my response to an email from an acquaintance that thought they might be an alcoholic.

 

RE: About the whole recovery thing:

 

Hi XXXXX, Please excuse the long windedness of this reply, I am humbled and happy to talk about my recovery. What it was like, what happened and what it is like now. You have made an important step by being honest, especially with a relative stranger. If you are an alcoholic now or become one, honesty is the most important thing needed to get better. This is sometimes very difficult. First, there are a couple myths and one important truth about my disease. First the myths: 1. Someone else can tell if you are an alcoholic. Not a judge, a policeman, a spouse, a child, a lover or a parent can tell you that you are an alcoholic. Conversely, you cannot proclaim someone else an alcoholic. It is something a person has to find out for themselves and every persons "bottom" is different. 2. Alcoholism is a victimless crime, the old "I'm only hurting myself" routine. As an active alcoholic I harmed or hurt everyone I came into contact with. Children, parents, spouses, employers all were not getting my best effort. 3. AA is a religious outfit, just a bunch of bible thumpers. AA is a spiritual program. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking, that’s all. Now for the main, big truth: if you are an alcoholic and don’t do something to arrest it, there are three ways you will end up, in jail, in a mental institution or dead. It is a progressive disease. The cunning, baffling and powerful thing about alcoholism is that while it is slowly killing you physically and spiritually, it is convincing you that there is nothing wrong. Drinking can stay fun and act as a persons’ psychological medicine for many, many years but when that medicine stops working you are in trouble because it does not provide the escape or comfort that it always did before. The problem is, it does not work, but you cant stop. Okay, now my story briefly. I was a spoiled kid. My parents always provided my brother and I with the best of everything cars, education, vacations, camps etc. All the "stuff" a guy would need. I first got in trouble for drinking with some neighborhood kids in the summer between 8th and 9th grade. By high school I was drinking every weekend. I was popular with the other "cool", rich kids when I had beer for them. I realized that early on, so I was always the guy that got the booze, I was a big shot ha ha ha. I went to a very expensive college kind of like Hope for my undergrad years. Was I grateful to have a chance at a great education, with not many performance expectations, that was completely paid for by my parents? Of course not, I was only excited that I could drink every night if I wanted to. I was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex (think about that for a second before reading on)….in other words I acted like a controlling, know it all big shot but I was afraid and intimidated by people, places and things…alcohol was my only escape, the only time I felt safe. Don’t get me wrong I had a ton of fun and did lots of cool shit and I thought, "this, will never end". Fast forward through two DUI's back in Indiana in the 1980's and 1990’s. A failed marriage, no spiritual life at all, and I don’t mean simply church. I only cared about myself, and stuff. I was selfish and I always had booze to comfort me. I had jobs in sales that lent themselves to my drinking and being unfaithful but I am not blaming that for my drinking. It just meant that for a long time I could drink expensive single malt scotch. I really have an interesting story that I tell when I give a lead (talk to an AA group) but I will try to keep it shorter here. Anyway, throughout my drinking I kept lying and trying to tell everyone that I was fine but I was slowly dying. About 8 or 9 years ago drinking stopped being fun and it was not providing the medicinal effect it always had. But I had not hit bottom yet and did not stop. My days consisted of going to the liquor store at lunch time, going home, turning off the ringer, locking the door, closing the blinds, turning on the TV and praying that I would not be disturbed by anyone…my son, my father even women. I simply drank till I passed out in my chair around 8:30 or so. Everyday was the same, no differences, over and over and over, always expecting different results. This is insanity. On the weekends and days off I would pour a huge vodka when I woke up, usually around 4:30 or 5 am, get back in bed and watch cartoons till I could finally fall back to sleep. This lasted for over 4 years. I had only a crappy entry-level sales job so I was drinking vodka that was $7.99 or $8.99 a half gallon. I went through one every other day. That is between a fifth and a quart a night. On the morning of Feb. 2, 2002 I woke up and was going to call in sick, physically I could hardly walk to the refrigerator and spiritually and emotionally, I was dead. It was as though a cold wind was blowing through my emptiness inside. It was my bottom or moment of clarity. My higher power, God made me realize as I lay there, that if I called in sick and did the same thing again that day, the only difference would be that tomorrow would be Tuesday instead of Monday, and I would still be the same miserable, sick person that I had become. That is the first time, in 30 years of drinking that I thought something like that. Instead of calling in sick, I had someone take me to the hospital. I was there 9 days. After they checked me in, and the doors to the lobby of the hospital closed and I walked down the hall it was the first time in my life that I felt safe. I did not have to lie anymore or keep things from people. I could just get better. I made up my mind that for the first time in my life I was going to humble myself and do what other people told me to do, people that were drunks like me. I hit the ground running with AA meetings. I have to take a break, I am almost done with my jabbering and eventually I will get to your questions but it is important you here my story. recovery thing.

 

Hope I am not boring you. Everything in my life has changed since I got sober. There is a difference between getting sober and just not drinking. Getting sober is working the 12 Steps of AA, having a sponsor, helping people, going to meetings, giving leads, making coffee. You see xxxxx , alcoholism is just the SYMPTOM of my disease. Working the 12 Steps helped me repair the things that made me the miserable louse I was. The great thing about the program is you only have to not drink one day at a time. If someone would have told me when I got out of the hospital that I could not drink for the rest of my life I would have said no way I can make that promise, I would fail for sure if I looked at it from that angle. Anybody can not drink for 24 hours……go to an AA meeting, don’t drink between meetings and call another drunk before you pick up the FIRST drink. That’s it, that is the way it starts. Pretty soon, you will have a few 24 hours in a row. Then you will know a freedom that non-alcoholics cant understand. I sense that drinking has become a burden to you, like you were carrying around a 100 weight all the time. People are starting to say little things, you think about it (normal drinkers don’t ask about stuff like this) a lot, you’re living a lie, that sort of burden. You may even have been arrested but somehow no one else found out, you may have been having affairs that were not well thought out, money may be a problem, you are sick physically (just little nagging ailments) you feel like you are aging too fast, you feel empty inside, you have spent your entire life trying to please everyone else but were inside a lonely scared child yourself (alcohol worked to make you feel like something you or someone else wanted you to be) those sorts of things. Let me know if any of them ring true. There is an answer. I am a living miracle myself. The great thing about AA is that it is one drunk talking to another. There is nothing you could say you did, that some other drunk has not already done, naked on main street. You could say you had been at a big gangbang with aliens and sheep and a bunch of midgets and a real drunk would probably think about it a second, nod approvingly, maybe muttering something like man, I think I was there too, where was that again? Self-help psycho babble does not work, the Dr. Phil’s and Dr. Laura’s of the world etc. Only one alcoholic can talk to another one about how to get better and the answer is AA. I am going to send you a link to The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and invite you to a couple of the myspace AA groups. If you decide to read the first 164 pages of the Big Book start with Chapter 5, How it Works. Then go back to the start. If you have any questions please call or email. My work email is [email protected] If you want to get a coffee or go to a meeting let me know. At the meeting you do not have to say a word if you do not want to, just listen. The link is www.aa.org/bigbookonline. Thanks for asking me to share my experience, strength and hope with you, it helped me stay sober for today.

 

God bless you, Parker

1 Comment
  1. Sdstew 14 years ago

    Parker, that is awesome. God bless you as he has blessed me with you.

    Peace and Love, Demi 

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