Spiritual Changes – Honesty

honestcat

We put the drink down.  Now what?  In my last post I wrote about how we need to have a spiritual change in our lives if we want to remain living a sober life.  So where do we start?

I believe we start with honesty.  If we’re not going to be honest with ourselves about our problem with alcohol than we might as well forget about all the other stuff involved in recovery.  It all starts with being honest with ourselves.  We stop lying to our self.  We stop lying to others.  We come clean and admit we’re out of control and need help.  We admit we can’t do it on our own.

So much of our lives revolved around falsehoods and lies (when we were in active addiction and actively drinking).  We would be sneaky about how much we drank and where we would hide it in the house.  We never told anyone the full truth about our drinking that is for sure.  At least, I know I didn’t.  They wouldn’t understand and they would be disappointed in me.  That’s what makes AA and other programs like it so amazing.  It is a room full of people who are just like me.  I don’t have to act like someone else or sneak around or feel ashamed of my behavior around these people.  I’m not real big on sharing honestwthe details of my drunken escapades and I don’t think anyone else is either.  We all have our stories of living in excess.  We all have our own horror stories.  What we DO want to talk about is the solution.  We want to talk about how to get better.  We want to focus on getting well and living a decent life. 

I think living a life of honesty takes some time though.  And I don’t think everything needs to be addressed in very early sobriety either.  People carry around a lot of hurts inside them.   Some of these hurts are very deep rooted and are best dealt with after getting a little sober time under our belt.  Stuffing down these hurts brings fuel to other behaviors.  It takes a lot of time to work through issues from the past.    So when I am speaking about honesty in this article, it is the honesty of admitting we have an addiction and we can’t get better on our own.  We admit we are powerless and need God to help us.  We admit we are alcoholic and reach out to someone in recovery to help us.  We become honest to ourselves and stop hiding behind our behaviors.

Most of us who get to the point of wanting a life of sobriety have been through A LOT of crappy things spread out over years and years.  Being able to hide within ourselves has been a means of defense and a means of survival our whole life.  Having to become honest with another person makes us feel very vulnerable and uncomfortable.  But it is within this vulnerable situation of being honest about ourselves and telling another person that a new freedom will enter your life!  Your shoulders will feel lighter.  You can lift your head a little higher when your walking.  You don’t have to be nervous about looking people in the eye because you are making a tremendous step to becoming a better you! 

Once we start getting honest with ourselves we will have a new freedom.  But being honest with ourselves isn’t just about the behaviors and things we need to fix or work on.  Being honest with ourselves is also recognizing the amazing and wonderful qualities we have!!  These qualities have been drowned out and drugged for a long time.  There may be something new you learn about yourself.  How cool would that be!?   Maybe you have an awesome sense of humor, so start cracking jokes again.  Maybe you’re really good at playing card tricks, so at your next get together with friends or family bring a deck of cards.   Maybe you have a nice singing voice but you haven’t been sober long enough to let yourself sing a whole song.  So make a point to sing every time you take a shower!  We have to be honest about the negative but we also have to be honest about the positive. betterperson

Recovering alcoholics and addicts are really amazing people.  Most of them are highly intelligent, will give you the shirt off their back, are the hardest working employee you will ever have and they are an amazing and dependable friend!  Alcohol and drugs change us from being those things.  It’s never too late to give up the drink.  It’s never too late to start getting honest and start becoming the person you want to be.

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What does it take to stop drinking?

drink no more

How many times have we said to ourselves, “That’s It!  I am not going to drink ever again!  I can’t live like this anymore!  This time I’m really going to do it.  NO MORE!”

If I had a dime for every time I said this, I would have a gazillion dimes.  I was one of those hard cases that never learned their lesson.  I was one of those cases that had every intention to never pick up a drink again….and yet…..still did eventually.  I would last maybe 3 days, maybe 3 weeks, maybe a month.  It took me a long time to even get 3 whole months together.

