I’d like to think that my communication skills and overarching coping techniques have matured with recovery. Hitting meetings, completing a thorough inventory, doing spot-checks, getting in contact with my HP, and staying in touch with other alcoholics are key to my wellbeing and sound reaction to the world. When I shut down, resort to self-pity, or explode into rage, it’s likely that the prescription for managing this alcoholic is out of balance. Sometimes, I am able to get into the solution almost immediately. But other times, like this morning, I sit idly by, watching as my sickness run its course.
Today’s problem was one of miscommunication. Perhaps it could have been avoided if one of us paused or asked for clarification. Maybe we could have dodged the whole obstacle if we had better cell reception. For all one knows, a cup of coffee before the incident could have had the power to alter the course of history. Alas, what transpired was a nasty exchange between my husband and I, brimming with blame and the crowned comeback, “Fuck you!”
I don’t communicate with the average person in this manner. I certainly wouldn’t be caught behaving this poorly in the rooms or where someone could observe me. So, why do I think it’s acceptable to deal with my problems like this behind closed doors? Is it because I feel comfortable and safe enough with my husband to act like a complete fool? Am I lazy and not invested enough in my spiritual work to prevent these kinds of outbursts? Or is this an expression of my true nature- the selfish, self-centered alcoholic?
The Big Book tells us that giving up drinking is “…but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations, and affairs,” (Big Book, page 19.). So, how do we duplicate this same enthusiasm for being upstanding members of Alcoholic Anonymous, out into the real world? For me, wanting to be a better person is not always motivating enough to elicit change. True humility is sometimes hard to come by, even with an embarrassing 10-step or challenging amends. What really brings it home for me is recognizing that my lousy conduct has the power to make me drink.
In my sobriety, I have never been closer to a drink than when in conflict with somebody or something. For others, success or notoriety may be a more compelling trigger. But I think most of us can agree that escape by bottle is pretty appealing when the chips are down. For this reason, I have to stay vigilant; not only with my abstinence to alcohol, but through discipline in my relationships. This means letting go of my attachment to being right, resisting the urge to get high on anger, forgiving others for being human, exonerating the world of my expectations, and most of all- pausing long enough to avoid saying “Fuck you!” Because when I say “Fuck you!” I’m really only screwing myself.