Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Drinking Experiment or Back to the Subject at Hand

The time has come for me to admit that my drinking experiment is not working and to practice abstinence. I haven't hit a bottom or gotten in trouble with the law or reached a physical dependence on alcohol. But the encouragement I felt a few months back has been replaced by a growing sense of once again being caught in the throes of an addiction that at the very least is not good for me physically, mentally or spiritually. That seems like a good place to stop, doesn't it?

I'm not setting myself a goal of a certain amount of time abstinent nor am I saying I'm quitting forever. I'm stopping now because it's not working for me and because I feel the presence of a grace working with me that will make it possible for me to stop successfully at this time.

My goal with this experiment was to learn to drink moderately and if you wanted to call the experiment a failure because that hasn't happened, you surely can. I envision moderation as being truly able to take it or leave it and not having to work at moderation by counting drinks or inflicting rules on oneself, which never seem to work with an addiction. I know people who have been truly healed who are able to drink moderately - they all have a couple of things in common that I've noticed. One - their goal was not to learn to drink moderately at the time. Two - they practiced a long period of abstinence in which they focused solely on their psychological and spiritual growth and the healing of their addiction was a by-product of that work.

It's been hard to reach this decision because the addiction has not reached the depths of self-destruction that it has in the past and many times I was able to moderate. But moderating has become increasingly difficult and lately, more often than not, I just can't keep it to a minimum. Once I introduce the substance into my system, I lose the ability to have any control over it. In 12-step groups they call that powerlessness with the flip side of the coin being that surrender to that powerlessness is the way to empowerment. That's where I am. I do not have the power with my unaided will to control my drinking. I have no intention at this time to attend 12-step meetings. I will seek my support through friends, family, the internet, but mostly from the grace that I feel infusing this decision.

I'm glad I tried. I gained a lot from the experiment even though I'm abandoning it. But for now I really have just become a better-adjusted alcoholic. That wasn't the goal. It's Day 1.


Anybeth said...

I'm glad you wrote this post. I hope that if my drinking gets out of hand again I will have the grace and wisdom to acknowledge it and take the steps necessary to remain healthy.
I'm proud of you.

thailandchani said...

I'm glad you tried it, too. That is the only way we really find out and become convinced that something does or doesn't work.

Olivia said...

Me, too. And don't you think that this process of finding your way may take you down different paths at different times? Good for you for having the courage to do what's best for you right now---no matter what anyone else's judgment is of it. That takes guts Angela, and to be honest and to have integrity about it. Kudos. Keep on with "Be[ing] Brave"! Love, O xxoo

Lisa said...

Day 1 with lots of love and a host of friends who believe in you and admire you. xoxoxox

Angela said...

Thanks everyone. O - yes, different paths at different time - and the beat goes on. :)

Island Girl Spirit said...

I started reading your blog a couple of months ago. Googled "recovery without A.A. " If you'd like read my blog entry "Sobriety". . .
You are an awesome writer! Thank-you for your sharing.

I don't believe there is such a thing as failure.
We are all doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing. Maybe "others" view that as failure, but that's their shit!
I feel that I could probably monitor my drinking at this point but, for whatever reasons, I just don't have a desire to drink today. I can get that rush from life, sometimes, and the rest of the time I just am walking through the mud!
Anyway, I really honor your process . . .
Blessings, Kel

Beverly Keaton Smith said...

yes, failure is not failure, only feedback. What a gutsy woman you are Angela....experimenting and following the path your heart leads you on...and knowing what you want in your life and how you want to be with life ... and having the gumption to create that for yourself...minute by minute, step by step. Wow!

Lori said...

I don't know anything about alcoholism but I would hazard to guess that you have made remarkable progress in handling your addiction if you can see when you are starting that slide down the slippery slope and not at the bottom of it.

jgp187 said...

Having just discovered your blog and attempting to stay sober without AA or any other program, I must ask, will you continue your blog?

I hope so!

Angela said...

Island Girl - I'll head right over to your blog. Thanks for reading and for the feedback.

Beverly - maybe more good common sense than gumption, or that grace I mentioned.

Lori - Yes, I have made tremendous progress, but I still wasn't where I wanted to be with it.

JPG - Yes, I will continue the blog! Thank you for visiting.

Diva Carla said...

Thank you for keeping us posted on your eclectic recovery, honestly! I am glad you have the self awareness to know you don't like the way things are, and take a step to change it.

We, your readers, are your witnesses, and co-creators.

Thank you for bringing us on the journey.

claudia said...

I am so awed by your courage, to say nothing of your ability -- to express this on your precious blog.

I love you, A!

Rick Hamrick said...

How about this label: you are Angela, who has decided for now not to consume alcohol.

I think my past experience with psychiatry has wearied me of all the little boxes with neatly printed names of the affliction on each, and someone deciding on our behalf which little box we belong in.

Then, every ten years or so, they start all over with a brand-new set of little boxes in designer colors with, now, LED-flashing little labels on each, defining the name of the affliction which applies to each box.

All the patients need to line up again so they can be sorted once more into the new set of boxes.

Enough, already. I'm a guy who handles pressure and stressful situations less successfully than lots of people do. That's all the info I need to be able to make conscious decisions which allow me to enjoy my life and have lots of fun.

You, Angela, have all the information you need without any label and the accompanying baggage which comes with it.

I love your description of the grace you feel which empowers your decision right now. Truly, you are making your choice at exactly the right time. With grace along for the ride, you will be fine! And, I promise all the support one can offer from well south of you here in Denver.

Angela said...

Carla - you describe perfectly why this blogging thing seems so powerful to me - witnesses and co-creators - I've got some great ones~!

Claude - thank you and I love you, too!

Rick - thanks for the reminder. I don't like labels either and I'm the worst one for labeling myself! And thank you for your support - it means a whole lot.

bella said...

I'm glad you tried to, that you have continued to give yourself permission to go at your own pace and do this your own way.
Your voice rings with clarity and compassion, truth and grace.
Your honesty inspires.

Grace said...

Hi, just found your blog. I have tried that experiment many times with no success, I am also on the non AA abstinence route. Good to meet you, I look forward to reading more :-)