2nd step recap
Mike asked a serious question a while back. “Why didn’t you just quit drinking?” Unfortunately, I gave a glib answer. I sincerely regret that. I apologize, Mike, for having done so. Though I’m not sure you are here to read this apology, I’ll get it to you. My careless words had unintended consequences, and there’s a very important lesson in that for me.
In order to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, I had to first believe that a power equal to myself could not. When I first entered the rooms, I had no long term plan. But I knew at that point that I needed help. Additionally, I knew that I needed to seek help to display the seriousness of my intent to my wife. She had watched me try and fail to manage my alcoholism on my own too many times. She wasn’t going to tolerate any more half measures. If I were to keep her, I’d have to actually get help. “Getting help” was the only way available to demonstrate a real willingness to change, because circumstances had proved I couldn’t change without it.
I had the good fortune of a last, best effort to handle shit using my own power.
A bit before Thanksgiving, she had enough. She had been going to this therapist, see. Boy did I hate that therapist. It was extremely unfair to face an opponent I could not address directly. I really wanted to go to those therapy sessions with Wifey. I couldn’t defeat an opponent I couldn’t talk to. And this therapist was equipping her to leave me. She basically was giving Wifey Al-Anon tools – getting her to detach, making her see that she couldn’t manage me, or fix me, or somehow make my unsustainable behavior work. So one hungover morning, following yet another drunken bedtime battle, I said:
“OK! Fine! I’ll quit drinking!”
This is not something I said regularly. I was never the type to make idle promises regarding this issue, only to break them again shortly thereafter. At the beginning of our relationship years prior, I had made clear that my consumption habits were off limits. She could ask anything else of me, and I’d make every effort to accommodate, because I loved her, but she could not ask me to quit drinking. But at this juncture of our relationship, that original “deal” had no teeth left in it. She had put up with too much. So I agreed to quit. On my own. I would seek no help, because I was unlike other alcoholics, and besides, I was immune to their “help.” I was too smart to influenced by their words, and found such help the contemptible harbor of the weak and feeble-minded.
So I did quit. And I firmly intended to stay quit, at least for a period of months, until things settled down, and I had gotten the marriage back on solid ground and banked some goodwill. At that point, I’d reevaluate. I threw myself into serious pot smoking. We went to the Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family at the home where it is held. It was quite pleasant. Of course, the wine looked good, but I actually enjoyed the conversation, and not having to worry about getting too drunk. In order to fortify myself against temptation, I had brought the bong along with me, left it in the car, and made several trips out there to smoke weed during the course of the evening. Made it through the experience no problem. For another week or so I persisted on this course, smoking lots of weed and not drinking at all.
Then I had to travel to Northern California in early December. I couldn’t get weed up there because I didn’t want to try to fly with it and because I had misplaced my “prescription” before I had left, so I couldn’t buy any up there. (Stoner problems. I was always, always losing and misplacing stuff.) Anyhow, I lasted a couple of days without weed. Then I drank. Why not? I had “figured it out” this time. I was sure of it. There was no possible rational reason why I couldn’t control it.* And I did control it, more or less, for a week or two. Then came the Christmas season, too many days off, blackouts, public humiliation and disaster. It turns out I hadn’t figured it out. I woke up the day after Christmas, and I wasn’t sure what all had happened, but I knew it wasn’t good. My wife told me some of it. It was awful. Socially awful, if front of the family awful. Not kill someone awful, but my shell had cracked. The internal rotting had made it all the way to the outside. Everyone knew, and it couldn’t be covered up. My wife was done, I could tell.
I was done too. I agreed to get help. I knew I needed help, and I believed it was possible to quit. Thus did I take the second step. Only some external power could dry me out. I was unable to do it on my own.
*There wasn’t any reason then and there still isn’t today. My alcoholism is non-rational. It completely defies reason and it always will.