As I was drinking orange juice and eating my guavas this morning, watching my housemate spatchcock a free-range chicken with a heavy sharp cleaver I dare not use in my clumsiness, I heard a radio talk show host interviewing the US-based counsellor at a local rehab centre.
The rehab man was a very smooth talker.
‘You see, y’all, he said genially, ‘the real hurdle is just that awful detox and we can ease you into nirvana and untangle all the knots in the psyche that put you there is the first place. Addiction is not where you want to be. I lost a really good wie and three kids to my addiction and I owe my happiness with my new wife to going to a really professional rehab centre and letting the experts take over. After that I was a butter fly out of a cocoon, free at last. Like Nelson Mandela.’
This metaphor appealed hugely to the radio interviewer. ‘Free as a butterfly! That is wonderful news!’
‘You see Rethabile,’ explained the genial rehab man whom I was starting to detest with a bitter bronchial antipathy. ‘Why suffer? If the drugs or booze aren’t working for you any more you need a new high, and we can give you that! We can infuse you with renewed passion for your life. One of our clients has just become a tennis coach in Palm Beach, teaching the celebs how to ace those serves! Nothing to it!’
I could have taken the little meat cleaver away from my housemate and shown the rehab promotions expert something about suffering. But instead I just sighed and put myself back to bed with a copy of the BB.
The Doctor’s Opinion has a good comment on communicating with the still suffering alcoholic.
”Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives’
I am lucky in that after drinking myself to the point of death over the course of nearly 30 years, I did not think it would be a cinch to sober up. I did not believe it could be done painlessly. I did not believe anyone else could do it all for me with a little rehab pampering. I was fortunate in that I did not have to detox or sit in rehab for months while the debts mounted. I was able to walk into an AA meeting and never drink again.
But I had to live with myself and that was quite a challenge. I could not have stayed sober or embarked on a new way of living without AA. That solidity of being grounded in the Rooms has held me in place despite my geographical isolation and mistakes, poor judgment calls, setbacks and crises. The depth and weight of what AA has to offer drunks like me has enabled me to trust in a higher power and recreate my life in trust and togetherness.
This is what stays after the frothy emotional appeals have dispersed like foam on a beach.