Sober since April 6, 2006


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

an allegory: my relationship with alcohol

Note: This is a allegory (I suppose the proper term is allegory -- or metaphor/analogy) that I started writing last September. In every AA story I've heard, alcohol started out like a "friend", but became an abusive "enemy" over time. The premise of this story was to describe that transition and answer the question, "If alcohol was a person, what would our relationship have been like?" This is how I would describe that relationship -- how it started, how it evolved, how it is today:

The first time I met this guy, I didn't know what to think. I liked the way he made me feel about myself, but something about him just gave me the creeps. Being so busy with other things at the time, I quickly forgot about him and ran along with my life.

Years later, I bumped into him again. And again, I liked the way he made me feel about myself. But this time he didn't seem quite so creepy. So I spent more time with him.

We got along great together! Soon we were best friends. We hung out on the weekends and shared many fun times. We started having so much fun on the weekends that he started visiting in the evenings too.

I would often think about him during my day. I would wonder how he came to know me so well after such a short time together. It amazed me that he always seemed to know how to calm me down whenever I felt stressed out or upset. When we were together, all of my emotional insecurities disappeared. He made me feel good about myself. I couldn't wait to see him again!

Things were great between us. There was nothing he didn't understand. There was no problem he couldn't fix. He was my best friend.

But somehow, things slowly started to change. He started showing up earlier in the evenings, and staying over later. Soon he was barging in during the afternoons. His appearances during the wee morning hours seemed intrusive. Let's just face it -- 3am is too early!

I started wishing that he wouldn't come over quite so often. I enjoyed sharing some of my time with him, but I didn't like how he started to take over my life.

So I gently resisted him, trying to make him feel less and less welcome. But the more I resisted, the more forceful he became.

I suddenly realized that he was no longer the great guy I thought he was. He seemed to be transitioning into some sort of bully. I didn't like the way he was treating me.

Although I resisted him, his forcefulness eventually overcame me. He was bigger and stronger than I was. I couldn't outrun him. I couldn't stop him. I was completely powerless over him. Over time, my whole life slipped out of control, and I was filled with fear. I felt like a prisoner in my own home.

Gone were the happy days when he made me feel good about myself. Now he made me feel like the scum of the earth. He no longer helped me to calm down. Instead, he intentionally stressed me out. He no longer helped me to have fun. Instead, he constantly made me cry.

He would never leave. Whenever I tried to escape, he caught me.

I longed for those good, happy days. I mourned as time passed, because my former friend was growing stronger, meaner, and more ruthless by the second. Those happy days would never come again.

I felt my life shrink away as he took a stronger hold of it. The more I resisted, the more domineering he became.

I lost what little hope I had. I only had room for one emotion: despair.

Finally, he was particularly cruel one day. As I wrestled with the last bit of strength I had, I knew deep inside that it was all over. I closed my eyes, asked God for mercy, and braced for the inevitable impact that I knew would end my life.

Suddenly, a bright light flooded the darkness and forcefully knocked him into a shadowy corner. Where did that light come from? A window covering had fallen during our scuffle.

During this moment of clarity, I noticed for the first time how dark it had become in my home. As he cowered in the corner shading his eyes from the light, I discovered that each and every window was covered in a thick black cloth. Why hadn't I noticed before? I had become accustomed to living in darkness.

I studied him in the corner. He nervously fidgeted in the dark shadow, seemingly terrified of the light. After all, it was the sudden burst of light that knocked him away from me.

Then I finally realized: He couldn't enter the light -- it repulsed him. He could only stand in the shadows. No wonder all of the windows had been blocked -- the darkness gave him full reign over my home!

The one open window provided a path of light leading to the next covered window. I glanced in the direction of the next window, and back at him.

His furious eyes pierced my soul as I strode over to the window and tore down the curtains. He shrank even further into the shadow as more light filled the room.

Finally, I was no longer hopeless. I was amazed to realize that I didn't have to let him kill me.

But I needed help -- I didn't know what to do next.

Fortunately there was a group of people who knew how to deal with this kind of unwanted intruder, and they were willing to help me.

How did they know? They had the same experience that I did.

They sympathized with me when I shared my story. They explained that this unwanted friend would be with me for the rest of my life and would grow increasingly abusive if I didn't take immediate and continuous action.

My heart sank at this news. I was hoping there would be a way to either get him out of my home permanently, or to fix him so that he would be back to his old friendly self. Apparently neither option was possible. I allowed him into my life so many times that he became a permanent fixture.

But they said there is still hope: I can't fix him or eliminate him, but I can prevent him from appearing. All I have to do is get rid of ALL the darkness in my home and continually fill it with light. I must live in that light.

They explained that my light source can be whatever I want it to be: the sun, lamps, ceiling fixtures, wall lights, candles, whatever. I just need to take certain steps to renovate my house to eliminate the shadow.

I also needed to take certain steps to fix myself as well. I had become so accustomed to living in darkness that I needed to learn how to live in the light.

It all seemed so difficult, but I didn't have to do it all alone. They offered to help me. After all, they had to do this themselves.

They shared with me their stories and experiences, and all were similar to mine. Hearing their experience, strength, and hope gave me the encouragement I needed to take action.

Since then, I have learned how to renovate my home and fill it with more light to keep my unwanted friend at bay. There are still a few shadowy corners here and there, but I'm working on those. I'm still learning how to live in the light. This will be a life-long endeavor, but it beats the alternative.

Sometimes I start to feel bad about myself. I think back to those "good old days" when my friend and I had such good times together, and I sometimes wish to experience those good times again. Sometimes I feel like I can trust him again.

But one glance at a shadowy corner brings me back to reality: My "friend" no longer likes me. It creeps through the shadows seeking to dominate my life. It tried to kill me. And if I extend my hand, it will try to kill me again.

On my bad days, I can see it lurking in the shadows. But I can always get rid of it by letting more light in. This has become a daily task, sometimes an hourly task, or sometimes even a task I must complete every few minutes. But success comes one moment at a time, by living in the light.

There is hope today, and for that I am grateful.


LAS said...

I love this!!!! What an accurate description - it brought back so many feelings for me of how things transitioned through my drinking. Great writing!

simsample said...

Wow! Great writing- I can relate to this, although the guy in my scenario would be depression, not alcohol.

Wendy A said...

You, my dear, are fucking awesome. Any further thoughts on this loser's twin brother?

Shadow said...

that is a very well written 'story'. thanks for writing it and posting it.

Khakra said...

that's awesome. you lived, you learned and now you will help, like the other people who helped you through this tough situation. Rock on!

Katia said...

Thanks for sharing this and giving me some things to think about.