Stupid, Worthless Alcoholics
It is April again – Alcohol Awareness Month. This means that GD&T turns one year old this month. Woohoo! Happy anniversary to me! This blog was born after I decided to post a little daily tidbit regarding alcoholism to my personal Facebook page. Many of my friends commented that I really should write a blog. Perhaps their suggestions honestly came from enjoyment of my posts, but more likely it was because then my daily musings wouldn’t distract them from the cat videos and “I don’t always…” memes that we can never get enough of. Whatever the reason, I packed up my mad skillz and moved them on over to the blogosphere where a star was born! You can easily find the posts which started it all at the top of the page… no, slightly to the right… yes, right there beside “About,” you see where it says “Alcohol Awareness”? If you hover over that a daunting drop-down menu will pop up, but if you click on it you will be transported to a magical land where all the posts are nicely presented, orderly arranged and accompanied by some very helpful links.
WordPress compiles stats perfect for those of us who are professional navel-gazers and back-patters. Don’t worry, it’s all just numbers and countries and search terms. I have no idea who read what, so you can totally come up to me and say, “I loved your blog post” and I will be clueless to the fact that you never read it and you’re just trying to make me feel good. Thanks for thinking of me. The whole reason I bring this up, though, is to tell you about the most common search terms which lead people to GD&T – “Stupid Alcoholics,” “Worthless Alcoholics” or some variation thereof. I used to get offended that so many people thought so poorly of us. Looking back on it, though, I didn’t exactly have a high opinion of alcoholics and addicts before I became one. Now, I get a kick whenever I see one of those search terms pop up because it points them to this post from my Alcohol Awareness series which helps to educate people on the true nature of alcoholism. Honestly, if I had it to do over again, I would’ve named this blog “Stupid, Worthless Alcoholics” so that I could counter so much of the negative stigma about us. So, yeah, there’s an idea for anyone thinking about starting a recovery blog.
Kudos to anyone still reading this introspective and self-congratulatory drivel. This is what we do when we come to an anniversary, though, isn’t it? Whether it’s a blog, a marriage, sobriety, what have you, these significant dates remind us of who we were when we started out and the journey we took to get to where we are now. We marvel at the grace and hard work invested along the way. We remember times when things looked bleak, but also how we came out of those dark times. History truly is our greatest teacher and these anniversaries prompt us to study our personal history and recall what works and what doesn’t.
And this is where I tie it in to sobriety (because that’s what I do). Alcoholics tend to get stuck in the moment. It is as if we lack object permanence… or perhaps more precisely, spiritual permanence. For the first few months of a child’s life, the infant perceives only those things within his immediate view as existing. When Mommy walks out of the room, the baby cries because he thinks she is gone forever. In a way, the same is true for alcoholics – at least in relation to our emotional well-being. We drink or use primarily to avoid our feelings. We can’t comprehend the idea of “this too shall pass” when it comes to our emotions. Rather, when we are overcome by a feeling, we begin to believe that we have always felt this way and will always feel this way, forever & ever, Amen. When we are riding an emotional high, we are on top of the world! We can’t see the pothole ahead, so when it comes, it feels like falling off a cliff. Oh no, I can’t handle that. I have to control my emotions, thankyouverymuch.
Control. There’s that magic word that is behind every form of addiction out there. When I am feeling out of control, I will use whatever person, place or thing is handy to change the way I’m feeling. To a certain extent, everyone does this from time to time. It just doesn’t manifest in everyone the same way or to the same degree. Bulimics and anorexics in recovery describe this issue of control very well. People with OCD have a myriad of compulsive behaviors which help them maintain a sense of control. I can’t speak to the recovery of these other illnesses, but when it comes to alcoholism and addiction the underlying current, the need for control, comes from a lack of faith.
And oh, how I hate talking about faith. It’s such an intangible and misunderstood thing. I could argue that I’ve always had faith, that I’ve always believed in God, and it wouldn’t be untrue. I could even honestly say that my God has always been a benevolent, omnipotent entity. But the kind of faith we need is a deeper faith. It’s not simply gyrating at the club, hearing the music, but looking a fool. It’s learning a choreographed dance routine complete with complicated lifts and twirls. The kind of faith we need is found in seeking out the nature of whatever God is to us and then aligning ourselves to that nature. We have to allow God to guide our lives by taking on his traits to the best of our ability. If my God, defined by love, light, truth and justice is omnipotent and benevolent then no matter what befalls me, even a dreaded emotion, I will be lovingly guided through it by giving up my own ideas and taking on those of my Higher Power. If I can’t tap into this power that guides all life, even if this power is simply history or humanism, then I will be constantly grasping for control by any means at my disposal.
So, taking a look back at where we came from and how we got to where we are now is important for us alcoholics. It reinforces that deeper level of faith that we need to sustain our recovery. It’s a different thing to sit back and reflect on a year’s passing and see God’s hand in it instead of being overwhelmed with guilt & shame or boasting self-aggrandizement. Today, I will let God direct my thoughts and my actions and I will have faith in His control.
And thank you to all my readers who have supported me through my first year here. I couldn’t have done it without you! 🙂