have a short memory. I forget things. I just literally don’t remember. But also, symbolically, I have a short memory in that I don’t hold onto things. I don’t hold a grudge. I don’t hold resentments for a long time. You know, I’m at almost 2 years divorced, and I don’t hate her guts. I wish her well. I hope she’s happy. I hope she is doing well. I don’t stew over all the worst parts of the marriage and carry it around with me. I’m not mad at her. I’m not mad at myself. I think I have a pretty good ability to let things go. And I think that’s kind of new, too. And I think the breakup of the relationship after my marriage, that second one, I think that helped teach me that. Because I spent a lot of time in that breakup like obsessing over what I could’ve said and should’ve said, you know, when we would have a fight or whatever, and obsessing over what she was thinking and going around and around and around in my head and losing sleep over it. And I can’t really say why, but at some point during all of that, I stopped. I stopped doing that, and I let it go. And I’ve still managed to carry that ability with me of just letting it go. I don’t hold onto stuff. That’s a superpower.
Flora: Awesome. Well thank you so much for this interview.
Rod: Thank you! Now do we get to make out?
Flora: Did it turn off?