Just recently I watched an ABC 20/20 Special “About” Elizabeth Vargas (a well-known anchor on ABC) where Ms. Vargas was the one being interviewed about her own personal battle with alcohol and her many struggles with recovery. Two words stuck out to me during the ABC Special and those two words were, “Struggle” and “Battle”.
I began to think of how many times in the past three decades that I had desperately tried to quit drinking, and how many times I had failed by using the traditional methods such as; guilt, shame, blame, excuses, and accountability… Please trust me when I say that I do not have anything against the 12 Step program, and by no means am I indicating that these are the tactics that are knowingly used in its recovery process.
However, according to Elizabeth Vargas she is now on the right track to recovery and that is truly all that matters. AA is working for millions of people who suffer from alcoholism and has helped millions of people over many decades overcome their demons and for that – we are all grateful!
The only differences I found between Elizabeth’s choice (the 12 Step program) in ridding her addiction to the “Drink” and mine is:
- I have no number of days to confess concerning my sobriety
- The only date that I keep is a moment in time about two years ago where my body and mind simply stopped craving alcohol and that too – will soon disappear
- I do not share my sobriety with many – this is a permanent, personal lifestyle change
- I use meditation – my inner God – along with the ability to re-center my mind as my sponsor
- I can and have had a drink but without feeling that I need to begin again from day one
- The desire or need for alcohol doesn’t exist anymore
These are merely differences – not to be mistaken as a judgment that one way is better than the other.
I was a middle class drunk with ambition; you know the type; never missing one day of their child’s life, physically, anyhow. Most would have considered me the “Social drinker”, the one who usually took it just a step further than most in the arena of inappropriate behavior, but also the life of the party. I realized that I had a problem when every morning – after a night of partying – I would wake up wondering why and what I did the night before. Mainly, did I endanger or embarrass my children.
I’m not proud of the fact that I drank almost daily for many decades. Let’s put it this way, I always had a “Tipsy cup” (as I called it) full of Coors Light – as did most, in my inner circle, for which helped me to justify the ice chest in the trunk of my car. I can’t really say that I didn’t have fun, because I most certainly did while in the parallel of inebriation – it was just the aftermath of destruction that I left behind for which really hurt and bothered me.
After the 20/20 program was over I began reflecting upon what it was that finally tipped me over – completely removing my craving for alcohol after I had drank for so many years – self medicating myself with booze.
There were so many instances where I related to Ms. Vargas’ story and like her; none of the incidents were “The ONE” thing that made me stop.
Not even the love for and of my children; that extreme love for my children only made me feel even more full of guilt and shame the next day. It seems like I was always asking God for forgiveness and thanking Him for keeping us safe. Maybe that’s why I was never arrested, hurt anyone or myself.
What was it that actually made me stop drinking?
After giving this question great thought – I figured out exactly what it was and it had absolutely nothing to do with the act of me wanting to quit drinking.
What I had done was reprogram my thinking by simply rewiring my brain with new information discarding the old burnt out chips and behaviors that had become bad habits. I read over 40 self-help and motivational type books on CD during my long drive to and from work on how to change the way I think. Books on the mechanics of the brain, and how we actually have control over what we do. So many different books but all with the same message telling me it was up to me.
Then I got into Network Marketing for reasons of greed and wanting to work from home but totally failing to succeed – it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because in giving my heart and soul in learning how to recruit others into the system; I learned more about the human psyche and different forms of manipulation – in turn, learned how to manipulate my own mind. Of course this was by accident.
I also have thousands of hours invested in guided meditation, morning, noon and night. I meditated for stillness, a calming of thought. I remember watching every single Wayne Dyer PBS specials, and every Sunday without fail listening to Joel Osteen; it was as if he had tailored his weekly sermon especially to meet my upcoming needs. I find that meditation and ongoing learning are the maintenance to this particular method of beating addiction.
I intentionally posted reminders on my bathroom mirror reminding me of my excellence. I posted such things as: No Excuses, No Judgment, No Blaming, No Shaming of myself and others then I would read them out loud every day for years. I posted a new affirmation each week as my crutch – I guess you could call the affirmations my sponsor.
To be continued…