Denial – an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc, is false. Disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
Alcoholics go to their deaths saying they do not have a drinking problem. Or, admitting they do have a problem, they die trying to prove abstinence is not the only answer, that they don’t need AA or other help to arrest their alcoholism.
My own history is slightly different. I knew immediately that I was an alcoholic and for that I’m grateful. I did however deny that I had to abstain. I really wanted to be a functioning alcoholic and I did nearly kill myself trying to function under the influence.
Traditionally in AA we don’t call anyone alcoholic who doesn’t take the label on him or herself. But we know one when we see one. One of my favorite moments in this was when a friend was telling me about the problems she was having with her partner. The partner passed out, fell over, threw up, blacked out. I asked, “Do you think alcohol can be a problem?” She said, “Well, two psychologist and three doctors and a social worker say no.” This response told me that alcohol was a problem. All these professionals don’t comment on something that doesn’t exist.
They told me when I first went to meetings that “no one gets here by mistake.” Cynical, I thought, “No one? Not ever?” But now I understand. All the misery and tragedy and awfulness that propel a person through the doors of an AA meeting do indeed mean that the person is an alcoholic. Saying “no” doesn’t change that, it just postpones recovery, sometimes forever.
“The disease that tells you you don’t have a disease.” I believe it is the alcoholic mind that tries desperately to live and survive and drink again that fights against acceptance and recovery. I can still, at times, gets slightly frightened by the thought that I may never drink again. But since lots of sanity has returned to me, I quickly realize the much more frightening thought is that I someday might drink again. I believe in the reality of this thing.