This is a guest post from my good friend, The Discovering Alcoholic, who writes a top rated recovery blog, www.discoveringalcoholic.com, covering alcoholism, substance abuse, treatment and recovery issues.
To die is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of
a man who hath not the life of a man; but to counterfeit dying,
when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true
and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valor is
discretion, in the which better part I have sav’d my life.
Shakespeare’s Henry The Fourth, Part 1 Act 5, scene 4, 115–121
Falstaff ‘s elegant rationalization for feigning death in order to live exemplifies the logical thinking of the sober mind and a healthy sense of self preservation. Placing one’s health and welfare above pride, pressure, and persona can still be a problematic task in certain situations even for the teetotaler, but the trait is virtually non-existent in an alcoholic. So if discretion is the better part of valor for the normal man, then I would say that a tactical retreat is the better part of a brave recovery for those new, or old for that matter, to sobriety.
There are just too many stories of relapse that take place at a ball game, birthday party, or wedding because drinking was “expected”. These are the types of events where a drink can be literally forced upon you. While you can’t avoid these types of events forever, they should not be attended until a recovering alcoholic has learned how to check their ego at the door and to resist pressure from others to drink. The topic came to life for me at a wedding this month when a tipsy bridesmaid distributing drinks for a formal toast began to make a scene because I had said no to a glass of champagne (she had just served a ten year-old). I finally took the glass to avoid further escalation, but just as soon as she moved on I walked out of the room leaving the champagne still on the table. In the immortal words of Lynyrd Skynyrd, all I need was “three steps for the door”.
While the episode was more irritating than a real threat to my sobriety, I ducked out quickly as a matter of the parliamentarian procedures of recovery. My drinking was neither an integral part of that ceremony nor a requirement for a happy marriage just as it will not help a team win a football game or make wishes come true at a birthday party. When anyone begins to try to convince me otherwise, then it is time to beat a tactical retreat.