Thursday, September 30, 2010

A break from me

Today, my sixth day of sobriety, is also my best friend's birthday.

We both just had our first of many sober semi-fights. It was nice though because all of my walls are still intact, and I got to call her an asshole at the end of the discussion.

Ok I'm kidding... your not really an asshole. I actually like you much better sober.

Note: In case you have yet to figure it out I'm skipping a recap of my fifth day and dedicating this blog post to my best friend. Why? Well frankly my fifth day sucked! It's in the past, and the past is just that... the past. I only get to move forward now, one day at a time.

Eh... ok so one sneak peek into day five.

On day five  I heard my best friend say that before she hit her rock bottom she didn't care if she lived or died. 

Notice the bold, underlined portion of the previous sentence in italics - it's important. I'll say it again...

My best friend didn't care if she lived or died

That really puts things in perspective. I got upset today because I wanted a beer.

I'll tell you one thing for sure, had my best friend died at that point I would have killed myself without a second thought. That would have been two perfectly good lives lost to drugs and alcohol in a flash.

Funny thing about pills and alcohol... you don't give a fuck about anything but yourself and your high/drunk when on either one. I guarantee she never stopped to think what I would have done had she died. The truth is she no longer gave a fuck about me, her family, and most importantly herself.

She had become powerless over alcohol / drugs - her life had become unmanageable. The only problem with that is she had NO IDEA, and neither of us knew a damn thing about AA.

We still aren't experts... but we can both now at least admit and accept that fact.

I wanted to go somewhere epic with the statement she made when I started writing this blog... but I'm not sure I have to. I've dedicated this one to her, I'm afraid that a birthday in recovery might push her off course.

Stinky (I know its your favorite nickname) - You are my salvation. Without you I would have never admitted that I'm powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable; without you I wouldn't know I'm an alcoholic.

In just under 60 days the progress you've made has me in complete awe. When i think about where you were then, and where you are now I'm speechless. As I type this I'm crying.

Had you died I would have certainly taken my own life. 

There's some real life shit. Such a powerful statement, one that we both wouldn't have cared about just a short time ago.

You've come such a long way, and the best part is you made sure I got on the wagon so we can take the journey together. The first thing we'll be doing sober is getting sober - together.

Early on in our friendship if I had a bad day, you had a bad day. If you were sad, I became sad. Those were the days, the easy days.

Eventually It became if one of us was drunk, the other was drunk.  Then it became if one of us was high, the other was high.

What a fucking wreck we became. What a serious rock bottom WE caused.

Today just a short time after the worst day of your life, and your biggest concern was having a shitty birthday.

I have news for you... there's still a long way to go, but you've made it out alive.

Today we are BOTH sober, BOTH alive - Because of YOU!

Today you celebrate your 22nd birthday, and have been given more gifts than you can ever imagine. This birthday isn't about the tangible, its about the intangible.

The gift of life
The gift of a second chance
The gift of sobriety
The gift of saving a friends life
The rebirth of a lifelong friendship
The regaining of a lifelong companion

The gifts you've been given only come once in a lifetime. There is no exchange or refund policy, you can't put them in a closet for a rainy day. I can't buy you a replacement for any of your gifts this year if you lose or break them.

Take advantage of the gifts you've been given this year for your Birthday. Use them well, use them responsibly, and most important of all use them SOBER.

Keep up the good work, I cannot possibly express how proud I am of you and how lucky I am to have you in my life. I love you! Happy 22nd Birthday... AND MANY MORE!!

WE are alcoholics...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day Five

Its good to be alive :)

Proud of my alcoholic

I'd like to point out that in my last post I mentioned by best friend is an addict and alcoholic.

As of 10:00pm tonight she was simply an addict, and didn't understand why she couldn't ever drink again. Her problem was pills, not drinking.

I've tried to tell her 100 times already, alcohol is the gateway that got you to drugs. Naturally, just as her best friend had also done, she refused to listen to me. Big surprise right?

