I had to mourn the death of my drinking. Alcohol was such an integral part of my life, of my lifestyle that when I stopped a part of me died with it. I knew I couldn’t start again, my life had become so unmanageable and I had become dangerous. I was irrational, belligerent and even worse, violent. My thirst for wine was unquenchable, everyday my frantic search was for…oblivion. Alcohol became my enemy. It wrought destruction on my relationships and undermined my health. It threatened my work and endangered my wellbeing. What, oh what was to be the next step?
I turned to the sages of old. If I was going into battle with this formidable enemy what should I know? The ancient thinker and author of the Art of War, Sun Tzu writes the following: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
And so I started a journey to discover the two protagonists in this great battle, myself and alcohol. I read as much as I could about alcoholics, booze and how it affected heavy drinkers. I found some very good books, in fact the reading room is large for those who have an interest. I spent time in regular meditation asking myself a simple question: who are you really? Little by little, small steps my life began to respond. Each day I would not drink, each day I would read a little and each day I would meditate for a few minutes. My expectations were small, armed just with the Alcoholics Anonymous’ creed – just for today, one day at a time I trundled forth.
I avoided situations that could expose me. I cancelled a business trip because I couldn’t trust myself to be alone with the minibar. I stayed away from revellers and went to bed early when I felt like a glass of wine. Sobriety became my priority and honestly, I was doing it for myself – not because my spouse, family or anyone else might be expecting it. This was my fight and I had to win it alone.
Of all the books I read, and everything I discovered about my addiction – the book Under the Influence was of the most value. Here the authors separate the alcoholic myths from the reality. Here I learned my condition has more to do with physiology than it does psychology. Here I understood, really understood my problem. In this book I become free – at last I began to understand my enemy.