I have been thinking a lot about this system of support groups and how helpful it is with the management of my disease. I was having dinner with a fantastic friend the other night and we were talking about coping skills. I talk a lot about coping skills because I have to work so hard to learn them and even harder to practice them!
As an alcoholic, I used alcohol to conquer all of my problems. If I were uneasy a drink would take the edge off, if I were insecure it made me confident, if I were anxious I became relaxed, sad became happy, pain disappeared…. all with a few drinks. Unfortunately, becoming dependent on the substance to solve all of these problems stunted the growth of my coping skills. I never had to develop patience to deal with discomfort, I never had to develop a healthy self-esteem to make my insecurities vanish, and I never had to depend on myself to make me feel better. Then all of a sudden I found myself at 30-something with no reasonable way to cope with regular people, life issues. Really, the only thing that has saved me is the concept of one alcoholic helping another. I have to talk to people that are like me, that have been through the same things I have been through, and who have suceeded. These people that have walked the road already that have the tools to teach me how to live. If a non-alcoholic person tried to give me advice, I’m afraid I would reject it- because that person has no understanding of what it is like to live in my head, in my world, with my distorted thinking. But another alcoholic knows exactly what I am feeling without me ever saying a word. I can’t tell you how comforting that is. I have to have constant contact and conversations with other people in recovery ALL THE TIME!! It is the soul of my sobriety. I’m going to write a series of blogs about various coping skills I have learned thus far- I would love your thoughts and ideas. But I truly believe that it is all about one alcoholic helping another- that’s how I have to live.