A big quote from Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp to sit with:
Alcoholics have notoriously selective memories. No matter how sickening the hangover, how humiliating the drunken behavior, how dangerous the blind-drunk drive home, we seem incapable of recalling consistently or clearly how bad things got when we drank. Drinkers talk about losing the power of choice over alcohol: At certain times, when the need or desire to drink becomes too strong, those memories simply evaporate. Willpower vanishes, resolutions dissolve, defenses crumble.
AA offers a solution. The fellowship--meeting and stories and friendships formed--help alcoholics counter that flaw of selective memory, help us remember what it was like to drink, what happened to us, and how others like us changed when they stopped. And the twelve steps of recovery outlined in AA literature and meeting help counter the buildup of suffering and humiliation, offering a way of life that has to do with honesty, with healing, with addressing directly, rather than anesthetizing, the fears and rages and feelings that compelled us to drink in the first place.
I have had plenty of drunk driving experiences. While living in Chicago way back, there were a couple of years of walking around my neighborhood hitting the unlock button repeatedly on the keyless entry to find where I parked my car. I explained this phenomena to myself as the "groundhog effect" and I couldn't remember if I parked somewhere yesterday or the day before that, or the week before that, because it was not the drinking, of course not. Of course not. Driving drunk runs in the family, it was normalized from a young age, when dad went to prison for the first time for DUIs. Then he went again for whole year. Drunk driving tendencies coupled with my propensity to black out: something to remember.
I had digestive issues for years. I did elimination diets, spent so much time and money on doctor appointments, lab work, horrible experiences with endoscopies, other -scopies, took medicines, came to conclusions it was diary, or nightshades or eggs or gluten. But never stopped drinking long enough to figure out how simple the problem was-booze. Why was I drinking on an elimination diet? Because drinking wasn't the problem. It just wasn't related to my health issues. Of course not. Of course not.
I don't think I'm ready to entertain AA, it still conjures up images of old men with a 4-day stubble, drinking shitty coffee out of styrofoam cups, chain smoking as they talk about decades of fucking-it-up way bigger than I can relate to myself. Low ceilings of a basement filled with smoke. In a church. No thank you.
But, but the need to connect to others to keep the selective memory at bay and clearly remember how good this feels and the collective damage my drinking has caused. Memory is vital to sobriety, right?
AA in Cairo? That seems like there would be a whole lot of weird and crazy that would attend. Expats + recovering addicts = crazytown. I'm morbidly curious, it would make a great story. AND that could be a step I could take to actually talk to anyone about this that is going through it too. AA is the real life statement that I have a problem and I'm desperate for help and to prove it I'm in a basement with these guys. I could use a real experience to get over my stereotypes and superiority-complex over others seeking support. I'm an ass, I need to speak to someone, I need a therapist contact, I need openness, I need to stop judging others.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. I like myself better for it and have a full life because of it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp