M(3), 9/1: Am I REALLY an Alcoholic?

 

Pick as many of the following that apply to you:

A.  Happy Labor Day

B.  Happy Monday

C.  Happy Last Unofficial Day of Summer

D.  Happy School Year’s Eve

E.  Happy first day of September

F.  All of the Above (which would be the one I am picking!)

I write from the pool where we have a membership, which is surprisingly empty given that it is the last day before pretty much every school in our area heads back into session.  Delightful for the kids I brought, because there are no lines for the water slides, and delightful for me, because I can type in relative peace.  Plus, if I don’t do this now, there is no way I’m getting to it as we set up for our new 5:30 am (yikes) schedule that begins tomorrow.  Back to our regularly scheduled program…

As it is the first day of the month, today’s meeting featured a personal story from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, entitled “Physician, Heal Thyself.”  As many times as I have read from this book, I have never personally read this story, so it was interesting to me from that standpoint alone.  The author states right at the outset that his story differs from most of the others he has heard in the rooms of AA in that he has never lost anything:  he did not lose his job, his family, his freedom.  In fact, his story is almost the opposite, in that he earned more money in his last year of drinking than he ever had before.  His life was golden:  class president every year, academic success, every career accolade that you can conceive, and a family who never questioned him.  Sounds like a good thing, but, as he writes:

Mine was the skid row of success.  The physical skid row in any city is miserable.  The skid row of success is just as miserable.  -pg. 301, Alcoholics Anonymous

My main takeaway from the story revolves around this exact part of his story.  So often as I read the blogs of other writers, as I hear the newcomer speak at a meeting, I hear this exact conundrum:  Am I really an alcoholic?  Almost as soon as the question is asked, the checklist begins.  Counterintuitively, the checklist is the list of reasons why the person is not an alcoholic, and it usually goes something like this:

  • I have never been in prison/jail
  • I have never been arrested
  • I still have my job
  • I still have my husband/wife/children/pets
  • I still have my house/car/boat/coin collection
  • I pay my bills on time
  • There are people in my life who drink as much/more than me
  • I don’t drink every weekend/every day/in the morning
  • Sometimes I can control it

If you’re reading this because you are in recovery, want to be in recovery, or considering recovery as a personal option, you can identify with a few of these, and can probably add a few yourself.  Why?  Because almost without exception, every person who chooses sobriety has asked themselves these questions.

So, you may be thinking, what is the answer for a person who is undecided?  How do you really and truly know if you are an alcoholic/addict, especially if you are a person who does not fit the stereotypical mold?  There are lots of tests you can take, lots of therapy you can seek, and lots of information you can gather, but, at the end of the day, only one person can answer the question, and that person, of course, is you.  Only one person truly knows the impact that alcohol has on your life, only one person knows your real relationship with alcohol, and only one person knows how difficult or easy it would be to remove alcohol from your life.  And truly, there is only one way to find out how much happier you would be sober, and that is to stop drinking.

And there you have my reflection from this morning’s meeting, your Labor Day Sober PSA!  Lots of other wonderful shares today, but the sun is peeking out from the clouds, and it’s time to join in on some pool fun.  If you’re heading out to a holiday picnic, enjoy it and stay safe, if it’s just another Monday for you, enjoy it and stay safe as well!

Today’s Miracle:

Technology that allows me to type this as I watch the kids screaming down these slides:

 wpid-20140901_132626.jpg

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Posted on September 1, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Josie,

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. It is kind of amazing the lengths we will go to convince ourselves that we do not have a problem. One of my personal favorites was during some of my worst drinking when I lived in New Orleans, I would walk to my job as a sewing machine mechanic in a garment factory. My economic station at that time precluded owning a car. The 15 minute walk from my house took me past several bars. As New Orleans has pretty liberal liquor laws, these bars never closed. Now I was someone who would go to different liquor stores to buy my booze because I was embarrassed by the fact that I was buying wine by the gallon and very regularly. I didn’t want anyone to suspect I might be drinking too much. I also remember creeping down the stairs of my apartment at night to take out the trash, again embarrassed by the clinking of empty wine bottles. But I could stroll down Magazine Street on my way to work, look in those bars at 7:00 AM, see folks half asleep on the bar stools after a night of drinking or getting their early morning fix, and think with an air of superiority, “if I were that bad, I might need to do something about my drinking . . . ”

    Happy Labor Day!

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  2. A great read today, thanks!

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  3. Hi Josie! I just love this post! And I have similar experience to Robert’s. You could make your list all opposite, that was where drinking took me, yet I still found reasons why I was not an alcoholic! Crazy! Oh the fear of being an alcoholic was so huge in me, I would go to any lengths to prove that I was not. Now I go to any lengths to stay sober! I cruelly believe that hitting the bottom is they key that can change our perspective. And bottom doesn’t have to be a big catastrophic episode, it can be quiet too. But there is something about the bottom, that at least for me, was the turning point.

