Today, I’m perusing Twitter feeds and someone (a former news anchor) I am following happened to mention that she was starting a new Twitter page that is focused on recovery and sobriety. It made me contemplate alcohol again. As many of you know, a couple of years ago I really felt like I was an alcoholic. I spent a great deal of time attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and trying to “work the program” as they say in those meetings. Eventually, about a year ago, I made the decision that I was not an alcoholic (I’ve always questioned anything where you’re given the authority to self-diagnose anything).
I won’t deny that I was using beer as my medication to treat the severe depression I was going through at the time. Truthfully, because I was throwing fuel at the fire, drinking was not going to be a good thing for me. I was going through a lot of things on an emotional level – I was dealing with a toxic relationship, laid off from my job, coming to terms with my own sexuality, self-loathing about the way I looked and felt, trying to understand a relationship with God, never having dealt with my brother’s suicide, contemplating and attempting my own suicide, etc., etc. The list could go on. Drinking was, certainly, not the most constructive way to deal with my emotions. Also, since I’m a type 1 diabetic, there is a major health implication concerning my consumption of alcohol – i.e. wear and tear on the ol’ liver.
I will admit that the AA meetings were beneficial. I was hearing messages I had not listened to in many years and trying to place them into the role of my life. I struggled, however, because I could never make it past 90 days of sobriety. There were many times I was receiving a new 24-hr. chip, a new 30 day chip, and so on and so forth. But overall, I felt like my attitude towards life was beginning to change. I felt like I was starting to believe in God again, I felt like I was starting to see the point of trying to live, I was beginning see positivity in life again. It even felt like my marriage was repairing, because I was choosing not to engage in the toxicity. Eventually, I began looking at the reality of drinking.
In AA meetings, they call what I’m about to discuss, the “yets”, because they are the undesirable effects created from a toxic relationship with alcohol. But the truth of the matter is that I have never driven drunk, I have never been arrested in any way related to alcohol, I have not used alcohol as an excuse for any inappropriate behavior (outside of that one time I tossed quarters at some women in a bar that were dancing with a pole…it was not taken as the joke I meant it to be), I have not been involved in any violence related to alcohol. I have had almost NO undesirable effects that are normally attributed to alcoholics. And I have literally not been drunk in many, many years (actually it’s been about 7 years, since I last got drunk). And when I had discussed these things in AA meetings, there was a unanimous outcry of “Yet!” – in other words, these had not happened to me, yet.
But, there were some things that truly turned me off about AA meetings and AA members. I got incredibly sick of hearing people blame alcohol for the problems created in their lives. I got sick of hearing, “It’s this damn disease”. These explanations made my skin crawl, because the last thing I ever wanted to be was the kind of person that made excuses for things I am completely responsible for doing. Hearing the stories people would discuss about some truly vile acts and then washing it over with some half-assed, “If it weren’t for alcohol, then…” I always felt it was disingenuous and had to eventually steer clear of some of that crap. Also, these ideas that I had to share everything with someone – i.e. a “sponsor” wasn’t always appealing. I have a tough time admitting to myself, my sexual leanings and I am quite comfortable keeping most of it to myself, so the idea of sharing it was horrifying. I could easily admit my mistakes, I’ve never been the kind of person to reject criticism – granted, I might want an explanation of reasoning, but I would take it to heart and truly listen to how my actions have impacted others.
Ultimately, I felt like AA was nothing more than hyped-up glorified group counseling. It convinced me what I have always believed anyways – the mind can overcome anything, if you set your mind to it. And, I could never really reconcile the God thing. AA would claim to not be focused on religion, but rather the relationship with a “Higher Power, however you conceive”; which to me, seemed like nothing more than a new way to make a religion. All it did was put a bad taste in my mouth. It felt fake, forced, and enabling the attitude of not taking full responsibility.
So, a year ago, I began drinking again. It was similar as before. I only have a couple of beers at a time. And it never interfered with things like work, home life, or anything “normal”. I would have a couple of beers when I ate out and usually nothing more. When I am away from home for work, I don’t drink. But, when I get home, I grab a beer. And I drink at least one or two beers, daily when I am home. I began to question myself again and even had a conversation with my wife and said I was thinking about going back to another AA meeting. That was not accepted well by her, because she feels like it would be another thing that takes me from home – and I hear what she’s saying, since she and my kids have had to deal with me being gone a lot. So, I feel like this is where I am at – I should stop drinking, if I could, right? But maybe I’m not an alcoholic, maybe I just do it as something to do.
Or have I convinced myself and deceived myself by saying all of this. And today, as I read that woman’s tweet, I had a thought…
…well, if it’s not good for you, then it must be bad for you.