I always knew it. I’ve known it for years, but I didn’t want to admit it. But after diving into the model of addiction as a profession, I’ve realized that I am no different than the people I work with.
I am an alcoholic.
All the signs are there. As we say, the circumstances vary but the progression is the same. There is no exact template; you don’t have to drink every day, you don’t have to have hit “rock bottom”(I believe absolute Rock Bottom is death), you don’t have to lose everything, you don’t have to have experience “blackouts” nor do you need to have crushing consequences of alcohol use. You merely have to admit that alcohol has affected your life irreparably and that is a problem that you have no control over.
I have been drinking at an unhealthy level for 40-plus years. I haven’t always consumed alcohol every day and I haven’t always gotten drunk. But it has been a destructive force in my life. I have drunk at the expense of my health. I have lost my temper with my family and other loved ones. I’ve driven intoxicated more times than I can count (the words “incredibly lucky” come to mind) and I know that I have set a terrible example for my children. I have made an ass out of myself in front of friends and co-workers more than I want to admit and I have wallowed in shame and regret more often than I care to consider. Even now that I’ve been able to achieve long periods of sobriety, I think about it every day. Not a day goes by when I do not think about going to buy a bottle. When I do buy one, I may not get plowed that day but I will drink out of it every day until it is gone. That means that working out, blogging, preparing meals and any other worthwhile pursuit will be left by the wayside as I feed an old, tiring habit. And I get zero value or reward from it.
It’s time for a change. I feel good about it. I don’t enjoy it anymore, I rarely get intoxicated, and when I do I beat the hell out of myself emotionally during and after.
Alcoholism is about control. I no longer have control over it. Being able to avoid it is a mild accomplishment but I need to change my mindset and work towards a healthy and fulfilling life. Yes, I already crave this, anyone who knows me can confirm it. But I can do better.
I always tell my Clients that the key to embracing recovery is to not look at it as a continuation of the Old Life, but instead to look at it as a new beginning. It has occurred to me that I may be full of shit when I offer advice but I know I’m not. I am knowledgeable of the model of addiction and can speak with some conviction. But I need to go one step further and join them in doing the work. I can live the life that I want for them by joining them in the battle.
Today I am beginning the 1st of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am admitting that I am powerless over the lure of alcohol, and that I currently live a life that is unmanageable. This is an important step in my overall goal of being an honest, accountable person of substance. It makes sense finally.