by Rick R.
As a kid approaching adolescence, I had my first encounter with alcohol, and it did something for me I had never experienced before. It brought a degree of peace and serenity in those first few minutes that I could not dismiss. It started me on that road to fantasy land that, thank God, only lasted 14 years. I was quick to burn through those years, starting with lampshade drunkenness. Then my tolerance started to develop to the point that I was pretty good at drinking until the black-out phase. That wasn’t a pretty sight. My first wife left me.
For the next two years I went through a self pity phase, hung out in bars, got into fights, got locked up, and cried in my beer a lot. I spent much of that time promising to one day evolve into a responsible adult and put all of it behind me. One day I woke up from a black-out and realized if I didn’t do something about my drinking, I was going to die a young and horrible death. I threw in the towel, called AA and started this journey.
As I look back now, I understand why alcohol had the effect on me that it didn’t have on nine out of ten of the others that I drank with in those early days. We were all partying and the alcohol masked the differences. They enjoyed it, all right, but they went home and went to work the next morning. I went right back to the bar again in search of the euphoria I’d experienced the first time I drank.
Once our tolerance for alcohol is depleted, it never returns
After years of sobriety it occurred to me that the drink quelled those fears and inhibitions we alcoholics face each morning, but normal drinkers don’t seem to. That is what makes us different. Once our tolerance for alcohol is depleted, it never returns. That is the hardest fact for us to face.
In Chapter 3 of the Big Book, it states that the delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. Like those who have lost their legs “they never grow new ones” (P. 30). In my early days of sobriety, most of the meetings I attended read a portion of Chapter 3 as well as the portion of Chapter 5. That portion of the book drives home the true nature of this disease. They stopped reading at the words: ad infinitum. I suggest that a person read one more paragraph after that. That always brought home the fact that I was responsible for my own recovery. If I had a desire to stop drinking, AA could help me accomplish that. By no means will it work for me until I accept that devastating fact.
The abnormal fears I faced in the beginning of my journey are no longer a problem. I embraced the program in the spirit suggested to me. All I need to do to have them return is to rest on my laurels and ignore the wisdom of those who came before me. That is not going to happen here. I may be sick, but I’m not foolish. We get a daily reprieve based upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition. As long as I have days left to live, I am not finished.