I Don’t Know

*Published as guest piece by Solutions of North Texas, July 21,2016

Those three words crushed my hope, my spirit, and caused me to question my will to live.

And, ultimately, they saved my life.

I’d been drinking for eighteen years. The first few were fun. Then drinking began to complicate my life. Slowly it began to take over my life, and my need to drink seemed to be making my decisions for me. The last ten of those years were drinking to control my drinking, or drinking while trying to stop.

Have you ever tried quitting drinking while still drinking? A lot of alcoholics like me have. It didn’t work.

It didn’t work, just like the rest of the plans and strategies I devised to quit drinking and retake control of my life. Every time I reached a place of darkness and self-pity, emerging remorseful, I came up with a plan to escape it once and for all. There was always something else to try, a new strategy, a new diet, a new set of moral principles, calendars for work-outs and exercise, self-help techniques, church attendance, and so on.. I had always fancied myself a pretty smart guy. There was always a new plan that was surely the answer

Until there wasn’t. I had tried them all. I had failed. Alcoholism was going to kill me.

“What am I going to do? What am I going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

I was out of answers. I pondered it, I frantically searched, I suffered over it, I despaired. But, I accepted I was probably going to be homeless, and then die.

“I don’t know.”

Those three words opened the door of my mind to the help I was offered.

Drinking had ruined my and my sanity. Next, it was going to end my life.

I had to finally admit I had no idea what to do. When I admitted I could not beat the game, or devise a plan that would get me out of this, everything changed. For the first time, I stopped considering whether I particularly agreed with what was being offered, or whether it would restore my previous lifestyle quickly enough, save my career or save my marriage… Or anything else. I just didn’t want to die.

Finally I could hear what people who had already recovered from the deadly illness of alcoholism and addiction were saying: “There is a way out. Why don’t you give it a try? It worked. It really worked.”

So I did what they suggested. Two years later, I am alive, and living an adventurous life, have a career, and am of help to other people. I have hobbies and friends. I’m at peace with myself and with others most of the time.

But it took these three words: I. Don’t. Know.