I drank for 27 years from the ages of 14 to 42 before being so sick that my doctor told me I had 6 months to live and my girlfriend at the time, Cathy took me to AA. I was kicking and screaming and intellectually justifying and rationalizing. I was a fruitcake. I even read several books that ‘proved’ AA didn’t work.
AA didn’t work.
When I finally got there I was hardly able to walk, but I stumbled in and fell in love with the ‘steps’. I thought my agony had ended. So, I went and got drunk and fell asleep on Cathy’s shoulder at my next meeting and this seem to set the pattern of the next 2 years.
I even began going back to the church to find my missing God.
God wasn’t lost it turns out, and I kept drinking and suffering the indignation of turning up at meetings and saying, Hi I’m Mike, Alcoholic, and I’m one day sober again.
I had found a sponsor and he was 12 years sober and teaching computer skills at a local Work for the Dole class I went to. He was cool. But also addicted to painkillers and I didn’t know that he wasn’t any soberer than I was.
My Dad died on March 1, 2007, and I drank again, but the next year was plagued with longer and better bouts of sobriety, but none longer than 49 days. I couldn’t get past 7 weeks.
My Mum was becoming more and more demented with Alzheimer’s and I was caring for her. I used to joke how we were the blind leading the blind with our mental illnesses. I won’t say I got sober eventually so that I could care for my ailing mother but I believe in some part, Dad’s passing and Mum’s dementia made the decision to quit was easier and more urgent.
One year after my father passed away I drank. I was at the start of another ‘attempt’ when I couldn’t resist the chance to commiserate.
I drank non-stop for 9 days and nights which included my son’s 18th birthday. I was too pissed to leave the home and celebrate his special day and felt really guilty about it. Nothing different here, you say? Well, that’s exactly right. I had spent most of the last 30 years being sorry for myself and crushing my loved ones on special and non-special occasions. Just all the time!
I haven’t had another drink from that day to this. What was the difference, I’m unsure. I just feel that a weight had been lifted and the way forward seemed clearer. The following Monday I took myself back to my long-suffering doctor and got some Valium to get through the delirium tremens and set off to AA. During those first few days of horrible sobriety, I happened across a shop that sells incense and picked up a brochure for Buddhist classes. I had never been to one before but always read about spiritual concepts like Buddhism, Islam, and Taoism as an alternative to my Catholic upbringing at which I was quite resentful. This time I went instead of procrastinating and I went again the following week. By now I was going to meetings of AA every single day as suggested and was reading their Big Book.
The combination of Buddhist wisdom and AA pragmatism I was able to stop drinking but it was not all easy and beautiful. Today, I feel happy, sober-minded and grateful for all those who have helped me stay sober and build a happy, joyous and frickin awesome lifestyle. That’s my story of quitting and I’m really pleased that it lasted because the early days of recovery were tough and quite lonely. I did feel better each week as I became respected more in the meetings and accepted into the Buddhist sangha.
Today I live by Buddha’s principle and follow the guidelines in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. The word God to me means all the Greater Spiritual Powers of all the sentient beings n all the planets of the Universe. Is that all-encompassing enough?
Because the fellowship is all inclusive and Buddhism teaches equanimity I have developed inclusivity in all my affairs.
If you want some help with addiction my website (dharmaholic.com) is always open.
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