Radical Recovery. That's the term Lillian and Murdoch MacDonald use in their book, Phoenix in a Bottle, for their recovery from alcoholism. Why is it radical? It's radical because despite all the commonly accepted beliefs that society has been fed about alcoholism, these two people found a way up and out of it and they feel no need to abstain from the occasional libation. Among the beliefs they have discarded are the following:'
Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
Alcoholism is an incurable, progressive and fatal disease.
The only way to recover from alcoholism is through abstinence.
All alcoholics are egocentric, ruthless and care only for themselves.
If you're lucky and you confess all your character defects and all the rotten things you've done in your life, you may have a spiritual awakening which will grant you a daily reprieve from alcoholism. However, it is always there, waiting in the wings to once again take control of your life and lay it to waste.
I've been dancing around this issue for awhile now for several reasons; not the least of which was the vitriol directed at me when I admitted to a drinking episode several weeks ago. But the time has come for me to take a stand and I'm finally ready to do it.
In the past few weeks, I, too, have discarded all the beliefs listed above. It's been a painful, sometimes excruciating, but ultimately liberating process. I've ridden the jagged edge of every belief I ever swallowed - hook, line and sinker - without ever asking msyelf if it was true for me.
I've raged and cried and yes, I've even gotten good and drunk a couple of times, but I've continued to ruthlessly examine every single concept I once held as true. As I've done so, I've released myself from guilt that never belonged to me; I've found honor and respect for the hard journey I've been on and I've stepped into the full essence of what it means to be me, Angela, here on this planet at this time. In the process, I've experienced drinking as an enjoyable accompaniment to life - as something I can choose to do without fear of slipping into full blown alcoholism. I finally get what they mean when they say that the power we need lies within. It's always been there, but it had to be excavated - slowly, painstakingly and with great tenderness.
And yes, it's an ongoing process, but I feel I'm through the bulk of it and am ready to begin sharing it - without fear of retribution - without regret. Because it just might be possible that someone else out there could use a fresh message around this problem. And if one person could be saved years of needless suffering, well, that would be good enough for me.
My goal is no longer abstinence from alcohol. I am joining Lillian and Murdoch in being satisfied with nothing less than Radical Recovery.