The Alcoholic and Control

“Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way.  If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great.  Everybody, including himself, would be pleased.  Life would be wonderful.” – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 60-61

How many times have we believed that if a person would only act exactly the way we think they should, complete a task the way we think it needed to be done, and say everything just the right way, it would all turn out to be nothing short of perfect?  Haven’t we thought if a particular place would only accommodate us in the way we believed we deserved, thinking ourselves to be an unknown member of the Royal Family, our treatment would allow us to then be beneficent?  Hasn’t frustration wound us up when something didn’t go just our way, causing us to retaliate and behave with venomous attacks or passive aggressive, backhanding comments?  Don’t we speak through gritted teeth and forced smiles sure that everyone and everything, everywhere, would only do our bidding, as we so believe it is meant to be done, we could successfully function in the world?

Time and time again we try to arrange and manipulate situations to some script we have secreted away from the rest of humanity.  We try to feed lines to others, believing them to be at our bidding and perform our play as it is written in our heads.  We try to create scenarios where we become the victor, the hero, the savior, the good guy, the white knight, et al.  While attempting these superhuman feats to dominate the world around us, believing that the only option is the option that serves us the best, we fall flat and sink further with every move.  Our self-serving, controlling attempts cause others strife and consternation and that’s on a good day.

One of the key lessons that can be learned while in a California drug rehabilitation center is the understanding that we cannot control people, places, and/or things.  It is a lesson that we encounter and relearn over and over again, in a multitude of ways.  There are times when it can be difficult to hold to this concept.  More often than not, we find that it is imperative for us to actively place this tenet in our new-found life so that we may, in fact, be available and of service to others, not as we believe they should be, but as they actually are.

Life and Struggles in Sobriety

When we are new in sobriety, there are times we believe that everything henceforth will be nothing but smooth sailing.  Now that the bottle’s been put down, life will move forward and all will be well, with no other struggle as great again.

This is simply untrue.  Life is just that, life.  Before the drug met our veins or the bottle met our lips, life posed challenges.  Challenges do not cease in sobriety.  We learn, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly that we are and will be still challenged, often in ways with which we aren’t quite as familiar.  Our both favorite & hated numbing agent is gone, leaving us bare to the world, and that includes being subjected to its struggles and embracing its joys.

Part of what working a program of Recovery includes is learning how to live with and survive in the struggles that occur in life.  We are given the opportunity to be brought to a place where calamity can meet serenity.  Where we can survive the pain and embrace the joy and be toppled over by neither.

One of the many gifts of sobriety is being able to feel, truly feel and live in those feelings without being devoured by them.  We are given the opportunity to not walk as zombies through life but to have experiences which enrich our lives and allow us to bring those experiences to the people around us, showing them that they too, as time moves on, will be able to share exactly as you have.  Our gift is being able to be, have feelings and pass on our legacy of sobriety.  It’s not always easy; it is, however, always worth it.