I remember sitting in the Treatment Center during my first few weeks along with five or six other newbies watching a recovery movie called the Three Headed Dragon. The dragon was a fierce-looking, life-like cartoon depiction of the disease of alcoholism. The dragon was a mean-looking, ugly green-scaled thing with eyes that saw everywhere and fire shooting out of it’s six nostrils. We learned the three heads represent alcoholic drinking, alcoholic thinking, and alcoholic feelings. The cartoon showed the dragon’s first head -- the drinking head -- sliced off with a giant sword. This depicts what happens when we quit drinking. Without alcohol to numb them down, the alcoholic thinking and feeling heads became hyper-agitated, much more scary and mean looking.
I am only just now beginning to realize how much damage my thirty year drinking habit did to my mind and body. Alcohol caused my brain to create abnormal thinking patterns which are etched deeply into my subconscious. My body became so conditioned to the effects of alcohol that not drinking today feels unnatural. My alcoholic thoughts and feelings represent the “ism” of my alcoholism. My “ism” wants only one thing. It wants me to drink again so things can get back to “normal”. Normal to my “ism” is me drunk.
This program continues to run in the background even after many years without a drink, hundreds of AA meetings and a dozen trips through the steps. I still experience “euphoric recall” when I see nice bottle of wine being poured into fine crystal wine glasses; “constructive” criticism often feels like a death threat; resentments keep me awake occasionally. The difference today is that I usually become aware of what’s going on before my reaction causes too much damage. Usually, but not always. My alcoholic thinking and feeling have not disappeared, they have gone underground. The more aware I become, the more subtle these thoughts and feelings become. Cunning, baffling and powerful? You bet.