Sunday, 20 March 2011

A Desire to Stop Drinking

Life is good these days.

For sure, I woke up this morning just about out of tobacco and milk; I smashed up the front of my car yesterday and I only bought the thing the day before and haven’t even started to pay for it yet; I’m meant to be going on a one week silent retreat at the beginning of May and I haven’t got the money to pay for that either, and last week I shaved off all my hair without thinking and now resemble a novelty vegetable.

What else?

Well, if I’m looking for stuff to moan about, and I concentrate long and hard enough, I’m sure I can find plenty. But I won’t


I have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body known as alcoholism. No longer am I compelled to do things which absolutely disgust me when I vaguely recollect them later; no longer am I driven by the ravenous insanity of that beast within; no longer is my life full of guilt, fear, shame and remorse: I am a free man.

I, who couldn’t go ten minutes without a drink; who had to have a drink in his hand 24/7; who lived only to drink; who couldn’t picture life without alcohol; who abased himself upon the alter of alcoholism; who was imprisoned by the bars of his own making: have - by the Grace of God and the solution which I found in the Twelve Step program of recovery - not found it necessary to pick up a drink for 914 days, one day at a time, and for that I am truly grateful.

I had a phone call yesterday from the father of an alcoholic I know, an alcoholic that I helped to detox just three weeks ago.

It was the same old story. As soon as the detox was over he went out and got drunk. His father wasn’t surprised, and nor was I. His father wasn’t, because the same thing’s happened time and again for over twenty years. I wasn’t, because it wasn’t too long ago that I was doing the very same thing myself.

When I was in the darkest and most dismal days of my drinking, all I wanted to do was get sober. I would beg the doctor for a detox. I would convince myself that things would be different this time. But things were never different. How could they be? I had a very real desire to escape the intolerable situation in which I found myself; I had a desire to be rid, once and for all, of the horrific consequences of my alcoholism; but did I honestly – honestly – have a desire to stop drinking?

The answer is no. And why would I? I suffered from untreated alcoholism (although I didn’t know it at the time), and the only medicine for it that I knew about was alcohol. How could I possibly have a desire to stop drinking?

Of course, as I know now, there is a solution. And the solution is a complete psychic change: a drastic change in attitude towards life, the universe and everything in it. This has been called (by various people in various places) a spiritual awakening, a spiritual (or religious) experience, God consciousness, a personality change, and so on. But whatever you want to call it, we are talking about one thing and one thing only: change.

And here lies the stumbling block, and the reason why so many people can’t seem to “get” this program and its utter simplicity.

We alcoholics absolutely don’t see the need to change. We’re ok. It’s the rest of you. We think you should change. We feel that we are right, and that it is you, God and the world we live in that is wrong.

We are not going to allow the necessary change to occur within us until we have no other option left. Not until every avenue has been exhausted, until every hope has been extinguished, are we going to throw up our hands and admit that we don’t know. And that won't happen until the desire to stay sober becomes more important to us than anything else.

Than anything else.

not the solution

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, moving, relevant and spot-on.

    Having a father who was an alcoholic, I can really resonate with this. (Or rather, he *is* a "non-drinking alcoholic", as I hear that you can't really be rid of alcoholism. I understand it stays with you as a bodily predisposition, and you either choose to "submit" to it, or not.)