When a loved one or a dear friend of ours is recuperating from a serious illness , we generally try to give what good nurses call T.L.C . ( Tender Loving Care ) . We pamper a sick child , providing favorite foods and some fun to help in recovery .
Convalescence from the illness of active alcoholism takes some time , and anyone going through it deserves consideration and a measure of T.L.C.
In times past , people often believed that those recovering from certain ailments just deserved to suffer , since it was thought they had deliberately , selfishly inflicted the sickness on themselves .
Because of the guilt and stigma still laid on alcoholism by people who are ignorant of the nature of the disease ( including ourselves before we learned better ) , many of us were not very kind to ourselves in the throes of a hangover . We just suffered and thought of ourselves as “ paying the piper ” in necessary penance for our misdeeds .
Now that we know alcoholism is not immoral behavior , we have found it essential to readjust our attitudes . We have learned that one of the persons least likely to treat the alcoholic like a sick person is , somewhat surprisingly , the alcoholic herself ( or himself ) . Once again , our old thinking habits are cropping up .
It’s often said that problem drinkers are perfectionists , impatient about any shortcomings , especially our own . Setting impossible goals for ourselves , we nevertheless struggle fiercely to reach these unattainable ideals .
Then , since no human being could possibly maintain the extremely high standards we often demand , we find ourselves falling short , as all people must whose aims are unrealistic . And discouragement and depression set in . We angrily punish ourselves for being less than super – perfect .
That is precisely where we can start being good — at least fair — to ourselves . We would not demand of a child or of any handicapped person more than is reasonable . It seems to us we have no right to expect such miracles of ourselves as recovering alcoholics , either .
Impatient to get completely well by Tuesday , we find ourselves still convalescing on Wednesday , and start blaming ourselves . That’s a good time to back off , mentally , and look at ourselves in as detached , objective a way as we can . What would we do if a sick loved one or friend got discouraged about slow recuperation progress , and began to refuse medicine ?
It helps to remember that heavy drinking is highly damaging to the body , producing conditions which can take months or years to get over . No one becomes an alcoholic in just a few weeks ( well , almost no one ) . We cannot expect to recover in a magic instant , either .
When feelings of discouragement come , we then need to encourage ourselves . More than one of us have found it good medicine to give ourselves a pat on the back , to salute the progress already made — without being smug or dangerously egotistical about it , of course .
Take stock . Have we refrained from taking a drink this 24 hours ? That deserves honest self – commendation . Have we made ourselves eat properly today ? Have we tried to fulfill our obligations today ? Have we , in short , done about the best we could , and all we could , today ? If so , that’s all it is fair to expect .
Maybe we can’t answer yes to all those questions . Maybe we have fallen short somehow , backslid a bit in our thinking or actions , despite knowing better . So what ? We are not perfect creatures . We should settle for small progress , rather than bemoan any lack of perfection .
What can we do right now to cheer ourselves up ? We can do something other than take a drink . Every section of this booklet makes suggestions of that sort .
But there is more , perhaps . Have we been enjoying life lately ? Or have we been so concerned about getting better , kept our nose so earnestly near the grindstone of self – improvement , that we have failed to enjoy a sunset ? A new moon ? A good meal ? A needed holiday from care ? A good joke ? Some affection ?
Since the body seeks to normalize itself , maybe yours will welcome opportunities for needed rest . Enjoy deliciously drowsy naps , or good , long nights of peaceful slumber . Or perhaps you have left – over energy you can use in pure fun and enjoyment . As much as other aspects of life , these seem necessary for fulfilling our entire human potential .
Now is the time , the only time there is . And if we are not kind to ourselves right now , we certainly cannot rightfully expect respect or consideration from others .
We have found we can enjoy , sober , every good thing we enjoyed while drinking — and many , many more . It takes a little practice , but the rewards more than make up for the effort . To do so is not selfish , but self – protective . Unless we cherish our own recovery , we cannot survive to become unselfish , ethical , and socially responsible people .