This is part 7 in an ongoing series
The Arrogance of a Drunk
I believe that my own arrogance played almost as major a role in my problems as my addiction to alcohol. Even though at one stage I ended up begging on the streets I still felt able to look down my nose at other people. My usual inclination as a drunk was to first put people up on pedestals and as soon as I got them there to rip them apart. I definitely did not trust the addiction experts or anyone else who tried to help me. I questioned their motivations. I suspected that many of them got a kick out of hearing about my weaknesses because it gave them a sense of power, and the rest of them were in it for the money. If I felt that somebody was trying to tell me what to do I’d automatically dismiss what they were saying – apparently this is called demand resistance.
From what I’ve seen this type of arrogance is common among drunks and other addicts. The experts seem to think that it is some type of defense mechanism to mask our low self esteem – that sounds about right. The reality is that arrogance is a luxury we can’t afford if we hope to break away from addiction permanently. It means that we keep putting conditions on our recovery – a list of things that we are not even willing to consider. We act like a general of an army who has just been demolished in battle, but still tries to negotiate their surrender with a list of demands. In order for me to finally walk away from drunkenness I had to acknowledge that I’d been completely defeated. The arrogance had to go, and I became willing to do whatever it takes to stop being a drunk.
Importance of Being Humble
I eventually became sober at a Thai Buddhist temple called Thamkrabok. Before going there I made a pledge to do whatever it took to become sober. If the monks had told me to run naked around Thailand I would have done it. I saw this as my last chance, and I let go of all my reservations. I believe that it was this humility and willingness that deserves most of the credit for my recovery.
In all my previous attempts at becoming sober I had strong opinions about what options were worthy of my consideration. Despite having some success with Alcoholics Anonymous in the past I did not want to even consider attending the meetings again. In the last few years of my drinking I had grown to despise the group and viewed them as no better than a cult. I also wanted to avoid anything to do with Christianity because I believed that most of the evil in the world could be attributed to that one religion. For a person who was messing up his life so badly I still had plenty of opinions about how other people were getting it wrong. This all meant that my attempts at recovery always came with conditions, and I only felt willing to do the things that fit in with my current view of the world. This arrogance had to be let go of, and I became humble enough to consider any option. I had hit bottom and beggars can’t be choosers. In the end I did not need the help of AA, but I got rid of my aversion to it. If staying sober had meant going to a meeting every day for the rest of my life then that is what I’d be doing now.
Willingness to do Whatever it Takes
I still have my bad days when I get puffed up with arrogance, but I did manage to break through this wall enough to allow me to become sober. I felt beaten and humble and this meant that I became teachable. I stopped being a skeptic and became a pragmatist. I became willing to consider anything that might work for me – I did not need to know how it worked or if it worked for other people. I put no conditions on my sobriety and at the time would have settled for just getting the pain to stop. I gave up being a rejectionist and started to say yes to things more often. I believe that anyone who can develop this type of willingness will have no problems becoming sober and staying that way.
It can be difficult for drunks to give up on their arrogance. It is how we protect ourselves from other people, and we can feel vulnerable without out. Becoming humble involves a leap of faith. We have to trust that nobody will try to take advantage of us or hurt us. We become humble because we realize that we have no choice – life keeps bending our arm until we get down on our knees. We then make the amazing discovery that we actually now feel stronger than we ever did in the past. When we stop resisting the world things just seem to flow better.
Part one – Welcome to the Series
Part two – The Payoff
Part Three -Alcoholism is a choice
Part Four – Rock Bottom Myth
Part Five- The Problem with Ambivalence
Part Six- Getting Motivated
Part Seven – From Arrogance to Willingness