My big ass bottom is no longer a shock to any of my regular readers, but what you might not know is that i love it. Why? Because without it i wouldn’t be here.
When i was drinking, i was very cavalier about my drinking problem. True story, i used to take the AA test hoping for a higher score. When i say i was a practicing alcoholic, i honestly was literally practicing to be a better one. i started the Bar None blog as a way to revel in my alcoholism, i elected myself Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, i embraced my disease as the one thing that made me unique.
The Miracle Is Around the Corner wrote a wonderful post about Step 1 in AA and reading it i realized i took that step when i admitted i could no longer be cavalier about my drinking. This is entirely thanks to my big ass bottom. Even if, Higher Power forbid, i take up the drink again, i’ll never be able to do it with the same carefree attitude i had before because of where my big ass bottom dropped me.
To those of you with tiny little bottoms, allow me to tell you how much i admire them and heap all kinds of props on your wee bottom. i have the luxury of never being able to go back to the shit storm my big ass bottom made of my life. But those of you who don’t have that excuse… i respect you enormously because you’re stronger than i ever was and i pray out loud right now that you will stay on track and never know what it feels like to have a big ass bottom.
A quick disclaimer.
While i attempted to pen this post with a certain degree of levity, i do want to acknowledge very clearly that for those in my entourage, there was nothing at all even remotely amusing in all of this. This is especially true for Celeste E Hall and my son who found me the next morning and had to call the EMTs, as well as dear friends who were called in from out of town to be at my bedside in case i died.
So you wanna know if you’re an alcoholic…
Short Answer -
Medium Answer -
Being an alcoholic is like being in love: if you have to ask, you aren’t.
Long Answer -
We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
The second half of that step is the most overlooked and yet most important part of Step 1. Admitting you’re powerless over alcohol is key, but recognizing that you have lost control of your life because you’re powerless over alcohol is what makes a person an alcoholic.
If you cannot control your drinking and your life has been ruined as a result, congratulations: the good news is waiting in the column to the right of this post, under the heading Some R&R (Recovery & Resources).
A woman in the rooms shared that she was an angry young lass…so much so that when, in college, her roommate confronted her by saying “You’d rather be right than happy!” she mocked her friend for being ridiculously obvious. It was only much later, in recovery, that she realized how foolish the statement was.
This got me thinking. When i was drinking, i would have rather been drunk than happy. That realization put me on my ass. How insane is that!? i’d truly believed i was drinking to make myself happy when the exact opposite was true!
Now let’s go a step further. We take the sentence and replace the word “right” with a blank.
I’d rather be ________________ than happy.
Whatever words work in that blank (sad, angry, eating, alone…) represent the biggest threats to your sobriety.
For those in AA:
This magic formula can also be used to help you target specific areas in Step 1 where your life has become “unmanageable”.
i’m wrapping up Step 6 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Program…
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
My super Sponsor who is older than dirt and wise beyond his years is not too keen on the whole self-flagellation thing and i must say i think anyone in AA who focuses on the negative doesn’t really get the program. It says in the literature that we are all about spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Hell, my perfectionism is what got me into trouble in the first place. i placed such high (no pun intended!) demands on myself that i needed alcohol to console me when i inevitably failed to live up to my own unrealistic expectations.
In order to demonstrate how entirely ready i am to remove my defects of character, my sponsor told me to write a list of what i was like when i drank and what i’m like sober so that i can have black & white evidence of how i’ve already started removing my defects of character and to encourage me to keep heading down this path.
i also decided to look at my Step 1 list again. In Step 1 (“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable”), i wrote down all of the ways in which my life had become unmanageable and i thought now would be a good time to see how far i’d grown.
In conclusion, i’m far from perfect but i’m better off than i was and everyday sees me stronger than the day before. i’m definitely looking up!
Fair warning, i’m working on Step 6 in Alcoholics Anonymous and so my next few posts will be about that.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
WTH? Defects of character, moi? What defects of character?
One of the things i like most about AA is that there is a clear, practical program to get better. It’s as easy as connecting the dots.
Here’s a short Step By Step refresher course of how i got here.
In Step 1 of AA’s 12 Steps, i admitted my life had become unmanageable because of my inability to handle my drinking.
In Step 2, i said that i obviously couldn’t control my drinking, so a power outside myself was going to have to. My Sponsor and i decided this “Higher Power” was AA Meetings.
In Step 3, i turned over control of my drinking and life to this power.
In Step 4, i made a list of all the deepest, darkest defects of my character and the actions these defects led me to.
In Step 5, i went over this list with another person (my AA Sponsor).
Now, in Step 6, i’m letting my Higher Power know that i’m ready to give these up to him/her/them/us.
In my drinking life, i tried to quit a handful of times. My record was six months. i tried to cut back countless more (drinking only two glasses of wine at lunch, drinking only on Fridays, drinking only outside the apartment, drinking only inside the apartment, only drinking what i had on hand…) and none of these ever worked.
If i had gone to AA at that time– before my bottom–, i think i would have stuck with it for a while before getting bored, telling myself a couple lies about maintaining and then bid everyone adieu.
i needed to hit bottom so hard that i woke up in a hospital with my arms tied to the bed rails while my wife waited to see if the damage the pills did to my liver was fatal. i needed to hurt my son so badly he refused to talk to me for three weeks. i needed to see my daughter sobbing in the hallway after visiting me where she thought she no one could see her.
i’m intelligent enough but i’m not very bright. i needed all of that crap to hit me in the face to make me realize that AA would continue with or without me, but that i could not continue without AA.
Literally. Today is Epiphany because the 6th of January, Epiphany, is the Christian holiday celebrating the wise men visiting baby Jesus.
“Epiphany” is also the word that means “sudden realization of great truth”, and is basically how i’m going through the AA steps. With each step, i’ve had an epiphany where i’ve understood the essence of the step.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
My realization here was the second part of that sentence. Everyone knows the part about “powerless over alcohol”, but when i heard the “unmanageable” thing, my recovery kicked off. i clued in that the way i’d been living my life wasn’t working.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
My sponsor helped me with this one. He told me that AA Meetings were my Higher Power. By going to 4-5 meetings a week, i found something i could have faith in that wasn’t religious…something that paid me back more than i put into it.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
My epiphany with this step came at a meeting when i shared about how i had problems with humility and fear. It suddenly came to me that giving my will and life over to the care of God meant i had to be humble, because i was admitting “someone” else could do something that i couldn’t; namely, control my unmanageable life. On top of that, there was no reason to be afraid because i wasn’t in charge anymore. God was in the driver’s seat, so i no longer had to fear where the car was heading.
Like they say in the program,
Step 1: i came
Step 2: i came to
Step 3: i came to believe
Thanks to Mrs D, who made the link between Epiphany and Epiphany for me when we were in the shower.