You Kill Me

i Don’t Get It Enough

Part 3: You Kill Me

Alcoholics like to spew the truth but recovering alcoholics have found it. Ex-addicts know more about life than any guru Buddhist philosopher genius i’ve ever met.

That said, there are a couple cliches i hear regularly i don’t agree with, probably because i haven’t been in the program long enough to get yet. If any of you guys can shed some light to help me along my way, i’d sure appreciate it.

Thing #3: It Would’ve Killed Me
ex. “If I hadn’t quit drinking when I did, I would be dead or in prison right now.”

Meaning: Sobriety saved my life.

What i Don’t Get Enough: i’ve saved the most controversial one for last but i ‘m gonna go there anyways.

i didn’t stop drinking to live longer, i stopped to live better.

i’m not in AA to live a lengthy, miserable life sober. If my life was going to be sad no matter what, i’d still be drinking. That way i’d still be depressed, but at least the misery wouldn’t last as long because i’d die sooner.

i’m in recovery because i enjoy living more now than i did when i was drinking.

i’ll say it again. i didn’t stop drinking to live longer, i stopped to live happier.

If your life isn’t better in sobriety, you are doing it wrong.

Just a reminder that i’m on vacation in a place that has very limited internet access and so i won’t be able to respond to comments with my usual ruthless efficiency. Please don’t think i’m not reading them (i most definitely am), and please continue to leave them (they make my day).


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on August 13, 2012, in Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. inthesameboatla

    This seems like the least controversial of your objections to AA cliches. Just like people have different reasons for drinking, people have different reasons for quitting. If their reasons are different than yours, then so what? If someone said they quit because they fell in love with a Mormon, and converted to Mormonism but come to these meetings because they still feel urges, would you denounce them because they didn’t share your reason for quitting? (Well, maybe I would…I don’t really appreciate Mormonism….but that’s beside the point.)

    • Maybe not the least controversial, judging from the comments that follow!

      Keep coming back, my brother,

      Al K Hall

      • inthesameboatla

        I totally get it, though. If I were held in solitary confinement all day, with intermittent bouts of Abu Ghraib-style torture, knowing that in a month or two I’d be baked in an oven Auschwitz style, and was offered all the alcohol I could drink from the prison guards, I’d take it.

        But I’m not. I’m in Venice, California in my fucking prime. If I were to start drinking again, I wouldn’t be able to stay here. I’d have to go back to hiding away in the mountains and employ my only moderately successful attempts at moderation just to stay alive, out of prison, and in a job.

  2. REALLY??? You REALLY believe this??? #3. Defense. I want to hear this.

    I REALLY don’t get this! I’d love to hear your explanation about how people should live happily.

    If you have the answer to the sorrows and challenges of humanity. Speak!!!

  3. Dear Al,

    this is a tricky one. I know LOTS of people who are living in Hell in sobriety abut they are living. I mean it. Not dying is a great reason to quit addiction. period. Lots of my friends need to NOT USE. If they use they will die. Being sober doesn’t mean they are happy it just means they wake up every morning. Lots of these friends are working some serious ass programs too. working your program does not guarantee happiness; what ever that is.

    can I say with 100% surety that I would be dead now (or sooner than later) if I was using? no. Gotta say though that based on my family experience and watching junkie and drunk friends die sure has me hedging my bets: I am better off clean. Period. Am I happier? I often question this and that is EXACTLY when I get to a meeting. Was I happier using? probably in some twisted reality. Sure I was. I am glad I am clean? yes. Do I really jones for a Bump every week or so (ok fess up: EVERY FUCKING DAY)? Yes, I do.

    This whole sobriety = happiness thing is Illusion. Happiness comes from inner peace or Bus # 59 or some great bit of sunlight falling just so after great sex…. Sober or not those moments come and go.

    some people quit to LIVE some people quit to live better. all comes to the same thing seems to me. I think this boils down to “whatever that means to you…”

    not mine to judge why someone quits. not mine to judge anyone concept of happiness. Only mine to Show Up and Live.

    again I can count my dead. I count them daily. Dead from alcohol mostly but also Heroin and other drugs; nicotine and tabacco too.

    I am counting my dead today as a matter of fact. Fuck em for not getting sober before the bottle took them. A friend is lying in ICU right now not a mile away; his 6th (maybe more) time in ICU in the last 2 months. He is dying and the bottle is the reason. How many fucking times do I need to go say “you can make it…” when I KNOW he won’t without a program. I am not making the trip this time. I am waiting for the fucking call, “He just passed.” believe me you: that call is coming.

    I got dead to count. Fuck happiness. Heres to life. just breathing into another day.

    Peace, Jen

    • Al, forgive me for being a shit. I am not working a program because they haven’t worked for me. Like Jen says, (sort of) … maybe i’m hoping i learn more and more every day (and if i pay attention) maybe i’ll be happy. xo

    • Hi Jen!
      Thanks for stopping by. It is a tricky point of view and i see what you mean, living is enough. The only thing i’ll add to what i told Mel (my life is better, not necessarily happier) is that maybe i’m spoiled in my recovery and it’s not fair for me to speak in generalist terms about other people’s recovery.

