Take Care

Alcoholics have a weird and inexplicable indifference to their own lives and the consequences of their actions. We act as though this is not our life, as though this is a test run. Most of us don’t quit until we have destroyed everything and everybody around us. All the while we think,” it’s not all that bad”, “I can stop when I want to”, “I’ll try to control it from now on”, and “… is sicker than me”.

A generalized lack of taking care can be observed in every alcoholic’s life. We don’t have ambitions for careers that require work. We’re usually not much interested in drinking enough water and getting good nutrition. We can’t show up for our own physical hygiene and medical care, and we usually don’t remember to do these things for our dependents, either - children, animals, and plants can consider themselves lucky if they survive. In the midst of a messy life with dried-up resources, suffocating in mounds of dirty dishes, laundry, and trash, while our neglected kids and pets are acting out in despair, we offer our ravaged bodies to others, hoping that they would make us feel good about ourselves… The irresistible need to GET some love and attention in a romantic or sexual way… makes us do foolish things, which sets us up for rejection, insult, and humiliation, where self-pity takes us to suicidal ideation. BUT we refuse to acknowledge the obvious and we don’t take “no” for an answer in such matters. Repeatedly we try to bully people into desiring us. If coercion doesn’t work, some of us go the extra mile towards trying to arouse someone's feelings via negative attention in a variety of ways, none of which works out in the end.

You see - we have a severe reaction to the truth. We lie around too sick to show up for the day, worry about the world, and blame others for not caring about us, as in “Everybody only thinks about themselves. Only I, I think of me.” An alcoholic life is a hard life, and we ruin people’s mood with incessant complaints and demands while we are busy seeking oblivion from the scary and chaotic life we bring about all around us. We want to “take the edge off” - and our children have to fend for themselves, without parental companionship. This is a blind spot for us, though. Fear makes us self-righteous and we refuse to acknowledge the obvious. We may still think we’re “cool” while people are feeling sorry for us. When our partners and families comment on it, we deny it. When they ask us to change, we resist it. When they leave us, we hate them for it.

In recovery we learn to take care of things, one step at a time, one day at a time. We get the chance to unravel the knots that have appeared like unsolvable riddles and insurmountable obstacles. As we become empowered, the fear subsides, and the need to blame diminishes. We realize that we can find some contentment, when we have our brain at our disposal and actively participate in life. Life becomes manageable when we have some faith and put one foot in front of the other. By being loving, compassionate, and forgiving to others, we find love and forgiveness for ourselves. By walking through fear, the hell we created gradually fades away into nothingness. By seeking to bring love and joy to those we touch, we find that this process creates love and joy around us.

Through tending and nurturing the wasteland that was my life, I can make it happen – I can bring into existence the life I want to be in.