Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rip Torn faces drunken driving charges in Connecticut

LITCHFIELD, Conn. — Actor Rip Torn has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving charges in Connecticut, nearly two years after being fined and losing his license for similar charges in New York.

The 77-year-old Salisbury resident appeared in Bantam Superior Court on Monday. He pleaded not guilty to illegal operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane.

I think this is the third celebrity drinking arrest I've read about this week. Charles Barkley and Sam Shepard are the other two. They may have just had a couple too many like normal drinkers do and got caught. Us career alcoholics do it different.

We were just talking about this this morning in the meeting. I had to have a drink to be able to shower, to put on make-up, to be able to get behind the wheel and drive to work, to be able to get through the day I'd have a mid-morning shot to stop the shakes, and then one in the afternoon to keep going until I could get home and drink like a normal person (the definition of insanity at it's most pure).

Heads nod in meetings when we share stories like this. The really crazy thing is that so many of us never killed anyone, never got stopped, never wrecked our cars. Some did, and are still sober today. Our stories are so similar. Then we read about the drunk driver who kills a family of four, or a pedestrian, or plows head on into a tour bus. And what we recovering alcoholics think is simply, "but for the grace of God, go I". So many times, I was flat lucky to not kill myself or anyone else. I was so far gone that I actually thought it was normal behavior. It is simply amazing what we addicts can talk ourselves into.

My ex said to me one time that I went to Rehab because I had no where else to go. All I can say to that is, No Shit! Alcohol kicked my ass over and over and over. And then kicked my ass again when I got out of rehab. What has saved me is AA. And it has saved me because I truly had no where else to go. He and the landlords were beginning the eviction process where we had been living, I couldn't keep a job, much less think about getting one in the shape that I was in. I was at the bottom, and I had been digging for a long time.

There comes a point that every alcoholic who makes it to sobriety and maintains it has to surrender completely. There is no question of maybe someday I can drink like a normal person, there is no believing that I can control it. Alcohol controlled everything, absolutely everything I did, everything I said, and everything I believed. The only way to have some semblance of a normal life is to never drink again, one day at a time.

Rehab didn't keep me sober, but it did introduce me to people in AA, and when the time came that I couldn't fight any longer, that I was entirely defeated and broken to my core, they were there. They helped me pick myself up, and they have helped me stay sober since, one day at a time.

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