"I would like to be able to say that my story with
alcohol began before I was born. I am the son of two alcoholic parents. I am
the grandson of two alcoholic grandparents and the grandson of an addict. I am
the brother of an alcoholic. I am part Irish and part Cherokee so all the
stereo types apply there. Even though there may have been that genetic
pre-disposition, dwelling too much on that is a crutch of some sort for me. As
if I am somehow less responsible for my alcoholism or my actions because of my
heritage. So, I’ll just begin with my first drink.
For a long time, I thought my story with alcohol began when
my TaeKwonDo instructor gave me my first beer. But for a while I guess that was
just denial on my part. Even though that was my first beer, my first taste of
alcohol came when my mom dragged my brother and me to this apartment complex to
visit a friend of hers and to use the pool. We didn’t have a pool in our
trailer park. And, I was not really sure why we needed the pool at this point,
both my brother and I could not swim. We were, in fact, afraid of the water. My
mom was, as usual, drinking wine. Well, for whatever reason, my mom decides to
start giving me glasses of wine. Not just a sip or two from her glass, but my
very own glass. And I am not hesitating at all, because I’m thinking that it’s
cool that my mom is including me in something, and it makes me feel kind of
grown up too. I was 8 yrs old and it only took a couple of glasses and suddenly
I didn’t feel so afraid of the water at that point. I remember going into the
water and using a kickboard to get into the deep end and I was just so proud of
myself. I was waving to everyone to make sure they could see how unafraid and
wonderful I was. The board slipped away from me and I went down like a rock.
The next thing I remember is a lot of pressure on my chest and a stranger
giving me mouth to mouth. I regained consciousness gagging and coughing up
water and wine. Years later, my mom would admit that she did that so that I
would have a really negative experience surrounding alcohol and would never
want to touch the stuff again.
Didn’t drink again until I was 17. My martial arts
instructor got me some beers and it was really not that bad. Of course, I did
not like the taste of beer, but I enjoyed the momentary buzz. Time and again, I
would drink seeking this buzz and early in my drinking career I found it
without a lot of the downsides. I would compete in regional Karate tournaments
around the southeast and different city every month. And after every tournament
we would drink either to drown our sorrows if we lost, or celebrate our victory
if we won. I couldn’t see at the time that more and more what I was seeking in
alcohol was the numbness that came instead of the buzz. Even after my first
DUI, I didn’t think I was an alcoholic.
Left home at 18 and worked my way cross country for about
two years. I had a lot of adventures and a lot of those adventures included
alcohol. When I was going through it, I couldn’t see the pattern. That I would
typically make friends, find a little job or some kind of assistance, get drunk
at some point, act crazy, make a complete ass out of myself, then move on to
another town, and repeat the process. My journeys took me to the islands in the
Bahamas and Caribbean, Mexico , Canada , some other countries as
When I was done roaming around hungry and homeless, I found
my way back to the state I grew up in, got enrolled in a local college, and
joined a fraternity. And these guys really taught me how to drink to excess on
a grand scale. Didn’t take me long to pick up my 2nd DUI. I would just get so
drunk at parties that on one occasion, I actually walked up and introduced
myself to a guy that I didn’t recognize and told him all about how great the
fraternity was and that he should totally join. When I sobered up I remembered
that he had already been in the fraternity for almost a year. Wow. Crazy.
The strange thing about saying that you ‘may’ be an
alcoholic is that you are also saying that you ‘may not’ be an alcoholic. And
for this alcoholic, that is a dangerous place to be.
My drinking would get bad, then I would stop for a while
(always, of course, vowing that I would never touch the stuff again). Then it
would get bad again. I moved out west after graduating from college. I was very
active in mountain climbing, mountain biking, running in 5Ks and 10Ks, and
studying martial arts as well. I was also active in the community and one time
there was an event benefiting a local charity that I was participating in, a
bowl-a-thon to raise money for the cause. I got really drunk then attempted to
drive myself home. I say attempted, because I was unsuccessful. I was pretty
much dead empty on gas when I got to the bowling alley. Of course, being drunk,
did not even think about stopping for gas, because I was drunk and I figured
the safest place for me to be was home. Not to mention that I am invincible
when I am drunk, so that should extend to my truck so that it should never run
out of gas. I was trying out a shortcut and weaving through a neighborhood when
I come up on a kid standing on the side of the road. He’s looking at me and at
the other side of the road, just standing there. I think, okay, he wants to
cross, so I just sit there. And sit there and sit there. Finally I decide he is
not going to cross anyway and then I start driving again. He starts to cross
the road. I stop short, still about 50 feet away from him. He stops walking,
staring at me, staring at the other side of the road. We repeat this process
for what seemed like ten hours but was probably only about ten minutes…When he
finally crossed the street and I was able to keep going, it wasn’t long before
i ran into a few fences then ran completely out of gas. Third DUI.
