L is for Listening
It seems like this should go without saying but we are a stubborn bunch, us alcoholics. It wasn't that I thought I knew it all but rather I didn't care that I didn't. I knew just enough to get what I wanted which was drunk. In active alcoholism the only time I really listened to anyone was when they had a faster or more efficient way to get drunk or if there was some hangover remedy that would keep me from all the headaches, puking and other unpleasantries that comes with imbibing copious amounts of booze. It was always the topic of conversation too. It was either how much one drank or what stupid things we did while under the influence. Listening implies a desire to learn and that certainly wasn't the case for me. I am almost certain that if someone had offered to help I would have denied that there was ever a problem. I simply thought this was how life was lived: drink, be hungover, go to work and repeat. I don't think I ever even wanted to stop or that it would be possible. It literally never crossed my mind for all those years.
Age, excess and agony finally caught up to me and I was worn down to a nub. Finally I was willing. Seeking answers I started with close friends that were also alcoholics. These were people I cared about; people I drank with and had the same weaknesses as I did and they had quit drinking. These were the first people I listened to and took direction from. My first thought was, "If it is possible for them then there must be some hope for me."
There was so much hardheadedness in the beginning but I began to meet more and more people who were doing the same thing. I listened. I applied what I heard to my own life. This was not always successful so I listened some more. It took time and a lot of forgiveness. Before I would simply dismiss my problems as too big to solve or somebody else's fault. Now I look for solutions when I used to look for excuses. This came from listening. I shut my mouth and listened. It has become an invaluable tool. My brain was responsible for a lot of these problems and sometimes it is necessary to enlist someone else's thinking to help me figure it all out.
There are so many important lessons to learn in life. Not all of these have to be learned the hard way. For that I am grateful to sit down, close my mouth and open my ears, maybe even my mind.