Most people have an image of alcoholics as weak, weak-minded and weak-willed. There is this idea that alcoholics (or any addicts) simply cannot exercise will power, because they find themselves in the throes of addiction and addictive behavior. And when it comes to drinking, there is an inability to refute that temptation for an alcoholic. Hell, I had the same assumption, which was a major roadblock in me coming to terms with and accepting my own alcoholism. The reality is no normal person would walk 4 miles in a blizzard to get a drink; and although, I have never (specifically) done this, that is a small example of the extreme will power of an alcoholic.
I’m pointing this out, because I knew I had phenomenal will power, but never assumed alcohol had a grip on me (This is commonly referred to as “denial”, folks!). I had managed to earn my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering attending school full time and maintaining a full time job with two part time jobs – along with being a husband and father. I had also, once, fought for my life as a cop while wrestling with someone over my firearm. I’ve also managed to earn a 5th degree blackbelt in martial arts. The point is, when I set my mind to something, I can achieve it. But, not so when it came to drinking – or rather, trying to stop drinking.
Another case in point of will power leading to success is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous – Bill Wilson. The first chapter of the Big Book is his story, and you quickly see how success was a driving force in his life. To be successful, it takes will power. And I would venture to say that alcoholics have an ungodly amount of willpower. They strive forth with awesome momentum. Of course the problem comes in when you begin to realize that they drink with the same ferocity. I mean, why stop at one drink when you know that it takes more to achieve that mystical feeling sought.
There are so many examples of successful people, driven by willpower, that find themselves dealing with alcoholism and/or other addictions – celebrities, rock stars, business professionals, athletes, politicians, etc. This list can go on and on, I’m sure. The reality is that most alcoholics have mastered the art of using willpower… Actually, I’m going to take a side-step here, because “master” isn’t quite accurate. It’s more like alcoholics are the Sith Lords (Star Wars reference, for my fellow geeks & nerds) of willpower. The point, I think I’m trying to make is that our use of will power is typically self-serving and not designed for good nor betterment of others. It’s a false security we are after, which, I’m sure, is why alcoholics find themselves in the bottom of a bottle. That security, that fulfillment, that confidence in self, we are seeking is superficial and when it hits us how empty we actually are, the pain is so great we often find ourselves wanting to release that pain. But there is no true release when it comes to drinking. It sets us up for the infamous first drink that we take and then find the allergy of alcohol hitting us with fervor.
Granted, I realize that Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t for everyone in recovery, but I tend to be an empiricist in my thinking, and when I am “working the program”, I do not drink. I am surrendering, and although it isn’t easy, I am knee deep in this and trying to fight like my life depends on it. I have some potentially, major life-changing events going on right now and every fiber of my being and body is screaming out to go have a beer. But I know, deep down in my inner most self, that I will not have just one beer. I know that one more beer will lead to many, many, many more and I don’t want that. So, I have followed the suggestion of my sponsor and I took his hand last night as he led me in the Third Step Prayer, to a God I don’t know that I will ever understand (but I accept that I do not need to know everything:
“God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!”
Day 45 Sober