My husband and I were recently watching a sitcom and an alcoholic woman who had two years of sobriety got drunk. Her daughter organized an intervention by one female program member who had significant years sober and another who was newly sober, also in program. A comment was made “you just lost two years of sobriety”. This comment created a debate between me and my husband.
His position was “it only takes one drink and you lose your sobriety, your time”. I understand where he is coming from as this is the dogma of AA. He had abused alcohol beginning in his teens and began stepping into the rooms of AA at 19, by court orders. This was the beginning of an in and out AA approach to sobriety for the next 17 years. Because of his pattern of in and out he was commonly referred to as a retread. Appealing and supportive, right? Thank you, Jesus that I have had the wonderful blessing of never seeing my husband so much as take a drink in the 11 years we have been together. Simply because he believes to his core that if he takes a drink he will reignite his disease and be desperately out of control, makes it true for him. There is no additional evidence required. I accept and respect his position.
My position is she hadn’t lost anything. She had lived two years sober. That cannot be lost or taken away. She has a very solid understanding between living sober and living drunk. You can’t take away days of someone’s life experience. It’s simply not possible. Okay, I get you might think “we are talking semantics”, but hear me out. Once someone has experienced something it becomes truth to them. She has truth that she can live sober. She has truth that she needs some help with coping.
Can you see how by her accepting the belief – I am so broken and powerless that the last two years of living sober was wiped out and basically non-existent – could deliver such a blow to her self-esteem, health, and well-being? How it could injure her confidence to continue on? Might minimize her belief that she can live a sober life?
Can you see how if she owns this belief that it might be a great excuse to repeat the behavior sooner than later? Hell, if she was able to have two years of sobriety and get drunk, nobody would be surprised if she only had a week, month or year, and drank again.
My intention is not challenging AA or the 12 step program. My intention is for people to challenge their beliefs.
What do you believe and why do you believe it? Does it support you? Does it empower you? What evidence do you have?
Beliefs are powerful. I encourage you to be willing to hold space for other possibilities. Sometimes situations, time, people, and things create a need to reconsider, possibly reshape your beliefs. We as humans are designed to learn and grow until the end of our days.
Don’t it make sense that what we believed at 12, 22, or 30, might be different than what we believe after a 50 year lifetime of living?
Need help identifying your beliefs; creating powerful beliefs; moving forward with confidence and conviction?
– Teresa Rodden, Certified Life Coach