One Alcoholic Or Addict Working With AnotherJanuary 22, 2019
By Mary R., Crossroads Volunteer Recovery Blogger.
AN ALCOHOLIC FELL IN A HOLE and couldn’t get out.
A businessman went by and the addict called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him to buy himself a ladder. But the alcoholic could not buy a ladder in this hole he was in.
A doctor walked by. The alcoholic said, “Help! I can’t get out!” The doctor gave him some drugs and said, “Take these. It will help you to not drink.” The alcoholic said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole.
A well-known psychiatrist rode by and heard the alcoholic’s cries for help. He stopped and asked,” How did you get there? Were you born there? Did your parents put you there? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So the alcoholic talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he’d be back next week.
The alcoholic thanked him, but he was still in the hole. A priest came by. The alcoholic called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.” He got down on his knees and prayed for the alcoholic, then he left. The alcoholic was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in the hole.
A recovering alcoholic happened to be passing by. The alcoholic cried out, “Hey, help me. I’m stuck in this hole!” Right away the recovering alcoholic jumped down in the hole with him. The alcoholic said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck here!!” But the recovering alcoholic said, “Calm down. It’s okay. I’ve been here before. I know how to get out.”
Another recovering alcoholic has been there
For most of my drinking career, I kept my “drinking problem” a deep, dark secret. I KNEW I was an alcoholic. I HAD to drink, a lot, and all the time. But I was one of those people who could do that and somehow manage to function in the world and not let anyone know. (I found out later in the rooms of AA, I was not alone in possessing this unique “skill set”. I was what some people call a “high-functioning” alcoholic. In fact, however, there was nothing “functional” about my drinking, I just made it look OK on the outside.) As the years went along, I finally started “thinking about not drinking,” and I set off on a decades-long quest to find every way of getting sober that involved NOT completely giving up alcohol. (If you’re not an alcoholic, you might want to stop here because that statement makes absolutely no sense. If you “get it,” keep reading. This is where the “one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic” magic starts happening….)
So, during my years and years of “thinking about not drinking,” I slowly started tip-toeing out for help to all kinds of people. Just like the person in the hole, I reached out to doctors, therapists, friends, spiritual advisers, and eventually family members. I dipped my foot in the water with something like: “I think I have a problem with alcohol, and I need some help.” My doctor sent me to get a liver scan, and when it came back OK, I figured: “Well, I guess I’ll just keep drinking and not tell anyone else because this is clearly not killing me.” When I told my psychiatrist that I thought Xanax might help me with my anxiety and then I’d drink less, he said: “You’re an alcoholic who needs to be in residential treatment. I’m not giving you Xanax. I don’t prescribe Xanax to alcoholics.” So I didn’t go back. (BTW, I wasn’t trying to “score” some Xanax. I just really thought it could help me stop drinking…silly me!) When I told my husband I was afraid I had a “drinking problem,” he said he loved me and that he would help me work on cutting back. So I cut back alright – cut back the amount I let him “see.”
And on….and on…and on….so it went. Until I started hearing the voices of alcoholics in recovery who had actually BEEN where I was. (Started is italicized here because, remember, this was a slllooowww process in my case.) I bought books written by famous people in recovery and I read them in secret. I watched a few friends who were brave enough (very brave, in my eyes) to go off to rehab and they came back and I saw them changing…and not drinking anymore. I keyed in on TV interviews and magazine articles and public appearances by people talking about where they’d been in their addictions and how they were working on their recovery. And yes, I finally went to some AA meetings and heard regular people, just like me, talking about their struggles. But I also saw they were happy, laughing even. I heard about where they’d been and I could identify with their stories. I was right there, in that deep, dark abyss of my disease. They could see it in me, and they didn’t judge me for it. And I saw that little sign on the wall of every room of Alcoholics Anonymous that says: “HOPE IS FOUND HERE”.
Another recovering alcoholic knows the solution
So I started to believe there just might be a way out of the hole –after all, these people in AA, who really were just like me, had found the solution. I could see, after a time, they didn’t all look like me or talk like me or dress like me…but in their stories I could hear that they were all JUST like me. We ALL had that same “relationship” with alcohol. (If you’re not an alcoholic and you’re still reading this, you may wonder what I mean by having a “relationship” with alcohol. Remember…you can take it or leave it. We can’t. We have a love-hate bond with the thing that is killing us but we simply cannot do without. I don’t expect you to understand – it’s why we really, really need our special club of other “alkies” in recovery!)
I wish I could tell you that my journey to recovery was just as simple as going to a few AA meetings and following the 12 Steps I heard them talking about. Oh, no, I’m an alcoholic–nothing is ever quite that simple! I went to detox, and then to rehab, and then to AA, and then back to detox and back to rehab. I’m a slow learner and it was REALLY hard to say good-bye to my best friend, alcohol. But in rehab, in AA meetings, in the coffee shops after the meetings, in conversations with my sponsor…..in all those places where another alcoholic was simply willing to share their story with me and listen to mine, that’s where the magic happened. I got the help I could not find from any doctor, therapist, priest or minister, family member or well-intentioned friend. I got the help that only comes from one alcoholic working with another.
Another recovering alcoholic wants to help
Back to the story of the alcoholic in the hole. That’s why I write these blogs – it’s my way of jumping in the hole with you. I’ve been there; somebody jumped in the hole with me and showed me how to get out. Actually, a whole bunch of people in recovery jumped into the hole with me because that’s what we do. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous there is a chapter called “There is a Solution.” Pretty straightforward, huh? Yes, there IS a solution to this problem called alcoholism and, as we like to say, it’s a pretty simple solution for complicated people. We alcoholics seem to like to complicate everything! But the people who helped me had a way of making it simple. They told me to relax and take it easy, and to just follow a few simple instructions…one day at a time. So, I finally put my last drink down and with the help of other people in recovery and the “Hope is Found Here” rooms of AA, I’ve haven’t picked one up in a while. I’m writing this just to let you know that lots of people are willing to jump in that hole you’re in and show you the way out. If reading this has allowed me to be one of those people, then that makes me feel like I’ve done something pretty good today. Best of luck to you. Lots of us have been where you are and if WE can do it, you can, too.