What I Didn’t Know: Alcoholism, Recovery, and the Order of Things

tiger1There was a joke I heard in elementary school.

How many steps it takes to put a tiger in a fridge?

Don’t know. Why…

How many steps?

Don’t know.

Three steps. You open the fridge, put the tiger in, close the fridge. OK? Now, how many steps it takes to put an elephant in the fridge?

Three.

No. Four.

Why…

Look, you open the fridge, take the tiger out, put the elephant in, close the fridge. Done.

Why… would someone put poor animals in a fridge? Who knows. Bored school kids come up with even weirder concepts, I’m sure. Well, I know. I was one. I used to think of so many things and came up with so many ideas. Eventually though I found I had no one to share them with. And then, with the course of time, I started drinking. I liked the effect and I didn’t feel lonely when drunk. On contrary I was happy, and half the time when I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t so happy, so I kept up with the drinking. And then reality kept catching up with me to the point I drank way more often. And then I couldn’t afford it, yet I still did it. Then I started visiting doctors and taking medications to deal with the consequences of that behavior that I really didn’t want to let go of. Nothing seemed to help. Then I was recommended to do something different. As a result, I came to a room occupied by complete strangers who told me that what was happening to me was called Alcoholism.

I heard of alcoholism, but I had no knowledge of it. I thought that it was something that plagued middle aged and older men that often slept in a gutter after hanging around liquor stores, sometimes in small companies, begging or intimidating people for money they used to buy liquor. That was all I witnessed, and that was all I thought it was: drinking, being mean, smelling bad, nothing good came out of that. It never occurred to me I could become one of these people. I was responsible, clean, and had other things to do instead of loitering and being obnoxious. There seemed to be a massive difference between me and them.

I also didn’t know anyone who would prove me wrong, so I didn’t know who to ask when I started having questions. And my questions didn’t last long, because I saw everyone drinking, really, so I felt my behavior was socially accepted. When I started noticing problems arising from my drinking, I figured that was socially accepted too. It seemed to me I just needed to give it some time to normalize, and then after taking a small break, I could go back to drinking without issues.

By then time everybody including my family, employers, school instructors, girlfriends, and the little of friends that I had, – they all knew I had a problem. I was the only one who kept denying the seriousness of it. I thought I could find the way to normalize my behavior and attitude toward drinking alcohol.

The strangers in the room proved me wrong after I already proved myself wrong plenty of times. And they also told me there was a way of action that would help me overcome what I was battling. There were steps to be taken for that way to work.

I’ve heard about Steps and going to meetings, but it took me time to understand the importance of it. However, there was one thing that I took to heart right away in one of my first ten meetings. An elder man said that when you sit at home and think about not going to the meeting, your addiction is right next to you on the floor, and it’s doing push-ups, becoming stronger. It’s a good image and for many years I know it’s the truth, and I still remember it.

tiger2The strangers in the AA rooms taught me about relationships and patience. They opened my eyes to the reality of attaining serenity and the fact that it was not a rocket science to attain it. But there were Steps. Steps to everything. Just like with putting an elephant in the fridge. Open the door, take tiger out, put elephant in, close the door.

I also never heard of a word “resentment”, so they taught me. I wouldn’t be able to learn that without learning first that I was powerless over the behavior that I for a long time considered a blessing. Learning that took humility, and without that accepting the concept of letting go of resentment just don’t work for me.

Thanks to AA, I had my eyes opened to the fact that I had to take care of myself, because no one else would. They would want to, but most of them don’t even know where to start. No one really knows what’s going on behind anyone’s eyes. In disease and addiction no one really knows how you really feel. We don’t willingly talk about our problems. Sometimes even we don’t know what the hell is going on, while we watch it unfold. Then there are people who do know, and they can help, but my self-will-run-riot will mess everything up if I don’t take heed and allow for patience and consideration. Crap hits the fan sometimes, and if I don’t pay attention, the result is, as Henry Rollins wrote, “sometimes happens all the time”. I guess if there is anything I know, it’s that. But I still tend to ignore that at times.

Last fifteen years of living sober were great. I think I did more good than bad, and I’ve learned from more mistakes than I ever allowed myself to in the past. I walk forward, and I have to take steps to do so. It works better that way.


the images were copied from https://www.deviantart.com/uranimated18/art/Heather-Opens-the-Fridge-and-Finds-a-Tiger-759849788 and https://www.flickr.com/photos/16446760@N00/3295951347 thank you.

 

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