In the midst of a second wave of coronavirus, I’m an alcoholic struggling with the surge of emotions caused by isolation and nostalgia for a time free from fear. To clarify I mean external fear i.e. socially distancing, wearing masks, not going to public events, thinking twice about venturing out for anything not deemed absolutely necessary. I adhere to all these things to keep everybody safe but there’s a price. This cost correlates with how much effort I put into my recovery on a daily basis and thus it reminded me of the blind white-knuckling I did before I learned how to live one day at a time.
To me, white-knuckling and being ‘dry drunk’ are two sides of the one coin. One lavishes in ignorance and the other is a deterioration of recovery concepts eroded by, in this case, measures to control a pandemic. I’d like to reiterate that I am not against actions taken to reduce infection, I am reflecting upon how the disease of addiction can insidiously intercept logic and response.
I think I have experienced being dry-drunk during the events of this year. I understood that having conscious contact with a Higher Power, attending meetings and contributing to service to get out of my own way and working closely with a sponsor were all essential aspects of a healthy continuing daily recovery. On-line meetings seemed synthetic to me, plus the truth is I took physical meetings for granted in that world that seems liberated when I look back on it. I did have some joyous and divinely inspired AA moments where I knew I was being guided in certain direction despite my fear based fretting consuming the majority of my psyche. I was asked to do the main share at a meeting in another part of the country. I graciously accepted, recalling my sponsor saying that I need a very good reason to decline sharing my experience, strength and hope with other alcoholics, especially newcomers who need to hear the message of renewed hope, a daily reprieve, a solution, a method of recovery personal to everybody but accessible to all too.
Experiencing being dry-drunk is something I wouldn’t recommend as it brings you closer to relapse and tests your defence against the first drink. I have felt restless, irritable and discontent throughout the year and it intensified during national lock-downs. I stopped doing my daily readings and tapping the invaluable resource of prayer, meditation and mantra’s. I opted for petty arguments, resentment, indignation, unjustified anger and unbridled emotional surges of an unknown origin, somewhere I didn’t want to look because of fear of fear itself.
I do my best on a daily basis and that means forging recovery resilience by tempering the fragility caused by incessant fear. I haven’t drank today and that has to be enough sometimes. The number one offender is resentment, however the number one priority is sobriety. Sobriety is enveloped by recovery and recovery is what it means to you, what tools you have selected from the workshop. I picked the Serenity Prayer, Step One and One Day at a Time to fill my essential toolkit and I carry them with me wherever I go. If you’re reading this and relate to what I’m saying, trust in the process and ask for the willingness to be patient and it’ll happen. Keep coming back means don’t give up and it applies to all recovery journey’s. Keep coming back to the AA rooms or the SMART recovery group or the AVRT zoom group or the counselling sessions and your life will become something beyond your wildest dreams. Wealth is having a day to share smiles, contribute and become fulfilled – lighting the candle and feeding the spirit that was nearly extinguished by an unquenchable thirst and an unimaginable void of despair.
I have noticed that when I share my own experience with people I feel I’m being portrayed as selfish, self obsessed and ego-driven. I observe people being opinionated based upon media, societal trends, conspiracy theories, science and I don’t feel worthy enough to throw my ideas in because my recovery is a new trailblazing adventure into unknown territory where I feel uneasy approaching challenges. Whether these challenges are differences of opinion, other ways of achieving the same outcome, personalities, other people’s flaws, I doubt my ability to judge correctly. We all judge, it’s necessary to navigate our surroundings. I think the important thing to remember is to attempt to base judgments on core values of compassion, love and empathy rather than gossip, rumour and ignorance. I still struggle with using my own experience to express myself in conversation as it feels like it could be perceived as not hearing the person. I suppose I could try and just be in the moment with them and utilise patience until my experience is useful. I think I’ll use some quiet time to focus on this…and this is how I progress in my recovery one day at a time.