The other day I went to the movies and saw Flight, a wonderful expose of an alcoholic airline pilot portrayed beautifully by Denzel Washington. I knew I wanted to write about it, as it hit many similar chords in my life and my struggle with the alcoholic in my life.
I don't wish to ruin the film for anyone that hasn't seen it, but beyond the obvious plot of a very talented airline captain that miraculously lands a plane after myriad in-flight disasters, this character has been a functioning alcoholic for what seems like most of his life. The gravity of the situation and the deaths that incurred due to the emergency landing are questioned as his blood alcohol content is brought under scrutiny during the investigation and as a probable cause for the disaster in the first place.
What brought me to my emotional knees was the brazen ego and lack of humility and responsibility that his actions might have caused due to intoxication and therefore may have played a part in what may or may not have been avoided had he been clean and sober. Mr. Washington's character defends and justifies his actions (until close to the end) with a pompous arrogance; and though he realizes he might have a problem with alcohol, he contends that he can handle it, get control of it and will do whatever is necessary to avoid any consequences his actions may have brought legally or emotionally.
So let's talk about ego and why can it be so destructive in blocking the path to one's sobriety. Every person needs and should have a healthy ego about them. Feeling good about how they look, feel and what they have accomplished are important emotional and psychology building blocks to living life fully.
However, I have found that in all the years of dealing with the alcoholic both personally and professionally, I have listed six concepts of why an alcoholic's ego can thwart the track toward a healthy recovery beginning.
1) The alcoholic staunchly believes there is no problem with his/her alcohol intake, and tells you to mind your own business or blames you for his/her reason for drinking.
2) The alcoholic contends they have a problem with alcohol, but can take care of the issue by him or herself.
3) The alcoholic doesn't take responsibility for any of the irresponsible or out-of-control behavior that their drinking has incurred or if he/she has a myriad of excuses for the incident.
4) The alcoholic is angry, resentful and/or belligerent that they are "in trouble" and may have to do something about their actions.
5) The alcoholic decides to participate in a recovery program, but will not first attend detox, go to Alcoholics Anonymous 12- step meetings, seek counseling or in essence pick and choose their recovery path as it suits them. Committing willy-nilly is good enough and shows effort... right? Not!6) The alcoholic participates in a residential program, but does not complete it, as he/she decides
- They have had enough and now have their problem under control.
- The people running the program are idiots.
- The alcoholic/addict can't relate to anyone there and are certainly not going to talk about their personal issues with anyone.
- The other attendees have real, serious problems and nothing like this alcoholic and therefore they don't belong there.
The bottom line in this list is that the prevailing ego of the alcoholic is blocking the admission and submission that their life is out of control. It seems that it's a sign of weakness for someone to admit they have a problem and need help -- desperate help -- in getting their life back on track.
I have told the families that when the alcoholic in their life says to them that they will do whatever it takes period to get clean and sober, not whatever it takes, but not this or that, then that will be the first honest step toward a healthy recovery.
Flight is a phenomenal movie with brilliant performances that hit the mark dead-on. Hats off, Mr. Washington, for showing the world what life can be like when one swings from the branch of ego, crashes to earth, and ultimately comes up a better, healthy and more honored human being.
If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com and I invite you to explore my new book Reclaim Your Life -- You and the Alcoholic/Addict at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com or on Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio on my website only.
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