A Sober Horse Thief

Occasionally during one of my meetings, I hear an old phrase that I haven’t heard in awhile.  At Monday’s meeting, I not only heard not one, but two golden oldies.  Plus I learned one that was new to me and one that made me weep a bit.

How about the two oldies first?

You can sober up a drunken horse thief and you still have a horse thief.”

Simply, put, if an alcoholic puts down the bottle but doesn’t addresses the root causes of behaviors that perpetuate the drinking, then his or her tendency to still have those behaviors is great.

I know I’m not alone in the experience of encountering extremely angry, although sober, people in recovery.  My guess–and I am only an expert through my own experience, not because I play one on TV–is that extreme anger is but a symptom of a deeper problem.  Hooray for the sober part–and that is huge–but please get honest with the rest of the factors that motivate you to behave badly or, at a minimum, cause you misery and pain.

“Drinking again makes as much sense as stepping into the ring with Muhammad Ali.  You can’t win.”

For those of us who truly believe we’re 10 feet tall and bullet-proof when fortified with our own brand of poison, then we are delusional.  But the actual delusion that we talked about in Monday’s meeting was having a period of sobriety and thinking (or not) that “this time will be different.”

My friend said she actually told herself on a bad morning after that she was sure she just needed to give up the carbonation. Uh huh.  That’s like saying if I would only look left, the punch from the right wouldn’t happen.

No mas.  No more.  My drinking was no longer about carbonation or potency or whether it came in a can, bottle or box.  My drinking looked like Ali’s knock-out opponents–just about as ugly as they come.

Now for the new saying heard in Monday’s meeting:

“I figure I wake up every morning with untreated alcoholism.  Each day is about treating my disease.”

I’m told that this golden image arrived in North Texas via one of our peeps visiting Floria.  Don’t you love the way it places the disease squarely on the shoulders of the individual?  There is absolutely no room for a victim or a “pour me” to reside in that space of waking up.

I love the no-nonsense and realistic approach.  And here’s the really cool part:  Should you adopt this morning mantra, it doesn’t mean you have to sit around first thing talking about what you are and what you’re not.  I pretty much disdain labels but I do have a huge appreciation for accepting truth.  My truth is I have the disease of alcoholism.  Why not acknowledge that first thing?  No boo-hoo, why-me mentality, just a matter-of-fact statement that invites a daily course of treatment.

Now for the sentences that caused me to weep:

“I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what is or isn’t.  God reveals that information to me when He figures I can handle it.  If He gave it all to me when I sobered up, I would have had little choice but to kill myself.”

God bless my friend Joe.  I really want his peace and serenity.  He has a gentle way of simplifying things and cutting straight through the drama and tension that is too often  my life.  He also says things like, “What can I do to help?” and “You know I’m here for you.”

I find that I do spend far too much time worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future.  My mind wears out its own carpet wandering back and forth between what I could’ve, would’ve or should’ve said 10 days, four months or two years ago.

Yes, there are times when I’m still a horse thief and times when I do begin to crawl back into Ali’s ring.

Then I remember that those are choices available to me.  Thank God for choices.  They mean I get to choose better ones today.


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