“An alcoholic is someone who can violate his standards faster than he can lower them.” – Robin Williams
Most people don’t know, don’t notice, and don’t care.
Most people don’t remember, or want to, because they have their own issues to deal with and their own problems to solve.
Alcoholism is no more or less deadly than any other addiction.
There is a small bit of dread I feel each year as this date approaches. I want to write something important, or profound, or helpful – something I’ve learned, something I can pass along, something that might be helpful to someone else struggling as I once was, and as I still am. I expect, for all of us with a substance abuse/addiction element of our lives, it’s a never-ending story!
As that dread fades into this day, I realize I don’t have much to offer; probably less than on any other day when I am observing something about the world or about my world – not knowing what to say to anyone who might struggle beyond: STOP THAT. The way you might scold a child or admonish a good friend who has lost their way.
I spent most of my early life unaware that a boundary was anything beyond a line on a map. When I sobered up (33 yrs. ago today), I had not yet learned the concept. That began a few months later when someone asked me about boundaries, and I was confused.
Discussion and a few book recommendations followed, and my education began. My learning about sobriety and about boundaries are intertwined – and I’m not sure they should be or are inherently so, just coincidently so. But the reading I’ve done on the subject suggests that fuzzy or absent boundaries are common among ACAO (adult children of alcoholics – which I am). The more I learned about my sober life, it became painfully clear for me.
Since then, I’ve changed my habits in so many areas that I truly believe I’m a different person. Some recent evidence proves I’m still difficult to deal with for some; some people like me, some don’t. I learned a long time ago that I can’t get someone to like me because I want them to, but sometimes it would be helpful …
We all live our lives on display – for all to see, displaying our face, our body, and our taste in clothing. We open our mouths and present our voice, our tone, our attitude, and our I.Q.
We reveal what we choose to reveal. We hide what we decide not to disclose, which is not to say we keep secrets as much as it is to say we keep private. Those who never speak or write remain more private than others. Those of us who speak and write fall into two groups; those who have and understand boundaries and those who don’t.
Everyone’s story is different, everyone’s path is their own, everyone’s ditch is filled with crap and mud and water. Everyone’s ditch is just as profoundly emotionally deep for them, as mine was for me; we cannot judge the sober person differently from the drunk – the only one who can judge is the person on the inside looking outward fearing every fear, feeling every pain, and feeling more alone than lost – though lost, we absolutely are.
I am sometimes congratulated by friend for my sobriety – and they marvel at how long, but that isn’t a credential I should rest on, or make more of than it was. The tough time for me has not been in staying sober, not by any measure, when compared with getting sober. The hellish time was the last year of my drinking life; worst of all, that six months before I quit – that was the worst time of my life, during which I came horribly close to ending my life. I didn’t. I got sober. The first few weeks were hard in terms of questioning whether I could stay sober, and doing so in silence – not so much out fear for telling anyone, but more for fear of telling them and finding later that I couldn’t stay sober. I know it sounds a little crazy and self-centered … it was, and I am. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much why I am sober, or why I stayed that way – it just matters that I am.