Saturday, September 15, 2007
Once You're a Pickle
You can never go back to being a cucumber.
I think there are a lot of myths out there about alcoholism, not the least of which is that there is a specific "alcoholic personality". But this I believe is true -once we've crossed that oh so mysterious line that differentiates alcoholism, we don't ever go back. God knows I've tried. Some people firmly believe that they were born with alcoholism and I've often wondered if I am one. Some obviously drink themselves into it. Some succumb after difficult life events send them running to the bottle for relief. But it really doesn't matter, because across the board, it seems that once you're an alcoholic, you're an alcoholic. There will be no more social drinking, no more wine with dinner, no more nightcaps.
This can be a hard pill to swallow - especially in a society like ours where drinking is glamourized and where, unfortunately, a stigma still exists that there is something morally awry with us alcoholics. While it's certainly true that we may do some morally reprehensible things while drinking, I don't think this is limited to alcoholics, everyone does crazy things while they're under the influence. And I guess this is why the 4th step of Alcoholics Anonymous bugs me no end. It states: "We took a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Now the statement itself is not disagreeable to me; it wouldn't be a bad thing for everyone to do on occasion. It's the emphasis later on in the book about focusing on our shortcomings and character defects. Yeah, yeah, I know it says something about listing the good things, but that's not where the emphasis lies.
Is it possible that some alcoholics seeking recovery might be better served by placing the emphasis on their good qualities, on what they've done and are doing right in life? I find myself increasingly attracted to Charlotte Kasl's sixteen step program. The 4th, 5th and 6th steps of her program are as follows: 4. We examine our beliefs, addictions, and dependent behavior in the context of living in a hierarchal, patriarchal culture. 5. We share with another person and the Universe all those things inside us for which we feel shame and guilt. 6. We affirm and enjoy our strengths, talents, and creativity, striving not to hide these qualities to protect other's egos. It gets you to the same place, but the emphasis isn't on what is so terribly wrong with us. The extra step - #6, seems to create a balance that is sorely missing.
Just some cucumber for thought on a Saturday morning.
Posted by Angela at 7:12 AM