    Love technology too, and I am impressed how nicely this post looks from a phone, because when I try, things always get funky! Lol!

    Have a great first day of school who your kiddos! Hugs.

    Like

    • Maggie, I am thinking of you (and praying for you) often, and hope your ex is on the mend. Thanks for adding to this post, your experience, strength and hope always does!

      Kids are settling in (it is day 2 as I type), but the early morning schedule is rough on me, my Mom finally said to me, “you know, all the yawning is getting downright rude!” Adjustments take time, I guess.

      Hope your first day is smooth as well 🙂

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      • Thank you Josie. That’s very kind. He got transferred to a long term facility but is trying to get released this week. Ugh. Nothing I can do.

        And same here, yawning all day! I got 3 kids in 3 different schools! Life! Lol! Hopefully I’ll find my grove soon!

        Hugs and some good sleep 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Agh, this question really got me, and still does tbh, though I spend a lot less time fretting over it now. Before I stopped drinking, it seemed really important to know the answer for definite, and – like everyone else – I looked at all the reasons I wasn’t. I’d add another to your list: nobody would ever call me an alcoholic or tell me I was an alcoholic. From the outside, I looked fine. People would say, “Hi! How are you?” and I would say, “Fine!” and smile, and inside I felt like I was dying. It seemed so important to know, to really know for sure, because why on earth would I stop drinking unless I absolutely *had* to?
    I loved this line from your post: “And truly, there is only one way to find out how much happier you would be sober, and that is to stop drinking.” It is so simple and so true, and yet it never even crossed my mind until I stumbled accidentally across sober blogs for the first time, and then I just realised, I don’t have to wait for someone to tell my I’m an alcoholic, I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me to stop, I can just do this, and look, here are all these people saying how *good* it is.
    So I did. And they were right. Am I an alcoholic? I don’t know. But I do know that I am happier now that I am not drinking, and that is how I intend to live from now on.
    Thanks for your post, Josie, and loved the swimming pool picture! We were feeding ducks in the rain yesterday, on my kids’ last day of summer hols! All in school today, including my youngest, who has just started proper school for the first time today. Sniff

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    • Oh boy, the youngest going off is a tough one, I have some friends in the same boat! Hope the transition is going smoothly (for you, as I’m sure it will be a wonderful experience for the kiddo!).

      Your comment took me back to such a clear point in my sobriety… that moment when I realized I did not have to care about the label of alcoholic… all I had to do was not drink for today. It was a true turning point in my recovery, and it felt like I tremendous load had been lifted right off me, and all it took was the tiniest shift in perspective.

      Thanks for reminding me of that miracle, MTM, and thanks for the comment 🙂

      Like

  5. Comparing myself to others rarely works in my favor. If I’d gotten hung up on the stereotypes of an alcoholic, I might have ignored how miserable drinking made me. The many positive changes of sobriety are my anchors. Pretty poolside picture. Kind of makes me sad for like a half a second 😉 Happy back to school to you and yours!

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    • It should be a quarter of a second, although, I will admit to having another half second as I was trudging through the lunch making session, and again at 5:30 am when the alarm went off (my daughter got up 30 minutes ahead of me, and STILL managed to miss the bus, oy vey…). Hope you are transitioning smoothly, K, and I love the image of the positive changes as anchors, I am taking that with me today 🙂

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  6. What a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing your reflections from the morning’s meeting. At three months-ish sober I’m right there, asking myself this question. One answer I know to be wholly right and true for me personally, is that although oftentimes overwhelming, sobriety has brought me a new understanding of happiness. Happy back to school – tomorrow for us! We went to the pool this morning too – but I think a loooong way away from yours! x

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    • So, if I’m doing the math, then back to school is today for you, and I hope it is going splendidly! Three months is a great big deal, and I congratulate you on this milestone. Overwhelming it is indeed, although I can assure you that with time it becomes much, much easier, “second nature” is the best my tired brain can come up with at this precise moment (I’m still adjusting to the back to school schedule!)… I will be trying to sleep tonight and I’m sure I’ll have a better term for you then 🙂

      So glad to get this comment, and so happy to hear that something I wrote struck a chord with you! Happy back to school to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Josie. We often read blogs out here where people question their alcoholism. We see that in the rooms, where people wonder if they’re in the right place. We tend to compare our bottoms, our circumstances, our checklist there you laid out. And find the loopholes. I like the two questions on pg. 44 of the BB:

    “If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.”

    I think we know deep down the answer to this.

    funny, I was going to write something about something similar, but you really nail it here. 🙂

    Hope the kids are having fun at school!

    Paul

    Like

  8. J
    These are the “20 questions” that pretty much covers all the bases.

    http://alcoholism.about.com/library/blalcoholquiz.htm

    Like

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