Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Myth is as Good as a Mile.

There's a lot of hooey out there about recovery and 12-Step programs.

Once or twice a year some newspaper, somewhere, will run an article or two about how science is on the "verge" of creating some magic pill which will either a) cure alcoholism or b) allow alcoholics to drink "normally" (which, by the way, for an alcoholic, means consumming every drop of liquor within a 10-mile radius sometime in the next half hour).

Most of the misinformation is a direct result of many people's inherent desire to live in a state of constant denial. Even non-alcoholics don't want to think too much about their own ... ahem, "habits"... which is why they happily enable a lot of alcoholics.

Families will often cultivate the "family alcoholic" so as to keep the spotlight off their own habits and issues. That state of affairs can continue for years until the family drunk (druggie/foodie/nympho/spender) finally breaks down and winds up in jail, an institution or dead.

But it turns out that, in some cases (such as mine), the obsession to drink can be lifted fairly quickly and easily. Continuous application of a 12-Step program, administered on a daily basis, can not only turn the alkies life around but it often turns around the lives of all the people around him or her.

Because, you see, we "came for the drinkin' and stayed for the thinkin'."

Look, here's the deal. In my own case, once I put the cork in the bottle, I was still an asshole. My problem was no longer drinking, it was the fact that I was an asshole. So taking a "pill" to cure my drinking wouldn't fix a thing, unless they also invented a pill to cure assholism. Liquor wasn't the problem. Liquor was merely the lipstick I had routinely applied to my inner pig in order to try to dress it up. It was my self-administered anaesthetic to dull my self-induced pain. It was a solution to life's problems that, in my case, no longer worked.

It, and I, had become unmanageable. Manageability, it turned out, was an illusion anyway. Nothing in life is "manageable" except how I react to it. Everything else is chaos.

So I learned how to work on my inner serenity. I learned how to "live life on life's terms." I learned that "acceptance is the key to all of life's problems."

Most importantly of all, I learned that it was possible to look at old events with new insights, and that they no longer needed to be a source of continuing pain for me. I learned that it was possible to derive meaning and sustenance from even the most unendurable of memories.

And I learned all of this one day at a time, one step at a time, through something that many people dismiss as a "cult" or "another religion."

But ya know what? In the 8 and a half years that I've been hanging around in this "cult" I have never once been asked to kick in an extra thousand bucks to buy the church a new furnace, nor have they ever insisted that I shave my head, dress in saffron robes and hang around the airport selling roses to strangers. Nor have they ever demanded that I adhere to any particular "brand" of a Higher Power.

No, it turned out that the most onerous thing this "cult" has ever asked me to do is to finally, at long last, sit down and look in the mirror and


get honest with myself.

No more self-delusion. No more evasions and excuses and alibis. No more "poor me's". No more "yeah, buts".

No more myths.

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