Where I Came From

It is very rare I think about entertaining the thought of a drink. But it happens. Like any chronic illness we all have a good days and our bad days. I just woke up, so I haven’t even started my day, yet the thought is still there. Today I have a choice. If I continue to entertain this thought – I am going to drink. When I forget my last drink, how it felt, where I was going, all those lies and deceit – I’m in trouble. Fortunately someone (who will remain anonymous) drank, wrote about it and perhaps may save my life. So I’m going to share this part of my story with everyone ‘cus apparently I need to remember why I’m sober.

My first sobriety last ten years. On Dec 1, 2007, I was unemployed, three months late in rent, no food in the house and in the midst of a nasty detox of two days. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t sleep, the tremors were inescapable, I had no one to talk to – I actually thought the first time in my life suicide was the answer to all my problems.

Out of the blue, a friend of mine contacted me on Yahoo!Messenger. I hadn’t spoke to her in a very long time. She asked, “Hey, I haven’t spoke to you in a long time, is everything okay?” I just laid it into her. I told her exactly what was going on. I had no beer, I was literally going insane, I could be evicted any day, I had no where to go, Winter has just started with a couple inches on the ground, I had thrown my cat across the room because she was in heat and I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I was a mess.

The short of the story is during our conversation I had told her where I was living – my physical address. Honestly, I don’t remember that at all. Suddenly there is a knock at the door. What? I don’t know anyone – I live in the boondocks? What the hell! It was a New York State Trooper “checking on my welfare”. After an hour and a half conversation he offered to take me to a local detox in a city I’ve never been to. I made no hesitation in saying, “Yes, take me.” I cried all the way there like a baby.

I was put in the back of the emergency room in Room #11. They gave me something for my constant shaking (tremors). A gentleman came to see me saying, “If you stay here a little while longer, I’ll get some help for you upstairs.” I was scared out of my mind. I literally was talking to the three white walls around me. I put my right hand on my back pocket thinking, “I have two dollars in my wallet. I could leave and get a beer somewhere. I don’t have any idea where I am but we’ll deal with that later. Or I can sit on my hands and wait for him to get me the help I needed.” I was absolutely done with drinking. I couldn’t do it anymore. It controlled all aspects of my life; it was the only think I thought about all day long. I had to have some to function every day. I couldn’t live like this any more.

After four days in a detox, thirty days in a rehab, three months in supportive living, a couple of years in an extended supportive living environment and living independently for a few years, I managed to put ten years of continuous sobriety together. On the outside, I did well doing what I was suppose to do – a job, paying the bills, etc.. But on the inside I was only lying to myself.

In February 2018, I started drinking again. I had moved. Strangely enough almost around the corner from the place I started my sobriety ten years earlier. I was at it again and going downhill fast. I couldn’t stop myself no matter how much I tried. I knew what I had to do but I didn’t know where to go.

Then it all hit me. I had walked off of my job. On my way home that night, the brakes in my car failed – I couldn’t drive it anymore. My life, I thought again, was at an end.

One night I ended up walking 25 miles to Elmira, NY to get the help I needed. It took ten hours through back roads of rural Chemung County, NY. I walked up to a treatment center with no appointment. Without saying a word the woman said, “Son, just sit down. I’ll get someone to talk to you.” Unfortunately, it was a Friday and they couldn’t get me in a inpatient rehabilitation center. Luckily, they called a Peer Advocate who drove me home.

Two weeks later, I had run out of money. I had a room stacked full of beer cans but no where to return them. I called a place who came and gave me money for them at my house. I ran to the gas station to get my beer. On my way home, all I could think is, “I can’t do this again.” Without a thought I took the 12 pack of Budwiser I had bought and threw it in the river while passing over a bridge and didn’t look back. I was willing to do anything to get sober again.

When I got home, I was surprised to see a voicemail on my phone. It was the treatment center. They had arrange transportation to a inpatient rehabilitation in Ovid, New York the next morning. I sobbed, I cried, I wailed sobs of joy. Lastly, I looked above and said, “Thank you.”

