The longer I’m sober the more I realize two things:
- each alcoholic’s story is so different
- each alcoholic’s story is so the same
I had my first drink in middle school. I was at a friends apartment spending the night with four friends. I don’t know where it came from but there was a six pack. My friends each had one a piece and I drank three and wanted more.
From that first drink I knew I wanted more.
Like most my disease was progressive. During early high school I drank occasionally and each time I always wanted more. But it rarely got me into trouble. At least not on the exterior. Inside my disease was growing,
By the end of high school I was drinking almost every night in my room alone. I didn’t recognize a problem at the time but looking back it couldn’t have been more obvious. I was an alcoholic. It took me 20 more years to acknowledge that and own my disease.
I married and started a family and a career. For a long time, it seemed that my life was manageable with alcohol. Alcohol even seemed to help both socially and at times I would even feel more productive while drinking.
Alcohol seemed like a friend for a long time. I was able to maintain an appearance that things were ok.
But physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I was wasting away.
My body failed me in my quest to keep drinking. By 38, I was in a hospital with a doctor telling me that if I didn’t stop drinking I was going to die. My liver was enlarged with alcoholic fatty liver disease. My liver was showing signs of cirrhosis.
And even still I didn’t acknowledge my disease.
I told my friends, “I have a bad liver, must be a genetic thing” or “I haven’t taken good care of myself so I have a bad liver” never willing to betray my friend.
But I stopped for a while. A couple of months later I took a “break” from quitting and drank while watching the superbowl. A few weeks later I took another break for St. Patricks day.
Eventually I had a different doctor tell me that I could probably have a few drinks a week with impunity. That would have been true for a non-alcoholic. But for an alcoholic that was the kiss of death.
Within 10 days, I was back to drinking like I had before. Only worse.
My last night drinking I was out of control. The details don’t matter but I drank myself to a bad place.
That was May 25, 2011. My journey to sober living began that day.