I’ve been planning to quit drinking and continue going to the pub to be with my friends, without drinking. Well, that could work, but first I have to quit drinking and that’s proving to be more difficult that I thought, especially during the Xmas season. No surprise there, I can hear y’all squawk. While the obsession to drink is gone, the habit is still very much alive. I’ve been drinking every night since I was 19 years old. That’s almost 40 years! If I stay at home—alone—which I don’t enjoy, I am quite easily able to limit the number of drinks that I have. It’s when I go to the pub that I get into trouble. So, I guess I just need to bite the bullet and stay home every night, until I’ve broken the daily habit. Then I can see what happens when I go to the pub and plan not to drink.
Seriously, all of this is the greatest challenge that I’ve ever faced in my entire life. If I could go to rehab, I most certainly would (here’s why) In fact, a dear friend (and drinking buddy) is heading to rehab sometime in the next week. His family are very well off and want to pay whatever it costs to get my friend clean and sober. He called to ask me if I thought he should go! I couldn’t have encouraged him more. In fact he said it was my description of the value of rehab that made him willing! He’s crediting me—his fellow drunk!
My friend is the second person I have encouraged and helped to get sober. Meanwhile, Nelson continues getting wasted. Well, I think my current plan is realistic; stay home, get sober, then try to go to the pub without drinking. I’m hoping that my experience being sober might encourage my other friends to try the same. That’s the pivotal element of A.A.’s success: get sober, help others to get sober. That’s Step 12, and is the most critical factor, in the A.A. way, to ensure and assure ones long-term sobriety.
That’s what I’m going to do.
Sunday morning. Hungover, again. WHY? Because I drank too much last night, of course —although I didn’t want to! I really didn’t want to drink last night. But around 3 o’clock my best friend called me. I told him I had to take a break, that I was going to an A.A. meeting. He laughed, then said, “I’ll pick you up and drive you there!”. He was joking, of course. He would drive me to our watering hole and invite me to have an A.A. meeting with him over a few beers. I said no, and I meant it. An hour later I was at the bar.
Why? I know why. I’m battling a habit of daily drinking and at the same time I’m battling not wanting to stop seeing my friends. I love those guys. This morning, however, while reading the chapter, “How it works” in the A.A. Big Book I reflected on the “3 pertinent ideas” described there, in particular the 3rd which states in regard to our being set free from our alcoholism, “that God could and would if he were sought”. In a flash, it suddenly occurred to me, “Is my God (my conception of God) not powerful enough to enable me to go to the bar and be with my friends and NOT drink?”
Hmmmm. I never seriously considered that. Until now, I’ve assumed that I can’t go into a bar and not drink. Can’t do it, nope, impossible! But is it really impossible? Doesn’t it say somewhere in the bible that with God ALL things are possible? Yes, it does. God has already delivered me from the obsession to drink (see Grace). That was huge, and absolutely restored my faith and belief in a higher power that I choose to call God. Surely, then, that same infinite power of the universe can also enable me to not drink if I go to the bar with my friends? Surely.
Frankly, if there is one thing in my life right now that could further prove to me the power of God — that could even prove to my drinking buddies about that power — it would. be. this. If my friends saw me sit with them in the bar and not drink, I know they would consider it a miracle!
So, I know what to do next on my alcoholism journey. I’m going to make my god that much bigger. Big enough to enable me to be with my friends at the bar and to not drink. Some might consider this a foolish notion; “You can’t stick your hand in the fire and not expect to get burnt”. Oh ye of little faith! I’m going to ask God to meet me here now at my place of greatest need.
The January 1st entry in A.A.’s “Daily Reflections” talks about miracles. About the miracle whoever wrote it had personally experienced, being delivered from their alcoholism. I’ve read this entry many times, but today, despite being terribly hungover from last night’s beer-fest, I suddenly comprehended it. Why this morning? Why today? Perhaps that’s now my miracle in action.
