The past few weeks have been somewhat trying — not so much in terms of not drinking but in terms of feeling overwhelmed by life. It’s just been plain busy and hectic.
This has led to some re-evaluation on my part. I haven’t figured it all out by any means but I am coming to question many things about the 12 step program.
Lots of people seem to suggest that the key is acceptance and surrender — that the key is to stop struggling. I get that but it is counterintuitive.
Life is struggle.
Life is suffering.
These are truths.
If you give up the struggle, aren’t you giving up life?
This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, thoughts, and a bit of confusion. I left for my annual sales conference in Miami on Wednesday of last week. I consciously chose not to get up for my morning meeting because I knew that I had a long day ahead of me filled with airplanes, Uber rides, meetings, cocktail hour, and a dinner.
Wait, what? Cocktail hour? Sober people go to cocktail hours?
Yes, sometimes we do when we have a good reason to be there, and a work event is generally a good reason. That doesn’t mean that we drink, it just means we show up. Sometimes you have to suit up and show up. So I went to cocktail hours on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and had non-alcoholic drinks. My non-alcoholic drinks of choice were, club soda and lime, Red Bull, Ginger Ale, and Espresso.
The meetings were generally good. I found that I was much more able to focus on the content being presented because I was actually present. I wasn’t hungover. I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t tired. I actually had a pretty good time and tweeted about it:
Continue reading “Finding Balance – A Week in Review”
Shame. Such a powerful feeling; closely tied to guilt, we feel shame when we do something that we know we ought not do. Painful, humiliating, dishonorable, shame robs us of our self esteem. The actions that lead to shame might be simple foolishness or out right immoral. Regardless of the severity of the action, shame can be traced to self-awareness and the recognition that a mistake was made.
During my active alcoholism, when I was drinking daily, I harbored a great fear of seeking help because I didn’t want to be ashamed. I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem because I was afraid of being ashamed of being an alcoholic. I was afraid of being ashamed to say that I go to AA.
That’s the stigma that our society puts on addiction. Our society, sees addiction as a moral failing. Continue reading “Shame, Insanity, and Awesome Sauce”
The thoughts that I’d been having over the past few days stuck with me into the evening yesterday. Despite my best efforts to occupy my mind with other things including listening to music, playing my acoustic guitar, opening up my electric guitar to see if I could fix it (it’s busted and probably will not be worth repairing), and taking a long walk in the cold air, I had trouble shaking those thoughts.
So, I went to a meeting. And that helped. As I walked into the meeting I thought to myself, “I sure hope this speaker is a good one.” And she was. She had a story to tell, but more importantly she was good at conveying a message of hope. I went to bed last night with good thoughts in my mind.
And then this morning came around. Continue reading “So, this is where I am”
Some days are better than others. I think I’ve been generally positive about my sobriety so far, and I am truly happy to be free of the chains of drinking every day. But, I’d be remiss if I let the world believe that every day is strawberries and cream, because they’re not.
I’ve had a good day today and spent time with Mrs. TKD and Mr. Grey, but in those silent moments, I’ve been in my head. Deep in the recesses of my head.
Is this how it will always be?
Some days it feels like I’ve traded my obsession with drinking for an obsession with not drinking. There are days when all my quiet time is consumed by thoughts related to staying sober. Today has been one of those days.
I can’t believe I’ll may never taste a beer or whisky again.
Will I ever set foot in Zeno’s again?
What’s right, the AA doctrine or science?
I wouldn’t call these thoughts bad, just questions. I wouldn’t say that I’m craving alcohol, but rather missing it. The truth is I don’t want to drink today, but I don’t want to think about a life without ever having a drink again either.
Alcohol has been a big part of my life for a long time — not always problematic, but there, part of who I was. In some ways, giving up alcohol has been like giving up part of my identity. I know I’ve got to learn more about myself and that perhaps these thoughts will quiet over time. But today, they’re driving me a bit nuts.
I won’t say that there’s no chance of me ever drinking again for a couple of reasons:
First, relapse happens. I pray that it doesn’t happen to me, but I am conscious that it could.
Second, modern science has shown that a majority of heavy drinkers can moderate successfully. I know that goes against the 12-step doctrine, but the doctrine was written nearly 80 years ago — when there wasn’t a great deal of good science on the subject.
Still, I’m not willing to take the risk. I’ve gained far more than I’ve lost by giving up the booze.
New Years Day — A time to look back and a time to look forward. For many, a time for resolutions. I’m not making any resolutions this year, because I’ve learned that I really need to work with the next 24 hours. Besides, I have failed keep true to my resolutions so many times in the past — why set myself up for another failure?
The year 2015 will go down as one of the significant years in my life because I finally took action and addressed my drinking. It had been a long internal struggle which culminated in a gradual surrender over the period of four days in late September. That surrender gave way to freedom.
While the last three months of 2015 were markedly better than the first nine because I was sober, they weren’t easy. The first nine weren’t particularly happy and certainly weren’t healthy. I was in a special kind of hell most of the year.
So, here’s hoping for a happier and healthier 2016.