I’ve told you before that I am a recovering alcoholic, so that’s not news. The fact that I’ve been sober for something over 30 years is not something that I brag about—just as I am not ashamed to admit that I’m a drunk and always will be. It’s simple. I haven’t had a drink in a lot of years and, so far, I haven’t had one today. But today is not over yet, so I don’t take my sobriety for granted. For me, it was elementary. I was (and always will be) addicted to alcohol and if I had kept drinking, it would have killed me. Giving up the pleasure of throwing up on people, and wrecking my cars and making an ass of myself in public wasn’t too hard to swap for the privilege of living longer.
Now, to AA. What makes Alcoholics Anonymous work is the anonymity. You see, it’s okay to tell you I was at an AA meeting; it’s NOT okay for me to tell someone that I saw you or anybody else who was there. Since I’ve told you this before, why am I bringing it up again? I’ll get around to that in a moment.
If you tell an active drunk that he or she cannot have a drink for the rest of their lives, it is shocking. So shocking that many won’t accept that fact, so they don’t get the help they need, and they continue on a road that has but one dead end—self-destruction. You see, really, all they have to do is not take a drink—TODAY. For the truly hard-core cases, sometimes it is a matter of not taking a drink for this hour, or even this minute. “Wow. I made it through an hour. Wonder if I can do that for another hour?” And the hours turn into days, months, and years. Your problems and worries don’t go away when you stop drinking. But, I can promise you that the decisions you make about them will be a lot better if you make them while sober.
It was fairly normal for me to become an active drunk. My father was an alcoholic. He was also a hard worker, who didn’t drink during the week. But, he got drunk on Saturday nights, and when he did, he was a mean drunk. There were only three kids in our family, and one of them was a female, so it became either me or my brother who got the brunt of his rage and brutality. We learned early on, to make ourselves scarce when the old man was on a “rampage.” Statistically, the odds of a child of an alcoholic becoming one are three times greater than children of non-alcoholic parents. Oddly, in my own family, my two daughters who were naturally born to my first wife and I are NOT alcoholics. Go figure…
The reason I bring all this up is because of something that happened to me over the past holiday season. I don’t go to AA meetings with any regularity anymore, but I know when I need to go. My wife and I went to the Florida beaches for Christmas week. When we got there, while she was unpacking, I walked alone out on the pier and gazed at the beautiful beach and ocean and the breath taking sunset. The breeze was warm and everything was lovely. I was taking all this in and thinking how great it was, when I had a feeling I hadn’t had in years. I thought, “Man, this is so remarkable, I just need SOMETHING to make it perfect.” That jerked me up short! Because, in the past, that THING would have been a drink of alcohol. But, for me, one drink would have led to another and another until the bottle was empty, or I passed out. It took that wake up call to remind me that I am and always will be a recovering alcoholic. It also told me that I needed to get my ass to an AA meeting. Being a sober alcoholic is nothing to be ashamed of—being an active alcoholic and not seeking the support you need to stop drinking—is insanity.