Robin W., Alcoholic

Note: This is the first time I’ve written about something outside my own personal experience, but it’s been on my mind enough that I felt moved to.


When Amy Winehouse’s body was found with a blood alcohol content of .4% (five times the DUI level), lying among scattered vodka bottles like so many smoking guns, most of the media and public understood that her death was caused by alcoholism.

Not so with the loss of Robin Williams – also caused by alcoholism, but in a much subtler sense.  The press does note that he had checked into rehab a few weeks prior, but his prolonged suspension of active drinking causes them to dismiss his addiction as conquered.  It seems to me only my fellow alcoholics are able to intuit the close relationship between his alcoholism, depression, and the unbearableness of being that led him to take his life.

Williams was very open about his 2003 relapse after 20 years’ sobriety.  He told Parade:Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 3.06.06 PM

“One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice — I call it the ‘lower power’ — goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m okay!’ But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs.”

A Guardian reporter asked if friend Christopher Reeves’ death was what triggered his relapse.

“No,” he says quietly, “it’s more selfish than that. It’s just literally being afraid. And you think, oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.” What was he afraid of? “Everything. It’s just a general all-round arggghhh. It’s fearfulness and anxiety.”

He added, about the demise of his second marriage in 2008, years after he’d managed to get sober again:

“You know, I was shameful, and you do stuff that causes disgust, and that’s hard to recover from. You can say, ‘I forgive you’ and all that stuff, but it’s not the same as recovering from it. It’s not coming back.”

If you’re an alcoholic, you don’t just read these words; you identify with them because you’ve lived them.  You know that wheedling voice of the “lower power,” that all-pervading fear of existence, and the burden of shame Williams describes.  And if you’re like me, you feel tremendous empathy for this man, who had recognized his depression as a spiritual malady linked to his alcoholic disease and had tried his best to combat it by strengthening his spiritual connection in treatment.

According to the press, over the previous year Williams had been shooting movies and shows back to back, maintaining a “manic pace.”  To me, this frenzy of activity seems a way of trying desperately to live, to stay engaged in life.  My friend Dave McC  fought depression in a similar way in the year before his suicide, hiking the Cascade Mountains at a furious pace.  But the disease catches up.  It gets to us when we’re alone, worming into that inmost chamber of self where no one can reach us – except god.  What most pains me and frightens me about Williams’ death is that he knew the solution.  He had a program.  He was trying to help himself.  And yet for reasons we’ll never know, he could not access that “Power which pulls [us] back from the gates of death.”

So often, I want to think of sobriety as a set equation rather than a blessing.  That is, I want to believe that if you take certain actions, working the three sides of the triangle by going to meetings, working with a sponsor, and doing service work, then you’re guaranteed a certain result: lasting sobriety.  Williams’ death reminds me that’s anything but the case.  In fact, it’s all grace.  We’re guaranteed nothing.  We’re never home free – not even with twenty years’ sobriety and all the talent, intelligence, and accomplishment a person could ask for.

Rather, the fact that I – an alcoholic child of alcoholic children going back many, many diseased generations – write this with 19 years and 7 months’ sobriety is nothing short of miraculous.  The fact that you’re reading it with however many days or years you have sober – you, who are also hardwired to drink – is likewise a miracle.  Every day that we live in the light of sanity and sobriety is a gift.  It’s another day we can be grateful not to find ourselves in that tortuous nightmare of spiritually starving depression that led Williams – knowing alcohol and drugs would not help him – to choose the one-way exit of suicide.

From a broader perspective as an Near Death Experience survivor, I do believe Williams found not only relief but bliss in leaving his body.  For whatever reason, though, we are born into these earthly lives with a sense of mission to carry them out, and a love for the material world that anchors us here for their duration.  I’d like to live out mine, certainly.  But my sobriety, my faith in a higher power, directions to love and honor others through kindness and service, and the happiness I’ve been granted by pursuing this path all unite to remind me I am never in charge.  Certainly, I’m not in charge of my sobriety.  I can take the steps I know to nurture it, but the results are out of my hands.

In the end, the loss of this talented, accomplished man who could no longer stand his life reminds me to be grateful for today.  I don’t have a lot of  the stuff our culture equates with success.  But no gifts are more precious than sanity, sobriety, peace of mind, and the strength they grant me to love others freely.





Filed under AA, Alcoholism, Recovery, sober, Sobriety, Spirituality

310 responses to “Robin W., Alcoholic

    • BLH

      i’m afraid the onset of Parkinson’s was also a factor, and maybe the deciding one. depression is considered by some to be a disease- but the sad fact is depression itself leads to a host of other problems that are in fact diseases. when your faith in fear and disaster is stronger than your faith in love, you are consumed. it’s never too late to experience the opposite, but sadly in this experience many people don’t seem to get there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Really? His ‘faith in fear’ is what did him in? It wasn’t the years of an obviously ineffective (for many) 12-step program, made only more obvious by his recent stint at Hazeldon to ‘fine tune his sobriety’? It wasn’t the untreated depression, likely only made stronger by the Parkinson’s (not just due to depression from being diagnosed with a chronic disease, but due to the fact that Parkinson’s itself often causes depression due to the brain-changes brought about by the disease)? He just lacked ‘faith in love’? Really? That’s what you’re going with? I’m sorry, it does sound like you’re trying to be compassionate, but blaming the guy because he lacked faith is a complete cop-out.


    • As someone who has been sober for 27 years and a therapist working with addicts and alcoholics in a professional capacity for 22 years I know a diagnosis of Major Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease are organic brain disorders cannot be treated with the 12 step programs or even psychiatry alone. I am sure that Robin Williams had the best treatment available anywhere, even putting himself in “treatment” or a safe place to help with his depression. The term anhedonia means the inability to find enjoyment in anything at all. It is not a question of fear, loss, thinking positively or doing something. It means the spirit that is you has gone away and when a person is there they cannot believe it will ever get better. Robin Williams faced a perfect storm brain problems and what a loss that is for his family and for all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you L, I could not have said this better. i have never been able to accurately describe to non-alcoholic friends what it’s like, to live sober and why I continue to go to meetings and do what I do even with 20+ years. You have captured the gist of it. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Anonymous

    I am not alone but sometimes feel it. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous

    Nicely written. But also relevant is the new information about Robin Williams’ Parkinsons disease.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, and I wondered, too, if fear of that perhaps tipped the balance. I don’t know, but I imagine the courage to cope with Parkinsons was in him and, under different psychic/emotional circumstances, could have seen him through.


