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Friday, 19 October 2012

Weak and pathetic?

I’ve been “mulling” on our last emails.

You made the statement that you were weak and pathetic having taken a glass of wine.

Obviously, only you can make the diagnosis that you have a serious drink problem.

I wouldn’t, even if you were sat in the same room.

Follow my logic here.

If you don’t have a serious drink problem, then there is no issue with you taking a glass of wine. If you do have a serious drink problem, then what you have is an illness and there is nothing weak and pathetic about succumbing to the symptoms of an illness.

Will power or moral fibre cannot cure illness. Try will power on your next bout of diarrhoea and let me know if it worked.

So, ask yourself the question which have you got? If you wanted to become more drink-aware, you have now achieved that. Job done, pat on the back and keep an eye on it.

If you have serious problem, what are you doing to treat it? I suspect that you have looked at and kicked the tyres of the programme, but not actually attempted to DO it. You are seeing the cunning subtlety of the illness. You have been tricked into thinking that you have done something.

I’d liken this to buying cough medicine and complaining that it doesn’t work before opening the bottle.

Step one – Admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

If I am powerless over alcohol, I shouldn’t handle it, have it on the dinner table, or even have it in the house. Of course, we argue that our partners and friends shouldn’t suffer because we want to stop drinking and this is true. However, this means raising our awareness when drink is on the table. Using a glass that is a different shape and drinking something that is a very different colour. By making these acknowledgements, we are admitting we are powerless.

It could be time to decide how much of a problem drinking is and what you want to achieve?

The Monkey

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Forgive or revenge?

After last night’s meeting my thoughts wandered around the idea of forgiving. Where did I acquire the burning need to avenge every wrong? I started to think about it and realised that every form of story media works based on conflict. Books, television and film all portray the tortured hero desperate to right the grievances, from black and white westerns to the latest Hollywood blockbuster. What kind of a story would it be if the Luke Skywalker just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Ok, I forgive you.”

Regarding my philosophy for life, do I want to say, “I sought a spiritual path,” or do I want to say “I saw it on the TV.”

Every day people forgive the type of incident we all hope never to experience, storylines worthy of Hollywood at its most gruesome. Surely I can learn to forgive the petty annoyances that occur in my life and if I do, then how much more serenity do I acquire?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Step one 100%

How often do we tell a newcomer they need to do step one 100% and then “enable” them in a headlong rush to step five?

Surely doing the step is much more than a head nod that they are powerless over alcohol? Don’t they need to fully acknowledge all of the ways they are powerless?

For me I had to accept that I didn’t have the choice to “flirt” with the idea of drinking. Statements like “If this doesn’t stop I might drink again.” Had to be beaten out of me. The idea that I could use booze as the giant switch to stop reality for a short time and then come back and start again also had to go. I also had to recognise what happened when booze was near me. A glass on a table niggling at me to pick it up. A drunk getting out of line and winding me up. The sound of a happy revellers out in the street at night. All of these can throw me.

And this is just the first part of step one! What about life had become unmanageable? What was I trying to manage and what was the effect? Who wouldn’t get into line and conform? What inanimate object was winding me up?

Accepting my part and learning to accept all of this is, in my opinion, vital before trying to move on to step two.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Emotional riches

The radio was playing an interview of writer and columnist David Brooks. When he used the words – AA have a saying fake it to make it, I pricked my ears up and listened more intently. He’d written a book about emotions and happiness. He was saying that even up to the age of 80+ a person can change their behaviour.

The interviewer asked, what’s the most important thing you can change?

Learn to empathise. People who attend a “club” once a month where you listen to other people and try to understand where they are coming from become happier. In fact this behaviour provides the same level of emotional happiness as doubling your income!

I’ve often said that for me the promise that the meetings would change my life beyond my wildest dreams came true. Some people disagree and ask me to quantify it. I can’t, but “feel” that it’s true. The old me would have ridiculed many of the greatest treasures I value today. Would the old me have traded my riches for doubling their income – sure he would. Would he be richer?

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sobriety Lost Its Priority

At what point is my sobriety most at risk? At times I feel so good that I cannot imagine being ‘that person.’ I cope and life flows effortlessly by. Do I need to put myself out and go to a meeting? Surely I can ‘get by.’

Or, am I more at risk when I feel that my back is against the wall and I don’t know how I’m going to get through. At these times, I need to reinforce myself. Possibly, I need the edge that ‘taking control’ will give me and allow me to manage the situation to steer my life back into calmer waters.

If I’m lucky (and I have been so far,) somebody will point out that both of these are equally dangerous.

Monday, 18 April 2011

I’m never going to be free

My daughter said that somebody had tried to bully my grandson. A terrifying wave of justifiable anger surged through me. Within moments I had decided the only answer would be a petrol bomb. If the entire family who had refused to punish the child had to perish then so be it. I’ve never spoken to this family, or had any contact, but in my head, the discussion had gone badly and the time to act had passed.

Without being able to discuss this insanity in the freedom of my group, how could I survive? At some point I would act on the crazy thoughts. I can never indulge myself in the fantasy of stepping ovwr the line. The moment I do, the sickness takes me to places I don’t want to visit.

One day I might be able to not react this way, but I haven’t reached it yet. My only hope is to continue with the daily reprieve contingent on maintaining a fit spiritual condition. Now where did I hear that before…

Monday, 4 April 2011

Why do bad thoughts last so long?

It’s odd isn’t it, but bad thoughts stay in my head and if I’m not careful they grow.

This week I was driving my wife’s car. It’s not the fastest and it has the overtaking power of a snail, but it gets us around. I signalled to pull into a layby, slowed down and pulled in. As I did, a Mercedes blasted his horn at us.

Now, I’m never going to see this person again, but I wanted to kill them. Why did they do that? They have to be punished. As we drove on, I wanted to catch them up. If I did I was going to leap out and rip them from their comfy cocoon and beat them to a pulp. I was going to…

All that insanity dropped from nowhere and left me with a rage to control. Not only that, I then started to dig through other times I’d been annoyed for no good reason and started to relive those as well.

Crazy thinking that I need to control is always waiting to get me. The search for a perfect serenity isn’t over yet. At the next traffic lights I thought they were two cars in front and debated. I held back. As we turned I realised it was a different car. Thankfully, think twice worked.