Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 417
These are familiar words to those who read beyond the first 164 pages of the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. These are words found on page 417 in the Fourth Edition. These words make a bold claim in that they say that acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems! Not most, or some of my problems, but ALL of my problems.
This personal story rang especially true to me at first because the man who wrote them was a physician who became known as Dr. Paul. I too am a Dr. Paul and I have struggled to accept my disease. I spent 15 years picking up white chips and pretending to be sober. Despite the fact that I would go long years without a drink or a drug, I was not in recovery. I could not accept my disease. You see I had what we call a “reservation”. I held a deep-seated belief that someday I would find the perfect combination of alcohol and drugs that would allow me to use with impunity.
I fought my way through nearly 8 years of monitoring in the NCCDP and the day after I was no longer monitored, I began a 7-year drinking spree. You see, I could not accept that I was an alcoholic. I told myself that I could drink every day if I wanted to and that is what I did. Drinking allowed me to ignore my responsibilities and deceive myself that those around me needed to accept me as I was. They were the problem, not me.
To say that my life became unmanageable fails to even hint at the chaos that followed. I finally reached that jumping off point that we hear about. I couldn’t drink, and I couldn’t not drink. Finally, one night in February of 2019 I found the situation unbearable and I attempted to end my life. As I write this, I still remember the horror of that night. I remember the look on the faces of my wife and children as I was carried out of the house naked and loaded onto a helicopter and flown to Charlotte where I spent the night in surgery.
I was given yet another opportunity to get sober. I had finally hit a hard enough bottom that caused me to want recovery more than to continue the drunken hell I had created for myself.
February 3, 2024 will mark 5 years of continuous sobriety for me. I am grateful to the NCCDP for monitoring me and giving me the means to live a full and happy life. You see I can now accept my disease and take responsibility for its management.
— Another Dr. Paul —