      • Anonymous

        I’ve heard for years that Robin was also bipolar. And that depression and Parkinsons are linked in the brain. Then add in the pressure of being such a huge public figure. That combination is difficult for most of us to comprehend.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Robin W. I really enjoyed your piece and hope you continue writing. I am grateful for my recovery.


  5. Anonymous

    Well said, couldn’t agree more!


  6. Anonymous

    Lots of work to not listen to your lower power. So sad he didn’t make it..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous

    Well said


  8. Frank M.

    Thank you for some lovely thoughts. May I add just one.

    For many of us, the solution doesn’t seem to involve any God idea at all. I have watched alcoholics struggle and die searching for a God who may or may not be there. Telling them that’s the one and only answer does no great service to them or the ones who love them.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Frank. When I say god, I may not mean what you think I mean.
      Check it if you’re curious. 🙂


      • Frank M.

        Thank you, Louisa.

        This points up the trouble with creating new definitions for English words in common usage. Within the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the word “God” is given enough context for us to understand that Bill Wilson is writing about God as a deity, for the most part. Bring your best understanding of this deity to your approach to Him. Pray to Him, and He will Hear. He will insert intuitions into your head, as well. Of course, in the rooms things are a lot more relaxed. Higher powers sometimes have little to do with the God idea. Still the literature generates some confusion, I think. “God” simply means God, in most normal contexts.

        It’s worth noting that while Wilson believed he received a personal visit from his God in Towns Hospital, he spent much of the next seventeen years of his life in sometimes deep depression. Even with suicidal thoughts.

        Depression is in part a physical illness. Like cancer. The best AA program in the world would never be recommended as a first line treatment against cancer. Likewise, depression often requires medical treatment too, and is intractable to psychological, even spiritual work.

        Wishing health and freedom from suffering to all beings.

        Liked by 4 people

    • Andrew Nelson

      Your exactly right, Frank. Alcoholics like myself (sober almost 9 years) are generally selfish. I don’t want to generalize by speaking for anyone else, but that’s the experience usually shared. That’s a major problem; selfishness. The solution in practice, and not in theory, is service work. The problem with over-reliance on a higher powers and gods is that they are abstractions; they’re theories. Alcoholics like myself need practical solutions; things we can actually do to transcend our little, insignificant, selfish existences. This is where service work comes in. We give of ourselves freely, with no expectation of reward. That is how an alcoholic STAYS recovered; working with others. And this notion: “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” is fear-based nonsense. Permanent recovery is not only possible, but achieved regularly. I know so many folks who died sober after years of recovery. This demonstrates permanent sobriety can be achieved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve taken the “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” to simply mean that once alcoholism is recovered from the recovered person cannot consume alcohol safely ever again.


      • Lynn F

        I’m a little confused. I also know many who died sober after many years … and many who didn’t. If my sobriety is dependent on my abstinence then how can I be “recovered”? If I am “recovered” – shouldn’t I be able to drink normally like other folks? If the intake of alcohol is always going to create in me the phenomenon of craving; then would I not be alcoholic so long as that is true? If an individual has had personal experiences; things that actually happened to them (although not necessarily to someone else) and they cannot explain the event(s) empiracally and so attribute them to some source outside of themselves (regardless of what they call the source or attribute it to) would that not then be their reality rather than a theory? I know many who have done a great deal of service work; and still had frequent bouts of being seemingly suddendly “struck drunk”. If service work is how an alcoholic stays sober; then why does it not work for all? I find your statements very confusing.

        Liked by 2 people

      • paloflois

        In Al-Anon, as in AA – God refers to the “God of our understanding”. In other words, whatever we think (and hope) God is, He IS! And to all in recovery on this page, this Al-Anon is VERY proud of ALL of you!!!


    • Frank, my man, that’s an all too simplistic view of what we in A.A. struggle and die searching for. All come looking for pain relief. We soon find we were going about it the wrong way. Stripped of our false security blankets — alcohol, cunning and baffling — we become raw and looking for answers.

      To some of us, we resist God because, after all, where has He been all this time, ey? With our “what we resist…persists” filters, in place, we resist the very notion that a Higher Power in this program is actually what makes it work; is responsible for its success rate.

      Convinced we know better than those with the Universe by their side, we develop the same responses that you just supplied above and…quite frankly…we go nowhere. We actually believe we have heard successful people in A.A. say, “God is the one and only answer”, as you say.

      Armed with this bias, this purposeful and militant ignorance of the possibilities we, intellectualize our way to sobriety and yes, even happiness. NOT!

      I wish you health and awareness.


      • Rayted32, there’s NOTHING intellectual about alcoholics. If they were intellectual they would be able to have self-control and practice free well, finding a million times between going to the store to buy alcohol to putting it up to their lips that they would be able to stop themselves.


      • Hmmm…that statement is what I would call painting with a broad brush, wouldn’t you say?

        Nothing intellectual about alcoholics? Even the hallowed big book says the problem centers in the mind rather than in the body. Where I part ways with the big book is when it states that a mental defense must come from a higher power.

        If the mind can be retrained to simply beware and connect the thought to the action, one can use the so-called free will to avoid a drink. In other words it’s called cognitive behavioral therapy. That or any mindfulness based therapy has proven to be effective. The key, as in any other approach is that the alcoholic has to want to stop drinking,


      • paloflois

        To rayted32: If God had NOT been there all along, you wouldn’t have survived long enough to seek help. To David Smock and Jim Wikel: to expect self control and free will to conquer the effects of this Obsessive/Compulsive Disease is blaming the victim for being ill. You wouldn’t blame someone for suffering from cancer or TB or any other physical disease would you? Then why blame the alcoholic for having HIS/HER disease? If you haven’t joined Al-Anon yet, I urge you to do so and become educated to the TRUE nature of alcoholism.


      • Kim

        David, as an intellectual, surely you can tell us what “free well” is? And as an intellectual, surely you would understand that you obviously have no idea what it is like to be an alcoholic?


  9. Anonymous

    A well written article. Altough I can’t help but feel this violates a tradition.


    • Anonymous

      Nobody really knows the truth, whether he died sober or not? Does it really matter? I think, he stopped going to meetings and forget about what gave him a full life. Chapter 5 tells us, rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. He is a great example that this disease is cunning, baffling and deadly!


