Hide and seek
Recently I was visiting at a friend’s home when they (not so covertly) hid from me a bottle of wine that had been sitting on their kitchen counter. I’m certain said friend thought the stash had been made while I was looking away, because otherwise there would really be no point. Initially I was a little offended, so I spoke about it with a sober alcoholic woman who is very close to me.
“Most people think we alcoholics are constantly battling the temptation to drink,” she said. “Your friend probably thought he was doing you a favor.”
“Oh. Yeah. I guess I never thought of it like that.”
Since this incident I’ve spoken with a few non-alcoholic friends and family members about what they think it’s like to be a sober alcoholic. The resounding theme is that it’s all about will power. By consciously deciding minute by brow-sweating minute that we will not drink, no matter how much we want to; no matter how much our bodies and minds must be craving it. No matter what, we are in control of choosing not to drink. It would stand to reason then, that my friend hid the wine. Why put something that I must so badly be in desire of RIGHT in front of my face?
Fortunately, this is not how it works for longer term sobriety. If it was, I wouldn’t be typing this; I’d be drunk. I could not live with a craving so overpowering. I simply do not have the will power. In the early stages, these cravings are absolutely real and soul crushing. They are almost impossible to ignore going it alone. For me, it took the support of many women also in recovery. It took a specifically designed program of recovery. And above all, it took the surrendering of my will to God. Miraculously, the craving and obsession to consume alcohol was lifted for me relatively early along. What keeps me sober now isn’t steering clear of any scenario where alcohol might be present, it’s keeping God first and practicing a program of recovery that involves service and unity with other alcoholics.
This is not to say that I treat alcohol lightly. Aside from an occasional one to two beers that my husband purchases himself, we do not keep alcohol in our home. I still don’t walk down the wine aisle at the grocery store. Unless there’s a special event, I’m not going to hang out at a bar. The reason is two-fold; I know that if I consume alcohol I will die. I don’t say that flippantly, I say that with 100% certainty and seriousness. The second reason is that I just don’t have the desire to drink or be around people who drink excessively.
Bottom line, you don’t have to hide alcohol from me, or any other alcoholic who’s in active recovery. If you choose to, that’s completely okay, and I’m not offended. And to some degree, I get it. Just know that my sobriety does not rest on whether or not alcohol is present. If it did, I wouldn’t be sober.