White lies continued to surround me. I knew I wasn’t doing what was asked of me in the rehab treatment center and in Alcoholics Anonymous – rationalizations were nearly as rampant in me sober as they were in me when I was using. I’d been laying a trap for myself and I’d eventually get caught, but I’d been able to bob and weave in the past as a drunk, so I could probably do it better sober. The problem was that the people I was dealing with now were either drunks and had been there, or had been dealing with drunks and had heard all the excuses in the book. Therefore, I’d no longer be able to classify myself as a terminally unique individual. The clock was ticking and I was in parked in neutral. It was up to me which direction to move. My instincts on this were to sit still until my foggy confusion found clarity. The only problem with this idea was that I needed to be moving in order to get out of that fog.
One of the biggest problems in recovery from addiction is becoming motionless. A lot, including myself, delude and rationalize our non-activity because we are remaining ‘sober.’ In terms of Alcoholics Anonymous, what I was doing was considered to be a ‘dry-drunk.’ The therapy group at the recovery treatment center probably had a technical term but since I wasn’t being open about not moving forward with the emotional side of my problem, I was yet to hear the term, if at all.
Knowing what to do and when to do it can be a struggle for anyone, whether or not they are an addict. Sometimes I wish I had done more work in the beginning, but not because I regret the way life has turned out for me, but because I could have saved myself some additional pain. I’ve had struggles, who hasn’t, but mostly I’ve an incredible amount of joy in my life. Would I have handled situations with more dignity and clarity if I’d done the work earlier on? Maybe, but I wouldn’t waste my time dwelling on that either. Changing the past is like teaching a cat to bark, a rooster to lay eggs, and the earth to circumvolve the sun.
I recently came upon a passage in a piece of Alcoholics Anonymous literature that struck like bolt of lightning from the above. It comes from As Bill Sees It, with additional writing from Grapevine 1959 and 1961 literature.
“In the first days of A.A., I wasn’t much bothered about the areas of life in which I was standing still. There was always the alibi: ‘After all,’ I said to myself, ‘I’m far too busy with much more important matters.’ That was my near perfect prescription for comfort and complacency.”
It goes further, and although the above was certainly identifiable, the second part sealed the deal, so to speak.
“How many of us would presume to declare, ‘Well, I’m sober and I’m happy. What more can I want, or do? I’m fine the way I am.’ We know that the price of such self-satisfaction is an inevitable backslide, punctuated at some point by a very rude awakening. We have to grow or else deteriorate. For us, the status quo can only be for today, never for tomorrow. Change we must; we cannot stand still.”
Could that passage be anymore perfect for what I was experiencing? I knew in order to deal with the past I needed to find a healthy way to clean up the wreckage of the past, but my life felt like it was back on track. It felt like I was right where I was supposed to be.
It took me years to find this passage, but I did. I don’t think God, or my Higher Power, or my Guardian Angel, or whatever is out there would let something pass me by. It was just up to me to grab the steering wheel and step on the gas.