      • kate

        I go to meeting and I follow the pat, however I understand the depression. You can be in a room full of alcoholics and still feel alone. Sometimes you don’t see the answers right in front of you. I have become more aware sadly since Robin’s death. It makes me want to try harder.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew Nelson

      Here we go with another person obsessed with AA’s traditions. Do you know what those traditions have achieved? AA is hemorrhaging membership. The GSO has basically turned into a money making publishing outfit, and newcomers come in and out of the rooms like bus boys in a restaurant. Maybe it’s time to revise, and update some of these traditions. The problem is that will never happen, because Alcoholics are generally full of fear, and afraid of change. What’s even more sad, is no one in AA discusses these things. My argument is they generally don’t care. Mater of fact, many AA’ers are just fine with remaining esoteric and losing members.


      • Lynn F

        I would be curious to know how you would update the Traditions.


      • The film, “Anonymous People” illustrates how more people are helped, especially younger ones, by men and women in the recovery process disclosing their personal stories on a public level.


      • Andrew, I don’t believe you.


      • paloflois

        I think the tradition referred to is to “remain anonymous regarding radio, press and film”. As for changing the traditions, AA has worked for millions and the close of “Keep coming back – it works if you work it” is true. I always add: “And it WON’T if you DON’T”. And THAT’S the long and short of it!! I’m an Al-Anon who attends open meetings with my alcoholic (32 years 4 months sober) and I’ve seen miracles happen. But they happen ONLY if the alcoholic WANTS them badly enough. No alcoholic will recover until things get BAD enough, and that, TOO, is the long and short of it!


  10. mking

    I do believe that as a recovered alcoholic nutrition is a vital part of my recovery –this is not talked about at all in AA. A body that has consumed alcohol for long periods of time needs to be rebuilt to arrest depression, anxiety, panic, worry, etc. The biggest leg up in my sobriety is when i discovered that most alcoholics need to rebuild the important flora and amino acids in their body –one specifically that rest in the digestive track -L-Glutamine. Check out the Mood Diet by Julia Ross. So easy to do and the results were miraculous –changed my life! I find it bewildering that in many rooms sugar is everywhere –its as close to booze as you can get.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Anonymous

    When a relative drinks admittedly to make it through stressful times, for up to a week, & still makes it through the day with ease, is this known as a functioning alcoholic? What can a family member do to get him to wake up?


    • Sadly, if the drinker is truly alcoholic and doesn’t want to change, absolutely nothing. On the other hand, he/she may be just a heavy drinker (able to curb intake given sufficient reason), in which case you can talk to them about it. But alcoholism is a whole different ballgame, a complex condition no words and few consequences can touch. (See “What (most) Normal Drinkers Will Never Understand“)

      Al-Anon exists to help the families and friends of alcoholics accept their powerlessness and detach with love. Al-Anon also helps with the distinction between acceptance and enabling.

      It’s tough, though, I know! Many people tried to help me as drinking drove my life into the ground, but as my own addiction memoir describes, I had to hit a bottom dark enough to arrive at a T-intersection, with death in one direction and recovery in the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paloflois

        louisablog – you are spot ON!! You sound like a “double winner”.. Congratulations on your recovery!! “Keep coming back – it works WHEN you work it”!! I’m a friend of LOIS Wilson, and I’m PROUD of you!!!!!


  12. I feel like the alcohol is being blamed for the depression. Alcohol can definitely cause depression but in Robyn’s case I believe the depression caused him to turn to alcohol. Many who suffer from depression turn to alcohol to deal with their depression. Unfortunately the alcohol just makes it worse. Depression is a physical illness however, it is one we cannot see and because of that fact it is one illness that is overlooked way too much. We can see the alcohol and there are many treatments out there for it. The world needs to accept depression as a physical illness and work harder on finding help for the millions of people who deal with it on a daily basis. Many of those people are lonely and afraid because so many don’t understand their world. I can understand their world because I am one of them however I can say I have not turned to alcohol for mine. It’s not an easy road to travel. I do congratulate all of the alcoholis out their who have turned to sobriety. It’s not an easy road either.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ilona R.

    Beautifully written…. Making some sense out of insanity of alcoholism

    Liked by 1 person

  14. tina

    Thank you for this very insightful and truly reality through personal experience message. I am sure you captured the motivation behind Robin Wiiliams decision to take his own life. I applaud your voice. God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. sausagelad

    There are too many assumptions made by the author. I find this article to be more than a little self-serving.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. igoduo

    I too have 19 years and 7 months. Only by the grace of a power greater than myself and the fellowship of the program have I been able to stay sober and sane (most of the time) is, like you said “nothing short of miraculous”. We can speculate until the end of time about the circumstances surrounding his death, however, it is and will remain between him and his ‘God’. For me, I loved his laughter, his humor, and I also related to his pain. Who am I to try to make sense out of what happened? It’s simple to me, If it wasn’t his time to go, he would still be here, “trudging the road to happy destiny”. Isn’t that what he was trying to do anyway? Now maybe he’s found it for real.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thoughtful and wonderful article. Thank You very much for it. This death has been difficult for me and my friends for many reasons, and Letting Go has to be practiced.

    BTW as to the comments, here’s what the AA Big Book states about step 2 in the context of how to work with others: “Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles.” p.93

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I have been prone to depression my whole life. It runs in my family on my mother’s side, as does alcoholism.

    Looking back, I believe that I was depressed as a child. I discovered alcohol and other drugs when I was thirteen years old and drank until I was thirty-one. I think that the alcohol masked my depression and that it wasn’t until after I stopped drinking that the depression truly surfaced. Only a few times have I became severely depressed to the point of near debilitation. But, I believe that during my AA years, in which I was thoroughly immersed in “doing the deal” and being very active, the activity itself masked the depression. Now that I’m not in AA anymore, I manage it (depression) with a combination of diet, exercise, and meditation. If I ever experience a severe depression again, I will not hesitate to see a doctor.

    As has been said, we can speculate to the cows come home regarding Robin Williams’ death. However, I believe that alcoholism did not cause his death. I also do not believe that failure to work the program of Alcoholics Anonymous caused his death. I do not believe that it was because he failed to find “The solution,” he did not find “A solution.” Untreated bi polar disorder caused Robin Williams’ death. And, I think that his case was not unique.Untreated depression leads many to drink and drinking exacerbates the condition and depression exacerbates alcoholism. I believe that this was the case with Bill Wilson as well. And like myself after a couple of crippling bouts, Wilson found ways in sobriety to manage depression.

