The equation that results in the sum whole of “alcoholism.” I believe Dr. Bob actually qualifies it as such in the Big Book, but I could not locate the passage where. It is difficult enough for the suffering alcoholic/addict to wrap their head around the core concept, but a hundred-fold more so to explain it to the average drinker.
I started pondering how best to approach this kind of explanation during the meeting I attended today. I can’t recall the comment that sparked it, but I had been considering how varied groups of people I might interact with could perceive my non-drinking status. More specifically, I was assessing how my former drinking self would have interpreted my current non-drinking self. Not necessarily a fair point of view to adopt, given former-Tom was, well, an active alcoholic.
Point being, regardless of any admission to the disease of alcoholism, my former self would still be bewildered by what my current self was trying to express. To say, “No, I’m just not drinking now; it’s a personal thing; etc. etc.” could be misconstrued by some (especially peers of a similar or younger age) as a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. Which of course is not the case. And that is just one of many possible ways to interpret “non-drinking,” and any of those perceptions can be difficult to fully grasp.
So, I’ve devised what I hope will be a relatable analogy (especially for Generation Internet): think of it instead as, I have an extreme allergy to cats. But I love cats. I mean, really love them. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy when I hold them…but whenever I hold them, my body has a violent allergic reaction. My face swells up, I can’t walk or talk properly, I might even pass out. And if I keep trying to hold on to these cats, eventually my throat will close up and I won’t be able to breathe. It could potentially kill me, my love of cats.
Cinco de Gato?
But that’s not to say I can’t be in the presence of cats – I just can’t physically hold on to them myself. So I would still totally invite my friends over to hang out, and I would encourage them to bring their cats. Because I know their cats bring them (appropriate levels of) joy, and there’s no need for me to prohibit the passage of cats; I just can’t pet any of them myself. Ya dig?
People DO get emotional over cats. Somehow “I just wanna hug all of them! But I can’t, because that’s crazy! I can’t hug every vodka! But I just want to…” doesn’t convey the same sentiment.
To clarify: I am not actually allergic to cats, and in fact I used to live with one in college. We named him Carl. He was a little shit. But the difference between now and then is that whereas we used to drink 40’s and spend an idle hour amusing ourselves watching him chase shadows and run into the wall, the alcohol is no longer part of the game for me. And I’m totally fine with that. Because cats are plenty fun on their own. I’m going to end this post before it gets any more confusing, and because a brand spankin’ episode of Archer is about to air.