“Let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple.”
While cleaning in the kitchen I ran across a half-emptied “nip” (50 mL bottle) of vodka. I had used the first half of the bottle a few months ago, which was a little over a year in sobriety, to create an effect on some cookies which, as an aside, were fun but not necessarily worth repeating. Check ’em out… you decide. Anyways, I held the bottle in my hand for a spell turning it over, dusting it off, staring intently and trying to elicit some sort of response. I experienced something for which I simply cannot nail down a description outside of confusion.
I felt like I was supposed to be in danger, like I was supposed to be awash in a flood of memories, inexorable cravings, maddening , aching thirst for some release from imbibition. This is what has been drilled into me after 18+ months of counseling and 16+ months of AA; always be vigilant, on the lookout for looming triggers, never become complacent, know that my addiction is outside waiting for me doing push-ups, becoming stronger, yearning to have me back in its grasp squeezing the life from me.
I don’t feel these things. I feel great pride (not smugness), great satisfaction (not complacency), and great responsibility (not victimization). I feel strong, I feel well, I feel whole. It is with the nearly indescribable help, for which I will always be grateful, that I received from AA and counseling (which, in my case, has a heavy lean towards AA) that I am where I am in my sobriety. All the information presented in all forms (I have an extensive, sordid past of rehab, counseling, AA and jail) was listened to but not always heard. When I was ready to make a change, when I was ready to shift successfully into sobriety I began to hear and to practice; mind you, with a open but discerning mind. I decided to make a choice. I chose sobriety.
Much of the self-help material that I have delved into is information that is fairly close to common sense and not difficult to wrap my head around. Depending on the presentation, the method of delivery, I find that the same information presented by two different vehicles can resonate with me differently. However, the simple premise of my understanding is this – my life is a series of choices. Where I am today, everything I have, everything I know has been a product of one decision made after the next. I am a victim in nothing and things do not happen to me but instead are there manifestations of my choices or simply things I have done to myself.
On most occasions I can speak openly, passionately and at great length (if given the floor and sets of eyes that do not roll) about my former substance abuse. Such was the case last night when, while in attendance at a holiday gala (I love that word), I enjoyed dialogue with a physician about alcoholism. As a conditioned response I referred to alcoholism as a disease. I flinched. I am not sold on the idea that it is and, in my head, I ride the fence.There are reams of information that one can find that support either side of an argument over whether alcoholism should be called a disease and frankly, I don’t care. This is what I know, I am not a victim and I have and continue to make the choices that are necessary for me to live a happy, healthy life of self-awareness.
Self-awareness, looking into a metaphorical mirror has allowed me accept many teachings. It has allowed me to learn, critically, of myself and what has led me to make destructive decisions in the past. That education has allowed me to move forward armed with the knowledge that best puts me in the position to succeed: I may fail but I will fail forward.
There will be setbacks, trials and tribulations; there will be heartache, sorrow and loss; there will be anxiousness, anger and fear but with my mindset, with my mirror, with my ability to recognize the power that I have within I can move forward, fail forward and live my life closer to my potential than ever before.
With no small amount of irony I must attribute the above quote to Bill Wilson as he visited Dr. Bob right before he died.