    For an unbiased, objective look at depression, I recommend “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” by Andrew Solomon. It is written from the perspective of the sufferer in non-clinical language.


  19. Anonymous

    Thank you


  20. Maggie M

    I loved what you wrote. And I agree also with the comment about depression being something that often needs medical attention; that it’s not necessarily a spiritual malady that can be treated successfully with the twelve steps. As a sober person I’ve gone in phases where I needed to seek outside help beyond the church basement. My sobriety is a gift and the foundation upon which all the other things can be built. I’d not have a chance at being well without first and foremost being sober.

    I knew another alcoholic who died the same way as Robin W. and he was sober at the time. It’s tragic and very sad. I feel very, very blessed that I’ve never gone to such depths of despair and hopelessness as so many have.

    Robin you are and will always be loved.

    Maggie M.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Depression is definitely an illness unto itself, the mind/body shutting down, draining away the drive to live. But it can also bond with alcoholism to produce a lethal hybrid. The morning I wrote this, though, my thought was simply that many alcoholics have felt just enough of it to imagine the chasm into which Williams fell. The subject is complex, and I wasn’t intending to diagnose anyone; my blog is just one person’s wave of compassion.


      • Look at this on a broader scale and you see that it is addictions and not just alcohol that keep us from our true selves, our real, raw feelings. We are an addicted nation with solutions for avoiding feelings around us no matter where we go.

        Robin was addicted to humor and performing. When he stopped, his raw feelings came to the top and stayed, and he hated that. He had nowhere to run. I believe he was an untreated, toxically-shamed, “human doing” who performed for his “LOVE room and board”. When he became less funny and without props in the form of mood-altering experiences and the threat of PD loomed large as another performance inhibitor, the pain became unbearable.

        This is so sad and we can’t blame Robin for this behavior. “You can’t know what you don’t know”. I am amazed, after all that has been out there about the disease of toxic shame that he had no treatment for it. I would have loved to spend time with him as his assistant. I am alive today because of my embracing of its hold it has on my soul and an awareness of the words I must say to myself to tamp it’s committee of voices…down. ❤


  21. Tina

    Thank you for sharing this. Well said! A great reminder for us all.


  22. Rene

    There for the grace of God go I. Even at 26 years of sobriety, I face fears almost daily. I lost my spouse, my job and went to college. Still, nothing. I fear losing everything I worked for all my life. Being 59 and alone is hard but I am never alone with God and the fellowship of AA. My heart breaks for Robin, he had so much love and empathy for others and that is how it goes for those of us who are that way. We hurt a lot and get hurt. I understand well his wanting out. I have thought of it many times but pray to my Higher Power not to let me do it. I have grown kids and grand kids to live for and don’t want to hurt them. My boss committed suicide 4 years ago at 53, I’m still devastated. He was not an addict or alcoholic but had mental illness, which I think underlies why we drank/used. I just lost 2 friends in the program this past month to suicide with long term sobriety. Please pray for us “old timers”, we struggle too and multiple years is no guarantee we are ok or happy. God bless all of us struggling to maintain recovery. And, God bless Robin and his family. May he be at peace.


    • Why does someone in sobriety commit suicide? They have lovingly and courageously stopped the one thing that was taking them down the tubes. That deserves more than an “atta boy” “atta boy” will do.

      So, after the parades and the speaking engagements die down, we are now left with problem #2 – “Why do I talk to myself this way?”

      Most of us are not even aware this is our next big…huge…problem. We say to ourselves, “Hey, that’s just me”; and, we’d be right. That’s the me that was created by a committee of caregivers long ago who got it wrong. Now, today, I am wrong for still listening to them. This is our problem. Admit it and move on to fixing it.

      How do we fix it? Just like drinking. One day at a time. One second thought now replacing a shaming, useless answer to the first thought, such as, “Am I ever going to do this right?”…at a time. How do I know this? I live it. Today, I know my problem and my solutions. Am I that much different than you? No.

      So, I’ve just identified your second biggest problem in life; the first was your co-dependency on mood altering events and substances that temporarily free you from these lousy “first thoughts” and ineffective parent-teacher-coach-life partner lies about yourself.

      But, get you and Robin and me in a room alone, by ourselves, and here comes the parent-teacher-coach-life partner committee. Your choice, once you know this is the problem is to fix it. Either that, or die. You now have a choice. Fix it. I did.

      Here’s something to read, for free:

      I wish you awareness and health


  23. Thank you
    Blog fantastic


  24. This is such a loving, candid writing. Thank you so much for it. Twenty-nine years and counting and one drink away from the self-hatred I grew up with, just as soon as I knew what it was like to “feel defective”; the” gift that keeps on giving…bestowed upon me by well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning caregivers” of all shapes and sizes.

    But, just like my drinking is ruined forever, I know better. Low self-esteem, self-hatred, toxic shame is all about me not forgiving myself on top of a John Bradshaw “Shame Parfait” of accumulated and overblown misdeeds to both my fellow humans and…begrudgingly and forgetfully…myself.

    We cannot control our first thoughts, even today. But, we can control our “second thoughts”; those repeated and cumulative poundings of our souls, our spirit, our “selves” with overblown mea culpas; a self-flagellation that has a life of its own, should we give it its due.

    We should do no such thing! It is due not one second of our time. We are all lovable, capable, beautiful children of God/The Universe. We must believe that there is a way to believe this. In a way, we must learn to reparent ourselves…one day at a time.

    I did mine with 12 Step Rooms, John Bradshaw’s “Healing the Shame that Binds You”, therapy and a spiritual awakening. All combined to defeat the “you’re never going to amount to anything” words of my parents. All combined to know that my “low self-esteem was ruined forever”. Still, I am taken to undesirable depths of crippling toxic shame. What keeps me from suicide? The knowledge and faith that my low-self esteem is ruined forever; that I am now in charge of the committee in my head; that I deserve to be happy; that I am NOT hopelessly broken. Alleluia!

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Robin had not armed himself with this knowledge and belief; therefore, his depressions were just “his defective self, helplessly buffeted by the truth of his brokenness”; that a wretched soul like him, no matter how much he loves others…does not deserve salvation. His misdemeanors and high crimes were not about something he did; they were about something he “IS”. Thus, unlike guilt, he surely cannot be forgiven; doesn’t even understand the cure for the hopelessness.

