I’m a recovering drunk. It’s plain and simple. If I put alcohol or drugs into my system there’s no telling when I’ll be able to stop, shy of passing out. It is what it is. There’s no changing it, no reversing the clock, no going back to a time when I could drink responsibly. If I pick up a drink, within a matter of weeks I’ll be right back where I left off. Period, end of narrative.
I’m sure there are millions of people out there who think that last paragraph is horseshit, that if I just practiced some magical self-control, I’d be able to drink like normal people. This is perfectly okay with me. My reality does not require anyone else’s blessing or understanding. I’ve tried enough different ways to regulate my consumption of alcohol to know the only thing that really works is complete abstinence. I am perfectly happy with this reality – better to be happy than dead in a ditch. There are no acceptable excuses for my choosing to live as a practicing drunk, not even heredity (for which there is a mountain of scientific data).
In my case, as in almost every “excuse” case out there (including obesity), my excuse is all the more reason to abstain from that which will surely kill me. Let’s use obesity as another example to make the case as obvious as possible. Let’s say I overeat and under-exercise and I end up obese. A typical excuse would be, “Well it runs in the family, it’s genetics”. The excuse itself is all the more reason that I should be living a healthier life, not a reason for my being overweight. Let’s say, just for fun, I have a history of heart disease that runs in my family. This is not an excuse for needing heart surgery after a lifetime of eating unhealthy foods, it’s all the more reason I should be concentrating on foods that are better for my heart and a lot of exercise.
Let’s look at this with another disease, Alzheimer’s: Even though there is no evidence of dementia and heredity (if anything there is scant evidence that it “skips” generations), I know good and well I get every one of my dad’s genes. Comparing photos at the appropriate ages, we could have passed for brothers. While never obese, he did have a stint at “overweight” as well. Due to these realities, I adapted the way I live so that I give myself the best chance to avoid problems in the future – I eat “brain food” and exercise regularly (the latter is better against Alzheimer’s than the former, according to research but why not go with an “all of the above” approach, eh?).
There is a flip-side to this, however. I also know that I don’t do righteous indignation well. I wish this were otherwise. Alas, it isn’t. If I concentrate on how much everyone else is doing wrong I just end up miserable because I can’t do anything about what someone else chooses to do (no matter how much I don’t like it). Not only that, when we concentrate on what we think others are doing wrong, we tend to miss the stupid $#!+ we screw up all on our own – and therein lies the rub.
Sadly, I’m like most anyone else, I’m nowhere near perfect. I just do my best to be happy and call the rest good, keeping in mind that my happiness centers rigorous honesty. Not rigorous honesty about other people, places or things… I can’t control any of that. I can only control the person I look at in the mirror every morning before I put shaving cream on his face….