Saturday, July 3, 2010

Out with the old

As has been clearly demonstrated thus far in this blog, October of 2008 was an eventful time in the life of Family Bowles. I knew the accident and the charges were a signal of needed changes in my life, but I was not sure of what those changes were exactly or how to go about the action of change.

I had always wondered if I had a drinking problem, especially since my father was an active alcoholic until his death in 2005. The night I was arrested I stood in the holding cell and I knew that I could no longer drink alcohol. It was no longer a question. It was easy to see the progression of harm that had come to my life because of my choice to continue to imbibe. I had previously attended AA for a couple of years before and during graduate school, but I left the fellowship after grad school. It was not long before I began drinking again. A couple of beers with buddies after work would eventually turn into occasional late night bar hopping and then daily use of alcohol and pot. The warning signs of needed change were present, but I did not want to acknowledge them. I rationalized that I since I had a good job, and I was not getting into any trouble, that I must be fine. The funny thing about the truth is that it does not stay hidden for long, no matter how hard you attempt to ignore it.

Though I did not want to admit it, my marijuana usage had become my main priority, and probably the most important thing in my life. Though I had quit drinking several times in my life, once I started smoking pot at the age of 23, I had not really ever stopped using for more than a few days at any time, even during my membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. I convinced myself that I had a problem with alcohol, not pot, and since the only requirement for membership in AA was a desire to stop drinking, I considered my use of pot as an outside issue and therefore irrelevant to my membership in AA. Oh, how easy it is to convince the willing! So once we found an attorney to handle the legal issues I was facing, I decided to look for help with my personal issues. I decided I would find an AA meeting.

I attended my first AA meeting in several years on a Wednesday night, less than one week after the accident. I sat in the meeting as a newcomer to the program again, and listened to the familiar readings and the familiar stories. One of the comforting things about AA is that no matter where you are, you can find a meeting, and even though the people in the meeting may be different, the stories, problems and - most importantly - the solution, are always the same. I hung around after the meeting and got a few phone numbers, and even asked a guy to be my temporary sponsor. Two nights later my wife had plans with friends and took Sophie with her, leaving me home alone on a Friday night, exactly one week since my arrest. It had been a long and stressful week, and I wanted a break. I still had my stash of pot in the garage, and I decided that no harm would come from a couple of bong hits. That smoking session was probably the worst high I had ever had. I could not enjoy it at all, instead all I could experience was the guilt of the accident, and self hatred at the fact that I was getting high even after all that had transpired. It was awful, there was no longer any escape. I couldn't get away from my feelings. What was I going to do now? The illusions that I had built for myself were starting to fade, the truth was not going to stay hidden from view any longer. During the worst crisis I had ever faced, I was realizing that I was going to have to face it. I was realizing that for me, there was no more escaping. I found myself at what I would later would later call the F.E.A.R. cross roads. F.E.A.R. is an acronym highlighting the ultimate choice that every addict or alcoholic has to make: I could either face everything and recover, or f*** everything and run. Well it looked like my running days were over, and I was going to have to face up to my decisions, face up to my feelings, and face up to myself. How the hell was I going to do that? I sat on my couch experiencing the worst high I had ever had, and I felt more alone than I ever had. I could not even reach the God of my understanding. At that moment it was me and my disease, and I fully experienced complete powerlessness for possibly the first time in my life. Alone and scared, I did not know what I was going to do. Little did I know the wonderful universe had already been putting things in place that would help me.

It was time to try something new.