Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Control Freak

I read another sad story at today. About a woman who's relapsing. She got sober a couple years ago, but she's drinking again. And now she's totally out of control.

"Control" is at the heart of cleansing to me. Because I sit here on the second back-to-back cleanse day this week and even in my clearheadedness, I remember so well what it was like to be out of control. To not be able to stop at one glass of wine. To reach for the wine bottle ... first thing in the morning ...  and then not stop all day - or night. It was uncontrollable. More an instinct than anything. Like the need for air.

And if the wine ran out, that made my plans for the day easy. Because I simply had to go out and get more to drink. It didn't matter how long it took, how hot/cold/rainy it was, how many other things I had to do, getting enough wine into me was my prime directive of the day. I. Had. No. Control. It was like being in a speeding car without a steering wheel ... or brakes. It was terrifying.

And yet ... there was no external villain. There were no brake lines to check. No mechanic to do a tuneup. Because there was no real enemy ... only the booze. Which was both enemy ... and best friend. In that way, alcohol is the ultimate frenemy, I guess. And what this frenemy does is take away all your control.

Not just of booze, but of your life. Because when you're out-of-control of your drinking, you might as well flush everything else down the drain, too. Because you don't have the time, energy or emotional space to deal with anything else. That one lack of control affects everything.

But now to have the conscious knowledge - the proof even - that it is possible to get control, because I did it, that's amazing on its own. But what's even more important is that I feel in control. There's a subtle difference there, between merely being in control and feeling in control.

It's not some nail-biting, will-she-or-won't-she-relapse kind of thing. Because there really is no "relapsing" on the plan - no fear of it, no pressure of it, no feeling that it's inevitable - which is what gets drilled into our heads. Cleansing does not leave you with a feeling of being unrooted or unsure. Instead cleansing leaves you feeling grounded. Solid. And safe. Because it really is so relatively easy. And the combination of freedom and rules gives you a real sense of, that's right! The word of the day!



That's such an enormous gift because it spills over into the rest of your life, too. You think "Well, if I can do this - get control of my drinking when the whole world thinks it's impossible - then, why can't I do this? Or this? Or that?"

And you realize one milestone at a time, that you have more control over the rest of your life, too. Health. Work. Exercise. Relationships. Diet. Money. Goals. Things may not be 100% perfect ... I haven't retired to Shiny Unicorn Place in the Sky or anything ... ;) but the feeling of being in control again, that's so important.

Especially when you remember being without it.

If you want to check it out, here's the latest story from It's called "Relapsed and Scared." There will probably be a sequel. Unfortunately, there's almost always a sequel ...