My biggest bug bear with AA has been how I perceived it to be that I was presented with two, and only two, options: follow the program to the letter or try relying on will power (the latter always spoken with a raised eyebrow, a knowing look “get it” and followed by a chuckle). I have tried so hard to “get it” and I’m still waiting. I am fully open to the possibility that I’m just too dumb to understand it, or not open to understanding it. I think I am. I try to be. I am not to my knowledge hiding anything, nor do I tell lies. Perhaps it just takes time before the penny drops. So I’ll be patient. I’m not ready for a new sponsor yet – actually, I’m not sure that’s true as I am one hundred gazillion million percent ready to commit to sobriety and live happy ever after, but was so put off that I’m leaving it for a while. The right time and the right sponsor will come along, I’m sure. I like fate, it’s been pretty good to me so I’m sure it’ll once again deliver, I have trust.
What just popped into my head was a bit from the Big Book that I was reading this morning. I woke up really early so grabbed the Big Book and my morning coffee (which, by the way, continues to be my absolute favourite thing) and sat reading on the sofa in hubby’s dressing gown as the world outside slowly woke up. I just love mornings and in particular that time of day. I sat there like that yesterday too as I got up with hubby who had an early flight to catch. But anyway, what came up (as it often does) was how we all tried will power and failed. We = us alcoholics. I think though that when it’s talked about in the Big Book it refers to how we fail at controlling our alcohol intake most of all, i.e. we intend to just have the one drink but end up in black-out over and over again, but it does also talk about how to stay sober you stay in AA. It does have a slightly ominous ring to it I find. Do this or you shall be massively, thoroughly, spectacularly fucked with bells and whistles.
So. As I tend to do, I thought about it. Of course, I was advised by my ex-sponser to NOT think and maybe one day I’ll learn to think less but that day is not today. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing I don’t know. Actually I don’t care, because I’m sober and I’m happy about that.
Here is a definition of what using will power means in terms of stopping yourself from doing something:
“To exercise will-power is to actively try not to do the thing that you really want to do.”
And therein lies the answer to sobriety for me: I’m sober but I’m not using any will power whatsoever because I don’t want to drink anymore. I’ve said it before, but I imagine if I felt deprived somehow I’d still crave a drink and find being sober a real shitter. But I don’t. I have yet to find one single draw back to not drinking apart from discovering my day job is a slight waste of time when I’m forgetting to focus on its advantages. It was never about the reasons why I shouldn’t drink, I’ve not needed to give much thought to how bad it was getting, how it’d eventually kill me and how shitty I used to feel (mornings were nowhere NEAR as wonderful with hangovers). Those are of course all very good reasons not to drink, I’m not saying otherwise, but I’ve never drunk because of the reasons I shouldn’t. Hey, this thing will kill me, how splendid, pour me another please, butler!
I drank because I thought it would give me something: add glitter to a good mood mostly. Up until quite recently (obviously – I’ve only been sober seven weeks) I still thought that those first few drinks were glittery. But they’re not and they never were. They added absolutely ZERO. Nor did any drink ever ACTUALLY relax me after a stressful day. Those were all illusions. Heck, I always wanted to drink dirty martinis because of James Bond alone – never mind that it tastes like shit. Anyway, alcohol is packaged and sold to us with imagery of sophistication, success and sexiness. It’s everywhere. You’d be fucking weird if you grew up in the parts of the world where alcohol isn’t banned e.g. because of religion and didn’t think it came with benefits.
So I think that’s starting to untangle the frustration I’ve felt each time I’ve felt like the AA mantras seem to suggest working the program as the only option next to will power, which of course doesn’t work. It’s made me feel quite confused because why in God’s name would I need will power to not do something I don’t actually want to do? Oh look, a freshly shat pile of dog shit, mm… yummy… maybe just a tiny bit… NO! NO! Don’t do it! Must be strong! I often have little monologues – OK sometimes they’re dialogues too – in my head but that’s one I’m yet to have. I think that’s part of addiction, although I can only really refer to nicotine and alcohol given my knowledge of other addictions is slim to none. How it will be incredibly difficult to give up something you perceive as beneficial. And bloody hell, imagine alcohol (or another addictive drug) providing some relief you desperately need somehow. I can live without a bit of illusionary glitter but suspect that if it was something I felt I relied on to get me through the day then I’m sure it’s a whole different ball game.
Anyway. I don’t want to drink so I’m not drinking. I have zero self discipline by the way, and I’m also really stubborn so a ‘no’ usually means I want something more. All things taboo become desirable almost by default. Actually, that’s not entirely true – if someone told me I can’t have any dog shit I still wouldn’t want to anyway, but you know what I mean. And it’s proven too, did you know that? I can’t now remember the source as it’s over 20 years ago, but they’d done research on the link between the availability of porn and sex crime and found that in countries where porn is freely available (hurrah Scandinavia, I salute you!) there were generally lower rates of sex crime. Of course there are lots of other factors and I don’t think you can prove that the chilled attitude to a bit of bangin’ is why we seem to have fewer sexual offenders (I moved, obviously, so that’s one less) in Sweden but it was an interesting study nevertheless. Part of it was to show how where porn was banned or very restricted, it became more desirable. Something like that.
What I was getting at is that I have no self control if I want something and telling me I can’t have the thing I want only serves to make me want it more. If you’d known me when I was still drinking and had tried to slow my pace you’d know immediately what I’m saying.
So it’s lucky really, that I no longer feel there are reasons to drink. Even if I still believed the glitter illusion to be true I don’t think it’d be enough because these mornings and feeling the way I do is FUCKING HEAVEN and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
Today I’m not going to drink because I can’t see any reason to.