I’ve said before; I’m not a Doctor or Mental Health Professional. I am unqualified to give expert advice, but I hope my ramblings and navel gazing can offer you some help and inspiration to take a step in the right direction. I hope that step will be towards taking control of your vices, and making your life better, but that’s up to you.
One thing that still baffles me is the complexity of recovery. The different treatment centres, 12-step programs, and books and the sort can be overwhelming. To make things worse, most outlets for recovery are for those who are at rock bottom, or who can afford to pay to be in a private recovery centre.
If you’re reading this I’m assuming you’ve heard of AA, or Alcoholic Anonymous. They’ve been around for over 70 years and they are de facto alcohol support group for television and movies (not by choice). If you’ve ever heard the phrase Hello, I’m so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic in media, that’s probably been inspired by AA.
I’m not currently in the program but I’ve attended a number of noon-hour meeting and I have found it extremely helpful and comforting. I had already been without-booze for 6 months or so when Roger Ebert died. Someone linked me to an article Roger Ebert had written a number years ago on the subject of AA, and I was inspired.
I found a noon-hour meeting and was sitting among a group of strangers that very day. It was a cathartic experience to be sure, I hadn’t come that close to organized recovery since anti-drug & alcohol courses in grade-school. A part of me was in love, and a part of me wanted to put as much distance between myself and AA as possible.
Honestly, I attended meetings sporadically on weekly basis for about 7 months after that. Sadly, I haven’t been since October, due in part to increased workload at the office, and something that happened at a meeting between me and another member. Neither are a very good excuse for not attending meetings.
Both reasons however, are squarely on me.
Firstly: I shouldn’t get so busy at work, that I cant take some time over the lunch hour for my mental well being. Seriously, one of the reasons my drinking got out of hand was job stress. Why am I putting myself into a situation where Im shutting out something that helps, to increase something that hurts?
Secondly: I shouldn’t let a minor incident with another member, and my own feelings toward that person, the group, or my own self consciousness and anxiety prevent me from taking steps to better myself. Again, one of the reasons I quit in the first place, is because I was using alcohol as a social crutch. I was drinking to squash my anxiety when meeting new people, or being in social situations where I was uncomfortable. So when the first bit of social awkwardness pops up, I run away and never come back? WTF is wrong with me?
To be fair to myself, I never really felt like I fit in in AA, and the schoolyard looks from other members got in to my held and made me feel it too. Im a soft bottom alcoholic and that makes me feel like a dip around rock bottom alcoholics who are essentially fighting for their lives in the AA rooms.
I felt like a voyeur, a fake and a phony. I felt like I was perpetually in freshman year and I couldn’t get out. The incident I had that forced me away from the group is so minor that I wont even mention it here. Its my own fear that’s keeping me away. Its actually a very interesting program filled with a lot of interesting people, and I felt pride in my anonymous membership.
Here’s another article written about AA from the perspective of someone who didn’t think they’d fit in. She talks about the Higher Power element, and how many atheist deal with the God problem by finding a higher power in the group, and in the environment around them.
I’m thinking I should go back. It was helpful, even if the coffee wasn’t that great. If nothing else, this quote, or serenity prayer shed some light on my troubles even if the whole god thing doesn’t apply to me:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Thanks for reading this post. Check out the first post, and the About Page for more info on what this is all about. My advice and anecdotes are to be taken as entertainment and for inspirational purposes (definition: I’m NOT a doctor or addictions professional). If you think you have a serious drinking problem please visit a doctor. If you’re worried about telling a family doctor, you can always try a walk-in clinic or try this resource for help with substance abuse in Canada.