    How horribly convoluted this becomes unless we are blessed to find this key to self-love. We resist so much to believe in “toxic shame” that we go on denying it and thus knowingly, militantly ignore our own right to a healthy happy soul.

    Robin, I am sorry that your trip to re-rehab didn’t include an awareness of the true problem. If it did, you’d have begun a painful but shorter journey to wholeness that likely would have included your remaining among the living. Don’t let this fact, in itself, bring you shame and regret. You can’t know what you don’t know. No matter what your decision, your unwavering and often unconditional love has transcended everything. We received it from you in spades. Now you must begin the journey of loving yourself with equal intensity. You can’t know what you don’t know. May you know it soon. ❤


  25. Anonymous

    Robin Williams death has hit home to me in a very deep and knowing way. I understand that deep dark place and that scares me more than I can explain. You feel that you are already gone. People call it selfish but they have not been where Robin Williams had been. A sorrow so far gone that you physically can’t pull yourself out. What scares me the most is that some people die so that others may live. Which one am I?


  26. Anonymous

    12 step bull shit. There is no “higher power” just you making dumb and sometime difficult (if you have depenacy) choices. More people age out of heavy drinking than ever get or benefit from “alcoholic treatment”. Look it up in the scientific lituature. It’s a billion dollar racket and they’ve taken plenty of mine. No more. I choose sobriety. I have a biological tedance for depenacy and I was treated with 19 century hocus pocus for 10’s of thousands dollars. The term “alcoholism” has lost all meaning except the the treatment industry and the uninformed. I say that I do not have a drinking problem as long as I don’t drink alcohol. Keep it simple and if you need to talk it out go for it.


    • Alcohol, drugs, etc. are just symptoms of a greater problem. “To age out” of dependency still leaves us with our self-hatred. If that’s not your problem, good for you.

      What’s great about 12 Steps is 1.) It saved my life. 2.) It’s the gateway “drug” for codependency and low-self esteem issues and thus…points us to nurturing caregivers of all stripes and varieties. Good luck with your “aging out” making you aware enough to receive those gifts.

      BTW, many of my friends “aged out” on booze…the miserable bastards! 🙂


    • Apparently something you learned along the way during the expensive process has given you the ability to make healthy choices. To discredit your treatment is to discredit all your life experiences. Don’t make that mistake, friend.


  27. Patti M

    As someone who suffers from alcoholism and bi-polar disorder, I know that every day is a miracle that I don’t pick up a drink. After 14 years, one day at a time, I continue to believe in the principles of the 12 Steps and AA. Robin Williams warmed the hearts of millions of people yet felt alone and despair – Those of us in recovery know that it is only by faith we get another day sober sometimes. It is so unfortunate that he didn’t have us (meaning the hand of AA) reach out a little further to help him.

    I don’t know the exact information of whether he died sober or not but let this be a lesson to those in recovery to reach out when you see someone floundering and help them follow the path.


  28. He had depression. I believe it is very irresponsible to assume and insinuate that alcoholism had anything to do with his death.

    I’d say the fact that every day you don’t pick up a drink is more of an example of you taking personal responsibility than a miracle.


    • The Big Book says “there are those fortunate few”. You just may be one of them. I know that I am not.

      Alcohol had EVERYTHING to do with his death! He hated himself for jumping off the wagon. You’re looking at this much too intellectually. Addictions, just like intellectualizing, move us away from our true, raw feelings. You and I were both taught to move away from our feelings. It DOESN’T work. ❤


  29. K.L

    Thank you for writing this about Robin W. Reaching out to others in the meetings is what keeps me going. I had 12 years and relapsed,now I am coming up on 10 years again, by the grace of God. Everyday is a gift to live sober, thanks be to God for recovery. I know the disease of alcoholism lies dormant in recovering alcoholics,daily vigilance is a must . Funny thing is alcohol still looks romantic to me in a wine glass, at times. I don’t let the thoughts stay in my head long, I know better. For those who say that they never are tempted are not in touch with their own humanity. I pray for Robin’s family. It is ALL grace indeed!


    • Some things about wine are romantic! Accept them. Wine, in and of itself is not an evil drink. It’s what it and other libations do to me after the 5th or 6th or nth one…that bring me pain. Let me rephrase that: It’s what “I”do to me, using __________ (fill in the blank) that brings me pain. To face my pain without numbing it is courageous and hopeful. I can now trust my own, raw feelings to be real. Feelings never killed me; alcohol almost did. “I” almost did. Facing the world directly is what God intended for us. It’s a gift. I’m using it now. ❤


  30. Frank M.

    Sadly AA tends to imbue some of its members with a sense that they know more about the mystery of life (and death) than the rest of humanity. Also that God treats them specially, or at least that they know better than others how to connect with Him.

    As has been pointed out here, depression is a medical condition. To imply that Williams died because he wasn’t working his program or wasn’t working it right or not in touch with the magical power of God is, at best, playing doctor–which we don’t do in AA. At worst, this is the kind of arrogance that Bill Wilson warned about in his Grapevine article “The Dilemma of No Faith.”

    I appreciate that the author recognizes all this, and that she was just pouring out her compassion. I also know that some of what’s been written here in response to her blog is well meaning ignorance, based on a very confused philosophy and theology that AA sadly promulgates.

    I wish all beings freedom from the ignorance, craving, and aversion that causes suffering. That requires wisdom, letting go, and acceptance. I believe those are capacities we ALL have within us, and between us; not special gifts from on high for a privileged few.

    You will have to determine for yourself whether this is true or not. Namaste.

    Liked by 1 person

    • About the “special connection” theme I hear frequently in meetings I counter “All are chosen, few choose.” I think a certain spiritual pride exists in many of us and that marginalizes more people, more “slippers”, than anything else. It’s when I tell you what you should or could be doing right or wrong. When I share what happened to me and what I did with it then you can identify.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chet, Bible Thumpers aside, there IS a kind of spiritual pride in A.A. rooms, like you say. Mine comes from experience of the small “coincidences” that take a room full of drunks without any leader and…heals them. When you witness these small miracles, you begin to trust that something is going on here that I can’t see or control but…works.

