Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sober Day #61: Powerless over alcohol? NO!!!

The well-known First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is "admitting we are powerless over alcohol".  And the oft-quoted introduction of a new member to a group is "Hi, I'm xxxx, and I am an alcoholic".

I acknowledge that AA has been helpful for many people in coming to grips with/quitting drinking alcohol.  But for me, at least, AA delayed my facing that I was not doing well with alcohol.

First off, I am a Do-It person.  I'm powerless over the weather, or international politics, or what color is fashionable this spring-  but I am NOT powerless over alcohol.  I take full responsibility for my actions.  Nobody ever propped my mouth open and poured wine into it- except myself.  I drank because I thought I needed the respite of wine to deal with the rest of my life.  Yes, there is a genetic predisposition for many, and childhood/family-of-origin issues that make drinking more alluring- but it is ME!  I made the decision TO drink, and I can make the decision NOT TO drink.  I had absolutely no inclination toward joining any organization that told me I was NOT responsible for my own actions.

Secondly:  Ask several hundred people to define 'alcoholic'- and you will receive several hundred different answers.  The most prevalent image seems to be the homeless bum or bag-lady, drinking El Cheapo wine or whiskey, then passing out face down in the gutter in his/her vomit.  This is NOT me.  I am an accomplished professional with a great family and home.  So I reject using the label 'alcoholic'.  I have had problems with alcohol, have been a problem drinker, maybe even alcohol-dependent at one point.  But I WILL NOT call myself an alcoholic.

Third, there's all that 'turning oneself over to a higher power' stuff.  I am a deeply spiritual person, but not particularly religious, and also found that language to be a turn-off.

Like many other people, I thought my two options were to continue drinking or to join AA.  Neither appealed to me much, but AA was worse than continuing to drink.  Imagine my surprise- and delight- over the past two months to have discovered a vibrant on-line sober community.

I crossed my two personal 'red lines' for alcohol in a single day, and said, that's it, I'm done for a while.  How long that would have lasted I don't know- maybe a week or two?  But I came across Belle's 100 Day Challenge, and found that finite goal of 100 days (not stopping drinking forever, just committing to a little more than three months) to be a do-able goal.  Through Belle's blog, I have 'met' so many others on similar journeys of exploration. I take pleasure in giving encouragement to those in their first few days or weeks, and find great meaning and help in the posts of those who are many months or years into their sober journey.

At a guess, I'd say that thinking AA was the only alternative to continuing to drink probably delayed by 5+ years my deciding to make a change in my relationship with alcohol.  I think the existence of this sober online community and countless other options for help in stopping for cutting down on drinking need to be much more widely known.  That is, assuming we have a common goal of helping ourselves and anyone else we come into contact with to be the best, most fulfilled person they are capable of being!

I'm still not sure exactly what I will do after these 100 days.  I know I will never go back to a bottle or wine or more every evening!  I am becoming far too fond of excellent restful sleep, a clear head and an energetic step to go back to that drowsy, foggy, semi-grumpy place.  But neither do I think I can live with:  Never Ever Ever will a Drop of Alcohol Cross these Lips.

So I will see what I find out, what I develop-  and continue to record my experiences here, where I have sworn to myself to include nothing but my absolute truth!


  1. I totally agree with you on this. Taking responsibility for my drinking has probably been the most positive step I've taken in a long time because it has made me really look at it carefully. Interestingly, I completed the 100 day challenge and like you, was not sure I was ready for "forever". It has been a slow slide back to the point where I am thinking of recommitting to another 100 days and then possibly a year. My drinking is not worse than it was before, in fact it is probably a little "better", but it is still bothering me. I am starting to question whether maybe it would be easier to just stop for good... I will follow with interest to see where this takes you.

    1. TJ- It may be for me that thinking of some form of moderation is just wishful thinking, wanting to have my cake (sobriety) and eat it (drink alcohol) too. What I've learned so far, though, is world-shaking for me: I don't need alcohol every evening in order to continue my life, and I CAN have fun without alcohol. Someone who's never had problems with alcohol might snicker at these- but for me they are major discoveries. And you are right, I may just find it is easier to stop for good. Time will tell!

      Congratulations on your 1st hundred days, and best wishes with the next challenge!

  2. Interesting Carrie. I still don't know the answer to this one as when I am actively drinking I feel pretty powerless to stop. I don't consider myself an alcoholic either because, having worked on an alcoholic liver disease ward, for me that is a person with a physical dependency. I definitely had a psychological dependency but it was never physical. Others would argue that this is just semantics! But like you I believe in self-determination so I do have the choice - and right now that choice is drinking or not drinking. I wonder if there is a third way too but am not sure if that is just wolfie speak or wishful thinking on my part. The thing is alcohol is a toxic drug like many others peddled by corporations in their rose-tinted marketing view of the world so for me it is more than just me and drink. I'm at day 100 today and will be continuing from here. Forever - that I don't know but definitely for a full year.

  3. Lucy- I have a feeling that I will eventually come to the point of maybe some wine just every once in a while- But for that to work, it has to be an organic choice, not something I force on myself. I think. But as you say, that may be just Wolfie trying to claim a spot in my brain. My reading of these wonderful blogs suggests that most (who continue to blog, anyway, lol) who try moderation eventually come to total or near-total abstinence. And there is that 'Sober is the new Black' attitude, that makes it very satisfying to say, Oh, No thanks, I don't drink! So bottom line for me: I am a process, in evolution. But that being truthful with myself? That is non-negotiable for me!

    HUGE congratulations on Day #100!! Please keep posting- I love reading your blog!

  4. I wrote a very similar draft yesterday morning, with the exception of moderating my drink. I went down that road and failed miserably. I'm jealous of those who can moderate and wish I could. That's the beauty of the blogging world vs the meeting world - it isn't cookie cutter.

    Hope your day is fabulous!

    1. Two minds pondering the same dilemma. Someday when you have the time, it would be very helpful to me to hear some details of how your last moderation attempt didn't work well. I will be experimenting with this myself, and probably coming to the same conclusion!

  5. It seems like you have a strong sense of control. That is a good thing, because you won’t easily get yourself taken over by the influence of alcohol. Others might think that it’s easier said than done, but it will always be yourself that can make the first move to avoid getting swayed by the effects of alcohol.

    Donnie Benson @ Midwest Institute


I'd love to hear about your journey, and hear your take on my journey. Comments are very welcome!!