This week, we are reposting a marvelous article from the Good Life blog. It is entitled, “Why Would Someone Who’s ‘Doing Fine’ Turn to AA?”––great question, don’t you think? You may read the original post here.
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
Why Would Someone Who’s “Doing Fine” Turn to AA?
I am not one of the Old Timers nor am I qualified to say with great humility, “I’ve been sober for a few days and…” (in my experience people only say that after more than 10 years’ sobriety). I am also not one of the Low Bottom drunks that I’ve heard of. I wasn’t living under a bridge or homeless. I didn’t even lose any part of my family, my job, money or standing in the community.
My loss was not external and obvious. I am thankful to have found AA because my loss and my disease were still insidiously hidden: hidden from my friends, colleagues, and family. It was a loss that no one could see or diagnose for me. It wasn’t that obvious to outsiders. It was, in fact, so hidden that even I didn’t know about it. I would have said that I was ‘doing fine’. Unhappy sometimes, elated sometimes, ambitious sometimes, tired sometimes. Just like everyone else. But I was fine.
Add to that, I was having the best experiences of my life. I had been taking road trips, exploring retreat sites, cruising, flying to exotic sounding places for business and speaking in front of thousands across the country. As one colleague said to me, “You’re livin’ the dream!”
I was. Or at least I thought I was… until one morning when I woke up and gathered my wine bottles together and headed out to the locked garage where I placed the empties in the trunk. As I passed the front of the car I saw that the driver’s seat was reclined. I remember I stopped and stared at the seat. Why was it reclined? As I stood there I realized that I couldn’t remember the last part of my evening. Did I come out to the garage in the night? Why would I recline the seat? I really didn’t know. I didn’t remember doing that. But the garage was locked. I must have.
That made me start to think as I walked slowly back to the house. I’ve struggled with depression from time to time and was then taking an anti-depressant. I hadn’t had any conscious thoughts of ‘ending it’. But on the other hand, I had arranged to have the garage door fixed so it would be more air-tight and the idea had come into my mind a time or two that I could easily get out of this life by asphyxiation. Any other kind of suicide sounded too scary, but that would have been my method if I ever got desperate enough.
Was I depressed? Was I losing my mind–arranging the garage to be more air-tight as a back-up plan? I didn’t want to die! I had everything to live for. There were some things I didn’t like about my life, but nothing that made me desperate.
I sat at my scarred antique table in the sun room and pondered the previous night as I looked towards the garage. I remembered my best friend had confronted me late in the evening. We were both upset and I’d written down the list of complaints she expressed so that I could look at them later. I remembered drinking more than a bottle of wine. Two? Less? Maybe I was drunk. I didn’t know.
What’s drunk? No one in my family really drank. I grew up in a house without alcohol, so my alcohol information was limited. As my alcoholic consumption rose, I’d asked my best friend if she thought I drank too much and she had said, “you don’t drink as much as I do.” True. So I dropped it. (Note: Of course she had no idea how much I drank at night.)
Wanting to know more, I turned on the computer and Googled alcoholic to see if the definition fit me. Of course, what came up was a list of links to Alcoholics Anonymous. I followed the first link, still looking for a definition…gave it my zip code and up popped a list of AA meetings in my town.
Scanning the list, looking for one nearby, I saw that in 15 minutes a downtown meeting was going to begin. Impulsively I got my coat. Surely one of them could define it for me and tell me if that was the problem. Probably not… so I anticipated later crossing that off my list and calling my doctor to tell him my meds need to be adjusted.
Later, the 5 women who took me out after the meeting explained that the reason I couldn’t remember going to the garage and trying to asphyxiate myself, was that I was having a black-out. They did not call me an alcoholic but they shared enough of their own stories that I started to feel like they really understood me. Total strangers; but they knew.
That’s how I found AA in 2007. I’m so grateful it was there for me. I discovered that though I had not lost the tangibles of life: family, friends, home or prestige, I had lost my ability to live fully, enjoy ordinary moments and experience peace. I had forfeited my ability to assess life and experience reality, to deal with pain and joy sanely, to have the freedom to just be. I had lost more than something like a job, I had lost myself.