        To the naysayers, I say, “Keep coming back and take what you like and leave the rest”. This is not a paid political announcement. I haven’t been to a meeting in over 10 years. I’m just saying that A.A. is the gateway drug to sobriety, spiritual growth, therapeutic solutions and a general enhancement of one’s very own sense of joy.

        Becoming an alcoholic was the greatest gift I have ever received in my lifetime because it opened me up to all these resources and to “me”. I didn’t need God to make me happy; he just willingly and lovingly “accelerated the pace” and calmed me when I couldn’t calm myself on my own. What a great friend to have. I leave him for months at a time and always return to calm myself.

        I wish you love, truth, grace

        Free, accellerated joy:


  31. Anonymous

    If you are saying that alcoholism was the cause of Robin Williams’ death & not depression, I don’t agree.

    I have 32 and ½ years of sobriety and also suffer from depression. I incorrectly assumed that once I got sober, I would never get depressed again and was devastated the first time that I did in sobriety. Thankfully, I have not spiraled into a deep depression in about 15 years. This is a result of closely working with my physician to find the correct medication for the clinical depression I was diagnosed with at 14.

    The last time that I was suicidal, I decided that I would not kill myself with drugs or alcohol. I wanted people to know that I was depressed and it wasn’t just a “slip”.

    Thankfully, I continued to go to meetings, talked with my sponsor, worked the steps, saw my doctor & I am alive and happy today.

    I feel horrible that Robin Williams felt so alone and helpless that he took his life. It was a tragedy.


  32. Anonymous

    Hello Louisa, I feel compelled to share some pertinent information that is outside of the realm of AA. Let me preface by saying that I have been a sober member of AA for 25 years, and I’ve been sober an additional 2 years, without attending AA. I have learned that AA does not work for everybody *gasp*, and we now have several alternatives that are quite effective.

    Agree or disagree, well worth reading and listening to. Thank you for the opportunity to do some critical thinking.

    Dr. Mate on the death of Robin Williams.

    Lesson from Robin Williams: Take depression seriously | Toronto Star


  33. Kukana

    I get more than a little upset with people who(not the blogger) who say “he probably quit going to meetings,working the Steps,etc………..I am able, in an instant, to identify them as someone who has never known physiological depression. I am someone who relapsed after 10 years of sobriety after doing all the things suggested in AA-worked through the Steps many times,had a sponsor,all of my friends were in recovery-I was WIRED into recovery! It’s this simple;there are physically-related states of mind(physiological depression)that the Steps and all the meetings in the world are NOT going to make right! And for someone who has zero understanding of this condition, to dismiss a reality they have NO IDEA about,as needing more meetings,needing to work with others to get out of yourself,or ‘simply’ needing to surrender, is much like a non alcoholic telling an alcoholic that it’s just a matter of will power!!! AA puts out a pamphlet on medication,stating that no AA member should play Dr.,yet it is done ALL the time. There are some things that need to be dealt with medically to get some people to a level where they can then begin to benefit from all of AA’s wisdom.

    I was deeply saddened and moved by the death of this man. The shock reminded me of the shock that came when I watched TV,wide-eyed,and enthusiastic as the Challenger launched into space,then……BOOM!!!…….IT BLEW UP!!! All of that hope,pride,and anticipation just obliterated in an instant!!! Both of these events were such tremendous,unexpected loss.
    Then,I heard about RW having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease,and just as suddenly things began to come into focus. I suddenly saw his exit as a manner of taking control of his own fate,as opposed to ‘he just couldn’t do it anymore’,and that brought about a certain comfort. Then,because TV was showing his movies,I watched “Awakenings” again,and the point was driven even deeper as I imagined the pain he must have had to touch and experience,within himself,yet for others,to so beautifully play the role. It must have been that same sense of such hope,then that same desperate sense of loss.It suddenly became something that I not only understood,but could support……as a fellow traveler.

    On a personal note-I would be remiss if I did not tell you that I have been blessed with another 9+ years of sobriety 🙂


  34. Mary

    I feel Robin’s pain and there are times when one just can’t get back up after the last fall. May he be at peace and all those demons that were haunting him are gone. Alcoholism is a nasty disease that no one asks for, it’s not something you say growing up. It’s cunning, baffling and ever so powerful and I don’t ever wish it upon my worst nightmare. Rest in peace Robin and may your family find comfort in knowing how loved you were.


  35. Damian Vraniak

    Robin Williams Death: Combination of ADHD/Introversion often misdiagnosed and mistreated as Bipolar or Depression

    Robin Williams,

    Few understand what the combination of bursting forth, continual outpouring of high energy (ADHD), coupled with an exquisitely and excruciatingly sensitive heart (introversion), costs a person like you who has both. Throw in a brilliantly creative mind and while you entertained so many, you were so misunderstood and unmet in the competing impulses to go out and share, yet needing to withdraw, go in and rest. It is to our sorrow that we could not provide you with just the right love and support to moderate and settle the ongoing conflict between your indwelling and outgoing nature. Truly, may you rest, finally, in Peace. – Damian

    See ”Narratives of Introversion with ADHD” by Vraniak et al (2014) at

    Those with ADHD have paradoxical reactions to medications (eg stimulants calm them down) … as Robin said, “cocaine doesn’t stimulate me like it does others, it clams me down’ … and with the wrong diagnosis and wrong medication suicide potential greatly increases.


    • Lynn F

      I rarely have tears brought to my eyes; but your response is beautiful … and true. Thank you. I wish we could put your response on billboards ..; for those who understand …. and for those who can’t and simply have to accept in the name of love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thing is, Louisa, when one has a solution that works, one feels obliged to tell others.

        I would work on my ’49 Dodge as a kid. I’d always look for engine problems based upon the simplest likelihood of what could be wrong, spark plugs, for instance, I would go there first. I was usually right.

        In the case of Robin, right or wrong, I think we can narrow down his problems to be “his own self talk”; his “spark plugs”, if you will. He was alone and found the words to believe he should kill himself.

        His depression, whether caused by his own chemical imbalance or a plethora of bad messages he gave himself…likely ended in a “plethora of bad messages”. That is the problem that needs to be solved and wasn’t.

        Prozac (I use it) cuts the self-loathing a bit. Good self-talk does the rest. God is always there to help when I can remember I am not in charge. Had I been in the room with Robin and on successive days he’d likely be alive today. Bragging? No. Just loving. Did Robin die of poor self-talk due to performance anxiety? Maybe. Was it clinical depression? Maybe. Was it poor self-talk. Absolutely!

