When I came to understand the depth of my addiction to alcohol, it was a terrifying realization. I hadn't understood that I had no control.
To be powerless is an extreme state of being. Here's the best metaphor that I know of. Imagine you're on a beach, you've kicked off your sandals, and you've waded into the water up to your knees. Now, stop the waves from coming in.
That's the power that alcohol has over the alcoholic. It has its hands on your throat, and will not let go.
Often, it will let one twist in the wind for absurd amounts of time. Alcohol can kill a 16-year-old drunk new driver in a flash, but it can also let that same kid grow up and old, and create more and more debilitating effects. Fatty liver, head injuries from falls, pancreatitis. Lovely stuff. The most frightening thought is to end up with what's colloquially known as Wet Brain. That's when there's no coming back, having drunk one's self into a vegetative state of no return. At that point, one becomes a ward of the state. No thank you.
The craziest thing I hear on occasion is this: "I'm just going to go back and drink a bit, and if it gets bad I'll get sober again."
Pure insanity, with no understanding of the word powerless. I became friends a couple years back with a fellow who had a good stretch of sobriety, but gave it up and drank thinking he'd get help if he needed it. This all happened 31 years ago, and when we met he was sober again for the first time since then. He had about 6 weeks.
This word - powerless - is descriptive of alcoholism. Once that condition has settled in for someone, there's no going back to being pre-alcoholic. That door is closed.
I'm grateful every day of my life that a window opened to me at the just right moment, and I was able to make a choice that has given me peace, love, and purpose.
(photo credit: Neal Hemphill)