I have started working the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program again, to regain sobriety. I have been reading the AA book of the same title, sometimes called “The Big Book” and have begun to work with the man that was sponsoring me, previously. If you’re familiar with “the program” it’s the proverbial 12-steps to recovery and I am repeating Step 1: Admitting I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable – I wrote about it too, as you can see from the link.
I am going through the step, taking notes, listening to different speakers from AA and attending meetings when I am able to. I’m making an attempt at embracing this “program”. Although it’s not my first time attempting this program, I am trying to surrender myself to it, but I am finding some things difficult. I know, in the past, when I make an attempt to see this program as the one that works for me, I tend to maintain some sobriety, but I also find some ideas and concepts I struggle with accepting. For example, I’m not what the book refers to as a “low-bottom drunk”; in fact, I have never been blackout drunk, nor have I been drunk in about 8 years. I have not drank anything, except beer and wine, since the last time I was drunk. I have never had any social ills befall me as a result of drinking. And as the fog of being under the influence lifts, I start comparing myself to “those people”.
To combat this, however, I have taken my sponsor’s advice to not look at how I am different from other drinkers, but to look at how I am similar. And I think the crux for me is the fact that once I begin, I want to continue doing it. I can go a stretch without drinking (Although, I have never made it past 90 days in the past 10 years or so) and then drink one beer and quit. Then the day after I may have one or two beers. Then a day or two after that, I’m convincing myself that two or three seem really good. And a day after that, I’ve worked myself up to three or four beers. I think you get the idea. In this way, I am similar to other drinkers in the fact that once I’ve had one beer, I want more.
I’ve also tried to appreciate that I tend to obsess over when I can get another beer. I won’t drink in the morning, like “those people”. I won’t drink other people’s drinks, like “those people”. And I damn sure am not going to salvage the alcohol in Nyquil or some other medicine, like “those people”. But I know, I wake up some morning, dying for the day to be at an end, so I can go out to dinner and have three or four beers. And, I know, for a fact, without any doubt in my mind, that I don’t simply drink for the taste of beer (although, I do LOVE the taste); no, I drink for the numbing effect of the alcohol. It provides me an escape from my mind, my worries, my problems.
But, I sometimes find myself bargaining with myself to determine if I am an alcoholic. I find myself pondering if it’s okay that I like beer. I enjoy stouts, porters, ambers, sometimes a pale ale, and a pilsner doesn’t hurt from time to time (at least in my mind). I am quite aware that I no longer get drunk (okay, maybe legally, but not fall-down and blacked out drunk) and I do not drink any hard liquor any more; so, I sometimes feel as if it doesn’t matter. I find it’s a great way to use beer as a “social lubricant” when enjoying the company of another person too. I also know that I stop drinking when I feel a certain way (But in my innermost being, I know that I can’t wait for the next time I can drink a beer).
And lately, as I try and distance myself from the last time I drank (well over a 100 ounces of beer in a few short hours), I am seeing more and more people talk about having a beer. I see references on Twitter, I’ve been invited out for a beer (I turned it down), I’ve gone to restaurants that serve great craft beers, and other situations and I feel myself having a sense of remorse that I will never drink again (AA strongly suggests total abstinence from all mind-altering substances). I feel jealous, almost, of those people that can drink a beer and it not impact how they think or feel in a negative way.
It’s almost like a relationship is ending. And that’s what convinces me it’s a sickness.
It’s like a toxic relationship (ugh…what I could say about toxic relationships, too…), I suppose, for me. I also know that being a type 1 diabetic, that drinking is absolutely NOT good for me. In fact, my doctor has often instructed that a beer is “okay” as long as it is drank over a meal and it’s a light beer with low alcohol content (WTF?!?!?! 3.2, really? That’s water, for crying out loud…!). But I know, deep down, that I have not followed that suggestion at all. And, as I continue to write about this, it becomes more readily obvious to me that I am an alcoholic, or have the probability of becoming worse than a “problem drinker” (I find this term to be hilariously inaccurate…I drink as a solution…lol).
But, even in accepting that I am an alcoholic and I have used beer as my method for solving problems, I am overwhelmed by the next couple of steps – the concepts of Higher Power and/or God. I’m nervous, because of the idea that submitting and surrendering to this idea has a multitude of connotations to me that make me apprehensive. And when I think about my previous trips into “the program”, I know I have not gone beyond Step 4…I don’t want to think about the possibility of some of me might somehow be a flaw, somehow be something that is wrong. It makes me think about my marriage, about my sexuality, about my relationship with God. It makes me think I’m a rotten person…
But for now, I believe I have accepted that I am an alcoholic, that I am powerless over the choice to drink and that my life has become unmanageable in many ways.
I’m 19 days sober…