My disease pervades every aspect of my life. I believe those people who think/claim their “Alcoholism” is about drinking fermented and distilled beverages are merely setting a trap for themselves.
I call my disease “Alcoholism” because I found the solution in Alcoholics Anonymous, and that’s what you people called it. Truthfully, my disease has 4 faces (that I’m currently aware of): Drinking, Drugging, Fighting and Fucking.
Or as Robin says: “I’m addicted to MORE! Anything that makes me feel good — or makes me feel bad — or takes me out of self… I want MORE of! From Doughnuts to sex to coffee… I overdo EVERYTHING!”
Before I came into A.A. I HAD to do these things, and they took a toll on my health. The last 6 months of my drinking I used to get a 16 ounce glass and pour in a 12 ounce beer. The last 4 ounces I would fill with V-8. Sort of like a Bloody Mary, but with beer. It tasted alright, but there were two reasons I really did it. 1) I wasn’t eating at all, so at least I took in SOME nourishment and 2) when I looked in the toilet the next morning I wouldn’t see that I was shitting blood; I could convince myself it was just tomato juice.
Sorry for the visual, but that’s what alcoholics do; they bleed out at the end of their drinking.
So I damaged my health — weakened my “tomorrow” — for gratification today. That’s ALSO what alcoholics do. If they came up with a time-release Tequila — drink 6 of these and around midnight you’ll feel great! — that shit wouldn’t sell at ALL! When I do a shot I want to feel the effects before I slam the glass back on the bar. If it’s not immediate, it’s just not enough.
Today I need to be constantly — eternally — vigilant in looking for signs that my disease is making decisions for me. And I’ll tell you the truth: It does it all the time, and sometimes I let it! But that danger is mitigated by the fact that — thanks to you people — my recovery ALSO pervades every aspect of my life.
Let me be clear about this: I hate working the fucking steps! Life was much simpler when I could believe that all my problems were caused by YOU! The first thing A.A. screwed up was my drinking. The second thing it screwed up was my blaming.
And let me be equally clear about this: I work the program of Alcoholics Anonymous every single day of my life. Especially when I don’t want to. I don’t do it because I’m smart or good-hearted or honest or nice. I do it because I’ve been around for so damn long that the steps are the first tool that I reach for. I don’t know any better now. It’s automatic. I don’t do it perfectly, but I do it thoroughly and constantly. That allows me to clean up the NEW messes I make by not doing it perfectly the first time.
Shortly before the beginning of the year — about 6 months ago — I was not pleased with my life. There were many areas that were “less than great“, which for an ungrateful bastard like me is the same thing as “so fucking bad you can’t believe it“. I decided to make some changes. The question was: “What changes?”
Of course I used the program of Alcoholics Anonymous to answer that question. I took an inventory, which naturally started with the simple question: “What am I powerless over?”
Man, that motherfucking list went on and ON! I determined I’m powerless over my lousy love life, my crappy-ass job, my wretched finances, the economy, the weather, what’s on TV, traffic, whether or not my kids love me and what you think of me.
And that’s only the big ones. That shit got me depressed quick! So I turned to what I had been taught to do early in sobriety. I made a list of the things I could control. I realized I can control what I eat and how much I exercise. I can control how much I smile and how much effort I put into life. I can control what I think of me. That’s probably the whole list, and if I don’t grab ahold of the things I can change — and take them to the full extent I can — I have no right to complain about the things I can’t change .
The first 2 are the only ones that have a quantifiable aspect, so I started there. I decided to lose weight and gain muscle. Pretty simple shit, right? A less verbose fellow would have just said: “I made a resolution for 2012 is to get into shape“. Lots of people make that resolution. Sounds pretty healthy. The difference is, being an alcoholic I have to take it to the extreme. Everything has to be superlative. My plan is to get in “The best shape I’ve ever been in“, and I was looking good 8 years ago, so that’s a tall order to fill. 52 is WAaay older than 44!
That’s when I let my guard down. My disease woke up, looked around, and saw that it could make an impact. It joined the conversation. It started comparing me — a garden variety drunk — to one of the most dynamic people of the last 60 years. Here’s what it told me:
“In 1953 Sean Connery won the Mr. Universe contest. Most people don’t know he was a bodybuilder. In the 60’s he played James Bond and was better looking than he was as Mr. Universe (who knew you could go UP from there?). In 1989 — at 59 years old — he was considered the sexiest man alive. 20 years later — at the age of 80 — he was BETTER LOOKING STILL.
So that’s MY plan! I’m going to get better looking every single year!
Ladies…. Buy while it’s still cheap! In 5 years you might not be able to afford it! Bring a friend, it’s half price!”
Yeah. I took it from “Get in shape” to “Get in fantastic shape” to “Get in better shape than Mr. Universe and look better than the sexiest man alive” in less than 5 minutes. Not much ego showing there, is there?
Now, I’ve got a lot of years on me. That’s obvious to anyone who even looks at me. But those who know me know best realize that it’s the miles that are really taking the toll. Like the Roofer said: “I didn’t get this good looking by being such a nice guy that nobody ever wanted to beat the shit out of me!” Specifically, I’ve had my shoulder ripped by cops — twisting my arm behind my back — so many times I can’t count them all. As a result, the tendons holding my shoulder together don’t. Sometimes my shoulder will move an inch or two in a way that lets me know the parts are no longer connected. I have absolutely no business working out with heavy ass weights!
The “Well” part of my mind registers this and sets off an alarm: “You should have a Doctor look at that! You need to take it easy. You could do permanent damage! When you’re 60, your shoulder isn’t going to work at ALL. Your arm’s just going to hang there like a slab of beef!”
And the “Sick” part of my mind — the larger part — says: “Yeah… But I’m gonna look GOOOOOD!”
So you see, I’m still a sick and suffering alcoholic. I still have the same problems I had the day I first walked in the door. I’m still taking chances with my health. I’m still looking for immediate gratification, and just like back then, I will run my character defects up the flagpole for everyone to see! I will tell you exactly how sick I am, because I’m proud of it. The only difference is that back in the day I would brag about how much coke I’d done the night before. Today the worst I can say about myself is: “I work out too hard“.
That’s some serious progress!