Recently a 19 year old from Watertown died in what has been reported as “alcohol poisoning”. That got me thinking about my own alcoholism. Why was I spared? What makes me any better? Why was this 19 year old taken and yet, after hundreds of discretions, here I sit? Why after going 70+ in a 25 am I still here? Why after going on multiple 3+ day bingers am I still able to wake up and hug my bride and kids? Why have most friends and family forgiven me and I haven’t forgiven myself? Not sure I know the answers to any of those questions or even if there are answers to those questions.
So, let me see if I can make an attempt at answering these questions. It will be a feeble attempt but an attempt none the less. Let us start with “Why after going 70+ in a 25 am I still here?” Sad thing about this question is that it happened on several different occasions. One time that I remember better than others because it damn near landed me in prison. Let me set the stage. I’m in my very early 20’s. I found a local watering hole that allows you to drink all the tap beer you can from 9pm to close. I’m bellying up to that bar at 8:58 with my $5.00 in hand. As a raging alcoholic I’m doing everything possible to drink that place dry. Time to leave. I hop into my car (not sure what that thing was. We called it The Lawnmower because; well because it sounded like a lawnmower. Clever; I know.) I’m heading down the highway and make a right hand turn onto an avenue. Unbeknownst to me, there sits a car minding its own business at a stop light. I scrape the entire side drive side of their car with mine. Sparks are flying like it’s the 4th of July on that street. I, being the smart person I am, take off like a prize horse at the Kentucky Derby. Absolutely flying down that street with no regards for anyone or anything. No stopping. No slowing down. No looking left or right. No yielding. No cops. No problem? I got the car home and I was relatively unscaved. The car I hit got my plate numbers and called the incident in. I ended up going to the police station days later and was told that no chargers were being pressed and no action would take place because whoever I hit knew me and didn’t want to see me in trouble. Years later, no idea who that was or why they would make that decision. Why after all that, am I able to sit here and tell the 10’s of people that read this about that? I absolutely could’ve been arrested, injured, killed or seriously hurt or even killed someone else that night. Am I to believe that a higher power was looking after me that night? I can get behind that thought. What I can’t get behind though is why a higher power would’ve been looking out for me multiple nights just like that. Once? Sure. Two times? Maybe. 3 times? Unlikely. 15,20,40+? No way. Am I lucky? Maybe. Amy I fortunate? No doubt. Was I spared to tell my story? Sometimes I think so. I’ve shared some of my story in other writings but never the whole thing. Not sure I’m strong enough to do that. Not sure I can go back to all those dark times and relive that. To go back to the letter, the garage, the fights, and relive all that hate, anger, and emotion isn’t something I’m super excited about. For the sake of keeping things relatively simple, the answer to the aforementioned question is…. I am fortunate. Also, I feel luck has a lot to do with it. I like to think the big guy upstairs has more pressing needs to attend to than some drunken asshole….which I was just that… a drunken asshole. I like to think that he was more so looking out after the people around me.
Why after going on multiple 3+ day bingers am I still able to wake up and hug my bride and kids? This may be the easiest one of them all to answer. Because even after all the horrible, rotten, awful things I’ve done, I was taught a lesson here. I was taught that love is blind. That there is nothing more amazing on this planet of ours than unconditional love. Love that no matter what happens, can withstand any storm thrown at it. My bride taught me what unconditional love is. After I woke up from my years of being drunk, I saw it. Yeah, sounds cliché and cheesy but it’s true. Clear eyes see more. Sobriety sees more than booze. Why after multiple 3 day bingers am I able to sit here and ramble? Some will say that I like to sit on my high horse and tell everyone how much better I am than everyone else. Those that say that truly don’t know me. Don’t know how I struggle to sleep at night. Don’t know that at times, I just sit and cry for no other reason than thinking of all the hurt I’ve caused. No amount of “I’m sorry” or anything that I say or type will ever take away any of the things I’ve done. So why did my bride take me back in after throwing all my clothes out the window into the front yard? Unconditional love. She saw what was behind all the booze. She saw the man that I could become. Not sure how. Not sure how anyone could see any good in me at that time. Every step I made at that time was a mistake. Eventually everyone grew numb of it….even Audrey. Yet, as everything was falling apart right in front of me, she showed me unconditional love. Through her love, I was able to show love and affection to her and our kids and eventually family and friends. My kids feared me. Scared of dad coming home drunk and starting fights. Today they want to hang out with me and they are my friends. I survived drinking my breakfast of vodka and orange juice so my kids could show off their strength. I was spared so my children could realize how strong they really are. Again, I was spared as to not hurt someone else more than I already hurt them.
