Friday, December 18, 2009


If you've been in recovery for a few 24-hour periods, you've met them in meetings: alcoholics whose drinking has brought them to a fork in the road of their lives: stop now and keep everything they have or continue and lose it all.I know all of us faces that prospect, but I'm talking about people for whom alcoholic destruction is no longer a theory, like a woman I met I'll call Meg.

Meg is a former army officer (one of the few active-duty women who have actually staffed combat missions). She has a bachelor's degree in a technical field. She is physically attractive. She drives a late-model sports car and owns a home in the nicest area of town. She married another army officer, and they have an adorable toddler together.

A couple of years ago, Meg lost her military career when she tested positive for cocaine. She quit that habit to focus on (more legal) alcohol. Here's what that's gotten her, just during the past year:
  • A driving-while-intoxicated arrest and conviction
  • A divorce
  • A Child Protective Services investigation into her parenting
  • A custody battle
  • Bills putting her near the verge of bankruptcy
Meg started coming to 12-step meetings once her husband moved out, wanting to get sober in order to maintain custody of her daughter. She got a sponsor, got a Big Book, worked with her sponsor every week for several months, and went to at least one meeting a day. She picked up a 6-month chip a few weeks ago.

Child Protective Services got out of her life.  Her soon-to-be-ex was ordered to pay child support. Her DUI was dismissed after some time on an occupational drivers license. Everything was looking up for Meg!

She spent yesterday very drunk.

And so, the $64,000 question: why? She could lose everything she's worked for! It could get even worse for Meg if she keeps drinking!

Page 24 of the 4th edition says this, and it sums up for me the nature of the disease:

We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousnesses with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

So often I hear in meetings "If you don't take the first drink, you won't get drunk!", usually followed by guffaws of newcomers and the easily amused.

That's not in the Big Book, and for good reason (stated above): I'm without defense against the first drink! It's not that I didn't realize that alcohol is intoxicating.

If someone like Meg can look at all she has to lose and still drink, can't any of us? If her self-will could have prevented her relapse, surely it would have yesterday.

Robert Frost described two paths before him in a forest, and he chose the path that had carried fewer travelers thus far. He concludes that "... made all the difference."

 I hope there's a road less traveled ahead for Meg.

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5 comments:

Rui Umezawa said...

Just happened upon your blog by while surfing. You are extremely astute and I am sure you will continue to do well. I wish you only success.

All the best,
Rui

Texaco said...

Getting drunk is the most natural thing for Meg or me to do. In spite of the certain consequences that we will suffer we are, at certain times, without "effective mental defense against the first drink."

I don't know how much I even believe in a Higher Power, and I sure haven't trusted it for the last year. But I'm coming up on three years now and that's just crazy. I haven't been sober this long since I was 14. So there must be something that works, and I'm pretty sure it's not me.

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dAAve said...

Yep. Recovery (for me) is a life partially designed to provide a defense against that first drink.

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