Friday, December 01, 2006

It's a Disease, Stupid... Sweetheart

Hooray! Binky II has arrived from Smiths Medical. After a half hour reprogramming the pump with all my son's rates and ratios, Binky II is up and running. It is SUCH a relief to have that insulin pump working again.

A chronic disease is a chronic disease. It does not represent a character weakness. Would I blame my son for developing Type 1 Diabetes? Of course not.

Today I began thinking about how I finally admitted I was alcoholic and sought out help in managing my disease.

No one wants to be an alcoholic. We like to think we can manage our own affairs. Many of us have been very successful in managing other parts of our lives. So to admit we have a condition which is incurable, chronic, fatal and OUT OF OUR CONTROL is a horrible prospect.

For about two years previous to my seeking out recovery, I knew there was something not quite normal with the way I drank. But I still believed I could control my drinking. So I attempted to moderate. For example, I vowed never to drink hard liquor. I soon learned that wine and beer would get me intoxicated just about as efficiently. Oh, I made all sorts of promises and rules for myself. It's laughable now!

Just to name a few: I vowed never to mix drinks, never to drink at home, never to drink in public, to drink only red wine for the "health benefits," never to keep alcohol in the house, never to drink in front of others, to drink only on weekends, to count drinks and stop at a pre-set number. Near the end I swore off drinking completely for one month. When that worked just fine, I decided I did not have a problem. After all, I figured, an alcoholic would not be able to quit for a month. So I began drinking again... moderately and in a very controlled way... of course!

About one year later I found myself consuming more than I would like. I decided to try another one month quit and didn't worry too much when I only made it 12 days. After all, I had proven to myself I could quit whenever I wanted to. I just didn't WANT to. Why should I have to give up drinking? It was the only thing that got me through most days.

This disease is stunning in its subtlety. The disease lies to you. It tells you that you don't have a problem or that you can control the problem. I was quite surprised to learn that nonalcoholics do not play these little games with themselves to try to cut down on drinks. These very desperate acts I was taking to try to control drinking were themselves the most glaring symptoms of all.

The fact is, NONALCOHOLICS DO NOT NEED TO TRY TO CONTROL THEIR DRINKING. They truly can take it or leave it. Also, NONALCOHOLICS DO NOT WONDER IF THEY ARE ALCOHOLIC. Really. It was hard for me to believe it, but there are people out there who do not sit up and wonder. Actually there are quite a lot of them. I am not one.


It's a disease, stupid. We didn't get it on purpose.

Let me edit: It's a disease, sweetheart. And we still didn't get it on purpose.

I used to believe, anyone would drink if they had my life. I drank because of conflicts with loved ones and I drank to celebrate how much I loved them. I drank when I was happy, and I drank when I was sad. I drank when people hassled me about my drinking and I drank because I had suceeded in quitting for a specified period and therefore I didn't have a problem. I drank because I was over excited and I drank because I was bored.

All of the preceding statements are false. I drank because I am alcoholic. That is what alcoholics do. I believed I was different and special and that I could control alcohol. Little did I know, it was already controlling me.

Like many, I did not want help. No one understood me or what I was trying to do. No one understood that I had this "infallible plan" to control my drinking. Yeah, I was doing really well on THAT score. I was what they refer to as "terminally unique."

I have been realizing of late, looking back at my own life I suppose, just how cunning, baffling and powerful alcohol is. It is stunning the capacities of the mind to rationalize away our drinking. If all that brain power was put to good use there would be a cure for cancer in a year. (For juvenile diabetes, too.)

Simply: The disease uses your mind to play games with you so that it can keep killing you. Don't believe everything you think.

I am just one person who found a solution that worked for me. I don't endorse any recovery plan, but there is one that worked for me which I'm glad to further discuss with anyone who reads this blog, whether I know them or not. Hopefully the email link works

Or check out the forums at Sober Recovery and just lurk for awhile and see if anyone is telling your story. You might be surprised.

I used to think being alcoholic was the worst thing that could happen to me. Today I am a grateful, sober alcoholic. Being a recovering alcoholic has given me a purpose in life and has shown me a way to grow into a human being I had never even dreamed of. It is a process and it is not always easy, but it's simple.

No one can control the disease, in themselves or in others. The disease is what it is. Cunning, baffling, powerful, chronic and fatal. That's not changing any time soon.

However, once we have admitted we are not so very special after all, that we are not so very different from those who have gone before us, we come to realize: there are two choices. Be a sober alcoholic, or a drunk alcoholic. And for this alcoholic, it's a great day to be sober. Onward, XO