I have to confess to being a lifelong James Bond Fan.
From the moment that the white amphibious Lotus emerged from the Sea in “the Spy who loved me” I was hooked!!
I remember leaving my local Cinema running home, diving in and out of Bushes and singing ‘Nobody Does it better’ a la Carly Simon.
In looking back at my early drinking days I remember them as ‘The James bond years’. Glamorous and exciting!
Sadly my friends and families recollection of those times are very different.
It was therefore with interest that I listened to the news this morning when they ran a story that Alcoholics Anonymous saw a different Bond to the one of my childhood. I had to smile wryly given my own history.
Was he an alcoholic was the question raised.
I started drinking at an early age and at the time and even retrospectively I remembered them as ‘good times’.
Years of working the 12 Steps of AA has led me to wake up from this delusion. I have come to understand that I am not alone in mistakenly believing that alcohol contributed to my ‘charisma’ rather than detracted from it.
I would always tell anyone who cared to listen that a few ‘orangebooms’ would make me a better dancer, far more handsome and funnier than I was without it.
So whilst the story in The Guardian was tongue in cheek this morning it does raise an important issue and illustrates the lengths I was prepared to go to deny my addiction.
Breaking that denial is the first courageous step in getting well. The disease of addiction is unique in that sufferers will go to any length to avoid acknowledging that they have it.
Here are five common ‘methods’ of denial to look for:
I only drink at weekends
This was an old favourite of mine.
It allowed me to rationalize and justify my drinking.
Everyone drinks at the weekend? There’s no work tomorrow so what the hell?
I realized over time that I was an expert at deluding myself. It was only when understanding that my definition of a weekend began on Thursday morning and finished Wednesday night that I began to accept I might have a problem.
All my friends drink with me and they are not alcoholics
In the “JB years” I was a sociable alcoholic and this allowed me to tell myself that all my friends drink like me and as often as me.
It was only over time that I woke up to the fact that I had a collection of friends that drunk on different nights allowing me to drink daily without shattering this illusion.
I still had a job so I can’t be an alcoholic, can I?
As with many people, my perception of what made an alcoholic was formulated by TV and movies.
I saw ‘them’ as down and outs homeless and destitute drinking meths out of a paper bag. This misconception kept me drinking for a few more years.
Whilst it is true that some peoples “rock bottom” can take them to a park bench I have come to realize that it doesn’t need to.
Broken relationships, lost jobs, crashed cars, serious health issues and ultimately death is the stark reality if my addiction was allowed to progress.
I was fortunate enough to be ‘educated’ to understand that where I was was bad enough and that I could choose to get better NOW.
People liked me and I was having a good time!!
This line of thinking was particularly relevant in the Bond years. I thought I was liked because of my drinking……not despite it! It was a vital part of who I was.
Years of sobriety and plenty of mended relationships have led to conversations where my loved ones tell me I am a far better person sober than I ever was drunk.
I had to be patient in waiting for these relationships to heal but Addiction is a family disease and as I got better so did my family and we grew together.
You would drink if you had a life like mine!
As I left the early years of my alcoholism behind and it became less romantic and a bit darker I had to realign my denial. It no longer worked that I was a ‘martini…..shaken not stirred’ drinker.
Self-pity seemed a natural step……Why me? was a common question I asked myself. This allowed me to isolate and detach from everyone and everything both emotionally and physically.
I have often heard this described as ‘terminal uniqueness’. I felt alone and it was killing me.
Happily, there is a way out and my time in recovery centres and subsequent experiences in 12 Step fellowships have cleared away the mist.
Life can be exciting and adventurous without those mornings of wondering what I had done and who I had hurt.