Is there something else I need to admit I’m powerless over? Because I’m starting to get the distinct feeling that there’s more wrong here than just uncontrollable drinking.
Step One: we admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Yes, it’s true: my drinking was but a symptom. I was using it to cover up deeper mental and emotional issues. I recognize now that my problem lies not in keeping the bottle at bay, but also in my ability to accept things as the are, keeping things right-sized, and letting go of things I cannot change.
But before I drank anything ever, I was already on the road to, or possibly in the midst of, a nervous breakdown. Had the concept of seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist been something the average person did in the mid-1980’s, I’m pretty sure I would have been diagnosed with some combination of bipolar disorder and/or depression. It was written off as teenage angst at the time, and so now it’s mutated into what, a mid-life crisis?
It’s been said that once you stop drinking, you regress back to the age you were when you first picked up. For me, that was eighteen. I never drank in high school, because I was too unpopular to attend any “cool” parties, too alienated to even hang with the outsiders who lit up behind the bleachers, and too full of self-hate to do anything but walk along the railroad tracks in solitude, reading aloud from Camus’ The Stranger. Seriously, that’s some pretty thick self-indulgent shit, don’t you think? I mean, as far as cries for help go, that’s overacting with a capital “O”.
I’m not trying to discount what I’ve learned in the program: it straight-up saved my life. I still attend three meetings a week, and I still get tons of benefits from the fellowship and listening to the wisdom of others. But I feel like I’ve still got bad wiring, even though I’m learning not to overload my fusebox.
Maybe it’s just a matter of doubling-down, of attending six meetings a week, calling more people, reading, praying and meditating more, and working with my sponsor on a consistent basis. Maybe I’m looking for a softer, easier way, and blaming it on undiagnosed mental disorders is a way to do that. Maybe I’m looking to simply trade my self-regulating drinking schedule for the latest and greatest in pill technology. Maybe. We’ll see.
So, for starters, it’s baby steps in the form of seeing a psychologist. I’ve got things inside my head that aren’t going away when I share them with another human being and my Higher Power. It’s not deep, dark secrets that are eating me from the inside; it’s my brain’s inability to keep things in perspective, and how often my thoughts and reactions are scaring me and those around me. So, more help’s got to be better than less, right?
I’m still going to increase the things that worked early on in the program; again, maybe it’s just becoming rote and I need to hear them fresh and new, perhaps through working with a sponsee. Whatever the answer is, and whatever balance I find, know that it’s a work in progress, as long as I work it.