Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ouch! Could this be me?

A friend posted this lengthy quote from the AA Big Book on the 90-day OA facebook page. It is something my sponsor spent a great deal of time discussing with me early in our work together. I obviously have a very short memory.  More accurately, I have a selective memory—focusing on what I want to hear or believe than on the reality of my situation.

Change the term “alcohol” to food, shopping, TV or video games, sex, addiction to drama and crisis--or what ever our problem might be--and many of can see ourselves in the description below.

When I combine the idea below with a simple statement that someone made at an ARP meeting a few years back, “being abstinent is no harder or no simpler than deciding you want to be abstinent”, and I get some seriously painful insight into myself.

As I look at the repeated difficulty I have had this last year or two staying abstinent, I realize that I have one major, fundamental problem: In my heart of hearts I don’t want to have to stay abstinent. I want to eat what ever I want when ever I want. I have bounced back and forth trying to convince myself that I can be a normal eater—that I might turn into a normal eater, or that I already have turned into a normal eater.  Simply put, I don’t want to stay abstinent because I am still convinced there is an “easier, softer way.”

With that introduction, the following AA description pretty much covers my situation.

”Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

”We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

”We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals - usually brief - were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

”We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn't done so yet.”
As my sponsor put it, at some point in time I need to quit trying to jump out of bed, hoping that my legs have grown back, only to fall down on the floor. I need to wake up, strap on my prosthesis and get on with my life. 

That is what a commitment to abstinence really is.

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