Intellect and the Disease of Alcoholism – Grapevine Article by Bart H

Floundering after 15 dry years, he decided to stop thinking and start believing

My grandfather was an alcoholic and my mom was extremely knowledgeable about the disease. More than anything, she wanted to protect me from the alcoholism. She used a very common sense approach of sharing information and conveying the importance of will power. Her methods involved urging me to “try harder and work harder.” She had her own slogans, such as “Nothing good comes from the bottom of an empty beer bottle” and “If you drink you will be a failure.”

As a young boy I fell in love with aviation. All my thoughts surrounded flying and one day becoming a pilot. When going out to eat on my birthdays, I would always pick the restaurant at the airport so I could watch the airplanes come and go. I had the intelligence to succeed and I felt commitment was one of my assets. By the time I was 10 years old, I made a pact with myself that if I avoided alcohol, I would indeed someday become a pilot and fly. Regardless of my determination, I was addicted to drinking by my sophomore year of high school.

I drank for a nine-year period. Through the process of in-patient treatment, a motorcycle accident and outpatient treatment, I finally sobered up. The new sober me was very sure I had solved my problem and I did not see any reason to perform recovery work. I was now free to exercise my intellect and achieve success in the business world. I started to climb the corporate ladder and in no time at all, I was financially secure.

I came from a broken home and envied for my friends whose parents were together. I wanted more than anything to have a family life like theirs. My craving for family love and acceptance was so great that my desire to pick the right partner in life was extremely strong. I was motivated to break the cycle, repeating history was illogical and made no sense. In spite of my clear vision and will to be different than my parents, I said “yes” when I really meant “no” to marriage, regardless of my feeling that the woman was a wrong fit for me.

The relationship only lasted a short time and I was soon remarried to the love of my life. I felt like I was operating at the peak of my intelligence and all the good things in life were at my disposal. I was a success at last. Imagine my surprise when my house of cards began to fall. I was suffering from insanity associated with stepchildren and my relationship with the love of my life was falling apart. I started getting involved with the wrong people at work and making poor decisions. I ultimately ended up losing my career.

Getting fired was the most traumatic thing I have ever experienced. Although I was 15 years sober at the time, this was my bottom. From this pain came the willingness to transition from being “around” recovery to getting “into” recovery. This was my first realization that my intellect was insufficient in dealing with the disease of alcoholism.

During my 15-year dry period, I remember making statements like “I choose not to drink” and “drinking is not an option.” I thought that I could accomplish anything I made up my mind to do and was sure I could think of a solution for all my problems in life. Now I see that I was just stealing the credit for God’s handiwork.

As a result of these Steps, I am transitioning from believing in God to having a relationship with God. When I stop trying to be the power and embrace my powerlessness, I start connecting with the Higher Power. As I surrender my will, I begin to see God working in my life.

At this point in my journey, seeking spiritual recovery, I now view the Twelve Steps as “Spirituality for Dummies.” I finally understand what the old timers meant when I arrived and they said, “You better dummy up if you want to recover.” I no longer seek understanding. The

program of action along with seeking God has helped me truly believe in my heart three things I have heard so many times before:

1. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.

2. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.

3. God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Intellect…it’s no match for the disease of alcoholism.

For more inspirational stories, read Spiritual Awakenings: Journeys of the Spirit, available in the online AA Grapevine Store.

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