Dear Forum Members,
This is a bit long, so please bear with me. Events occurred which disturbed our peaceful forum. Forum members were banned in the last year, where before I could go years without a ban. Some of that is the rapid growth of the forum, but some of this involved long time forum members. Long time members will know what I am referring to. New members are no doubt scratching their heads. I want to assure these newer members this is a very unique situation that has occurred. This place can be so peaceful as to be boring, and I like it that way. I really only ask one thing of people here - be nice and respect each other.
I think some assume this policy is just some fluff to be ignored. I have therefore decided to explain exactly why the rules exist. In order for you to understand, you have to know more about me. I ask your patience while I polish my Ted Talk presentation. Here is the opening.
My name is Steve Herschbach. I was born in the Territory of Alaska, and just like it sounds, I am from a different place and time that no longer exists. I was a straight A type student, top achiever in my school district. I started a business with a buddy while I was still in high school that in peak years hit around $22 million a year in sales, with 50 employees. After 35 successful years we sold the company to the employees by loaning them all the money they needed to buy us out, not a dime out of their pockets. All they needed to do was succeed... and they are. I am so proud of them!!
I had my pilot’s license before I got my driver’s license, learning to fly a Super Cub as a teenager. I am a certified SCUBA instructor with advanced certificates. I am considered one of the world’s leading experts in small scale suction dredging and metal detecting for gold. And a lot more still. Aren’t I amazing and capable?
Oh yeah, did I tell you I was a drunk? As of February 19th I will be celebrating 9 years of alcohol free life. I have a huge amount of experience with alcohol and drugs, addiction, and addiction treatment. I am working on a peer support specialist certificate to do volunteer work. I am behind on a book about my experiences that I am convinced will save lives. Stigma reduction in particular interests me, and I decided to out myself to help people understand that drugs and alcohol hits everyone. Nobody is immune and it is very much a crapshoot who will end up being one of the 90,000 people a year who die from drinking in the U.S.. Most of you have friends and family who have been touched by this epidemic of despair. The root cause is not lack of will, but more likely genetic issues in some populations, self medication for underlying mental illness, and trauma. We are a harsh society that traumatizes people and writes them off as losers. In fact high achievers are an at risk population for a raft of reasons, not least being an inability to admit to weakness. In our society it can literally be preferable to die than to be seen as weak.
I was essentially reborn nine years ago. I was at the absolute edge where death was looking real good, and only barely got myself clean of it.
So I left rehab in February 2012, retired early, and left Alaska. This forum was started in December 2013. When you are as far gone as I was, it takes years to settle down. You do not just quit and it is happy time, just the opposite as now the crutch is gone. I was terrified of failing, and nothing, NOTHING, was more important than not drinking. I vowed anything that got in the way of that for the rest of my life would have to go. I am extremely high strung, extremely compartmentalized. I can appear remarkably calm to some people, and I do things like talk in front of large crowds. I seem pretty fearless. It is all an act, a false front I constructed. The short story is I suffer from childhood trauma, and I am internally terrified of the world and of human beings. I hid most of myself behind a wall so impenetrable that I disconnected from my emotions, which seethed in a lock box. I am a chameleon on which people project things, yet only a handful of people know anything about me. The pressure of this act is immense. I am smart and capable, so I papered over it all with sheer will power, but unfortunately alcohol was the perfect drug to help me along. It was my fix for everything that stressed me. I also fell into the work hard, play hard mythology of Alaska, where amazing numbers of us kill ourselves. Alaska has a very serious, very dark underbelly.
I needed a safe place on the internet as I left all social media and forums. My safe adopted role for interfacing with people is "expert" or "teacher". By becoming an expert on a subject, it gives me a safe role to operate from as a way of having some sort of community. It's a fake connection, but relatively safe for me. I set the forum up so I could 100% control my surroundings, and instituted my simple rules for only one reason. It is to protect myself from "you all" which is how I view humanity. I'm a little afraid of "you all" and I deal with conflict badly. I actually am really good at it until I am not. There is a deep well of rage inside me aimed at the world that genuinely frightens me. At the same time I amuse myself endlessly over my own dysfunction, which is like the ultimate insider joke. I really crack me up.
If you are still with me the fact is I am a complete mess but at the same time I work on it constantly. I love this forum and everyone who can manage to be here on my terms. I am a child at heart and just want people to get along. If we can't do it here, what hope does this sorry world have?
Fast forward to now. I let some stuff go with forum behavior trying to keep everyone happy. Oops... forgot about my own peace. The pressure built so slowly I did not catch it. Outside events were piling on also. Something was said that wounded me deeply. I admit I read it wrong but that is where I need help. I essentially trust you all here as my family, and family betrayal is the deepest horror that I can be confronted with. I snapped instantly and went into survival mode. I WILL NOT TAKE A DRINK and so I do what I can immediately to resolve whatever threatens that. I do not claim I will act rationally. I'd toss the entire forum in an instant if I was hit hard enough long enough. It is pure fight and flight. If this happens and you care, apologize, and go away for a day or two while I recover. Unfortunately the person involved did not react well either, and events spun out of control. Pushing me in any way before I regroup is a bad idea. I forgive most anything with time, but time and space is the key.
I hope this gives you at least a peek into the bag of cats I call my brain. I want people to understand I am not trying to be an emperor and lord over you all or anything at all. I need your help and forbearance to be able for me to be here. And all I ask for that to be is that you all are nice, support each other, be the family I wish I could have had. And having typed that, I guess that says it all. Would you all please be kind to each other in order to help me? Please?
OK, with that I would like to announce that Simon (phrunt) will be rejoining the forum. I do not know what member name he will choose so he can post and tell us. I will make a separate post on the DP Forum welcoming him back; some might want to read that. Thank you for reading this rather odd announcement. I want you to know I value you all as my community of friends simply by being here. I want you all to know I am a real person, and I need a little help for this to be the best forum on the internet. Be nice. Help people. Answer questions, give each other support. Act like the people we are all called to be, our best selves. Maybe we can’t pull it off in the “real world” but let’s try it here. I do not want the largest forum, but the one with the people who care. My humble thanks and apologies to anyone disturbed by all this. This to shall pass.