Not drinking tips from a sober person

One can only wonder what Mr. Chamberlain’s motivation was that led him to the path to sobriety [“Drinking Tips for Sober People,” December 2012]. For most recovering alcoholics, myself included, it was the realization that our lives, through alcohol abuse, had become unmanageable.

An alcoholic requires no excuses to remain sober, only strength, and a long enough memory and the personal honesty to remember all those defining moments of his drunkenness: the lying, the puking, the number of jobs that you lost and, most importantly, the number of ruined personal relationships that attend all the “fun” he laments missing.

Letting go of alcohol is helped along by avoiding situations like bar-hopping that got you to the point of quitting in the first place. It does not mean you must be rid of your circle of friends, but if all you have in common with them is getting smashed and arguing over sports and politics, perhaps the basis of those friendships was questionable at best. Finding that some of your friends bore you to distraction is a plus; learn from it and move on to healthier pursuits. Expand your horizons with the money you’re not pissing away on boozing: take some classes in cooking, dancing or professional development. Develop a new circle of friends whose primary occupation isn’t getting stupid. You need to make up for lost time, and try to recover a few brain cells.

Perhaps hardest of all during this holiday period is attending all those parties you’ve gone to in the past, without alcohol making you the bon vivant you always aspired to be. Here’s a clue: drinking doesn’t make you any smarter or sexier, it only lets you believe you’re God’s gift to the opposite sex. The rest of the world observes otherwise: you’re a stinking boor.

So, what is a recovering alcoholic to do? There’s only one path known to work in the long run. Get into AA, and get active. Nothing reinforces sobriety like experiencing the depths to which others have sunk before waking up and getting straight. No matter how far down the ladder you have climbed before getting off, there’s always someone in the group who went further, often faster. Some of the stories you hear at a meeting would make you cringe and turn away in a normal social setting, but are usually met with peals of laughter at a meeting, as everyone attending can imagine themselves doing the same stupid thing. We all go in thinking our experiences are unique, only to find out it’s all been done before by many others.

Sobriety is a gift to be cherished, not ridiculed. Don’t minimize its value because others haven’t figured it out yet. For the record, it took me 45 years to wake up to that fact. Admittedly, I’m a slow learner in that regard, but it’s alcohol that makes it so: “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” No truer words were ever written. Stay strong, keep sober and enjoy a wider life.

Fred Writt

Remembering Andrew

It was nice to see Andrew Weegar’s name in Crash’s story [“A Farewell to Wilbur,” December 2012]. My wife Nancy was one of Andrew’s seventh grade teachers in Bridgton in the 1970s. She really liked him and they got along great. The other teachers called him a “terror” and didn’t know what to do with him. The real issue was the fact that by the ripe old age of 11 or 12, Andrew’s mind and intellect were light years ahead of most of his adult teachers’ and this scared the shit out of them.

We were also lucky enough to get to know his dad Dick, who was a wholesale book jobber. The last time I saw Andrew was many moons ago when we bumped into each other on Congress Street in front of the old office of Casco Bay Weekly. I think by then he had completed his Master of Divinity studies at Harvard.

Life goes on, and thanks for reminding me of this sweet and brilliant man. Keep writing, keep up the good work and be well.

David S. Handwerker