Right from the beginning I had problems with Alcohol Anonymous’ Twelve Steps. I am on dangerous if not sacred ground, I know. I am mindful of the millions who have found lasting sobriety by climbing the steps, and I must acknowledge their power. Notwithstanding its value I am still uncomfortable with the whole idea. Superficially I advance the Twelve Steps are too dogmatic and too transcendent for me. I admit this is purely a personal view and that is my view alone. Sobriety is a difficult path to walk in any event. If I am going into battle encumbered also with an incongruent belief, victory could not be assured.
My quest was to find an idea, a concept that made sense to me. Sobriety is after all a personal journey and rehabilitation a selfish act. How could I help myself as well as others find a safe harbour in a turbulent sea of drink? All my futile attempts in the past inevitably ended with yet another round of guilt, self-loathing and depressing failure. Now that I have enjoyed more than 400 abstemious days I feel I can look back with some perspective. Mine may be a small hillock, not an elevated mountain top, but it is still higher ground and I can see a landscape that has become fertile and orderly. Where there was once destruction and hurt, love and self-respect has begun to flourish.
Thanks to professional help, my own directed reading and hours of introspection I have found my own way. The love and belief of my family as well as the support and acceptance of close friends was fundamental. It all greatly helped in the healing process. Let it also be said, the regularity of AA meetings and the fellowship of other alcoholics helped enormously. All of these were instrumental tools crucial in fixing a complex psyche that seemed beyond repair. Over the next few posts I want to touch on my own quest for sobriety and how I went about it. For those who are struggling with alcohol and who have misgivings about the Twelve Steps, I hope to give some comfort.
In my mind’s eye I stand on the bank of a wide and turbulent river. The sky dark red and the air reeks of alcohol and vomit. All around me lie empty bottles, drunken people shouting abuse and loved ones crying. Like a captain on the deck of a sinking ship I stand proudly, defiantly. “I can see no reason to stop drinking.” I say stupidly. On the other bank I see a sun kissed land green and inviting. Trees give peaceful shade and there are people who love and respect each other. I want to go to that fertile and inviting place, I am tired of the ground on which I stand.
I am afraid, for the water that separates me is dark and wild. I want to cross the river but strangely, illogically I somehow don’t want to leave my own chaos. Suddenly I feel a presence that is stronger than anything I had ever known. Its breath foul as it grabs me from behind and pushes me into the abyss. “I am Catalyst, but you may call me Rock Bottom for that is what many name me. Now swim before you drown.”