So it’s official: James Bond was a drunk. As the immortal Louie of Casablanca said, “I’m shocked… shocked!”
Not really. Any drunk can spot another drunk, and Bond, well he’s the poster child right? That’s why we idolize him still. Wine, women and adventure. Our Walter Middy’s run amok with such fantasies. But that’s why this humorous new study is actually quite important. It challenges the myth. When it comes to drinking, the myths nearly always win out.
The myths haunted me in rehab. I was a month into a six-month inpatient program and still trying to figure out how I could finagle drinking and sobriety at the same time. Only when I did a thorough study of core beliefs, things that went back to the deepest memories of my childhood did I realize that my thinking prized those like James Bond and Ernest Hemingway and men’s men who drank and wrote and loved women and lived hard. I finally put this belief in a statement: “People who don’t drink are weak.”
If I was going to get sober and stay sober, I had to take a wrecking ball to that core belief. It was perhaps the most difficult step in a long journey that now peeks ahead to my four-and-a-half year sobriety mark. Back then, I never, ever, dreamed I’d speak of such things let alone celebrate them.
One of the ways I got out the wrecking ball was to actually document my drinking, just like they did for ole James Bond here.
I did an exercise where I worked out my alcohol budget for a random month prior to rehab. I did the best I could to document my spending patterns. Inexpensive wine for every night of the week. Hard alcohol for night caps. Long Island Iced Teas and Margaritas for company. Happy Hours at least twice a week. Expensive wines for my collection and again, for company. Beer for football and sports bars. Vodka for heavy stress, which was often. Scotch and cognac for those times I wanted to feel like my shit didn’t stink.I learned James Bond had nothing on me.
Seriously, 13 drinks a night, that’s why they discovered about 007? No problem. I used to tell people all the time my mantra: “I don’t drink any more than one drink an hour, just like the guidelines say…. Not to exceed 24 drinks in any one-day period, of course.”
I figured out my wife and I could have driven a his and hers Mercedes for what we spent on booze each month. You do that shit in rehab. You count. Because its rude to count before you hit rehab.
Whoever did this study… well, I’d guess that guy or gal’s been to rehab. We count in there.
The myths of drinking sustain the drinker. “I can handle it.” “It’s fun, not harmful.” “I only take the edge off.” “I don’t drink that much.” “All my friends drink.” “If I drink too much, and I only say IF, then I’m a functioning alcoholic, because I don’t have any problems related to it.” And even more subtly and powerfully, “When I drink, I’m like James Bond.” No drunk says that one out loud, but we think it.
For me I had to recognize that I disdained those who didn’t drink. If they were Jesus Freaks who condemned drinking, they were just scared of life to me. Worse, I hated drunks. If they couldn’t handle their booze, they were the epitome of weak. I believed this so deeply it took days and days of drilling down to even admit it, much less own it.
Eventually, the walls of my myth came down. I discovered people in recovery were among the most strong and heroic and real folks I’d met. The weakest of the bunch was me, someone propped up a lie and myth and image that was killing him and ruining his life. Slowly, I changed my core belief. It now says, “When I drink I am weak. When I don’t drink I am me.”
I’d much rather be me than James Bond. As this study says, Bond likely died from alcohol-related illness in his fifties. I’m in my forties and I’ve never been healthier. I’m going to outlive James Bond (God willing)… and my life is far more fuller because of it.
EffinArtists.com was born in rehab. It’s a celebration of a wide-angled life, one full of pursuits and hobbies and interests, all things I lost when my telephoto life centered on drinking. If James Bond means anything to me, it’s a guy who needs to start the 12th step and nothing more.
I joke a lot on on this site, but this I’m deadly serious. If you read this and connect with any of it, the True EffinArtist who writes across the sky may just have led you here. I’m not going to try to baptize you, or change you, or scare you. I just want to listen. Contact me. Go to EffinArtists.com and click to our contact page. Drop me a quick note. I’ll get in touch. I’ll listen. I walk with you.
And if you are hesitating at all, know this. You are doing me a favor. The 12th step in AA tells me the surest way I stay sober is to be of service to others… “to carry out this message to others…” So help me stay sober. Drop me a line.