Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department
I could depend on it; and it never let me down. No matter what happened during the day, or night, no matter how badly things went, or well, I knew things would end up the same way, me, floating on a cloud of inebriation. I used to convince myself that the level of intoxication that I found most comfortable was simply my genetic makeup letting me know it was okay to achieve it. The fact that I was only comfortable until well after I became intoxicated was irrelevant, I truly believed that I deserved the escape that I had the option of providing for myself.
Now that my thinking has cleared considerably; 18 years of sobriety helped achieve that, I am able to see just how odd my behavior was. A “level of intoxication” is probably the most ridiculous phrase I ever invented. There was no adequate level of intoxication; there was just good old fashioned drunkenness.
An active alcoholic can actually believe that he has control over the substance that he craves, but he most certainly does not.
Little head games we play allow us the luxury to avoid the truth; we drink. We drink a lot. We drink too much. And every one of us knows it.
I knew it, and also knew that I did not want to live without it. It was my adult sized security blanket. No matter what happened during the day, and things do happen to alcoholics just like everybody else, I knew that by day’s end any pain, guilt, joy, disappointment, sorrow or regret would be wrapped up in a neat little package that always felt the same. Numb. I was able to cope with the crippling feelings brought on by my behaviors be making them go away. Every night, night after night.
When my drinking became habitual I existed in a constant state of turmoil that could only be abated by doing the very thing that caused the conflict. Living in a continual state of guilt, relief, guilt, relief and on and on completely destroyed my ability to simply exist, and be able to appreciate the simple nuances that make a day worth getting up for. If I wasn’t drinking, I was thinking of drinking. I did not accept the possibility that it could be any other way.
Well, there is another way, and sometimes we need another human being to show us that way. Alcoholic thinking is simple, brutal, effective and deadly. We think ourselves into a corner, and convince ourselves there is no way out. We wallow in our misery, believing that we are somehow different from the rest of the world, and will never, ever belong to it. When we only talk to ourselves, and we are in the throes of addiction, we are essentially talking to an idiot.
The greatest gift an idiot can give to himself is a spark of hope. Hope may come to those who wait patiently, or drunkenly, but many lives have been wasted waiting for it. Hope is readily available to all who want it; the secret is to take want a step further, and to seek it. The first step toward finding hope is by opening ourselves up to the possibility that we deserve a chance of tasting it. And the most effective way for us to feel it is by talking to another person who understands even a tiny bit of what we experience.
The average person does not understand addiction, nor should they. Ours is not their burden to bear. Confiding in somebody, and trusting them with your desire to get sober who does not have addiction experience or treatment training is akin to walking through a minefield. They probably care, and likely wish us well, and definitely believe that addiction is a quick, simple fix; avoid the things you are addicted to. They will not be able to offer strategies, resources or understanding. There is a very good chance you will let them down, and yourself down as well, and stay in limbo far longer than needed.
Our addictions are complex, just as the thoughts we have nurtured feeding those addictions are. Thinking our way out of the maze we created gets easier when somebody who gets it gives us direction. A seed of thought provided by somebody who knows exactly what to plant grows into effective coping strategies. When our thinking becomes directed toward the solution, rather than dwelling on our problem, true healing begins, and the road toward sustained sobriety opens wide.
Casting away the chains that bind us, hitting the throttle wide open and finally experiencing the life we imagine, free of addiction is not only possible, with the proper help, it is obtainable.
No sense waiting for it to happen, daylight is burning, and there is a lot of life to be lived.