Often people display a curious respect for a man drunk, rather like the respect of simple races for the insane. Respect rather than fear. There is something awe-inspiring in one who has lost all inhibitions, who will do anything.
- From Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Being sober for a long time you kind of think that maybe you could do it. Maybe you could actually just have a drink or a beer and not immediately go on a bender. You think that maybe you’re over it or that maybe you never really drank or used all that much. Not compared to some of the people you’ve listened to in meetings or some of those total dead end guys you used to drink with. Why the hell should you deprive yourself? Remember how nice it was to have wine with dinner? Or how good a beer on a hot day tasted? You could do that, you’ve learned.
Then you remember. You remember sitting at the end of a bar with a glass of scotch. You didn’t really need this drink, you’d been hammering away all night and done a few lines and smoked a joint, the drink you were clutching was totally superfluous. You didn’t even want it. You were high, you were on, you were with friends, you had more of the night left to go and it was only Thursday so you had the weekend ahead. So you didn’t want it or need it but there it was. Because. Because you had to have it. That was the beauty of your life. Getting high was a journey not a destination. You were in love with the process. Stopping, ending, finishing, having enough, these were not part of your getting high lexicon. That’s it. You were getting. You were still going and would until….
You're a superstar. You're the greatest. Your David Fucking Bowie. You can have any woman you want and you, my friend just scored the winning goal in the World Cup and won the Oscar and absolutely everyone thinks your cool. Oh sure in reality you're slurring your words and your zipper is down, your hair mussed, you reek of booze and tobacco, you're speaking gibberish and laughing insanely and all but your friends think you are totally obnoxious, but that's there thing, man. You know you can bloody well fly.
So no, you can’t do it. You can’t have just a glass of wine or just a bottle of beer. Literally you could that first time and maybe that second. But that third or that fourth. You’d be off to the races again. You’d be true to your nature as a junkie. You wouldn’t care about anything else. Nothing. Feed the monkey.
And that thought, the one about how you could do it, you could have a taste and it would be cool, that only lasted a second. In and out of your brain just that fast. Never anything serious. But it was there nonetheless. All those years on the disease still pokes at you, little jabs as if to say: hey, I'm only sleeping, anytime you're man enough to wake me up we can go again. Cunning, baffling, powerful are the three words used to describe it. Ain't that the truth.
So what you do is show up. Even if not physically with others you do it mentally. Check in. Remember the new process the one that does not include using and abusing. Stopping was one thing, living without it a whole new ballgame. Like Robert Redford at the end of the The Candidate (1972) when he wins the election, "what do we do now?" Exactly. That's the whole rest of your life. Living without. Now what? Do today for starters. All you got. And when those notions of going back pop in, let 'em pop right out.