Tuesday, January 28, 2014

For Those About To Drink, I Salute You

 [EDIT] I do want to add that I don't want the title of this blog to be misleading.  It was simply a play on the AC/DC album title "For Those About To Rock, We Salute You".  While I do think it is healthy for someone in recovery to not harbor feelings of jealousy or resentment towards those that drink, I DO NOT encourage anyone with a problem to drink. And if you think you may have a problem, please get help or seek the advice of someone that's been there.  It could save your life.


In the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous, you often hear recovering alcoholics say, "Hell, if I could still drink I'd be right there with em!" And of course, this is true.  Most recovering alcoholics LOVE to drink and if they had never decided to turn away from a life of consuming a liquid they had a very unhealthy reaction to, they would probably still drink you under the table.

And yes, for me personally, if I could drink without having that weird reaction of passing out in a public place with my pants down, I probably still would.  But it is key that I never feel any bit of jealousy towards those that can drink like normal people.  This is one of the most important steps of maintaining sobriety.  If you let jealousy fill your thoughts, you won't recover.  And if you are one of those that think you are recovering but still harbor jealous feelings, you're kidding yourself. You'll spend your remaining days in agony until you break down and have another drink,  because you are letting yourself feel that you are being deprived while everyone else is indulging.  Those thoughts will nag at you day in and day out, from the time you get up in the morning until you manage to fall asleep at night.  You have to understand that YOU have a problem, and THEY do not, and there isn't anything you can do to change this fact.  Nothing.  So it's futile to to harbor negative feelings of jealousy because of an irreversible condition you've developed.  Acceptance, or death.

We can't move forward until we begin accept the nature of our problem.  This is universally true of any personal problem.  And until you accept every inconvenient truth about your addiction, you won't even begin to truly recover.  Before I decided to get sober, this was my main problem when attempting to "fix" my alcoholism.  I knew that I had a big problem on my hands, but for so long I spent an ungodly amount of energy on finding a solution that would allow me to keep drinking like everyone else.  I just knew that if I drank less or switched drinks or whatever, I could make it work and continue to drink with everyone.  What I didn't understand, and failed to accept, is that my addiction was much stronger than me as long as I allowed myself to feed it.  I didn't realize that the solution was to starve it to death, not to try and beat it into submission.

When I finally did make the decision to never drink again, I wasn't sure that I could do it while working at a bar.  I thought I'd get those jealous feelings and want to be part of the fun crowd that I was helping make possible.  With everyone toasting and cheering all around me, nagging at every fiber of my being, I'd certainly want to raise a glass and toast as well.  Luckily, I was smarter from the get-go, and never allowed myself to feel jealousy when those moments arose.  I accepted that I have a problem and was better off at not indulging with the rest of them.

Early in my sobriety, one of my good friends and former co-workers told me that she lived next door to an older alcoholic woman that had once been a self-proclaimed "Mrs. A.A." She spent so much time in the halls of Alcoholics Anonymous that she even met her husband at an A.A. meeting.  But my friend told me that this lady constantly fell off the wagon in her older age. Upon learning that my friend was a bartender, the older woman said, "Oh, I see.  You're one of those people who can drink normally."  This statement reeked of jealousy.  I bet a million bucks that this lady, despite all her efforts in following a 12 step program, submerging herself in the fellowship of recovering alcoholics, and marrying a partner who shared a similar affliction, had failed simply because she had harbored resentment and jealousy towards those that can drink like normal people.

You can't be jealous.  Don't let yourself be.  Jealousy makes you feel like you're being deprived of something, and that feeling of deprivation is a nagging, nagging thing.  It will eat away at you until you finally give in and throw all your progress out the window.  Cut these feelings off at the source before they being to fester.  Think of all that you have to gain from your sobriety, and rejoice in the fact that you're taking back control of your life. 

[I must take this moment to point out that this "anti-letting-yourself-feel-deprived" mindset is the cornerstone of my method of quitting smoking as well]

If you've quit drinking, be proud of that fact.  And be equally proud and happy for those that still drink.  That doesn't mean that some of those people may not have problems of their own, it just means you're not letting yourself be jealous of someone that drinks.  I sure don't miss the hang-overs, poor judgment, next-day anxieties, etc, etc.  I'm not sitting in a bar full of loud and cheerful people secretly wishing I could drink with them.  I'd drink with them if I could, but I can't.  And that's that.  I'm not gonna let my personal problem bring anyone down.  They are all having a good time, and good for them!  So, I say, for those about to drink, I salute you.  And in fact, next time you all do a "Cheers!", pour me a shot of water or Coke or something.  Just because I don't drink, doesn't mean I can't celebrate and acknowledge the good times with you.


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