Today is day #685 on this particular journey and I thought it was time to explain how I got ‘here’. I’m not about to write my life story. For two reasons: a. It’s simply not that exciting. And, b. one step 4 was enough! But I’d like to touch on how I went from being an amateur to being a professional drunk!
I don’t think I became an alcoholic. I don’t think I drank my way to alcoholism. I mean, I did, but there is more to it. I don’t do moderation very well, as I’ve noted in different posts. I don’t do “half measures” to quote the big book. This can be a good thing at times. When I get excited about something I can focus my attention well. I bought an exercise bike a few months ago and I ride it religiously. I don’t ride it for a little while, I ride it like my life depends on it. When I find a food I like I’ll happily eat it at every meal. Subway would bankrupt me if I let it. I could go on, but my point is this: I was born to be an all or nothing kind of person.
I feel as though a lot of alcoholics would tell you they drank because it gave them courage. Or, it allowed them to come out of their shell. Well… I you’ve ever met me, you know that I don’t need beer to come out of my shell. Hell, if anything if you gave me enough beer it would knock me out and probably quiet me down sooner I ever would on my own!
In that sense I was born to be an alcoholic because it was something I immediately fell in love with. It was something that it didn’t seem as though I could get enough of. Much like I’d be happy to eat subway at every meal, I was always happy to have a beer. It was my way of finding a reliable source of dopamine! I could always have a couple of beers and be ‘happy’. If it was good on a Friday or a Saturday night why not on a Tuesday? Why not Tuesday and Wednesday? As the adage goes “if a little is good, a lot must be better!”
The problem for me is that even if I ate Subway everyday it’s unlikely to ruin my life. That isn’t the case with alcohol and I quickly found myself in a place where my control over my consumption was lacking but my access to and ability to afford beer wasn’t. I had virtually unlimited access to this thing I loved and that made me ‘happy’. So, moderation went out the window because moderation didn’t make me happy.
There is this idea of an alcoholic as this vagrant sleeping on a bench with a bottle in a brown paper bag. He’s there drinking away his troubles. Well, I have news for you: I’m none of those things. I’ve never had a beer from a brown paper bag in my life. I’ve never slept on a park bench and I sure as hell wasn’t drinking away my ‘troubles’. By all accounts I had nothing to escape. I didn’t have a traumatic childhood. I never had any traumatic events and I had (and still have) plenty of love in my life.
I’ve written on my anxiety and it’s contribution to my habit, but aside from that I had no sorrows in which to wallow. The fact of the matter is that I happened to love escaping life for the sake of escaping it. I think the day I was born I was on a collision course with addiction. It didn’t matter if it was going to be of the legal variety such as alcohol or the illegal variety such as cocaine (which, thankfully, I’ve never touched!). Either way I was going to find something that gave me the feeling I was after. End of story. It’s almost hard to verbalize my predilection for something that would do nothing but harm me, but that’s probably because it’s something so primal that it’s just a feeling, and not a thought.
My point in all of this is that my alcoholism, like many (if not most) people like me, is a symptom of something else. My issue, at the heart of the matter is with moderation. Whatever makes me feel safe, loved or wanted is what I will attach myself to and not let go. That’s where moderation comes into play: if I like something I want it all the time. There is no happy medium to be found. (Funny trivia bit: I was in a play called ‘Finding A Happy Medium’ as a child! Ironic, eh?) However with the help of AA I can learn how to manage the things in my life that I need and want. I can also manage the things that are harmful and learn the coping skills necessary to keep myself from using alcohol again.
While I don’t think that I’ll ever really grasp how to moderate things in my life completely, I can remove the things that will ruin my life, the lives of those around me or kill me. So that’s what I do. One day at a time.
My name is David and I can not drink today. That’s about as far as I’m willing to go.
Thanks for reading. I wish you another 24.
A friend of Bill