        Read this. You’ll see why I have earned the right to conquer this disease of the mind. Poor self talk is a disease of the mind.

        Love, Truth, Grace


      • Lynn F



  36. Dwight Lee Wolter

    In this article, Robin Williams himself cites “fear” as what triggered his drinking; not “depression” or “alcoholism.”


  37. Elizabeth Coonley

    Thank you for your eloquent words and truth regarding the disease and depression. For the alcoholics that do not have severe clinical depression, it is difficult for most of them to understand how truly difficult it is for those of us that suffer.


  38. To me, in the end, the article isn’t at all about Robin Williams. It is all about you, as the writer, and your healing process. You feel a cathartic need to say something, to add your voice to the literal cacophony of voices out there about this man’s death. But in the end, your voice, like all of those others, will not matter. Because you’re not going to change a single thing you do because of this event.

    You’re not going to reach out to other people more to see how they are doing on a regular basis six months from now.

    You’re now going to become involved in movements to make better mental health care available for all segments of our population.

    You’re not going to speak a little kinder to folks on the street,, or smile more at stranger, or add some sort of Patch Adams-like folksy manner to your daily interaction.

    You might say you will, but inertia will take hold and by Christmas the next trend or fashion or event will have caught your attention like a bright, shiny object. It’s how we’re wired.

    But that’s okay. Catharsis is important. As a sufferer of BPD, Robin was a hero of mine. I’m not an alcoholic – I was lucky enough to recognize at an early age I have an addictive personality and thus avoid all substances. But I also understood that his use was pretty much to self-medicate from the symptoms. Yes, cocaine calmed him – that meant it brought him down off a manic. If you’ve ever been stuck in one, you’d be grateful for ANYTHING that could do that. There is dispute over wheter he was BPD or not. Evidence can be placed on the regular pattern of such a cycle in his life. You can spot the length of his cycle by the gaps in his career, and the damage that it did – much of it very recognizable to fellow sufferers. But he was always the one who came round the wheel and emerged from the depths to the light again…except for this final time.

    Maybe it was the Parkinson’s. Maybe it was being cancelled. Maybe it was something else, unrevealed and forever unknowable. But those of us who have been trapped in the dark, alone, and gone down through that dark space in our minds just as he did, before making our turn out at the last moment (whether by our own volition or through the intervention of others), understand on a visceral level what despair Williams felt that night. And something else to consider – he chose a method that was not peaceful in any way, so the level of pain it caused him had to be so bad that he could consider that a viable choice.

    In the end, everyone says they wish they’d known. But no one ever asks, not really…and no one will ask. Because behaviors don’t change. No one reading this column will change. And you won’t change, either.

    It’s not an accusation. Nothing personal. It’s just they way the world works.


    • D.G. – Obviously, you haven’t run into me at Safeway! I’ve been reaching out to hurting people, being “folksy” on the street and bringing smiles to strangers’ faces or even sharing laughter with them, and giving 3 hours a week to what I would call mental health efforts through meeting with my sometimes shaky sponsees – doing all of this not since I got sober 19 years ago, but since my heart got splattered in a food processor 10 years ago. That’s when I learned that I can’t do this life thing alone. Friends showed up for me, even acquaintances, and carried me through until I learned the gift of loving. I got even kinder after getting breast cancer a year and a half ago, again supported by my recovery family but at the same time facing fear alone, as each of us must. For not all but many recovering alcoholics, loving kindness every single day is a way of life. In my experience, in loving openly and impersonally you can almost feel the energy of god channeling through you. The girl I tutored just an hour ago, who suffers from autism but has a beautiful spirit, absolutely made my day.

      I wish you happiness, D.G.


  39. Clarice, S.

    Thank you for sharing your insights. You have done a great honor to Robin. I also suffer from major depression. Diagnosed 14 yrs ago and worsening over time. I crossed the line to alcoholic 7 years ago. After 2years of drinking and depression I too made it into the rooms. Nearly dead from another suicide attempt involving alcohol.
    Depression seems more difficult to describe to those who have little or no understanding of it. For me the huge dark painful shroud of depression comes up from behind and clokes me in it’s heavy cloud. All reasonable thinking is blocked. The scope I see life through closes down like the apeture of a lens. Suiced becomes an only option. My self loathing and self hate grow. I know everyone will be better oyff without me. I will take me out of their misery as well as take me out of mine. It feels like a logical decision because the mental pain is too intense to keep bearing it. Coming back from an unsuccessful attempt leads to all the guilt and shame and lasting self loathing that I have to continue to deal with. Back to recovery and hard work to make life worrh living.
    I discovered Co-dependancy and a 12 step program to help. Both sobriety and depression are better. There is hope.
    I totally understand the pain and agony Robin felt. And his desision to let go.
    Suicide is not an easy way out for most people. It’s very painful.


  40. So beautifully written and it means so much coming from one who has experienced all that those of us with this cunning, baffling and powerful disease have had to endure. I have 21 years of sobriety and there is not a day that goes by that I ever forget from whence I came and that I am sober today, only by the grace of God. Thank you so much for writing this. I could not have improved on one word of it. Thank you, thank you.


  41. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for writing this. I too am in recovery with a few 24 hours under my belt. There are days when I struggle and I have also been a victim of devastating depression. Robin Williams’ death has had a profound impact on me and I have been trying to understand why. Your article explains it perfectly. I have had an overwhelming sense of “there but for the grace of god go I” and I have identified so strongly with his circumstances. My husband had an NDE in 1999 (he is still here) and he experienced the sense of peace you describe. I have faith that Robin has been embraced by the universal energy of love and his time had come. So rather than mourning his passing, we should celebrate the great gifts he left to this world. He is not lost to us, he has just moved to a different dimension. We still are blessed to be able to enjoy his movies and his talent and humour will live on to be enjoyed by future generations. I am grateful that his work has made me laugh and cry and think. He is a blessing to us all.


