I never asked this question when I was getting sober, but I have heard other people ask it. I thought they were raising unreasonable objections to getting sober or expressing resistance to recovery. Over the years, patients at Hazelden and guests at The Retreat have spoken of their reluctance to recover by saying that they are afraid to recover, because they are afraid of who they might be if they stop drinking or drugging. What will happen, they ask, if they get sober and don’t like themselves, or don’t like who they have become?
Watching someone you love struggle with addiction or alcoholism is extremely painful. I often liken it to watching someone dig a deep hole.
At age 19, I had all the evidence I needed that I was an alcoholic. On one terribly cold, windy, January day, I was kicked out of college. That event made me homeless. I was standing in front of the dormitory that used to be my home, almost broke. I had sixty-nine cents in total assets, all in coins in my pocket. I had nowhere to go. I was drunk, even though it was still morning. I was so drunk that I couldn’t stop peeing my pants, and the frozen pee was sticking to my legs.
Oh, the holidays! When we think of them, so many thoughts and images pop into our heads! Snow! Family! Food! Togetherness! Traditions, old and new! Excitement is in the air, and we start planning how and when our ideal holiday will come together. Unfortunately, for those who have a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, an additional level of stress typically accompanies the holidays: worry that our imagined holiday will turn into our worst-case scenario.
This time of year always finds me reflecting on the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces. Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the anniversary of the Tet Offensive all take place at this time of year. Additionally, from now through New Year’s Eve we will see TV commercials from service women and men who are overseas wishing loved ones back home a merry and happy holiday season.
The disease of alcoholism and addiction shows up in our lives in the form of a voice in our heads. That voice is like a channel of discouragement that is hard to totally eliminate. The addictive voice doesn’t have to make any sense to be effective. Because it has been there so long, and because its messages are so consistently depressing, we come to accept it, just because it wears us down.
Hello my name is Kara and I am addicted to self-will!
Page 62 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states “So our troubles, we think , are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot”…..um….bummer! I don’t know about you but I have never lived in peace and riot at the same time. Of course, I have given it one heck of an effort, but the 2 don’t mesh. Ultimately, through experiencing both peace and unrest, I decided I would like to choose peace. It’s one or the other. And I like peace!
Our national drug policies are being set, and re-set recently on the basis of popular opinion, rather than on the basis of risk of addiction or risk of death. There is no national drug policy, just a confusing and contradictory set of policies that are constantly changing, as those who want to cut the death rate are in conflict with those who want to make addictive drugs more available. There is very little science, and lots of politics.