I thought about all the times in my life that I could, for one reason or another, only have a couple of drinks at a time. Maybe it was in the presence of non-drinking people, or we were about to go to a movie, or any number of things. And I realized how true it was, that I would get so uncomfortable with only a couple of drinks. I didn't see the point in that at all, ever. If I was going to drink, I was going to DRINK, you know?
And when I had the freedom to drink in a way that brought me what I thought was enjoyment, it meant that I could not, would not, be able to control the amount. If I tried, I was frustrated and miserable. My head would stay in only one place, thinking more more more I want more now I want more. I'd be so unaware of whatever experience I was having because my head would stay with alcohol.
After years of my brain taking this particular route of thinking, I'm realizing I have to be patient with myself...it's going to take a long time to re-train my brain. When I see a woman sitting on a porch, reading a book, what flashes through my head is that her experience would be better somehow with a glass of wine...or seven.
It's frustrating to have those thoughts, while never having even two drinks.
The pleasure center in my head still beckons to light up. It stomps its feet and fidgets. It just doesn't know what to do. It wants something to look forward to, something to consume with no control. It wants.
As I continued to read this alcoholic woman's story, I saw myself more and more, even though many times I wonder if I'm really even an alcoholic at all. (That's another thing the alcoholic mind does all on it's own, cunning and baffling.) When she said that she was always a caretaker, always striving to be perfect and even being seen as perfect by everyone around her, I understood. And it hit me in the gut when she said that the first time she got drunk with a group of other drinkers, she finally felt like she fit in, like no one expected her to be perfect anymore. She felt flawed and rebellious and totally accepted.
And to be honest, the only time I've felt that way again is at a meeting with people just like me. There is no place like it on this planet. None. There is a circle of complete and total understanding, a passion for grace in the eyes around the room, and power in transparency. It is redemption and I am just me, flawed and rebellious and accepted. Like no where else. It is much better than the acceptance I found when drinking in bars and over bottles of wine with friends.
It is authentic and pure and good. My sick alcoholic thoughts make perfect sense to the people with nodding heads around the room. Grace takes on human form in those rooms, embodied in my fellows and leaping down my throat. It wraps itself around my insecurities and sets me free.
I think this is how it's supposed to be, and I wish it were this way everywhere. But then, I suppose the experience would become too common and lose its holiness.
As a believer in a God who supplies that grace in our struggle, I am starting to see that this is how heaven will be. We will not sit on clouds, bored, playing a harp for all of eternity. No, we will sit in circles and feel free, never pretending, already perfect with our pleasure centers always lighting up in a constant glow of true joy.
Too much? Lofty? Unbelievable? Idealistic? Insane?
I think not. Because I've tasted it here and I am made to want more because there is more.