I remember how jealous I use to be when I heard an alcoholic in recovery had managed to not drink for 2 or 3 weeks.  This number seemed unattainable for me!  Why?  Why am I so different?  Why can they do it and I can’t?  What will it take?

A vital part of understanding the “why” of my situation, I had to understand the obsession and compulsion associated with my drinking.  First off, a normal drinker does not obsess about alcohol.  The so-called normal drinker does not worry, fret, or constantly think about when they are going to drink again.  They may or may not have a drink with their dinner.  They do not “drink” their dinner.  They know that drinking more than 2 isn’t usually a good idea, so they can refrain from drinking too much without effort.  Limiting the number of drinks is no big deal.  A normal drinker can take it or leave it and not give it much thought.  They don’t crave.  They don’t obsess.

“The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.”  More About Alcoholism, AA Big Book, Chapter 3

I obsessed over alcohol.  Even now, I have to be careful not to let my mind wander too much and when it does I have to change my thoughts.  I have a thinking disease.  Alcoholism is not just a documented medical disease, it is also a thinking disease!  No magic pill can change my way of thinking.  But there is hope!  I was able to change my way of thinking by the help of God.  God is my Higher Power.  I had to believe in something greater than myself.  I could not control my thinking or my drinking.  I had to have help that was bigger than me.  Bigger than rehabs.  Bigger than people.  Bigger than family.  Bigger than knowledge or self-awareness.  That bigger thing for me is God.  Only through God wasgod restores I able to change my thoughts and my habits.  I tried for years to figure this thing out on my own.  I couldn’t do it.  My track record spoke for itself.  I had to admit I couldn’t do it on my own and need something greater than myself.  I tried all different ways before looking to God for help.  It was only when I looked to God that my life started to change. 

The compulsion to drink, for an alcoholic, is a powerful force.  It can be so strong that a seemingly normal person will give in to a compulsion and destroy the good things in their life.  It doesn’t make sense to those on the outside looking in.  And in all fairness, it doesn’t make sense to an alcoholic either!  What is the defense to an overwhelming compulsion to drink?  For me, it is talking about it and seeking God for help.  Being honest with myself is also very important.

I am in no way perfect in my sobriety but I am MUCH BETTER and making progress.  I had a drinking slip that ended in a DUI last year.  I gave up no defense when the thought of girlwinehaving a glass of wine popped into my head.  I had been sober a long time before that.  What happened to make me drink?  Nothing.  A thought.  A compulsion.  That was all it took.  This disease is so baffling because the thought had entered my mind many times before and I wouldn’t allow myself to give in.  Why this occasion was different was because I didn’t fight the compulsion like I did the day before and the day before that.

People that know me now know that I quit drinking.  These people have no idea what I use to be like.  By looking at me and meeting me you would never guess that I use to walk the streets, was a drug addict and lived a life that only drugs could bring you to.  Today I am responsible and reliable.  Today I can be trusted.  I have a nice (rented) house, a car, a sweet little dog and a decent job.  This didn’t happen overnight.  It has taken me years of fighting this disease to be able to have “things” again.  The DUI almost ruined everything.  I could have lost it all.  Thank God for my family and an understanding boss.  Faith in God and living sober is the only life for me now.

For those trying to quit, please don’t be discouraged…the main point to go away with from this article is don’t give up no matter how many slips you have.  There is nothing wrong with Day 1.  You have to have day 1 before you can get day 2…day 3…..and so on.

To get well and stay well, we have to throw out the idea that we are like other people.  An alcoholic can never become a normal drinker.  The obsession and compulsion to drink like a normal person is a fantasy.  It is a lie. 

It wasn’t only outward consequences that got me to quit.  It was mainly the inner turmoil and mental pain I was in.  I hated my life.  I hated living back and forth with my drinking.  I lived in a deep depression and anxiety so severe my body shook like a chihuahua.  My former life could be summarized as inner misery and self hatred.  Not a way to live….I had to make a decision and seek God for help.  He is my answer to quitting and staying quit.