It’s been awhile since I had my last drink – but it hasn’t been so long since I had a dry drunk – an unattractive but apt description of what happens when my desires become demands: an emotional slip, or, just losing my charm without the booze.
The following simple five paragraphs outline many lessons I learned the hard way – falling down dark holes need not be a given – living without alcohol has meant doing some things differently.
There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk — (Portia Nelson)
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in. I can’t believe I’m in the same place, but it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down a different street.
I fell in many emotional holes after I stopped drinking, and I made many excuses; I was too often quick to blame, whine, and not own my part in the disagreements, conflicts, and blow-ups that feel as dangerous as holes in a sidewalk. God, His word and the program are helping me to choose a different street – if needs be, and to steer clear of holes on streets I can’t avoid.
Sobriety doesn’t mean I won’t have disappointing, bewildering, or awkward circumstances – or that I automatically know how to be a grown-up in those circumstances. However, recovery means I have tools to apply instead of indulging or stuffing the emotions that became a handy excuse to lose my charm – or drink.
Permitting emotions like fear, anxiety, resentment, bitterness or frustration to rule my heart is like putting blinders on and trying to walk down a sidewalk filled with holes – and potential muggers. Recovery means I have options – real choices – how to respond in crazy or uncertain situations – not always perfectly – but perfection isn’t the goal: progress is.