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.

One thought on “again and again and again.

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