Yesterday, as I was coming out of a lunchtime meeting In a nearby market town, a newly sober woman stopped me and asked me to help her.
We went up the road to sit amongst borders of marguerites and astrantia and honey-scented buddleia., drinking tea and eating a delicious buttery cake or biscuit. I talked about Step One and listened to her quibble and argue with herself. More tea, more biscuits!
‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.’
So simple and so obvious. But for years I cherished the idea that I was only powerless sometimes and did not like to think that my life’s unmanageability was linked to a daily habit of drinking to excess. I wouldn’t admit that alcohol was my solution and escape and drug, that to go anywhere or any length of time without alcohol made me miserable. That alcohol helped me push aside all the distress and urgency I sometimes felt about so much going wrong in my life, the disappointment and procrastination and missed opportunities, the health scares, the loneliness and failure to sustain relationships.
And until I was ready to say that the unmanageability of a sorry excuse for a life was somehow connected to being powerless over alcohol, nothing and nobody could help me. I was unable to save my own life. I still wanted to be able to drink. I didn’t want to stop, didn’t feel I had to stop.
Looking back now I can see that the illusion of choice was just delusion. I needed alcohol because I was trapped in alcoholism, had no idea of being able to live without alcohol. It was only possible to go without alcohol for any length of time if I knew there would be drinking at the end of the temporary abstinence.
And yesterday I was so grateful to feel free within — no craving, no fighting myself within my head ( that endless internal squabbling!) about drinking or not-drinking, no shame, no sense of being unable to cope, no muddle, no unwellness. I could sit and be present and just listen. Bringing her back to the same points again and again, but lovingly.
The choice is hers — the effort is hers. But if she reaches out for a helping hand I am more than happy to be there for her. Everything can only get better in sobriety. All I can share is what worked for me: and hope she wants the same miracle in her life.