I know, strange to say on a recovery blog, but bear with me.
Let me state off the top that alcohol in any way, shape or form right now would kick in my physical cravings and mental obsession. There is no doubt in my mind about that. If I were to swig any alcohol in a knowing state (i.e. relapse), the wheels would come off that train very quickly. I am singularly dialled into the notion that any start of drinking will lead me down a dark and narrow path, littered with destruction and my untimely death. Dramatic, but that’s the case. As my sponsor once told me, “Paul, if I ever pick up, you will never see me again.” And I know that to be true of myself as well. I might be lucky to get back, but I am not ever willing to play that game of Russian Roulette. And why would I even entertain the thought?
So, so far, I know alcohol = bad. Good start. The cure for alcoholism is, well, alcohol. But we don’t cure it. We recover from the hopeless state of body and mind that wants us to pick up and guzzle. So it’s a lifelong thing for a guy like me. And so when I mention that alcohol saved my life, well, it’s not in jest.
Let me back up.
Untreated alcoholism looks like this for me – I am uncomfortable in my own skin. I don’t know how to deal with life. I don’t know how to handle people or situations. I feel like I am from another planet. I can’t relate to anyone. I am always angry. I am depressed. I am negative. I am unable and unwilling to change anything about myself. I am looking at other people’s shortcomings. I am emotionally distant. I am unable to access my feelings. I am explosive in rage. My reasoning and judgement is flawed. I am manipulative. I rationalize and justify poor decisions. I blame others.
The list goes on and on, with the final product being that I don’t want to be alive. I am too cowardly to end it, and perhaps I don’t really want to die, but I don’t want to be alive. Difficult head space to live in (hello hard place, this is rock calling).
Alcohol was a way out of a lot of these things for me.
When I was introduced to alcohol, I could take it or leave it at the time. I wasn’t one of those who knew immediately that it worked magic on them. It was a slow build for this hombre. One thing I knew early on though, was that alcohol was going to have a place in my life. To what extent, I didn’t know, but I certainly didn’t know it would take me to hell and back. Alcohol helped me feel comfortable in my own skin. It allowed me to talk to people. It allowed me to not hate myself so much. It allowed me to view the world in a less cynical way. It allowed me to get away from me. At the best of times, the debating committee in my head was nullified and allowed to rest for just a few hours. There was total and utter release in my drinking. I could function as a human. Sort of.
Alcohol gave me purchase to live the life I thought I wanted to live – carefree, joyous and with a sense of belonging. Those were things that were absent when I woke up the next day, the high a fleeting memory. I was stuck with me again and the merry-go-round continued. So in those days, when I was so desperate because I didn’t know my place in the universe and wanted to lie on the subway tracks, alcohol saved me. Alcohol saved me from myself, in some ways. Alcohol saved me from wanting to make the ultimate sacrifice. Alcohol saved my sanity when I thought I was thought I was going insane.
Until it turned on me.
They say that alcohol works until it doesn’t. And I crossed that line and the cucumber turned into a pickle and I could no longer hold the fortress of untreated alcoholism coupled with the chemical C2H6O. Alcohol on it’s own is a clear, inert liquid. It didn’t jump of the table and force itself down my throat. My alcoholism that did that. It was alcoholism which told me that I couldn’t live without alcohol. Alcohol was the train, my alcoholism the conductor. God wasn’t in the picture and I was on that runaway train that crashed and burned many years later.
What I have today is the rock solid understanding that I can no longer go down that path. That door is closed to me. Nor do I have romantic notions of what alcohol used to do for me. I find that many relapse because they hold onto those lurking thoughts that since it worked before, it can work again. But that window of magic shrank until there was nothing left. And yet, for alcoholics of my kind, we spend years and years of destruction and heartbreak trying to find that window again. I would always get close, but I could never find that space again. Many die trying to find it again.
And just like feeling of falling in love for the first time, or having that first kiss, or any sort of “firsts” in our lives, the first time alcohol worked for me, it was fantastic. Indescribable. But the shine wore off and eventually dulled into a raw, open wound. I can never turn that pickle back into a cucumber. Nor would I want to. Being an alcoholic is something I am grateful for. I know it’s odd for people to hear that, but it’s true. I would never want anyone to suffer from untreated alcoholism. It kills people, and families suffer. But for me, this journey has brought me to a place I never imagined. I am at peace with the very things that alcohol helped to assuage. I am at peace with Creator. I am not perfect and I do struggle with a lot of things, but alcohol no longer saves me. I no longer need it, as long as I am fit spiritual condition.
I am free.