Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 11 - Footshteps! Footshteps!

I can just hear the squeak of the folding chairs at A.A. meetings everywhere. The stamping of feet, the shouting of voices, torches lighting the way to my front door - which the angry mob will break down with a battering ram. I don't mean to offend A.A. people. If you're in A.A. and you love it, congratulations. If you've quit drinking without A.A., and you're happy, good for you. Seriously.

This isn't for people who've managed to get a handle on their drinking on their own. This is for people out there who feel alone, powerless, afraid, angry, hopeless. The way I used to. People who are just on the cusp of alcoholism who recognize their problem but who want to get control of it before it ruins everything they hold dear. And for a lot of people who hold alcohol dear, that does NOT mean giving it up indefinitely.

Even for people who do join A.A., the statistics aren't good. If you've gone to meetings and dropped out, you probably know you're not alone. 50% of A.A. newcomers drop out within 30 days. 95% of them are gone within the first year. According to Rational Recovery ( - another abstinence program that seems to be having much success) and A.A.'s 1989 Triennial Membership Survey, most people who leave A.A. cite the religious content as their reason; others didn't like the powerlessness idea or the lifelong dependency on A.A.; some weren't helped by the program; others found it plain depressing. As I'm sure I would.

For me, the big problem with A.A. - well, besides the part where you have to quit drinking forever, which is by far my MAIN problem - is the concept of being powerless over alcohol. I know some will say I'm in "denial" but I just don't like the idea of being powerless over anything. Including alcohol. I believe that we are co-creating our lives with whatever "higher power" is out there. And I don't like to think of God or "Source Energy" or the capital-U Universe (or whatever you want to call it) as being a snippy bartender with nothing better to do than cut me off before last call.

I believe we have to take responsibility for every aspect of our lives - as difficult as that may be sometimes (and I still have a lot to learn that way). But this is essentially what this new plan is about. Showing myself that I DO have a substantial amount of power over alcohol. I practice it every day. Every week. every month. And I'm succeeding because regular cleanses help give me that power.

It's an incredible boost to your confidence to see yourself making progress with your drinking problem. The truth is, most of us are not completely powerless over alcohol. Most people who do manage to quit drinking do it on their own - and keep it up on their own. Don't believe the hype. You're not powerless.

Many thank to Mel Brooks for the "Footshteps! Footshteps!" thing. It's from "Young Frankenstein" - hilarious movie if you haven't seen it. Mel Brooks actually stayed in a house we rented in the Hamptons two years ago. I was there researching my second novel. The sliding doors to the pool deck were so hard to open that I used to have to get Mark to do it for me every time I went outside. When we heard Mel Brooks was going to be staying there next - a big hero of mine - I absolutely had to call the owners and tell them to grease the track for the sliding doors. I just couldn't picture poor Mel getting a heart attack trying to open them and being found in a puddle of Smirnoff Ice. You're welcome, Mr. Brooks. :)

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