      AA for me is more than just a program to stop drinking. AA for me has become a way of life and addresses issues deeper than just drinking, it forces me to look at and resolve why i was drinking. i understand this is not the case for everybody. i know people in the program who do everything they can and still feel unhappy and incomplete.

      i guess my bottom line to all this is, my life is definitely better in recovery and i wish it could be the same for everyone.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. I say, see In the Same Boat’s comment from the previous post here.

    And up there, too. “Just like people have different reasons for drinking, people have different reasons for quitting.”

    I quote these because of Jen’s comment above: “Not dying is a great reason to quit addiction. period. Lots of my friends need to NOT USE. If they use they will die. Being sober doesn’t mean they are happy it just means they wake up every morning.”

    Yeah, there are lots of dead to this disease, and it does not take a genius statistician to know that it kills. I think that those who say “Sobriety saved my life” are speaking in hypothetical terms, but statistics are on their side. For some, simply staying alive is a good reason to stop drinking/using/whatever. Because the disease WILL eventually kill, for all. I really believe that. Seen too many to whom that has happened, like Jen has.

    To credit what you are saying, though, it is ultimately more powerful to find reasons in the day-to-day, not a nebulous far-off reality that death by alcohol can be for some (because in some cases it kills slowly and is not as connected to people’s day-to-day reality because they feel that death cannot possibly happen to them!).

    If a person can add up the ways in which sobriety makes life better and easier, more loving and more filled with contentment, then that is a truly great thing.

    IMO, people are hanging by various widths of thread. For some, it is a barely visible filament between life and death, and the goal is to stay alive and finish one’s work of living. For others, it is progressing past the simple life-death issue to being productive in life, and enjoying life more fully. Everyone is on a spectrum in regards to this issue.

    While I am not alcoholic, I can understand the thread that holds one off between life and death, and focusing moment to moment on how life is more important is sometimes a really difficult feat.

    So like everyone else, I will ultimately say, “Whatever works” even if the statement is ultimately illogical and not very good reasoning. I guess that one’s reasons and reasoning for why to stay sober could (should?) evolve as they do their inner work, just like everything else evolves in life. A person’s gotta start somewhere.


    • Hi Angel! Nice to hear from you.

      i would totally agree that ‘using’ kills, no argument here. Also, you make a good point about avoiding death being a great reason to quit initially. That was my impetus to get into the program, after all. You’re also right when you talk about everyone’s degree of happiness in recovery differing.

      Let’s say “not dying” is a great reason to enter recovery and life quality is a good taboo
      reason to stay there.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. Right now, i wish i could take back everything i wrote. Al, I apologize again for being all REACTIONARY! I consider you a friend (you and Celeste) and my intentions were not to be upset with you. I should know that we are all on our individual paths, and we are responsible for making out lives as enjoyable as possible, however that might be.

    I do know that using, or “using bulimia” isn’t in the grander plan now. Not only because it will shorten my life, but i AM better off, and a better human for having stopped my addictions.

    Peace. Be well you guys!

    • Hi Mel!

      No worries, babe! i knew the topic was sensitive because i ‘ve said the same things in the rooms and had the same reaction i got from you. This place is a forum to exchange ideas and i would never claim to have the right answers.

      In my defense, i ‘ll just point out that in the post, i made a conscious effort to use the word ‘happy’ only once. i prefer to say my life is better now. Sometimes it’s easier, a lot of the time it’s not. Sometimes i ‘m happier, sometimes i ‘m not. But the overall quality is definitely better. My recovery process has given me tools i need to confront situations that would have been traps for me in the past, and for that i am grateful.

      Here’s to a great quality of life, my friend!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

      • You Rick Al !!!! I’ll keep coming back … Life is short … I’m with you on your points. The quality is so much better. I am present and I participate and I love. I just sometimes get mad that I’m not quite doing it right! I’m still thinking something is going to happen that will give me soecific instructions. Hope you are doing well. I know that being sober is worth “doing” even when things don’t tickle. Keep me in your prayers …

  6. Hi there. Very thought provoking and part of.the reason I haven’t yet gone to a group. If I said something as a noob and got the looks you say you did, the next thing you’d Is a WOI shaped cloud of dust which.would make you wonder of the actual person.was.really ever there.

    I respect your reason for a better quality of life. There is no better quality than waking up with a clear mind and a healthier feeling body. Happiness per se, really wasn’t a barricade to my drinking. Im equal opportunity.

    For now, I’m choosing the cliche. Every time I relapse, I feel a little deader inside, literally from.the top thinning hair to my tingling toes. The 10 servings of veggies, 2 servings of fruit,.2 litres of water and 2 mile walk no longer seem to counter act the booze and I want to live.


    • i just hope you find a kind of recovery that ‘fits’ before you hit a harder bottom. i’m sending good thoughts your way, my friend.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  7. L. I love you to pieces. I hear you! I think you are “right on time”. You are moving in the right direction, completely. The health food won’t make up for the “drink”. It’s good to have your eyes wide open.

    BTW, AL, you ROCK, not Rick. I’ve been crying a bit too much to be typing at the same time, *sob*.

    You know the saying, “this will hurt me more than it hurts you”? That is how i’m feeling about my comments. I SHOULD be jumping for joy that you HAVE happiness, and stability. Alas, i can be a selfish ASS and thing, “where’s my joy?” And there you have it. My last confession of being human … but in my defense, 99% kind. I hope you really have forgiven me. I have not forgive myself.

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