I read a courtroom thriller this weekend which included the story of a wife whose husband became abusive while drunk. She explained it as his alcoholism attacking her. She believed her husband was in there somewhere but didn't have the strength to overcome his alcoholism, which took over and hurt her.But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.
Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control. He does absurd, incredible, tragic things while drinking. 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.
I have at times pictured my alcoholism as an entity, and this evening as my children swam I tied the idea into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Does my drinking release another personality, or have I changed that personality through the steps? i actually picture it always waiting to reassert itself, so I don't really imagine the person I would be if I drank as changed -- perhaps my method of dealing with alcoholism has (program vs. madly following it) but alcoholism is still there, and still very ugly and powerful and it would make me a very unpleasant person.
Am I still unpleasant sober? Yes, at times -- I think the beauty of the program is that I no longer obsess about these unpleasantnesses, instead I try to use them for education and for realizing that I need a power greater than myself. This to me helps me accept that I'm not perfect, something I couldn't do drinking, and yet I would have to say quantitatively I was much less perfect in those days. Perhaps the degree of improvement is slight, if viewed from a larger perspective (and in some ways I have to admit there has been loss of ability as I abandoned certain interests in order to get sober) but the change has been enough for me to stay away from the drink and live usefully and peacefully now for going on a quarter century.
And that's the selfishness to me. I am here because I want to stay sober. I don't care about Ms. Hyde except that she is a good reminder of why I am here. I am still that self-involved person, just directed by the program into a more positive method of living. I don't have any excuses, I'm okay with the fact that I try to help and to give away a little of what I have been so freely given, but I'm not convinced I'm totally safe. Or even very nice.
I think a lot of people detect this streak of inner guarding in me and they think I'm not really okay with my sobriety. Oh boy am I ever. It is soooo good that I don't care that I used to write poems or experience amazing thoughts or etc etc fantasies and perception, you know. I went so far in that direction that I was unable to do the basics, just live, just talk to people, just appreciate food, just enjoy work.
But there is a sense of a lost identity, no matter how willing and eager I was to give it up. Nobody wants her back, but some people miss her, I have to say. Probably like you miss the kicks once they stop.