Four Elements

When Jerry V submitted this beautiful essay adapted from an Italian opera, I found it very moving and I thought it would make for a great podcast. Lucky for us, Jerry was gracious enough to join me one Sunday morning for a discussion based on his work. I think you will enjoy this piece of creativity and the resulting conversation. 

By Jerry V. 

Four Elements of a Wretched Drunkeness

  • Envy of the happiness of others
  • Self-loathing
  • Weariness of the soul
  • Ailing senses

As part of my recovery I remind myself of where I was when I hit bottom. I try not to dwell on it (happy thoughts are so much better), but lest I forget – I find it useful to think about these 4 elements, and how they were all major states of mind and body in my drunkenness.

Envy of the happiness of others

It was so easy to wish myself out of my body and soul into a another person who was richer, younger, and had so many friends. Who had a life of balance and pleasure and interests.

Self-loathing

This is a constant for any and all drunks. It comes from the broken promise of “not ever doing that again”. From the plan to only have one drink, from hurtful comments to someone, from behaviour that was not the real you, from (add your own things that you hated about yourself)

Weariness of the soul

The feeling of helplessness and the inability of seeing or having any hope. Down down went the spirit and all was doom and gloom when I thought of my prospects and where I was going. It was a case of a very weary and tired soul with no hope.

Ailing Senses

How many ailments and doctor visits?  How many imagined illnesses? How many unnecessary procedures to try to find a cause (which you knew in your heart was from your drinking). My specific ailment was the constant dizziness and lack of balance. I fell over when I got out of bed in the morning.

Four Elements in my Recovery

  • Acceptance of who I am and a true sadness and empathy for people who are still suffering.
  • Proud of myself for being sober.
  • A lightness of spirit and an ability to find joy in many things.
  • A body that wakes up in the morning and says “Thank You” for the sense of well being.

The absolute pleasure in answering NONE to the doctor’s question of “How Much Do You Drink?

These thoughts are based on “Four Elements of a a Wretched Old Age” from the Opera L’incoronazione di Popea (1643)  Claudio Monteverdi, Act 2 Felice cor mio


About the Author, Jerry V.

Jerry V. is a grateful recovering alcoholic member of We Agnostics of New York City. His claim to fame is that his 90th day was 09/09/09. 

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  1. Elizabeth May 15, 2017 at 5:48 am - Reply

    So far, this is one of my very favorite episodes and I have listened to it twice through!!!! There are so many metaphors for drinking, but these touch perfectly on so many areas of what drinking does to our lives. Thank you for this writing, Jerry, and your wonderfully positive attitude. And thank you John S. for yet another great podcast!

    • John S May 15, 2017 at 7:20 am Reply

      Thank you so much, Elizabeth. Reading your comment was a great way to start my day. I also enjoyed this podcast and Jerry’s creativity.

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