Letting Go of Old Ideas
Monday is here, and the title of my post was the topic of today’s meeting (Chapter 27 in Living Sober if you want to read along!). The basic premise of the chapter is this: just because we “put the plug in the jug” doesn’t mean we transform into a whole new person. Old thought patterns still exist, and will (not may, but will) emerge, over and over, so we need to figure out how to deal with them. The answer? We in recovery have a new yardstick by which we measure our lives, our thoughts, and our decisions. And when we stumble backwards into old patterns of thinking, we can, first, recognize it, then second, use the new yardstick we’ve been given: “Hey, old thought pattern, do you keep me sober, or do you lead me back towards a drink? Is this thought pattern consistent with the way I am living life today, or is it more consistent with the way I lived in active addiction?” When you hold something up against those standards, the answer is usually pretty clear.
I remember a time, years ago, when I was trying to figure out what the heck my problem was (because the one thing I knew it wasn’t: alcoholism). Anyway, I was seeing a therapist, and was whining and moaning about how I just wanted to drink “like a normal person” (I swear when I said it, I honestly thought I was the first one to ever have that thought). The therapist said to me, “You know, for some people, “normal drinking” is not drinking at all, for those people it is entirely normal not to drink.” Even though this occurred probably close to 10 years ago, I still have perfect recall of the way I rejected the thought completely and utterly out of hand. I mean, yes, a human being had just uttered those words, but surely she was speaking in some high-level, esoteric way, because I personally knew zero real life examples of this hypothesis.
Having grown up in a large, Irish Catholic, close-knit family, I had never experienced a social situation that did not involve alcohol. Surely, I exaggerate, right? Somewhere there must have been a funeral, or a breakfast, some situation that did not involve an alcoholic beverage? No, and no… funerals were actually a great excuse for drinking (we were a classic Irish wake family), and breakfast would have Bloody Mary’s galore. It was, simply and plainly, all I knew.
So when it came time to admitting that alcohol was not working in my life, it is not difficult to see why I struggled with understanding the cause and effect relationship. All around me were people who drank as I did, and no one seemed to be questioning them. I could tell you tales that would make your hair stand up, some of the escapades in which my relatives have drunkenly found themselves. So why am I getting hassled?
Until, finally, I let go of the old thought patterns… what is or is not working in the lives of anyone and everyone around me is inconsequential. When I drink, my life becomes chaotic, when I do not drink, my life is peaceful. When I drink, I am ashamed. When I don’t drink, I am proud of myself. When I drink, I have horrific consequences. Since I have stopped drinking, I have had nary a consequence with which to deal.
Does it get any simpler than that?
I am still riding the high of yesterday’s miracle, which was a celebration of the beautiful Moms in my life, and a fantastic time with my husband and children celebrating me. I hope all the awesome Mothers reading this had a magnificent day yesterday!
Posted on May 13, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged 12 step program, Addiction, Alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Drink, Health, Home, Living Sober, New York City, Recovery, Sobriety, Substance Abuse. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.