  42. Lynn F

    I just want to comment that I loved the article and have enjoyed the comments. I had never been here before so it was quite interesting to take into consideration the viewpoints. It’s nice when people agree and I find like-minded friends – but I learn more from those with a different point of view. It is fruitful to see what I can glean that I can use. Always hoping to add a little to the tool kit. There were things written that confused me and I did ask a few answers. In an attempt to choose what stood out the most to me – there seems to be a huge difference of opinion regarding the source of our recovery, the opinions regarding what causes alcoholism and what is necessary to maintain sobriety, how important AA is or isn’t, etc. I almost died from alcoholism and it almost destroyed my life. I am happy when anyone is sober .. and at least reasonably happy – no matter how they achieve that. It doesn’t matter to me where, how .. any of it. Is it not the result that matters …… more so than the path? All; or none, of the things mentioned as causes or contributors could be true in any combination and the combination can be and; to some degree is, different for each of us. In the course of working the steps I found out things about myself that I never knew. I got a lot of answers I never had. That doesn’t mean they are someone else’s answers. I found; in my case, that alcoholism truly was and is a symptom of deeper problem(s) – but I had to stop poisoning myself with alcohol before I could even discover what they were – let alone do anything about them. So my question is; if our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety ..then …. in the program or out, self-discipline or God’s will, a higher power or none …….. does any of it matter if it’s working? I am aware that there are those who completely disagree with the “primary purpose” idea but; even so, isn’t the point to find something that works that will assist us in not killing ourselves with alcohol?
    Whatever your choice, whatever your path – regardless of what your opinion of cliche’s may be – I hope you are or become happy, joyous and free and I especially hope that Robin is.


  43. The physical sobriety from the disease of addiction is, in the final analysis, THE EASIEST PART of living life clean and sober. It’s the EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY that has tripped me up in the form of my: poor self-esteem; lack of a filter to that leads to inappropriate self-disclosure; my history of trauma (which just yesterday reared its ugly head yet again); my intimacy disorder and attachment issues from the time I was in vitro until age 35 when, one year sober, I realized I had been sexually abused as a child. I had blocked out all memory of this truth about me for 21 years.

    As a man in long-term recovery utilizing more than one 12-Step program, I have written articles and presented at national conferences. One article, which appeared in Counselor magazine, seemed to strike a chord with many readers. “Teens, the Brain and 12-Step Recovery” spoke to the challenges teens and young adults have relating to the 48-year old male in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. From God’s lips to my finger the 12-Steps below were offered in this article to those who need to go at their recovery from a strength-based perspective.

    Have a sparkling day!


    A Strength-based Version of the 12-Steps
    Thomas M. Greaney, LADC, CCDP, SAP

    1. I am very powerful over my drug or behavior of addiction as long as I don’t put the substance in my body or behavior into action. And my life won’t become unmanageable if I attend to my needs and have regular interaction with some source(s) of sober support.
    2. Came to believe that a Power within me would restore me to health and sanity through self-discipline and daily structure.
    3. Made a decision to turn my will resolutely to a focus on sobriety, productivity and the consequent sanity of my improved sense of self.
    4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of my positive attributes and committed to further enhancing these strengths.
    5. Admitted to myself that my past is not my present or future and that I have much to accomplish in honoring my gifts and through service of others.
    6. Were entirely ready to accept the help of others in enhancing my positive attributes and strength of character.
    7. Humbly asked for the help of others to join me in this sweet journey of sobriety, dedicating myself to self-improvement and growth in the process.
    8. Made a decision to abstain from harmful thinking and behaviors, and surround myself with “nutritious” people who will feed a positive sense of me as a valued individual and friend.
    9. Made amends and forgave myself for the actions of my past, which I acknowledge harmed others and me. Not willing to be stuck, I am committed to moving forward in a spirited not a shameful manner.
    10. Continued to observe my goodness through mindfulness and when veering from my path of purpose, gently guide myself back on track.
    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with the still quiet voice within, praying for guidance and direction.
    12. Having had a revitalization of my spirit and purpose, I’ll share my message of hope with others needing encouragement.

    COPYRIGHT Feb. 2011 Thomas M. Greaney, LADC, CCDP


  44. What an awesome well communicated article that puts his death into a new perspective for me.


  45. Anonymous

    This is a good read. The only thing I find dangerous is offering the idea of finding bliss through death. There is a very high statistic that while suicide can seem like the perfect answer at that inifinite time, the high majority pray they are not successful but pray they are found and resuscitated before death consumes them. This is a heart breaking fact. Those that suffer from depression as well as addiction need professional assistance as well as a 12 step program to help them overcome the idealistic thought that suicide is an answer for peace.


  46. Lisa

    Wow! This spoke to me… Thanks for sharing.


  47. At what point after being sober for so long do you stop calling yourself a recovering alcoholic or addict? Or you no longer define the core of your being by it? Always been a little curious about that.


    • The number of deaths from alcoholism and alcoholism-related illness on my dad’s side of the family – the side I take after – is pretty tragic. Because my body will always react the same way to alcohol – i.e. seized by a craving that overrides decisions, resolutions, and all efforts of my cerebral cortex – I will remain alcoholic for the duration of my life.


      Some of us like to call themselves “recovered” when their drinking itself is arrested, but others (people who’ve experimented with drinking after a dry period of years) find the disease progresses even during abstinence, so they take up far ahead of where they left off.

      PS: Charlie, I LOVE being a sober alcoholic! My sober alcoholic friends comprise an amazingly tight, close, candid, and loving community in which to raise my son. Because we all own having been broken by our addictions, we keep up no fronts. Just this weekend, a bunch of us will go kayaking/camping. One just called to ask if he should bring an extra fishing pole because he remembers from last year that my son’s is crap. It was also with an all-alcoholic group that I summited Mount Rainier years ago – though our leader was the man I spoke of in my blog, who took his own life.


    • Lynn F

      Whether or not you refer to yourself as a recovering alcoholic for a day, for 30 years ….. or never once …… is a personal choice that has nothing to do with “the Program”. Referring to yourself as an alcoholic in a meeting is highly recommended as it initially helps us face the reality of that fact IF we are; in fact, alcoholic. . Initially; it also begins the process that brings about what the book refers to as “the ego must be smashed”. For many it is a bitter pill to swallow. For others; it eases the discomfort of accepting that “I belong here” – if in fact they do belong in AA. Some do. Some don’t. Being an alcoholic is not THE core of my being. It is one aspect of my life; however, it is an aspect which can destroy my life if not handled in the way that works for me so as to not have that happen. Stay away from all the experts and analyzers. Remember – there are alot of people “around” the program but not so very many that are actually “in” the program. You can generally spot them very quickly. They are the peaceful ones with no axe to grind and no need to convince anyone of any thing. It’s a simple program. Really.


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