“Try Not! Do, or Do Not! There is no try.”
On Feb 9th, it will be 3 years since I “surrendered” to my alcoholism and entered a 28 day treatment center. WOW! Today….it is painfully obvious to me what I would do if I were in that cycling struggle of trying to stop my drinking. I would go to treatment as soon as possible. And, if I didn’t have the money, I would borrow it. Isn’t hindsight amazing! I tried and I tried to get sober for 7 years. But it doesn’t work that way. There is only Do! Unfortunately, we generally have to experience much pain, over and over, before we actually do something about it. Hopefully we don’t die in the process, or worse, kill someone on this destructive journey.
I was commenting to my wife the other day about how I watch the daily struggle on the Sober Dare page. Where it is not so painfully obvious of what to do when one cannot stop drinking, despite continued adverse consequences. If I offer up my advice and tell them what to do, in the kindest way possible, it just seems to fall on deaf ears! Hell, I owned those ears for 7 years!
Willpower always seems the inevitable battle cry. “I am determined to beat this” or “I will beat this….SO help me God or Doorknob or whatever your Higher Power is or isn’t!” Then comes the next day and you are ashamed that somehow, yet again, your body and mind betrayed you and you drank…again! Chances are that by now you are fairly deep into alcoholism. Trying to use willpower to defeat the BEAST is like taking a pea shooter into a face off with a grizzly bear! I wouldn’t take anything into a grizzly bear fight because I wouldn’t even put myself there, unlike an active alcoholic who eventually looks for grizzly bears….in the most pathetic way.
Why are we so blind at this stage of our illness? My wife reminded me of the iterative process that I went through and how difficult a decision it was for me to enter into Rehab. Much to my surprise, she even told me how difficult it was for her to wrap her own mind around the thought of having a husband in Rehab. Fear, shame, the stigma, thinking someone might find out (even though most people already know you have a problem). Thinking that only homeless gutter drunks end up in rehab. Denial and control seem to trump everything, right up until the bitter end. I guess these factors bombard.
The pain that I experience today by watching this daily struggle is still very acute. I know that I can do little to influence someone’s decision to take action and get help! But probably the most painful of all is…I know what is waiting on the other side. I know that the further down you go, the more amount of time, energy and luck are required to pick your broken self back up and move forward in life.
People die everyday from alcoholism! Though it seems to be some sort of societal blight, or deep shame, that prevents us from grasping and exposing this reality. As a society, we don’t even want to call someone’s alcoholic death “alcoholism”. Alcoholism prematurely takes another life and, just as quickly, a more palatable cause of death shows on the death certificate. I think that is where the real shame lies.
When I walked into treatment almost 3 years ago, I was a broken down heap of a man. Today, I am anything but that description and I am living a full life! I had no idea how close to death I actually was 3 years ago. All I know is that I am a grateful person today. If you are struggling with any of the 4 stages of alcoholism, look for strength deep inside yourself and gather up all of your fears and take your fragile life right through that door of the treatment center. Life is too short to fight the losing battle of alcoholism.
Remember, things will never get better, they will always get worse – until we stop!