Fluent in Sobriety

Used 2013-04-04 You know what i meant (AlKHall Anonymous recovery sobriety)

Living in Yeaman as i do, one thing i know a lot about is learning a foreign language. For the longest time, sobriety was a foreign language to me.

Becoming fluent in Yeaman-ese required several steps.

  1. i had to learn that the mistakes i was making were mistakes. If i didn’t know i was saying something wrong, i couldn’t learn to say it right.
  2. After learning the correct way to say it, i needed someone to correct me when i messed up. When the error was pointed out to me, i was able to correct myself.
  3. i would catch myself saying it, after the fact. i was able to recognize the problem myself and correct it on my own.
  4. Soon, i could catch myself before i said the mistake. The words were in my mouth but i could stop them and fix them before i spoke.
  5. As this process came more and more naturally, i started using correct language spontaneously.

Looking over this process, i see it’s the same for breaking the bad habits i learned in my alcoholism.

At the beginning of my recovery, i had to learn that my reflexes and thought patterns were faulty and i needed other, healthier people to show me the correct behaviors. Then i got to the point where i would blow up at someone or berate myself and realize, after doing it, that i had made a mistake.

Currently, i’m at step 4 on the list above. The negative emotions and thoughts erupt and i recognize them before i act out and i’m capable of calming myself down. Eventually i may get to the point where i’m totally zen and don’t feel those feelings anymore, but you know me. Plus, recovery is a process and it’s not about the getting there it’s about the journey.

What about you? Have you noticed the same patterns? Where are you on the scale in getting past your alco-habits?


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. http://about.me/AlKHall

Posted on April 4, 2013, in Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. This was damn good, kind sir. I think that anyone who wonders if they need a sponsor or if they can do it on their own could get something out of what you wrote. The analogy is perfect, as we start to learn a new language in our sobriety as well, as you mentioned. We speak the language of the heart, and we try to dig past all the stuff that brought us to the bottle. We simmer and move past that rather than marinating in the hard stuff. I think I am at 4 too. 5 will come to us before we know it, and all the while helping others with number 1.

    Loved this post – thank you very much for this.


    • Glad you saw where i was going with this, Paul! It’s a long process, but the process is more than half the fun.

      Keep coming back, Brother,

      AL K Hall

  2. Interesting you should post this question today I was just thinking how some of my drinking habits are still imbedded in. Like I was a high-bottom boozing housewife so for me 5pm was all important as it was the time I would start drinking wine. A habit that I’ve been bought up to believe was as set in stone as brushing your teeth at night and putting your pyjamas under your pillow when you are getting dressed in the morning. 5 o’clock is wine o’clock. Every day at 5 o’clock I feel a strange registration and recognition of the time and it feels like something is shifting in the day, although now I don’t begin to alter my brain at that point, so it’s a bit weird. Until very recently I would pour myself another ‘cocktail’ or ‘special drink’ with ice in a stem glass – a fizzy gingerbeer or something. But only recently have I stopped doing even that. I wonder if 5 o’clock will ever just pass day after day without me feeling like something is about to happen…..

    • This is so ironic Al! I’ve been dying to take French again: The first go-round was in HS; No chance I was paying attention (too busy making weekend plans).

      Learning a language is hard for me because I feel totally humiliated when i fuck up!

      Ii don’t like to be laughed at (unless I’m trying to be funny).

      Then, i don’t like to be told what to do! AND on and on. WOW, what a recipe for being alone and miserable huh?

      I love the comparison to sobriety. This is something I can relate to. Walking around a hole: Got that figured out.

      Yea, so, you really have to be OPEN and DARING and STRONG to learn a new way.

      SO AS ALWAYS, i give you ALL the credit. You are strong and brave, daring and open! WAY TO GO SOBER-AL!!!! XO MEL

      • Thanks Mel! i know exactly what you lean about being laughed at. i’m exactly the same, though it’s something i wish i could change faster than i am. i make a lot of jokes about myself, but it’s the old “no one makes fun of my sister but me” constructs. Anyway, good luck with French; it’s a beautiful language!

        Oooh la la,

        Al K Hall

    • That’s exactly it! It’s the rewiring we’re all going through. i think the fact we recognize this is encouraging, because it means we’re moving forwards.

      And i read your blog post and loved it!

      Keep coming back, Mrs D,

      Al K Hall

  3. Iucundum Platea

    Had a language lesson last night. You know, business dinner with old clients/friends who have never seen you without a drink in your hand after the work is done. Gentlemen all, traveling, away from the constraints of home, ready for some serious boozing during the after work work. Food would have been delayed until the last possible moment or reserved for a 24 hour diner or an early morning drive through. Standard operating procedure. Pre-sober days I would have been the ring leader of this fast drinking band of booze hounds. My long suffering wife would have heard me stumble in the door well past any reasonable hour, waking her without any consideration of her opinion or well being. She did not say anything as I left for the dinner last night but I felt she was possibly anxious about the situation. She wants to trust and depend on me in any circumstance but some tests must seem larger than the man. The evening went well, I did not drink, my friends had a few before and during a very good dinner, and we actually got quite a bit of critical work done. Mission accomplished. I arrived home a little later than planned and was surprised to see my wife still up, watching a movie in the living room. Unusual. She offered a thin excuse and asked me how things went. As I gave her a kiss, the mother of all breath tests, the tension in her body melted away. The language lesson was unspoken. Love and trust are cumulative and they speak loudest when demonstrated by positive action. Sobriety has changed me and given those around me a better chance for an improved life. That is not difficult to translate. Thank you for posting.

    • A beautiful comment, and well done you.

    • Sounds like you’re fluent in sobriety, my friend! It was nice to hear about how well your evening went, and to know that it was appreciated. The test of time is one that cannot be studied for, it’s only by walking the walk day after the day that we can pass it!

      Keep coming back, my friend,

      Al K Hall

  4. The Five Al-mendments! (corr-Al-larries?)

    I’ve copied and pasted these, and put a copy in my ODAT. An excellent analogy, Al, and good advice.

    • i’m flattered! Corr-Al-larries really cracked me up! i’m just glad i was able to get my point across and i’m happy you found something worthwhile in it!

      Keep coming back, Luddy,

      Al K Hall

please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: