In the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, we come across a reformed alcoholic known as the dry drunk.
The dry drunk is someone who used to drink to excess and to the point where it was seriously affecting their ability to perform daily functions, but at this point in time, they were sober by the sheer force of their will.
The dry drunk uses “white-knuckle” abstinence where they refrain from drinking by holding on to their chair so tightly that their knuckles turn white. This type of abstinence does not require actually holding onto a chair, but rather reflects the concept of sobriety based on trying to control the world around the alcoholic as opposed to surrendering to things as they actually are.
The dry drunk is not drinking and that is good. But the dry drunk is walking a very fine line and one must ask, “what happens on that inevitable day when things don’t go the dry drunk’s way – when she loses control over a given situation?”
Unfortunately, many dry drunks turn back to their addiction in that situation. The rigid self-control fails to carry them through and their days of sobriety fall away.
The sober alcoholic, on the other hand, takes life as it comes. She surrenders to things as they truly are instead of trying to control every little outcome. She stays centered and focused throughout the day, always remembering that she is not in control and that her Higher Power is.
When things do not go her way, she accepts that and carries on. In this manner, she protects her sobriety and keeps an even keel. The temptation is still there, of course, but because she has not tried to control her addiction through the sheer force of her will, she has other ways of coping.
This concept resonates with me. When I try to bend the events of the day to my will, to try and control everything, I get tired. “Willpower” then fails to carry me through a particular struggle.
For today, let me surrender to life on life’s terms, thereby allowing me to be ready for anything. It’s a much saner way to move through the day.