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.


claud said...

mumble grumble over here... %)
(that's my picasso face, by the way)


claud said...

and by the way, I love this post.



Olivia said...


Thank you for the link to the 16 Step program. I had never heard of it before. I had always disliked the "I am powerless over" part of the 12 Step program, because I don't believe it at all. I appreciate it, Olivia

Angela said...


When I saw you, I had not seen your second post. bah. growl back at ya.

Love you!

Angela said...


I highly recommend her book, "Many Roads, One Journey." She gives voice to so many things I found difficult to define. I really love her work.

John Eaton said...

Righteous post, Angela.

Cukes and maters, some oil and vinegar, salt pepper to taste, maybe some onions (and a little fresh dill).

And some hoecakes.

And from Africa, "Wherever you go, crocodile, your home is still the river."

Keep shinin',


Angela said...

Thanks, John :)

Sheri said...

I think #6 is a hard one ... wow.... i think whether your an alcoholic or not these are steps we all need to think about and try to apply to our lives....

amy said...

Hi Angela, I'll comment... if'n you don't mind... I think you're right, in so many ways I think it can be terribly debilitating to focus too acutely on the negative. Unfortunately, when some people hear you say that, they think you’re also suggesting that it is alright to ignore that behaviour, somehow condoning it or giving yourself a free pass… But I think (perhaps?) you’ll agree with me in that… there are no free passes in a horribly painful situation like dealing with alcoholism, most people in that situation are terribly cruel to themselves. I think the more positive spin on healing is much better. Thanks for you post, I’m very glad I stopped by.

Angela said...

Thanks, Sheri and Amy. I'm very glad you stopped by, too. :)