Back to the present. Wait, what was I talking about (**scrolls up**)? See how that works? The thought of drinking has passed. As I wrote this, I had tears coming down my cheeks. It’s a painful experience which today I have a choice. I don’t have to drink. If I do (drink), there is no expectation this MIGHT happen, THIS WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. Do I really want a drink now?

Both times I stayed sober I have to give credit to Alcoholics Anonymous. I recognize AA is not for everyone. AA was the exact right match for me. For me, they have taught me “way of living” where I can find no place else.

The process I went through is described in our book, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 5, “How it Works”. While the whole passage is important, I would touch on only two for now:

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps.

AA Big Book, Chapter 5, How It Works, pg. 58

AND

Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us.

AA Big Book, Chapter 5, How it Works, pg. 58 and 59

If I hadn’t done what I did right now, I know I would have drank. I could never do this alone. At all points I drank again because I said, “F**k it!”. What comes to mind are three key things my first Sponsor said to me before working with me (which kept me sober for ten years):

If there is anything you get out of our program from the start it is: honestly, open-mindedness and willingness.

Joe T (1941-2018)

So to end, let me say a couple of things. Sobriety just doesn’t come at the end of a magic wand from a fairy and poof you’re life is changed. I thought I wouldn’t get sober EVER. Sobriety is hard, especially at the beginning. I eventually did what I was told to do with a lot of hard work. It takes work on a daily basis. Some days it comes naturally. Others, like today, I really had to put some work into my sobriety to stay sober.

I’m glad I did too! Thank you to those that choose to listen.

Any comments, questions and/or concerns are always welcome.

P.S. After I wrote this I wanted to link things only to find out, I really do need to update this site. I have pages that don’t exist. Links are broken. Everything except the blog is out of date. Ha! The project I need right now.

See how sobriety works in my life?

Minor Milestone – 8 Months Sober

Eight months ago, I woke up in a daze. “My Gods, I’m really getting a chance to do this again?” Deep down, I was scared like a child lost in the dark. I took a deep breath. My fear was slowly washed away as I practiced gratitude for waking up alive and sober. A new journey began.

Every day since I do the same thing – practice gratitude when I wake up. There are so many alcoholics and addicts who don’t get a chance to live the next day succumbing to their addiction in the night. I believe we are all on this Earth for a purpose. Therefore, I take every opportunity to appreciate those things around me because where I was headed was my own grave.

Things had to change since my last sobriety of ten years. In the last eight months I have learned so much about myself. It was only through my experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous I was able to stay sober.

After my short stay in an impatient treatment center, I immediately got involved in my local recovery community, specifically Alcoholics Anonymous, to begin working on myself. Instead of waiting seven months, I immediately got a Sponsor who took me through the Twelve Steps. Every day, I attend at least one meeting, if not two. I’m also involved in CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) because it was in part due to those behaviors which got me to where I am today. I immerse myself in several commitments (coffee, chairman of meetings, District meetings, etc.).

Early recovery can be rough at times. Adopting the principles of AA helped me live “One Day At A Time” and “Living Life on Life’s Terms”. We all have “good days” and “bad days”. Today, first and foremost, I 100% don’t drink. Secondly, if I’m having a bad day – I get out of myself. SELF has always been the problem. I have been “given spiritual tools laid at my feet”, so I need to use them: going to a meeting, trusting in my Higher Power, speaking to my Sponsor, helping another alcoholic / addict or sometimes just being kind to a random stranger – try it sometime!

The work continues no matter what life throws in front of me. As long as I stay connected in Alcoholics Anonymous “practicing these principles in all our affairs” one day of sobriety suddenly becomes eight months. It’s an amazing journey with much more to come I’m sure.

As my Sponsor says at meetings:

Sobriety is to be enjoyed, not endured.

I’m grateful to be alive,

I’m grateful to be sober,

and I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thanks for letting me share.