It becomes more apparent to me each day of how courageous the step to surrender, honestly and openly is. Those who have never been addicted are often not only totally perplexed, but also appalled at the behaviour of a drunk. To openly admit to this disease in our society is so very difficult to do without feeling ashamed and worthless. Because of this stigma, the act of asking for help and in effect outing themselves as an alcoholic, is preventing thousands of ill people from fessing up. Making intervention nigh on impossible.
This actually makes me ashamed of Society, that we can be so incredibly judgemental never really considering how these people got there in the first place or even giving them an opportunity to come clean with some dignity.
The ones that do, a very small percentage of those that should, are, in my opinion enormously courageous. Even though the fall out from their drinking has caused a catalogue of grief within the family, rippling out to many other areas of their lives, let alone their own mental and physical health, the final act of surrender raises eyebrows and casts them out as weak and unable to control themselves, never as ill and in need of support.
Every client I see will tell me that they have work colleagues and friends who have as little control over their drinking as they do, but are afraid to admit it. The disease of denial of course helps them cover up the cracks, but the cracks widen, and with those who cannot bite the bullet, invariably, their addiction leads to other ‘acceptable’ diseases that would have never appeared in the first place if they had had the courage to admit they drank too much.
The big word for us badly wired people is Choice. Those who berate us seem to think that we chose to become addicts. We did not. We had no choice. I never blame anyone for my alcoholism; there was never one particular event that caused me to progress, made easy because of the legality and availability, just an unconscious inability to stop. We do not have go out to score down dark alleys, just stroll into any shop, bizarrely some petrol stations too! Coupled with the brainwashing that actually drinking was a way of being happy and relaxed, the best fun, and the crutch to cope, chosen by so many, that you only have to see, that once hooked, then we really don’t stand a chance of resistance.
AA says that we are powerless. I totally disagree with that statement. We are so massively powerful, that against all odds we will get our fix no matter what. That takes guts and an inner strength that although warped, is strong enough to go against all the advice, pleading, shouting and rowing to our point of no return. One only has to flip that power on its head in recovery, to see the positive side to it. The women I have helped have never ceased to amaze me with that power and the courage to show those who scorned them how truly wonderful they are in sobriety. They humble me.
Harrogate Sanctuary was born from this kind of courage; I fight each day to make recovery a way to become free from the constraints of chemical dependence and free to live life without angst. I only openly tell people that I am an alcoholic for them to listen, I am not alcohol dependent anymore, so why should anyone who has successfully beaten addiction be labelled with a title that suggests that at any moment they could succumb? How negative is that? With any other disease one moves on, not spending the rest of their lives introducing themselves as for example a victim of cancer.
So I hope that if you follow my blog you can perhaps show a little tenderness to someone you may think has a problem, for it is not them who you have to recoil from, only their addiction, and if they could, they would recoil from it too.