Beaten Into a State of Reasonableness
Karl R, USA
Alcohol, the great persuader, finally beat me into a state of reasonableness in July of 2008. I took my first drink in the summer of 1980 following graduation from high school. On the night of July 17, 2008 I had my last drunk. My name is Karl and I'm an alcoholic.
Born of a farm family in a small town in a Western state I had all the good fortune which a child of my generation could possess. My parents, being teetotalers, passed along that warning and prohibition to my 2 sisters and I. They had learned the lesson of alcoholism from observing the effects of parental alcoholism on their own lives growing up and so, early on, had decided to never take the first drink. It worked for them. They had faith in a mainstream God of their understanding and I learned the lessons which that faith had to offer. I never wanted for anything and had plenty of work to keep me busy and occupied. I was an A student and never struggled in school. But something was missing.
I was driven with a desire to be perfect and a fear of not measuring up. I was prone to think less of myself in social situations and soon learned to avoid society and spent my time in books and farm work. School continued-work continued. Life went on. I met my wife to be as a senior in high school. It still amazes me when I awaken beside her in the morning that she initially wanted anything to do with this man who always felt "less than". It amazes me more that I still awaken next to her after 30 years of knowing each other, after 25 years of my drinking, and after less than 18 months of sobriety. Our current relationship as friends and allies serves as a concrete example that a HP and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous have done for me what I couldn't have done for myself.
Back to that first drink; it solved the "less than" problem. Suddenly I felt okay. I was suddenly acceptable to the people around me and more importantly acceptable to myself. Social situations were not the challenge that they had been. When I was drunk, I was no longer afraid. And so I continued. From college, where I barely passed my senior classes having went from an A+ student to near failing, on to marriage and a career. In alcohol I thought I had found the answer to all my fears and all my struggles with being around people and being alone with myself.
Fast forward a few years, a couple of children and the progression of alcoholism was apparent to those around me. I was spending increasing time alone at the far end of the house drinking. Anytime I needed to be away from drinking for anything besides work I became irritable and discontent. The physical craving and the mental obsession had a hold on me. I had begun to be powerless over my friend alcohol. And to make matters worse-alcohol no longer solved the "less than" problem. In fact, the drinking was beginning to create the Resentment problem; resentments by myself against those who got in the way of drinking, and resentments by my family for the loss of the father and husband that they had once had. In 2007 my wife left me and my two children and went to pursue a new career in an adjacent county. In July 2008 my wife, on vacation in Canada, called me on the phone to tell me that our marriage was over and the children were coming to her home. She had had enough. She handed the phone to her mother who told me I was an alcoholic. This woman, my nondrinking mother-in-law, saved my life by breaking the news to me. I yelled at her and treated her badly-then passed out as the blackout drunk I'd become.
The next day was the longest day of my life. I had been faced with some hard facts and needed to think. I spent the day at work but remember little that I accomplished other than a lot of thinking. I came home that evening to a dark and empty house with my eyes opened. Beer bottles everywhere and no food in the house. I went to the fridge and looked inside. The one thing I had was beer in the fridge. I was persuaded-alcohol was not working and there was no relief in sight from that beer. I felt permanently "less then"
I had thought little during my life about alcoholism-had never considered myself an alcoholic. But the idea that I had the disease of alcoholism had become a seed planted in my brain. Instead of choosing, once again, that cold beer in the fridge, I chose a new path. I looked in the paper for alcoholics anonymous---no listing. I looked up the number in the phone book. No answer there. I sat down at the computer and typed in "online alcoholics anonymous" and found, in those few keystrokes a fellowship of people who shared my common problem of alcoholism and who I learned had discovered a common solution to that problem. That night, I found myself in one of the venues here at e-AA. I lurked-I did not post. I read-these people sounded like me. Their stories were roughly the same as mine. Finally I thought, in for a penny-in for a pound, and introduced myself as Karl-an alcoholic.
The people in that forum reminded me that I need never be alone again. They reminded me that there was a solution to alcoholism-the 12 step program of alcoholics anonymous as presented in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". I found a sponsor who had not just sobriety, but that sense of peace and balance which goes with having worked the steps. We worked through the textbook Alcoholics Anonymous. Being beaten, I did what the book suggested and the mental obsession to drink was removed by a higher power of my own understanding. I've been blessed with an online fellowship, a face to face fellowship, and service in each. I've been blessed with the restoration of family and restoration of sanity. Life is good but not always without workouts. I learn from those because the HP of my understanding has made me a bit teachable.
Eighteen months, twelve steps, and one surrender later and the beating I took at the hands of King Alcohol has turned into a blessing.