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The Word Alcoholic Isn’t Degrading, It’s Fucking Liberating.

by Melissa Steussy 7 months ago in addiction · updated 7 months ago
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As I sat around my Saturday morning women’s Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I had some thoughts.

The Word Alcoholic Isn’t Degrading, It’s Fucking Liberating.
Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

I thought to myself, I love these ladies. Where else can you go and sit around a table and share about how you have overcome a seemingly hopeless disease of mind and body. Where else can you get claps and congratulated for staying sober, one day at a time?

Where else can you go for free (or a small optional donation) and drink your morning beverage, listen to wisdom and nod your head in agreement while someone describes the exact feelings and emotions you have felt.

I realized that I don’t think twice now about introducing myself as Melissa, an alcoholic, and I don’t understand why people think it is such a “dirty word.” The connotation of the word has gotten a bad rap. An alcoholic is someone who has lost their choice in drink. We shouldn’t be ashamed for not having control over a poisonous substance in our bloodstream. We shouldn’t be any more ashamed of becoming intolerant to alcohol as we would if we had say cancer or some other mental/physical illness.

As I sat around the table with these ladies willing to humble ourselves and say that alcohol absolutely kicked our ass and that even 20, 30, and 40 years sober we sometimes still think a drink sounds good or wonder what it would feel like to just drink one more time, and then knowing that there is no "just one drink" or "one time"-we would be off and running again.

I have been sober for 23 years, and there was a woman last week saying that she relapsed after 23 years and how hard it was to stop that second time. That stuck with me.

Having a place to open up about day-to-day things and deeper thoughts and feelings is immeasurable.

Sitting in the chair of an AA meeting reminds me that I still have one more day and my alcoholism didn’t kill me like so many of my other friends and family. It reminds me that I get to sit in that chair and not that I have to. I do have a choice and I choose to surround myself with other sober women doing this life without alcohol and drugs. I go to meetings to remember what it was like when I see a newcomer come in, shaky and scared. I go to meetings to share my experience, strength, and hope so others will feel less alone and I go to meetings to connect to others like me.

People who dog AA and the term alcoholic and call it outdated and talk about the patriarchy make me curious. Yes, there are some shitty meetings with toxicity and a lack of actual recovery, but there are so many others. Keep looking.

The 12 steps have saved my life. I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t learned to take accountability for my actions and to stop pointing my finger at everyone else.

If I hadn’t learned how to let go of resentments and how to pray to something bigger than myself. If I hadn’t learned to make amends and admit when I was wrong.

In AA I have learned to set boundaries and say no. I have learned to come clean when I have made a mistake. I have learned how to let people love me.

In a world where we can feel so alone and isolated, why do we give AA such a bad rap?

These are people who want to better their lives. Yes, we struggle. Yes, we are not perfect, but where will you find a group of people who are? Maybe sometimes our expectations are too high. This is a program for alcoholics and addicts, it’s not meant to be therapy, but most of us have needed to seek that too. AA can’t solve all of our problems, but it’s amazing how when we quit drinking many of our problems solve themselves.

We are lucky these days as sobriety has become somewhat of a movement and there are so many other sobriety connections and communities online. I just know that for me having a place to go in person with other people has been a lifesaver. An hour of my weekend spent talking about life stuff and alcoholism, sharing with others, and making new friends really isn't too much to ask when I spent hours and hours on a bar stool making plans that never materialized and lost my morality on the daily.

We can be drunk and let a dog take our bra while we ride on the back of someone's crotch rocket (just me?), but be too good to sit in an AA meeting and learn about sobriety?

Yes, AA was founded by men. So were many other things. I am not a huge fan of meetings with men so I go to women-only ones, problem solved. No offense to the men, they can't help sometimes ruffling their peacock feathers when a pretty woman enters the room.

I am super sensitive to energy in a room and I have had to seek out meetings that work well for me and when they don't I can do zoom (thanks Covid.)

All in all, I just wanted to say that AA does save people's lives, and the problem drinkers that have tried it and not thought it was their thing can do something else, but sometimes we don't get to be choosy. Back in 1997, it was AA or Jail, AA or death. There are so many people that I have met over the years that instilled in me a sense of peace and wisdom. I am forever grateful to those who gave me answers to my woes and listened while I cried. I find those people harder to come by now as we are all self-absorbed or should I say phone-absorbed?

I am grateful to AA and grateful to say I am an alcoholic because look where I am now, sober and content not drunk and angry or lost and afraid.

I've been able to break a long cycle of addiction and family dysfunction and I thank AA and loads of therapy for the tools to make that change.

My honest opinion is that we need to be open-minded. Sometimes while in the throes of our addiction we don't know what is best, but having some people to help guide us can be the key to finding the freedom we are seeking.

addiction

About the author

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

https://www.theblackhatpress.com/bookshop/p/let-your-privates-breathe

https://www.instagram.com/melsteussy/

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