Friday, April 2, 2010

A changing mind...

When I drank, I never would have told you that I could not control my drinking.

What happened to me - a lot - was that I changed my mind.  Often.  A lot.

The insidious nature of alcoholism in my experience wasn't that I always drank to excess (though I often did) - it was that, one day I could quit exactly like I'd intended (and the circumstances in my life warranted) and the next day I would find my self struck drunk.

When I'm talking with folks about the "peculiar mental twist" (BB p. 33)  that I find defines the mental component of my alcoholism, I will often tell the story of two consecutive nights now over 35 years ago.  Both nights, the plan was to stop for a beer or two with some folks from work, then go home to an evening with my family.  Night number one, I stopped off at the bar, had a few drinks, was home for supper and an evening with my wife and kids.  Night number two, I stopped off at the bar, had a few drinks, decided to stay on past supper (changed my mind) and meet my wife and kids at the school for a meeting later.  I called and made appropriate arrangements.  You're probably ahead of me by now - a couple of hours later, I again changed my mind and decided not to go to the school meeting and stayed at the bar.

As they were turning on the lights after last call at the bar, I was reluctant to go home, knowing I'd disappointed my family (again) and before oblivion settled in for the night, I seem to remember thinking that it was peculiar that when I'd left work, I had every intention of going home and showing up where I'd said I would that night.

The Big Book says it (among other places) as: "... If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. ... " (BB p. 44)


The real curious thought of that moment after "changing my mind" did not appear all that remarkable to me until I was sober a while.

I have been told that I'm a strong willed individual.  I actually hear words like "stubborn", "obstinate", etc. from those that love me. 

Yet, I've never had what it took to make the right choice around alcohol.  There are other places that I'm similarly challenged with peculiar mental twists in other areas (e.g. showing up in a relationship, paying bills, etc.).  I don't know if those other lapses can be ascribed to my alcoholism or my character defects directly but, well, the same spiritual malady seems to adequately explain them and the same solutions (humility, surrender, willingness) seem to allow me to live and improved version of this life.

AA works.

5 comments:

Julianne said...

Wonderfully stated.

Mary Christine said...

You know, the sad thing for me is, I change my mind about being on time for work - almost every single day.

At least that won't kill me.

Syd said...

I reserve the right to change my mind. But that is with me not when it comes to others depending on me. Great post about how the disease is about denial and rationalizing.

Colby said...

Thanks for your post, and your blog. There are a number of different treatment programs and approaches to support people suffering from substance abuse disorders who decide to get help. I’ve found Silver Hill Hospital's website to be very informative about adult and adolescent residential programs. Blogging about substance abuse is a great way to help yourself and others. Keep up the good work.

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