I Was a Drunk, Sure ... But an Alcoholic?
Beth B, Connecticut
I won't bore you with the what, where, when, how, and with whom. Suffice it to say, I drank too much for too long and finally hit my bottom. And I thank God that I hit my bottom before I hit any of those “yets” for which I am oh-so-eligible. The devastating wasteland in which I was living — between my ears — was enough. I was as low as I could go, right there. The fear that it is possible to go lower has kept me right here in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I think what finally pierced the drunken fog was the death wish. Looking in the mirror during the day I would tell myself, “Keep it up. It will all be over soon enough.” In desperation one night I went online looking for help with my alcohol problem. I'm not sure what I hoped to find, but I can tell you I was not looking for A.A. But, thank God, truly thank God, what I found was The e-AA Group.
When I first got the A.A. literature I skimmed the Twelve Steps and figured I was on Step Four. The only words I saw in Step One were "powerless over alcohol." I had no problem admitting to that. I think I had known that for a long time. I just wouldn't and couldn't stop drinking. However, what I wasn't prepared for was the continued powerlessness. I had thought of my drinking as a physical thing. If I took one drink I didn't stop until I was finished. Therefore, I spent lots of time and energy making sure I always had enough before I started. Once I had quit and had gone a few weeks without a drink, the physical cravings were gone. But the powerlessness was still there, played out in my mind over and over.
My life unmanageable? That was a little more difficult. I personally felt out of control. But I had been fighting for so long to maintain appearances that I imagined that my outside life still was, or at least looked, perfectly normal. I thought I had the Living-Under-the-Influence thing well in hand. How could I admit my life was unmanageable? Sober, I began to realize that indeed my life was completely unmanageable — and it had been for a frightfully long time.
Okay, now for the clincher: changing that second word in Step One from "admitted" to "accepted." Folks, this was a big problem for me. Apparently it was okay to be a drunk but not an alcoholic. I almost started drinking again about three and a half months into my sobriety. My stomach was tied up in knots for two weeks. I couldn't eat or sleep. I didn’t want to be an alcoholic. Thanks to God, the fellowship of A.A., and my sponsor, I was carried through that time. I would not have made it on my own.
Today, I can take a good honest look at myself in the mirror and accept that I am an alcoholic. That admission, and acceptance, has been a most liberating experience for me. Admitting powerlessness was freeing, but accepting that I am an alcoholic is what allowed me to move forward in my recovery.
Finally, my favorite part of Step One is the first word: We. I am no longer alone. I don't have to be isolated with this disease. And the understanding and acceptance I have received … incredible.
I have lots of work left to do. Lots. I love A.A. — the program and the fellowship -- and I love this sober living.