After 3 years in recovery from alcoholism I am convinced the obsession of the mind has left me. I no longer strategise about the purchasing, logistics and consumption of alcohol. I remind myself every day that I still have an allergy to alcohol. If I ingest it the phenomenon of craving will be the catalyst for opening the gates of hell. An inferno of anguish and turmoil will engulf my life leaving ash and ruin in the aftermath.
The ‘ism’ associated with alcohol can be considered as an acronym for I, Self & Me. An excellent way of affirming the selfish nature of the disease. Selfishness is a driving force for Alcoholics. Me, me, me totally obsessed with where, how and when drinking can commence. Today I can still be self centered but it tends to manifest in more insidious ways.
This is the point in my sobriety that can feel like hitting a brick wall at speed. Depression that ways heavy, seeping into a vortex of guilt and regret regarding the past and a morbid fear of the not only the future, but the immediate present too. I suppose I just described existential fear and crisis and I remind myself that recounting my experience is reason for hope because it’s proof I came through it. Grow through what you go through.
The wobble came after a prolonged period of procrastination. Granted, the last few months have been unprecedented in there being a complete lock down of most nations across the globe. Working from home, performing administrative tasks and functioning without attending meetings has created a kind of fragile sense of security. Basically I’ve been white-knuckling and doing the very basics i.e. daily readings, the odd text to my sponsor and dipping into an international online 24 hour zoom AA meeting once in a while.
Sat at the desk looking at the laptop I zoned out imagining what it would be like to drink. I’m aware this is the dis-ease of alcoholism manipulating current events in my mind to create an environment for relapse. My thoughts advanced further to the inevitable distraught reactions to my potential behaviour. The pleading for me to stop, the disappointment in their eyes, the nihilism erupting like a mute mushroom cloud that will eventually rain acrid tears of waste and humiliation. I felt full of anxiety, then dread galloped through which weirdly brought some relief as I was repulsed by what I had envisaged. I began to weep a little, a cleansing emotional response to what I once enjoyed immeasurably now being abhorrent. Sadness and relief made me feel isolated and vulnerable.
In the past I wouldn’t have been capable of processing my emotions and a drinking episode would’ve been imminent. The following day I wondered if it was the alcoholic disease, or the emotional response to the severe consequences of drinking, that is the root cause of all this suffering? Nature, nurture, chicken or the egg? I reckon it doesn’t matter. The important thing is how we, as alcoholics, prepare for these testing times. I have a toolbox with a selection of tools I can utilise to accomplish a task. They include, meetings to go to so I am interacting with like minded people and receiving positive feedback through fellowship. I have a sponsor to contact for guidance, advice, empathetic understanding. I have an array of literature at my fingertips containing decades of applicable experience, strength and hope for alcoholics. I have conscious contact with a higher power of my own understanding. I can afford to lower my defenses enough to use these tools to build lasting recovery on a foundation of abstinence and sobriety.
I would like to make my blog something substantial for alcoholics to relate to and draw hope from. You’re investing by taking the time to read this and hopefully you’re absorbing coping skills for the future by relating to my experiences. I was recently asked what my dream was and what I want next? My response was filled with a lot of ‘wants’ that I later replaced with ‘haves’ because alcoholics have to nurture gratitude so we can minimise and neutralise jealousy, envy, resentment and forms of fear;
I want a healthy family, I want financial security, I want fulfilling hobbies, I want to believe we have a soul and can make conscious contact with God before we die so death isn’t scary, I want to be still and not have to worry about all these things and I want to learn how to be balanced and useful in the world and be worthy. What I’ve learnt in recovery is that I’m here for a purpose. That purpose in simple terms is to do for others as I would like to be treated. Out of everything spiritual prophets have said, this is essentially the reason why we are here. Life is sacred and precious and it’s simple. AA says ‘keep it simple’ and when we do, life is ok, it’s not overwhelming, I can even decide to be happy if I want to!