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Stories about addiction and recovery, Clean and Sober life styles  "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 well. 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 closed. 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.   Jefferson H."