More Revealed's Own Horror Stories

Real Courage

Six Years Later
March 3rd, 2006

I don't know where to begin. I started drinking when I was around fifteen. My drug use consisted mainly of pot and LSD. After high school I joined the Navy, and that was when my drinking really took off. I hated being in the Navy. I lacked confidence in myself and found that physical and verbal abuse were tolerated and even encouraged on the boat. I was told I was incompetent, stupid, a retard, over and over again until I believed it. It wasn't much of a stretch because I didn't like myself much to begin with. The only thing I could do right was drink with the other guys and get in trouble. I would cut myself with razors and do foolish things to get attention. At one point I doused my hands with lighter fluid and set them on fire while I was drinking. By then I had a little over a year left in my enlistment. My hands had to be bandaged because there were blisters with pus coming out of them. I think that was when I first vowed to quit drinking, and found that I wasn't able to. I was, once again, the laughing stock of the boat.

There was one guy on the crew who was sober in AA. Not long after the burnt up hands incident I told him I wanted to quit drinking. He took me to some meetings and, I think, sincerely wanted to help me. We were stationed in Hawaii. I heard some pretty whacky stuff at the meetings. One lady talked about how she had never gotten on her knees until one day her son had to go to the hospital, or something. Then she got on her knees and prayed to God and after that she became enlightened. Another lady told me some people didn't make it because they "thought too much." I had problems with that. I had always prided myself on my intellect and was a voracious reader at an early age. Later, when I came back to AA, I attributed my doubts to my alcoholic mind. If you are determined to think for yourself, you are obviously a sick, suffering alcoholic and most likely in denial.

After leaving the boat and coming back to my home state, I continued to drink even though I'd promised myself I wouldn't. I had been to enough meetings back in Hawaii to be haunted by the things people said- it was progressive, I was powerless. One night I got drunk at a restaurant and ruined a good friend's birthday dinner. Soon after I had to move in with my parents because I was broke and unemployable. One of my dad's friends agreed to take me to a meeting. This man later left his wife of nearly thirty years for a woman he met in AA who is a good deal younger than he is. He was around fourteen years sober at the time. I'm sure it must have been God's will.

The night of that first meeting back home, I was so terrified that I was ready to believe anything. The truly odd thing my mind did was this: I actually had to make myself crave a drink. By this time I had screwed things up so badly that I never wanted to drink again. I did NOT have any cravings for alcohol. However, the people at the meeting said I had to in order to be an alcoholic. They all seemed so happy and healthy that I wanted to be like them. It was a better alternative than how I'd been living. So the next morning I got up, walked down the hall and looked at the bottle of wine my dad had sitting on the bar. Mind you, I'd been living at home nearly a month by then, walking by that bottle every day and not even paying attention to it. I clearly had made my choice to not drink. But by that morning, I'd read the big book and so I stared at that bottle and convinced myself that I had an uncontrollable urge to drink it. That was all it took. I went to ninety meetings in ninety days and got a sponsor. I cried and spilled my guts to him. He hugged me and we read the big book together. I still had to work very hard to convince myself I was just like everyone else in the room. The fact that I thought I was different was a sign of denial. For the next five and a half years, I listened to people explain how they'd snapped at their wife, or cussed out a clerk, or stolen from someone or thought negative thoughts about the guy next to them in traffic, all because they had an alcoholic mind.

That was the thing that finally made me decide to walk away. I could no longer listen to people, people with years and years of sobriety, blame their troubles on their disease. The disease was out in the parking lot doing pushups. The disease made them look at porn obsessively. The disease made them overeat until they had abcesses all over their bodies. The steps were the solution to everything. I put off going to trade school, because I had an alcoholic mind and needed to work on my issues. I had doubts all along. I was afraid to admit them because I'd been programmed to not use critical thinking. At around five years sober I began to study philosophy—Plato, Bertrand Russell, Spinoza and some others. I saw how half-assed and poorly thought out AA doctrine was. I decided that prayer was just a way of making oneself feel better, so I quit praying. This did not sit well with my sponsor. He told me someone was in charge of making the leaves turn color, and that someone was my higher power. He told me I could write my troubles down on helium balloons and let them go. Finally he told me it was only a matter of time before I started drinking, and that was the last time I talked to him.

Somewhere in the big book it says that faith is the way of strength (I can't look it up because I threw my big book in the trash). I don't think so. I think it takes real courage and strength to walk away from years of programming. I think it takes real courage to take on responsibility for one's own actions, to always be questioning one's beliefs instead of following the twelve step crowd. There are so many more things I would like to say, but I hope this little tale is helpful to someone. We don't have to live in bondage. And it is bondage to base your entire life around bad decisions you made in the past, to live in fear of a chemical compound that can't hurt you unless you decide to drink it. I have not been to a meeting in months. With all the extra time I have taught myself how to write HTML and will soon be graduating from trade school.

At last I am becoming the person I always wanted to be, with no help from any imaginary higher power and no need for a a scorching and fruitless demoralizing inventory of myself. If this is what having an alcoholic mind is like, I want to keep it.