Alcoholism: The Only Disease That Tells Me That I Don’t Have a Disease

It would be easy to think that I had this alcoholism thing licked.  I mean, look at me. I’ve got two beautiful baby twins, a husband who adores me (HE ADORES ME, DAMMIT) a great job, my relationships have healed in profound ways or gone by the wayside….it other words, the dust has settled (with a lot of hard work) since the major fallout that happened by the end of my drinking career in 2001.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where you hear, “oh he had 25 years sober and went out and drank again”.  HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN?  What goes off in someone’s brain to think that’s a good idea?  I’ll tell you.  We don’t have most people’s brains.  We have drunk brains that say, “maybe I can have a drink cuz I bet I’ve got this thing under control after all this time” or “you know, it really wasn’t ALL that bad when I was using”.  Alcoholism is the only disease that tells you you don’t have a disease.

UMMMMM, I LOST EVERYTHING.  What delusional thinking we have.  Which is why when people say, “do you still go to those meetings?”  I proudly say, “yes, I will always go to those meetings because I will always be an alcoholic”.  It isn’t a class or a program that you graduate from.  You aren’t cured.  You always have this disease, it can just lay dormant for a while.  FOR YEARS.  FOR DECADES.  All the while getting it’s stronger and stronger. BASTARD.   And the trickiest bit is it just waits for you so damn patiently.  More cunning and baffling than anything else you can imagine.  So while I haven’t had a drink in 11 years,  if I were to take a drink today it would all go away.  LIKE THAT.

The babies, the husband, the family, the friends, the cat, the job, the roof over my head, the confidence, the respect, the HOPE.  It would go away like I never even had it.  Just like it did the first time.  But the worst part of it is, it happens even faster when you go back out.  It doesn’t take 10 years to lose everything, you start up right where you left off.  I write all of this and write about it often to remind myself.  And also because I know there are so many of us out here who are sober and have been for a while and have AMAZING lives beyond our wildest dreams, but damn we need to HOLD TIGHT to what we have.

Think of it like this – if you had a disease and there was a medicine you could take to keep that disease in remission, wouldn’t you take it and keep taking it in order to stay healthy?  The medicine for me is AA.  It’s not drinking one day at a time and I will keep taking that medicine because it is the only thing that worked for me.  Not everyone who is sober uses AA to stay that way.  I am not here to judge.  Whatever works for you is great.  I am only conveying MY experience, strength and hope. The 12 steps are the only things that not only help me not drink but also help to repair all the damage I’ve done and make my life a gazillion times better.

It seems pretty damn simple, right?  Work the 12 steps and go to meetings and help other alcoholics and I get better and stay sober and GET ALL THE THINGS.  Why in the world would I drink and throw that all away in a heartbeat?  Because I am not normal.  I am a drunk and my sick mind tells me to drink.  Against all the evidence, it tells me to drink.  SO I have to fight it and say over and over and over, I AM AN ALCOHOLIC.  Not, I WAS AN ALCOHOLIC.  The miracle is that I am not drinking today.  It’s up to me to not drink tomorrow.  With the help of AA and something bigger than me, the choices I make can determine whether I continue with this amazing life I have or if I throw it all away.  I am agnostic and it still works for me.  Take what works and leave the rest.

AA doesn’t work for everyone.  But for those it does work for it’s not magic.  It’s the people.  It’s the shared experiences and the community.  It’s the taking personal responsibility and helping others.  It’s the love in those rooms.  It works.  I don’t know how or why it works, but for a lot of folks, it works.  If you work it.

While today I have two tiny lives in my hands and that can seem pretty heady from time to time – I mean, I am just another mommy right?  NOT EVEN CLOSE.  The truth is I am still just a drunk who can ditch it all at any time.  And that is terrifying.  So I keep my past very very close and hope I always will.  When I start thinking I am all good and don’t need AA anymore is when I’m in real trouble.  I’m grateful for everything that has happened to me and I take responsibility for my part in things.  Even the bad shit, the really really bad shit, I’m grateful for it all.  It got me where I am today and I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you are struggling, GO TO A MEETING.  If you think you have a problem, GO TO A MEETING.  Misery is always refundable.  Why not take a chance on happiness and some peace?  I get nothing out of saying AA works.  There are no leaders or publicity or any perks to me talking about it except that it might help someone and selfishly, that helps keep me sober.  This is life or death we are talking about, so you bet your ass I’m going to keep talking about it, even if some people don’t like it.

I am no better or worse than anyone else.  I am just another bozo on the bus.  Trying to arrive at the destination of happiness one day at a time.  And you know what?  It works if you work it.  BUT YOU HAVE TO WORK IT.  And you will feel miserable at first.  MISERABLE.  But, Feel ALL the feelings, not just some, and you get the rewards.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

The future looks pretty damn bright, right babies?

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