I heard a story tonight at my third meeting of the day (forth so far) that made me realize how different my mindset is from 'normal' people, and that I am in fact an alcoholic. It was a very simple story, a simple statement. Something many people don't think twice about, but once I heard it something clicked in my brain that said "WHOAAA _____ (insert my name here)... What the fuck? Really??"
A woman at the meeting said she works in a local restaurant that serves only beer and wine. At least once a day someone will come in and ask for a lets say a Vodka Cran or a Margarita. To which she'll reply I'm sorry we only have beer and wine.
Now before I finish the story my thought the second I heard what she said (in an attempt to foresee where the story was going I guess) was "Well what kind of beer do you have?" or "What's on Tap?"
She said the most common response when she says that statement is "I'll just have a water" or "I'll just have a soda." Her point in telling this story was that 'normal' people, people who can control themselves and moderate drinking, won't just move on to whatever kind of liquor is available. Whereas someone like myself would just choose a different 'poison' and say fuck it, give me a Bud Light.
I assumed thats what everyone else always did, just moved on to something else if their liquor of choice wasn't available. Apparently that isn't the case... and it really made me realize how some of the most simple actions I take are a direct result of alcoholism.
We also did a group reading in tonight's meeting. I found a passage from the 'Big Blue Book' - Page 21 that really described my alcoholic self almost perfectly.
"He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. He has a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but in that respect he is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, and then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless series of sprees."
Listening to this passage, I pictured myself. Never am I 'mildly intoxicated', and once I get going on a bender I'm not going to stop - I'll lie my way into more time to drink, for another beer or shot, just say fuck it to anything of importance. In that moment nothing to me is more important than my drink.
I guess I can amend that statement a bit however, I'll leave a bar in a second to help someone I love or care about. The real question there though is how much help can Dr. Jekyll really be as opposed to Mr. Hyde coming to the rescue?
After the meeting wrapped up I met a guy around my age when I stepped outside for my 'post meeting smoke.' Ended up sitting and talking to him for about an hour and a half. Not a bad guy... but he was determined to tell me that trying to be 'proactive' with AA instead of waiting until I hit my true rock bottom likely wasn't going to work. Thanks for the vote of confidence I guess? WTF!?!
He then proceeded to tell me that I sound like the guy who's only got 1 life, as opposed to many of the AA members who seem to have nine. Meaning for instance he has been in 4 or 5 very serious car crashes, and walked away unscathed.
Me? I'm the guy who gets away with driving drunk for years, never hurting myself or anyone else.... until you wake up one day and read about my tragic alcohol related death in the newspaper. I'm one of those drinkers with 1 life.
OK... now he was making sense. Finally something that has really began to put things in perspective for me. One slip, one drink is all it will take someday to kill me. My rock bottom won't be drugs, it won't be a trip to rehab, or losing everything.
I've tried drugs, I've lost almost everything... didn't make a difference, and didn't change a damn thing.
Rock Bottom for me will be my death.
The statement was absolutely true. I needed to make this decision, not only for me - but for everyone else I'll hurt or take down with me if I ever hit that of the most extreme rock bottoms. I don't want my final legacy to be my alcoholism. That's not what I want to leave behind as the final memory of me.
As I sit here now my mind continues to go at a mile a minute. There's so much I want to say, so much I want to do. I'm worried about my best friend... I can't imagine what's going on in her mind after knowing 24 hours after my first meeting that I'm seriously fucked up when it comes to drinking. I'm wondering how long it will take me to slip. I know its going to happen... I'm determined not to let it, but I can feel it with every fiber of my being. I keep picturing how its going to happen, where its going to happen. Will I be alone? Even worse... Will it be my rock bottom?
Then it hit me - the ultimate stronghold. If all else fails I need to stay strong so I don't take the people I love the most down with me. I'm doing this for me, 100% - but I can't risk falling off the wagon and potentially pulling someone I love off with me. That's what will, for the time being, keep me from slipping - at least until I figure this whole program out.
"The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death."
I've accepted I have a problem, something I can't moderate or control. Now its time to learn how to deal with it.
I'm an alcoholic...