My computer is undergoing upgrades with varying degrees of success, so posting may be a little intermittent. Sitting with a steaming mug of coffee on an icy brilliant morning, feeling overworked, tired and preoccupied, glad to be sober. The jasmine is breaking into whiteness and an intensely sweet fragrance that makes me sneeze when I sit outdoors. All over the countryside there are toads hopping about with wild abandon because it is the amphibian mating season, honeymoon time for pond-dwellers
My increasingly eccentric and irrational landlord has invited me to his 80th birthday party. In one way I would like to go because I have a sneaking fondness for the old bastard and I believe birthdays are to be celebrated. But I know what will happen because I have seen him in too many social situations — he will have too much wine and exuberantly or belligerently want to discuss his plans for the subdividing of the property with me. And we all know that arguing with drunks is a waste of time. He isn’t alcohol-dependent, but he abuses alcohol on occasion.
Better to send a card and gift and stay away. He will be numbed out, euphoric and ready for a fight, whereas I will be sober, embarrassed and on edge. This kind of dynamic is why it is so often better for those of us in recovery to stay away from people, places and things closely associated with alcohol. The sober and the drunken are not able to communicate together with any depth or subtlety or integrity and the resulting disaster might remind us why we used to need so to get drunk at family reunions or office parties, might make us long to be there again in the hall of distorting mirrors, roaring and loud-voiced drunks together saying things we don’t mean and will have forgotten by the next morning.
Met with some sober friends and we talked about rigidity, the tendency to see everything in black-and-white. I was like that as an active alcoholic, almost pathologically defended because I felt I had so much to lose if I wasn’t right. To be wrong was unthinkable. It was a control issue for me — the world was a scary and threatening place in which I felt helpless and misunderstood. I thought this heightened vulnerability and inflexible way of viewing reality was to do with my innate personality, that I was just an extreme either/or personality, a natural-born victim.
Not so. When I surrendered and stopped thinking I could outwit the part of myself determined to drink at all costs, when I accepted that alcoholism was the winner in every drinking competition I staged, when I admitted my life was unmanageable because I could not control the drinking – something inside me let go. And little by little since then I have come to realise that there is nothing to defend.
And it is a great relief to be just another common-or-garden alcoholic, just another bozo on the bus. Rather than an exceptional and misunderstood drunk with a dazzling future ahead of her and a unmentionable past shrouded in secrecy, and no awareness of the present moment, the here and now.