I can sense in myself that this is it; game over; I can’t explain why, but I finally feel finished this time, with “feel” being the keyword as well as the most frightening one in my vocabulary – but King Alcohol has beaten the living shit out of me, stolen everything, and left me overwhelmingly convinced of its mastery and sheer ability to remain undefeated; that no matter what I do, that will never change; much respect; no more rematches; I concede that I will never hold the coveted Championship Belt. My condition was, to say the least, grim upon arrival; physically ill, mentally wrecked, and spiritually more dead than ever as I dragged myself through the doors of the admissions office in the treatment center I’ve come to know as home. They mercifully granted me a pass to embark on the fourth attempt of rehabilitation through their program; like they had taken me in and adopted me as a child of their own – it’s been nearly an entire year since I first touched down in California and the majority of that time has been spent within a residential treatment home, a sober living home, or a cheap, trashy motel room – I can’t count out a night or two spent seeking shelter inside my Jetta either; I might as well just be honest and throw that into the sad mix of situations I’ve encountered over the course of my west coast adventure.
A foreign desperation has set in; a rock-bottom I haven’t known; new depths have been reached, again – it’s now becoming quite convincing that an alcoholic of my condition can always manage to dig a deeper pit, that in all reality, my true bottom is most likely six feet under in a wooden box – you know, a forever nap in the dirt. I was lost and completely confused – I could not figure out for the life of me why or how I had picked up that first drink – things were starting to turn around; life was, for all intents and purposes, gradually getting better. I merely stopped in at a gas station to pick up a cold, refreshing Coca-Cola, which in fact I did buy, in addition to one shooter of Jack Daniel’s that jumped off the shelf from across the store and into my brown paper bag – very acrobatic stuff for a tiny little, plastic bottle. The insane thinking that one measly drink could do me no harm took over; that it would calm me down and take a very satisfying edge off – a tiny taste, that’s all. My disease in its baffling, sinister power overthrew all logic and reason; it noticed I was off-guard and took full advantage of the situation – I came to a week later, in the middle of the desert, somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas – that’s how I roll when I hand over control – that is, when I hand over control to the wrong higher power.
I’m scared; petrified really, although I loathe admitting it and intuitively go to extraordinary lengths not to show it – even though I’m working more intensely than ever to prevent another disastrous bender or spree. It’s that hair raised on the back of my neck type of fear; where cold blood courses through my veins and tender, blue eyes roll over black in automatic defense of such unpleasant feelings or emotions – “drown it out!”, my mind screams at me, “you know how to make it stop!”. Reservations that I may one day take another drink cannot possibly still find places to squat or hide-out in patient existence within me – not after living through hell on Earth; not after pleading for and welcoming death as a far more appealing option than continuing to sit still, trapped in a nightmare too devastating even for Stephen King to think up; not after finally coming to terms with and accepting the reality that my soul is only further and more emphatically tortured by the diabolical aid of a drink. No – surely no person, thing, event, or situation could ever cause me to retreat back to that horrific place where the unfortunate living must lay amongst the dead – or then again, could such a thing or situation really exist?
A large part of getting and, more importantly, STAYING sober is identifying these reservations, not hiding from them or pretending they are magical, false figments of my imagination like I’d much rather do – and it doesn’t matter how insane or far-fetched the reservation is or seems, if it would cause me to take that first drink, the sheer prevalence and power of that alone needs to be acknowledged, understood, processed, and dealt with. “Why?” my head asks me. Why do I need to do this seemingly unnecessary work? Work that feels like wasted effort; time that could be spent doing something far more important or productive. The likelihood that I will be around to experience an apocalyptic event is pretty low on the totem pole, so who cares if I would drink over the impending demise of our planet? Right off the bat, entertaining, nevertheless, responding to the questions or ideas formulated in my head is never, ever all that smart of an idea; the great lie is my fantastic ideas being reasonable or well-grounded. I’d be much better off following the direction of my heart, but somewhere along the pathway from my ticker to my noggin is a disconnect that I haven’t yet been able to fully bridge – perhaps I never will, who knows. Secondly – contrary action – do things differently than I have always done them and reap different results that I have always ended up with; pretty damn simple, but so fucking hard.
So, in the unfathomable event that something truly horrendous were to happen to my son or daughter like the development of a terminal disease, passing away in a tragic accident, somebody hurting them, violating them, or even taking their life; how could I possibly handle that rationally without resorting directly to the drink for instant numbing and escape? What if by some miracle I hit the lottery rendering me financially set for life? I’d never have to live on the streets or beg for help; I could buy all worldly pleasures, pay problems away, and enjoy any other comfort or desires when and where I want. What’s to stop the drink then? These are two unlikely, but possible scenarios which could arise one day – and at the heart of these reservations, which I didn’t think I had or at the very least chose to ignore, lives selfishness and self-centeredness. Yes, the ugly root to nearly all of my issues rises to the surface again – frankly, I’m pretty sick of finding selfishness mixed up and wrapped around every facet of my life. Is it selfish that I’m sick of my own selfishness? I’m just going to leave that one alone…
If in that unthinkable scenario of losing one of my children, I run off and drown in a bottle of oblivion, I’ve completely turned it into a situation all about ME and how it effects ME and why not pour another glass of ME, ME, ME! It completely turns the attention away from the value of their life and what it meant, making it instead, all about – you guessed it, ME! There is no honor or respect in that – it’s simply selfish, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it; by doing that I choose my own selfishness over a healthy grieving process with family and friends where we have the love and support of each other in honoring a beautiful, innocent life lost far too soon – as difficult and completely life-shattering as it would be, that’s the best case reaction in a genuine tragedy. I would love to think I could be strong enough to handle it, but I’m not so convinced – and I don’t ever want to test the theory. Now, obviously I pray I never have to face such a horrifying event, but I should acknowledge that the reservation does exist within me; ignoring it will never increase the chances for long term sobriety.
And so once again I’m faced with more challenges than I anticipated along this journey where danger lurks around every turn, but that’s the funny thing about anticipation and why it’s irrelevant to so many aspects of recovery – through acknowledgment I can work past it; working past it supports growth; growth breeds change – and change ultimately leads me further away from taking that first drink, in all its misery and unavoidable company, rather than falling one step back towards it.