It’s not about not drinking…
Most of us when we have a problem with alcohol or tobacco or weight or some other vexing problem usually decide that the only way to fix the problem is to stop drinking or smoking or eating the “wrong” things. Some of us actually do tough it out and this strategy works in one fashion or another.
But not you and certainly not me.
How do I know that about you? Because if “just say no” worked for you, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Having established that the white knuckle model isn’t working for you, and AA certainly won’t, we may want to start looking at the problem differently.
For example, most of us have a tendency to say to ourselves, that drinking is the problem and if we’d just quit, everything would be fine. Then we actually quit, and after a few days, weeks, or months we’re right back at it.
Clearly something is wrong with this view or we wouldn’t have resumed the same old behaviors.
Some of us eventually deduced that it wasn’t the drinking – it was what lay beneath the drinking (or the smoking or the obsessive eating). And, since we weren’t fixing what we were medicating we kept going right back.
We aren’t much different than the guy who keeps going back to prison on yet another charge of grand theft auto. He does his time, learns nothing, get released, steals another car, gets caught again since he isn’t very good at it, and it’s off to the big house for another stretch.
That’s what a lot of us have done too. We served our non-drinking time, released ourselves, and resumed right where we left off since we aren’t very good at drinking. Pretty soon we’re “doing time” again.
Continuing the analogy a bit further, had our felon used his time to develop an alternative career path he probably wouldn’t have ended up doing another stint in the slammer. In fact, that is what most felons do around the age of 50 or so.
And, if you had used your non-drinking time learning some new skills – CBT, Assertiveness, Motivation, Diet, Exercise, etc. – then you probably wouldn’t have gone back to abusing alcohol again.
Remember, good car thieves don’t get caught – good drunks don’t care if they do.
But since you obviously care, why not sign up to accomplish in 13 weeks (5 days here and 12 weeks of follow-up) what it took me a few years to unravel on my own? I was lucky, but can you afford whatever consequences may accrue between now and when you finally “get it”?
What Could Be Dumber Than Building A Life Around Not Doing Something?
I had another call today from an AA True Believer determined to correct the errors of my ways and my “stinkin thinkin.” He was all ready to lead me down the path, 12 Steps at a time, to the promised land of being in life-long recovery.
He, of course, started off with the time honored litany of “I’ve been sober in The Program for 32 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, and 5 days.”
“Good for you,” I said, “but what have you been doing?”
“Doing?” he said, obviously bewildered by the question. “Doing? Oh, I’ve been working my program.”
“You’ve been cycling through those same 12 Steps for over 30 years and you call that ‘doing something’?”
“Well I’ve also been going to meetings, been a sponsor, and I bring the word to misguided fellas like you.”
“And that ‘word’ would be that in order to stop drinking you have to build your entire life and identity around not drinking?”
“It’s the only way,” he said, and I could visualize the emphatic nod and smile as he thought he was getting through to me.
“Not really,” I said, “I never joined AA and I haven’t had an alcohol problem in over 30 years. How do you explain that?”
“Oh, well, then you weren’t really an alcoholic.”
“I would agree with you there, but a fifth of vodka every other day would seem to put me, at least then, into your camp.”
There was a long silence and then he just hung up.
I assume that for 3 decades he has been doing what works best for him and I would neither demean nor ridicule him for that. The Program is the best that really emotionally immature boys and girls can manage, regardless of their age.
But the rest of us have better things to do. That’s what we help you figure out – your personal menu for actually doing things, not avoiding them – that’s for AA and Alanon devotees.
You might want to start changing your perspective, and your thinking, by considering all of the things you used to do, but have given up. My list is very long: no more steel mills, motorcycles, dog teams, salmon fishing, gold mining, college classes, school teaching, cigarettes, working for others, cab driving, and so on and on and on.
If I sported a collection of medallions for everything I no longer do – things I have moved into the “been there, done that” bucket – the sheer weight would drag me under and I’d drown during my next shower.
So please consider all of the things you too have successfully left behind without having to label, degrade, and segregate yourself from life.
And with that jump-start into reality, let us help you add to your life, not detract from it.