“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Rehab was my initiation into the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Thinking I was just going to rehab to “get the monkey off my back,” I half listened and did what I was told. I followed the herd in the treatment center. I said I was an alcoholic, even though I didn’t truly believe it…yet. I was told to write a letter, saying good-bye to alcohol. I thought it kind of funny: to write a letter to alcohol. But I did it. It was a short, bittersweet letter. I don’t think I really admitted how hopeless I was. All I can say is that it was a start–my wall of denial was slowly being chipped away at.
The letter I had written was just the opening of the door that there was a possibility of living a different way. I was able to admit, on the surface level, that I probably shouldn’t drink any more. I wasn’t ready to admit that I couldn’t ever drink again. That was just too overwhelming to imagine. But I was willing to admit I needed to stop drinking to have a more productive life, a more manageable life, and a more fulfilling life. That was all I needed to get started.
When I left treatment, I entered transitional living (at the suggestion of countless members of AA and the counselors at the rehab). I was thrust into a home of newly sober women without a job, without my son, and without any material items, including a car. Without a car, I was at the mercy of people in the program. To admit that my life was unmanageable was easy to do at this point: I was in debt; I was in a situation that I never thought I would ever be in. I had no source of income or future other than one that would (possibly) free me from the insanity of alcohol. The sober women in the home, along with other members of AA, would drive me to meetings, pick me up for coffee, or just talk to me about sobriety.
I was slowly, very slowly, admitting I was an alcoholic. I was admitting I was powerless over alcohol. One of the reasons I knew I was powerless over alcohol was the last night of drinking. I had made a commitment (to myself and to my husband) to go to work, leave work without going to the bar. But what ended up happening is: I went to work, decided to have ONE drink with a friend…then ended up having ten (or so) more drinks and I ended the night stranded in the city. How, I asked myself, did that happen? I was adamant that I was NOT going to drink that day, no matter what. But I had no self-control: especially after I the first drink. Once the first drink was in, I couldn’t stop. The cravings kicked in and I was off and running.
Looking at this one situation made it clear to me that I had lost control of my drinking. Admitting I was an alcoholic was the beginning.
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