Moved to a new state in 2000. New location, fresh start, all
that stuff. Three years later I was back visiting my family, went to a concert
with my brother and some friends of his. After about a half a dozen 64 oz.
beers I thought it would be a great idea to drive myself home.
Ironically, I was pulled over for my first dui for driving
about 120 mph. in a 55 mph zone and my last dui I got pulled over because I was
driving about 45 mph in a 65 mph zone. I did not hit any fences or scare any
children that last time, but I had thrown up on myself quite a bit. Fourth DUI.
As a result of that last one, I ended up in jail for a
couple of weeks, missed Thanksgiving with my family. Also, court-ordered to attend AA meetings.
But my first time in the rooms was weird. Lots of thirteenth step work going
on. I think that’s how you say it. I was a year in and started dating a girl
with about a month in the program. Stupid thing for her to do. Really stupid
thing for me to do. Had a horrible experience with my sponsor at the time.
Unbeknownst to me, my girlfriend was telling him things and he was sharing
stuff that I had told him but not really confided in her yet….blah, blah, blah.
Lots of drama.
That first time in the program was really a mess, too.
Because of my brother having about ten years of sobriety at the time, and we
have always been very competitive, I wasn’t really interested in doing a day at
a time. A day at a time was okay for you. I figured I would do a year at a
time. So I did not pick up a white chip or a red or a green or whatever. Picked
up a blue chip on my 1st yr, a blue chip on my 2nd yr and ended up picking up a drink. I can say from experience that
when you only give 99% of yourself to the God of your understanding and to this
program of Alcoholics Anonymous it will catch up to you. Maybe not today,
tomorrow, or even next week, but one day, it will catch up to you.
This disease attacks you in crazy ways, too. When my
step-daughter was having problems with her mom, she started making up stories
that I was hitting her and smacking her around and stuff. Of course, I would
never do anything like that, but when these lies she was telling surfaced, I
was truly terrified. Not because I had done anything wrong, I could never hurt
a child, but because I kept thinking about all the occasions where I was drunk
and just generally being an asshole. And when she was telling all these lies
about me, I was scared because I knew every member of the family would have to
make a choice. Would they believe her or me? The Department of Child and Family
Services had to investigate the allegations.
A lot of people were praying over this situation, and it was
found out that she had done this before to other family members, telling lies
as some sort of manipulation to get whatever she wanted. In this dark time, I
prayed and prayed, and I am here to tell you that prayer works. Every single
family member including my wife chose to believe me and not her. The case was
You would think that would have been a wake-up call for me to
get my shit together. But, my bottom came about a year after that. I was
driving with my step son in the car after I had had a couple of beers earlier
in the evening. Then later in the evening once I was home I continued to drink
and continued to try and hide it. But my wife found out and confronted me. She
didn’t yell or scream at me, she just asked me in a quiet kind of voice which
was even more terrible, “did you drive like that with him in the car, because
he’s not your real son. Do you think he’s expendable?” At that moment more than
at any other time in my life, I felt defeated utterly by this disease of
alcoholism…unmade, undone, completely taken apart.
About that time I was being dogged by dark thoughts of
depression and thoughts of suicide. I really could not think of any way out of
the prison I had made for myself. I had no hope.
I thought that I had tried AA and it had not worked for me,
when in reality, it was I who had not worked the program effectively.
So, my last chance…I made some calls, found a meeting…
Picked up my chips when I was supposed to. Read my book when I was supposed to.
Prayed when I was supposed to. And when my meeting didn’t meet anymore, made
more calls, found another meeting.
Today, even though I don’t have as much time as a lot of
other people in the program, I do have more consecutive days of sobriety than I
have ever had in my adult life… and things are not bad. My life is absolutely
not perfect, but it is so much better than it was when I was “out there.”
I know now that there is a price for freedom, working the
steps on a daily basis, “practicing these principles” in all my affairs.
I am definitely taking things one day at a time. I have
learned that my Ego is not my amigo, it actually means Edging God Out. I have
learned that God means Good Orderly Direction, and that how it works is through
Honesty, Openness, and Willingness. God bless all of you. Thanks for letting me
share my story.