It is all too easy for those of us addicts and alcoholics with a little time to forget just how difficult those earliest struggles with alcoholism and addiction were.
The good news for the newcomer is that, yes, it does get a lot easier as time goes by. There is a danger in that, though. It also makes it very easy to take that comfort for granted. When the addict or alcoholic forgets just how difficult those struggles were, what time we have put together is jeopardized.
There is a perverse logic to the disease. In my experience and from what I have learned about myself through The Steps, there is an underlying assumption that if I was able to get clean and sober, then anyone else should, too. After all the times I failed, despite how bad I was, I climbed out of the pit I dug, right? Aren’t I the one who conquered it?
To an extent, that might be true, but to an even greater extent, no, I did not. If the effort was solely mine, then I should have been able to do it on the first go-around, and without any real challenges, epiphanies, effort, or the piss-poor decisions fueled by an alcoholic/addict brain now-deprived of drugs and alcohol on which I could blame said decisions. Clearly, though, I did not get sober the first time around, and those incidents marking my sobriety did, and sometimes still do.
Really, if anything, the longer I drank and used, the harder it should have been for me to get out of it. So, how did it happen? The truth is, I do not know. Evidence showed that every day, I drank and used like it was going out of style. Every time I tried to stop, I did not. Nothing changed. So what happened on July 27, 2002 that was different?
Therein lies the miracle of sobriety. By all accounts, that day should have followed the pattern. All the same factors were there, as they had been the days, weeks, months, and years before. There is no real reason that on that day, I should get sober.
By definition, only God/A Higher Power is capable of performing a miracle. This is usually around the time that I scare the living yeah-that-stuff out of myself coming to the realization I am taking credit for That Being’s work and Grace. When I do that, it usually means I am about to lose that Grace, but (so far) yet another miracle then occurs. I, an alcoholic and inherently selfish and self-centered being, learn a bit of humility and compassion for someone struggling the same struggle that I should be experiencing.
Each time, the lesson sticks a little longer. The disease has a loud voice, and it sounds just like mine. It knows I am vain, and how to feed my ego. While it is feeding my ego, though, it is chopping up the vegetables, throwing them into the pot, turning up the heat, and getting ready to eat me alive.
Remember: to some extent, luck is all that separates the newcomer from the old-timer.