Like the author, I’ve never had trouble believing in God. And like him or her I’ve had trouble putting that belief meaningfully into my life. But today, thanks–and I mean thanks–to my alcoholism, I am looking forward to seeing God do for me that which I cannot do for myself (that’s obvious now). While God has already freed me from the obsession to drink, I cannot break free of the habit. This is the next challenge in my alcoholism journey. Today, I put my trust in God to set me absolutely free. Today, I trust in God to make me a miracle too.
Yes, my hope is renewed!
I’m having a very difficult time just lately. Accepting the loss of 22 years of my life to alcoholism has been very difficult. My best friend is in town for an extended stay and he wants me to join him at the pub every night. Saying no to him is hard. He just doesn’t get it that I really want to quit drinking. He can’t even conceive of quitting the drink. He’s overweight, has high blood pressure, has gout and the last thing on his mind is to quit the cause of all of that! And so, he cannot—will not—understand why I want to quit! I’ve tried explaining it to him but he just gives me a blank stare in response, then says, “Well, don’t blame me if you come out to drink with me—I’m not holding a gun to your head!”. If I quit drinking, I’ll never see the guy, because he spends every evening of his life at the pub and that’s not where I want to be!
It seems inevitable that I’m going to lose what few friends I have if I quit drinking. I’ve known these guys for 10 years. Our habit of meeting at the pub is firmly entrenched. It’s become a way of life. One that I know I have to let go of to be free of the booze. Talk about a difficult, frustrating situation! I know I have to do it. This is probably the biggest challenge in my life since my divorce 23 years ago. Now I’m divorcing my friends — so that I can be sober and friendless!? Yes, yes I can get new friends we all say. But I’m close to 60 years of age. Getting new friends is difficult at this stage of life. Doable, yes. Tough, you bet.
I really don’t know how to do this. Walking away from my friends feels so unnatural. I’m not strong enough to go to the pub with them and not drink. So, ok, I know that A.A. meetings are a start. I’m also going to join a church. I’ve always been quite shy and introverted, so doing this makes it that much more difficult. No one said it was going to be easy, I know, I know. I know!
Fortune seems to smile on the wiles of those–who cast a bet on the best of it.
Not that the rest of us can, as we like, bet upon the best of it.
But there is their still, a bit of swill, that we can gorge upon.
The lily’s flow, at this time of year, past gone by.
Meanwhile, we lonely travellers rest on our laurels.
What would one say, if called upon and challenged with this?
Simply that, this is it. And that it is…just…It.
The moon hangs fragile between the rafters.
Venus rising brought nothing.
To think that we can control the deluge, only exposes our own delusion.
That said, the crows are crowding in. Prime Minister? They would love to think. Where is the refuge driver to clean up after them!?
Asleep. Blissfully asleep.
As I look back over 20 years of heavy drinking it’s easy to see that my behaviour all that time was self-destructive. Easy to see, but not that easy to accept. We all want what is best for ourselves, for our lives, right? Of course we do, but we know that that’s often not what happens. Life is what happens to us in spite of ourselves.
Now that I’m on the road to recovery, one of the hardest things to do is to accept the fact that 20 + years of my life has been irreplaceably lost, wasted “getting wasted”! How can I forgive and accept myself for that? Accepting something doesn’t mean that we agree with it. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we have accepted their behaviour. It means that we choose to let go and choose to put behind us the harm or damage they have done to us. We accept them in spite of their past behaviour and move on. And so we must do the same with ourselves.
For my “wasted” 22 years of active alcoholism, I certainly don’t agree that my behaviour was somehow OK. It absolutely wasn’t. But, I need to simply accept that it was what it was. For reasons still not at all clear to me now I just drank and drank and drank. Yes, it was a waste of a huge chunk of my life. I have to accept that fact and let it go. Why? Because, and here’s the rub —if I don’t I’ll most assuredly keep on drinking. That’s why self-acceptance is so important for the recovering alcoholic. It doesn’t mean that we agree with having wasted many precious years of our life. It means we choose to let it go and move on. That’s the essence of forgiveness, and it has to start with ourselves.