Like with any habit, good or bad, it takes a while for them to become ingrained. I didn’t start off with a drinking regimen that ate up over half my waking hours; that had to be achieved over time. Repetition was required. Dedication.
Step 12: having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
So why did I expect the habit to unspool itself once I acknowledged the problem? Well, because naming it isn’t enough. I mean, I knew what the problem was long before I attempted any countermeasures. This is the period where the disease got stronger and stronger while I kept nodding and telling myself that I’d better watch out; this might be something serious. And this is the lie I told myself: It’s fine; tomorrow I’ll start slowing down and cutting back. Tomorrow I won’t start until the afternoon.
Of course, tomorrow never came, and the pattern continued until I was far beyond the ability to stop on my own. Now I had a habit I was aware of, didn’t want, and was afraid that I’d eventually kill myself and/or others. Knowledge was not enough. I mean, I repeated Step One to myself on a daily basis; every time I headed into a convenience store or gas station the word “alcoholic” bounced through my head as my body did what it needed to do: get more liquor to put inside itself. That’s what moves “habit” into the world of “addiction”.
Finally, after years of banging my head against the wall, I was able to take Step One to the next level: I told somebody. Actually, I told a bunch of strangers. I went to a meeting and sat down among people who went on to tell various versions of my story, my pain, my destruction. I had found my people!
Fast forward a few years and a pair of slips later and it’s still a habit I need to break, even if I’m not actively drinking. It’s all the stuff that surrounded my drinking that still exists: my resentments, my wrong-sized thinking, my self-centeredness, my fear. These are the things that keep my disease just below the surface. These are the things that Steps 2 – 12 are designed to expunged, depending on how hard I’m willing to work.
Today: Recognize that the harder I work the program, the less intense my habits are.