When I first got into AA I cried, and cried… and cried. With my black eye and streaming tears… I just sat, and listened to every word.
I had surrendered. Given up the fight. There was no where else to go. I felt it with every fibre of my being. I didn’t have anything else in me, I had lost the battle I’d been having with alcohol for so many years.
An elder at one of my first meetings spoke for a while about his life and he concluded with one bit of advice that I’ve always felt was directed right at me, “You have to believe you can’t drink, not even one.”
I tell people about this man’s words often, because they are SO SIMPLE and yet so hard to accept! As soon as I heard that sentence, it was as though cobwebs were swept from my brain. This was what I’d needed to hear, I had spent my entire adult life believing I could drink. Trying to prove it again and again, just a couple. I had had it all wrong all along! Imagine that?
I needed to BELIEVE I could not drink. I had found the solution to my problem.
I’ve even referenced this advice in my “About” section because it’s so so powerful to me. When we believe we can’t drink, we won’t.
When someone is deathly allergic to peanuts or shellfish, they don’t keep trying to eat peanuts and shellfish! They know they can’t, and that their lives depend on it, and so they don’t. That’s what addicts need to acknowledge. We cannot dabble, even a little bit. Our addicted minds will play every trick on us to try to convince us that we can, but we need to be smarter and make the right decisions that will better our lives.
I remember at times I’d know I shouldn’t start drinking, so I’d do a shot quickly before really letting myself mull over the decision. ‘Too late now,” I’d think to myself. I would just suffer the consequences later – it was worth it right?
The answer is a big fat no.
After my first meeting, as I was trying to slip out the door unnoticed, a woman called me back and asked me if I had any phone numbers? I didn’t really know what she meant, but told her that I didn’t. She called another girl over, Nicole, and asked her to write her number down for me. We all started chatting and I told them what I had just been through, sobbing. They didn’t even flinch, they looked at me with love and understanding, hugged me and started telling me their stories… eerily similar stories! We were all the same! Nicole offered to pick me up and bring me to my next meeting. We spent a lot of time talking and telling stories, even laughing. She could tell my story for me, I was not unique in my suffering. I was not unique in my addiction. I finally GOT IT. I really was an alcoholic, and so were all of these people in the rooms. We could learn from each other’s progress, and so I did.