Why was this 19 year old taken and yet, after hundreds of discretions, here I sit? I have no idea. I don’t even know where to begin on that. She was in school trying to better herself. She had an entire life to live and could have contributed in a litany of ways. I have no idea…none. I hope her family finds peace in their grieving. I hope that anyone who has ever lost anyone to addiction or because of someone’s addiction can heal. Just doesn’t seem fair. I feel like I’m not even close to qualified to answer a question like that so I won’t even try.
What makes me any better? Far from it. I’m a dried up drunk who selfishly talks about his own alcoholism to keep me sober. I can without a doubt say that I am by far the most selfish person I know. I’ve been told I hide my shortcomings or I use my sobriety to mask my shortcomings. Maybe I do. I won’t hide my shortcomings here though. I’m a selfish, arrogant, asshole. I’m not proud of it. It’s not easy to admit to what I’ve become or what I’ve done. It’s impossible to erase any of it. So I own it. I talk about it. I try to make amends. You can quit drinking and get sober but you can’t mask who you really are. So who am I? I’m a married man and father of 4. I’m a recovering alcoholic with damn near 7 years sobriety under my belt. I’m a football fanatic. I’m softball enthusiast. I’m an ok father. I like to think I’m a good husband. I’m a terrible friend. I’m an awful god parent. I’m a chameleon constantly changing my colors to get acceptance from someone. I’m a terrible sleeper. I don’t like my mind. I can’t shut off the unnecessary thoughts. I want to slow it down and bury the entire negative I’ve done. I do that by having the TV on at night although I know my bride hates it. That goes back to being selfish. I put my own wants and needs in front of my families. We go where I want to go, not where they want to go. I don’t compromise well. I don’t listen well. I can take any story that you’re telling me and make it about me. I’m an attention whore. I’m not an inspiration and I’m sure as hell not a role model. I don’t take compliments well but when I do get them, they feed my ego. I’m arrogant yet insecure. I’m not comfortable in own skin yet portray leadership qualities. I’m a hypocrite. I’m lazy. I take advantage of situations. I’m a 36 year old drunk who got sober. I’m no better a person than the guy or gal who still spends countless hours with a bottle to their lip. I confuse reality with my sense of it. I am a terrible brother. I am an even worse son. I try to celbratise myself when I know that I am far from it. The only real talent I have is loving my wife and kids. I instigate. I am definitely not any better or deserving. Far from it.
Why have most friends and family forgiven me and I haven’t forgiven myself? Not sure. I live everyday with the guilt of all the tears I’ve caused the people around me. The drama I’ve caused throughout the years could be made into a Broadway play. I hate the fact that my kids cried themselves to sleep. It angers me knowing I’ve screamed at my bride. It saddens me knowing that I’ve scared her so bad that she tucked her knees to her chest and buried her face and cried uncontrollably while I hovered over her screaming like a monster. Am I to be forgiven for those discretions just because I don’t stop at the local liquor store? Why after damn near 7 years that my alcoholism is a prominent part of my life? Why can’t I forgive not forget? Am I not forgiving myself because if I do I’ll let my guard down and drink again? Maybe. I’m guessing that one day I’ll forgive myself. Just not now. I honestly believe the real reason is because I haven’t done enough good to outweigh the bad. Once I’ve successfully counterbalanced all the pain I’ve caused with positivity, at that point I’ll consider forgiving myself. I had my first beer at 11 or 12 years old. Became a full fledge alcoholic in my late teens or early 20’s. I got sober at 29. For the sake of keeping things simple, let’s say I drank regularly for 10 years. I’ve only been sober for 6 years and 11 months. I figure I have the rest of my life to make a positive impact on my bride, my kids, and whoever else will bless me with their presence. One day, I hope to sleep without the TV on.