- Mental Health»
Accepting Being an Alcoholic. Surrender to Win
Let's start with an example.
Your car won't start because you are out of gas. You step back and say, " Yep, it's out of gas." You admitted that it's out of gas. Then what? Nothing, other than kicking and screaming, which solves nothing. Now, you accept that your car is out of gas. This means, you accept what your situation really is. You honestly say to yourself, " This is where I stand. Now what do I do about it?" Then you decide a course of action, which in this case would be to go get some gas. After the car starts, you then look back and decide what to do so that this doesn't happen again. That's the difference.
Why So Difficult?
"I'm allergic to shellfish! I break out in a rash." Pretty easy, right? "I'm allergic to peanut butter! I blow up like a blowfish when I eat it." Pretty easy also. But "I'm allergic to alcohol! When I drink, bad things happen." Hard as hell. Why? Don't let the age old stigma of alcoholism keep you from being honest with yourself. That is destructive. When you accepted your allergy to shellfish or peanut butter or whatever, you found ways to stay away from it. You didn't try to find ways around the allergy so that you could again partake. It's not quite as simple, but alcoholism is quite the same. You can't find ways around your alcoholism that enables you to drink normally. So you have to find ways to stay away from alcohol. That part is simple. Acceptance is the key. And it's not as difficult as you may think. It only takes the desire to stop drinking and move on to a better life.
Acceptance: Where I Stood
Now, like when my car was out of gas, I had to accept my situation before I was capable of taking action. I had to honestly, convince myself that I truly was an alcoholic; that I told myself that I am another victim of a destructive disease. Saying, to myself, I am afflicted with alcoholism. What do I do about it? How do I survive it? How do I stop it from destroying me and everything around me, including loved ones? To do this, you have to know exactly where you stand. You can't decide where you are going if you don't know where you are at. When diagnosed as a diabetic, most diabetics don't just say, "OK. I'm a diabetic." Then continue to eat Twinkies. They go to their doctor and find out how they can lead a healthy, fulfilling life while still having this disease. We can too. We can try to figure out how we got to be alcoholic later. But right now, we have to turn our attention to what to do this day forward.
Admissions as Excuses
I remember how many times I stood in front of judges and admitted that I was an alcoholic. Why? Because I thought that if I could convince him that I "saw the light", he would give me a break. I admitted to my wife at the time that I was an alcoholic. By doing that, I thought she would now know why I do what I do, therefore expect this behavior of me and make room for it in our marriage. Then, the worst. I admitted it to myself. All this did was to allow myself to justify why I drank the way I did and to tell myself that my drinking habits weren't my fault. So now, I could continue to drink with much less guilt. I didn't have to make up a bunch of excuses for my behavior anymore because I now had one that covered pretty much everything. This was my ticket to uncontrolled drinking. What I missed was that even though becoming an alcoholic may not be my fault, recovery from it was my responsibility. Inside, I denied that I was an alcoholic and found no need to take action and address this issue. After all, it wasn't an issue, right?
What Acceptance Creates
Acceptance creates a willingness that we never had before. A willingness that allows us to do whatever we have to do, to get better. It creates an open-mindedness that we never had. This is the willingness to listen and learn from other people how they overcame their disease and incorporate their suggestions into our quest for sobriety. See how the willingness and open-mindedness work together? It also creates a freedom that's hard to describe. We are free from making excuses for our past wrong-doings. We accept responsibility and now have the opportunity to make amends for what we have done. ( I will address amends later on. First things first.) We accept that we are defeated; we are no match to the power of our addiction. We surrender. We experience the freedom from no longer having to battle in a war that cannot win. We no longer have to leave a trail of destruction behind us in the defense of our addiction. We are now free to move forward instead of being held back by our own denial. We are also free of thinking we have to fight this battle completely by ourselves. We want to talk to other people about it. Not be embarrassed about it. We welcome their suggestions because we have none of our own. We can also, for the first time in a long time, feel welcome somewhere. That somewhere is the world of recovery, which is much bigger than you think. By listening, you will find a lot of people have gone further down than you, and have come out of it better than they ever imagined. This is called HOPE. If they can do it, you can do it.
There is nothing embarrassing about being an alcoholic. The only person that should be embarrassed is the alcoholic that does nothing about it. There is no such thing as a Fair weather friend in recovery. Those friends will be there through good and bad. They will call you simply to ask how you are doing. Do you think your bar buddies will do that? I doubt it. They will celebrate your sobriety with you, as they want to share their experience with you and see you grow with them. Not because of them.
Honestly, figure out where you stand. Accept where you stand. Then take action. Don't be afraid to take that leap of faith for fear of boredom. Believe me. You won't be bored. Don't be afraid of the friends you lose. They really weren't friends. Look forward to the real friends you will gain. And there will be more than you will ever need.
You have to have a starting place. What's a better place than accepting that you are an alcoholic, but knowing there is a way of life much better and one that you can achieve with a little bit of willingness and open-mindedness. By the way; those things are free too.