I’m a list maker. It’s nearly a compulsion. I have lists everywhere. I have lists of my 12 favorite books, my five favorite baseball parks, my all-time baseball team, my to-do lists for tomorrow, my to-do lists for the month, the list of stuff I want to do around the house… well, whatdya know, Ijust made a new list: a list of lists.
I got a problem here, I know.
Anyway, I came across an old list I made up shortly after I got out of rehab. My first sponsor was the first guy I could find, who was a homeless guy with just a few teeth, a terrible smoking habit and a serious commitment to Alcoholics Anonymous. I liked him and he prodded me forward. One of the ideas he had was to make a list of why I thought I ended up a boozer. Like sick ’em to a dog, I made my list.
Looking back on it now, it still rings true. But I’m so far removed from that guy that I read it now with a sense of freedom. That’s what they mean when we say we celebrate recovery. At first the idea of never drinking again sounds like a death sentence. I truly believed life would never be fun again. I didn’t believe I’d never drink again. Now, not only am I having the time of my life, I don’t even want to drink. It’s amazing how the brain changes.
I share this list today as nothing more than an oddity, a peek back to a much more difficult time. But if you’re there… wondering if you have a problem or knowing you have one and can’t possibly imagine life without booze, well, read on. Here’s why I am an alcoholic. Maybe you can try making your own list.
Twenty reasons why I’m an alcoholic…
1) Because I’ve been rebellious all my life. What better way to rebel?
2) because my image was built on the caricature of a “real man” or a “sophisticated man,” a writer like Hemingway, etc. In other words my self-esteem was tied up living on the edge, drinking in the good life, collecting wine, etc. I went so far as to buy a bar just so I could have my own corner table
3) because I used it to ignore stress. I thought I was like the “Godfather” who solved everyone’s problems, when in fact I was stressed out of my mind and needed to drink to calm my anxiety
4) because I thought it made me fun and helped me break out of my uncomfortability in social settings
5) because business deals and work meetings are best conducted in bars
6) because I avoided my inner fears for decades by drowning them with alcohol
7) because I feared abandonment by everyone who matters to me
8) because I am weak and afraid
9) because I’ve been disappointed with myself for years, especially with my lack of follow through and lasting success
10) because I really, really, really love wine!
11) because I’m very reckless, so of course, I push everything to the extremes, including how much/how often I drink
12) because I’m powerless and basically out of control
13) because I’m lonely and felt unloved most of my life
14) because my parents really stressed me out and ultimately left me feeling undefended against the world
15) because I grew up feeling I pissed off everyone around me
16) because I suck at saying “no” to myself and/or others, which creates a big fucking mess of instant gratification most of the time
17) because drinking made my bad choices easier to deal with
18) because I wanted to prove all the “fundamentalists” wrong about drinking
19) because I love the show “Cheers” and still love happy hours
20) because I’m a complete fucking idiot.
See, aren’t lists just great?! It’s all in how you look at it. When I wrote that list a couple of years ago I never wanted a drink so bad in my life. Now, I read it and thank God for all She’s done in my life. So yes, lists are great. It’s all in how you look at it.