I believed that my alcoholism is a disease, a state of dis-ease based upon an incurable latent force ready to activate and consume every sense of self worth I have.
I’m beginning to learn that the disease concept in terms of alcoholism is applicable, however I understand it as part of something more fundamental happening; the loss of connections.
After reading Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari I was profoundly affected by what I learned. When I disassociate from love, compassion and humanity I turn to alcohol to fill the void. After four years of abstinence from alcohol I understand if I take a drink it’ll have dire consequences for myself and everybody around me. This is the disease would take over and I’d return to where I was four years ago.
This situation can be seen through another lens. If I drink and succumb to the disease of alcoholism I ultimately disconnect from the essential elements that have enabled me to recover. These are community, empathy, compassion, education, experience, peer support. In embracing isolation I would be creating the environment in which alcoholism thrives.
I believe the founding participants of AA learnt that ‘fellowship’ i.e. belonging to a group of likeminded people in pursuit of long term sobriety is a vital component in achieving recovery from addiction.
I tweeted out the following hashtag this week: #ReachConnectBelong. I have reached out, connected with and belonged to AA and #recoveryposse on Twitter. In doing so I achieved ongoing sobriety despite previous lapses, relapses intrusive thoughts, white knuckling, all highlighting how alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful.
I need to maintain the connections I’ve forged. They keep me plugged into a life source. An old timer used to say inhis gruff experienced voice, “meetings are our spiritual injection, it’s where we light the candle and feed the spirit.”
My spirit needs to be lifted frequently. I can drift off into despair, catastrophe and panic in a heartbeat. I rarely escape these conditions with the same haste. Knowing I have a meeting to go to, a phone number to call, means I have options other than listening to the temptation changing to obsession and manifesting as consuming alcohol to feel differently or nothing at all.
The Irish leave a candle lit in the window. It symbolises lost loved ones and provides a beacon for those looking for the warmth of home. AA provided that warm compassion I needed from those with empathic understanding. I’m learning that the warmth is within and we can all contribute to bolster recovery from addiction in our communities.