After twenty-five years of heavy drinking, and a ten-year battle with alcoholism, my sobriety is going very well. But deep in my soul I know I am one major catastrophe away from succumbing to my addiction again.
I am at peace with my sobriety. I have learned that alcohol is a poison that would eventually have killed me from physical damage done to my body, or from bad decisions of an alcohol-warped brain. I have learned to cope with everyone else’s drinking in social situations where the relationships are important to me. I have learned to avoid social situations where the relationships are secondary and the events are poorly disguised excuses to get drunk. I have learned that the strength of my marriage and my success as a father depend on my sobriety. All of this learning makes me feel content. All of this knowledge makes me happy.
I like being sober. But I long for the confidence that my sobriety will survive catastrophe.
Sometimes I think about how I would react to major devastation. What would I do if my family fell victim to domestic terrorism? What would I do if narcissistic rhetoric resulted in nuclear war? What would I do if my house burned down? What would I do if my wife or one of my children were severely injured or killed?
I know what I would do. I would drink. I would drink heavily in an attempt to kill – not lessen or manage – but kill the pain. I would drink whisky not beer. There would be no mixer. I would drink without regard for social acceptability. I would get as drunk as possible and stay that way for a very long time.
I am not proud of this answer. I hope to someday be stronger – be more confident and comfortable in my sobriety – and know no matter the catastrophe I face, I will not turn to the bottle. I hope that day will come. Today is not that day. I will continue to pray major catastrophe never comes. For now, my sobriety depends on it.
And yet in my weakness, I find comfort. The very tenuous nature of my sobriety – the fact that my scratching and clawing from The Pit of despair could be erased in an instant by a factor that is beyond my control keeps me humble and prayerful. It reminds me that I can’t control the uncontrollable. The fragility keeps my attention. My weakness makes me strong. My insecurity gives me confidence.