The phrase ‘Never Forget’ will always belong to those affected by the horrors of 9/11. Nothing can ever separate those words from that day. But selfishly, I will plagiarize once again, and apply that same sentiment to another tragedy in my life, the loss of what I was to a personal assault by my alcoholism. What I have suffered from my drinking will never and can never compare to the unimaginable tragedy that occurred that September morning, but within the walls of my own personal life, I have suffered events that I must ‘never forget’ too, or like our country, will most likely recur if let go from our memories.
Why did I decide that November day to never drink again? Why specifically did I decide to never again add a chemical to my body that was a daily part of my life for 30 plus years? Why was I brought to the point of tears, down upon my knees, begging for God to relieve me of the pain I was in and was causing my loved ones? If I hesitate to regurgitate the answers to these questions for even a second, I may be in big trouble.
My brain is a sweet ‘ol soul. A lover and not a fighter, my head will rarely tell anyone the bad things, especially me. It has a bad reputation of not wanting to offend anyone and will be quick to compliment someone rather than tell them the truth about the fit of those pants, or the realities of that new haircut! My brain likes to deal with happy thoughts and is very apt to bury anything negative deep in its closet where it can cause no hurt. But in this case, kindness is a killer. My minds unwillingness to readily give up negative images of my drinking days is a potentially massive threat to my sobriety during moments when it is critical see past the romanticized times that I drank. It’s those moments that I stand at the crossroads of indulgence and alcoholic abstinence that I struggle most frequently to remember all the ‘horrors’ that resulted from my drinking. The positive, happy and pain free memories of my drinking so easily pour into my recall, while all the painful and regretful visions are nowhere to be found without extensive and purposeful soul searching.
I’ve heard it termed ‘euphoric recall’ within the recovery community and am learning that it is not something uncommon to many of us pursing sobriety. It has taken down many to relapse due to its inane ability to portray itself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Events that had horrible personal consequences as well as to my loved ones, are remembered with the positives of the occasion in bright and vivid colors with exquisite detail, while all the negatives that followed are very difficult to visualized. Unfortunately, my ability to fully recount the pain from previous like situations is when I am fully immersed in the moment of another. Much too late for any chance of resistance to the swift and relentless current of alcoholism, sweeping me away from the safe shores of sobriety.
To forget ‘why’ I quit drinking is probably a death sentence for me. To forget where I was when I finally waved the white flag is to invite alcohol in to deliver the final life ending blow that I so narrowly escaped. I must be able to recall the looks of despair on the faces of my loved ones. I must be able to re-live the crushing anxiety that I felt during the moments that I did not have alcohol coursing through my veins. I must be able to remember the regret, the shame, the frustration, and the utter disbelief in my complete lack of ability to say no to another drink.
My place in line has been saved for me. I might have jumped out and pulled the rip cord moments before impact, but in the line of alcoholism, if I jump out, I don’t have to or get to go to the back of the line like on the playground. With alcoholism, my place is saved for me, and if I choose to get back in, I return immediately to the place I was when I opted out, no questions asked. And the rewards that my untreated alcoholism gives me never go away. The police officers with the DUI are still waiting for me, the termination papers for my career are still just around the corner, the divorce attorney with pen in hand will always be ‘just ahead’ waiting to ask me to sign the papers. Time does not make them go away, they are relentless and never tire. Alcoholism doesn’t forget. It doesn’t forgive and it never forgets, so neither will I.
‘Never Forget’ is not just a good idea for me. ‘Never Forget’ defines my success with sobriety, and I must do whatever I have to, to insure it is maintained. To what degree I must go to always remember the reasons as to why I quit has no boundaries, It’s that important to me. If I need to write the reasons down every day and carry them with me always is acceptable. If I must pay to have an artist tattoo them across my chest, so be it. For me, to drink is to die, so preventive measures have no price tag. To drink is to die. My only chance at fighting off those moments of cravings is to be able to almost instantaneously recount every reason why. If I must use flash cards as I did in school to engrain them in my memory, so be it. When those moments arrive, I typically have a short period for negotiations within myself. I must be ready for battle at the drop of a hat! One moment in which Euphoric Recall overpowers my ability to remember why and I am finished.
Never Forget! Never forget why you begged God to help you to never drink another drop. Yes, it’s that important!