I'm extremely proud to say that as of around 11:30pm or so tonight I am now the best friend of an addict AND alcoholic.

OK... so if you don't understand the program, or what I'm talking about that sounds extremely fucked up.

The reality of it is that had she not come to this conclusion, she would have gone through recovery only to pick up a drink a few months later and begin the cycle all over again. Liquor is just a different kind of drug.

I was told but four days ago "It feels weird but good to say doesn't it?"

To say I'm Extremely proud of her would be an understatement !!

One day, one minute at a time and IT WILL WORK!

I'm an alcoholic...

Saving My Life

I mentioned in an earlier post I went to a meeting today, at which the topic quickly switched from "Step 7" to "Advice for ________ (Insert my name here)" after I shared the test I'd be faced with at a function I had to attend. The response was overwhelming.

At the 10:00 meeting tonight someone said something along the lines of "I always feel like I have to say something amazing and life saving when I share, but I'm just an alcoholic and addict."

I thought for a minute about what she said, then I thought about what happened at the meeting earlier that day, and I thought about my best friend (an addict and alcoholic). Quickly I said My Name's _______, I'm an alcoholic and began to share.

I'd like to go back and address something Tara said. I explained to her what I had dealt with just a few minutes prior to that meeting. I explained to her what had happened at the 12:00 meeting earlier. I then said something I never thought would ever come out of my mouth "Without Alcoholics and Addicts I wouldn't have been able to make it though having an open bar at my disposal on day 4 of my sobriety, and I wouldn't be on day 4 of my sobriety or here in this room either."

The fact of the matter is that Alcoholics and Addicts stories are what made me realize I was an Alcoholic. Listening to these stories made me come back to AA. The advice Alcoholics and Addicts had offered earlier that day had kept me from drinking on day four of my sobriety.

It was my best friend (an addict and alcoholic) who had gotten me to go to my first AA meeting in the first place.

I told Tara she should always share her story, no matter how insignificant she may think it is. To me everything I've heard at AA has left an impact. The stories I've heard are what led me to realize I'm an alcoholic, and the wisdom and experiences that have been shared by others are what have made me want to stay sober.

While telling Tara this I realized something, my best friend had saved my life.

There is no doubt in my mind that had I taken that first drink tonight I wouldn't have stopped. I would have gotten out of control, made an ass out of myself, and likely gotten fired from a job I've worked extremely hard at for 7 years. Not only that I would have gotten in my car afterwards, likely to a bar where I would have continued to drink, and then driven home wasted beyond belief and more than likely killed myself and possibly someone else in the process.

Thats the point in my life that I'm at. I can't moderate my drinking, I can't just have one.

It's funny how life works out. Here I am with my best friend, my partner in crime for the last year. My fellow enabler and I at an AA meeting together, sober. Sober together for the first time in god knows how long. There we were, together in a meeting, the person who I would have most certainly died with had we kept going at the rate we were - and she had saved my life.

I'm starting to believe this higher power business, because no way in hell could this be a coincidence.

"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it."

There it was, SMACK, right in the face... destiny.

Everything had happened for a reason, and the fact it had happened with my best friend was no coincidence.

Maybe it wouldn't have happened tonight, tomorrow, maybe not even for a year or two... its not a question of if - just when... inevitably I would have died as a result of my alcoholism.

My best friend saved my life.

I'm an alcoholic...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"It isn't the load that weighs us down - it's the way we carry it"

Day Four....

I went to my first meeting of Day Four (7th meeting) and shared about a huge risk I have to take tonight.

Tonight I will be at an event I don't have the option not to attend, and there will be an open bar.

Yes, an open bar. An alcoholics wet dream! All we can drink... and its FREE!!!  YEA BABY!!

I'm scared shitless so to speak. Do I have the will power to overcome this obstacle?

The meeting then turned from an open discussion on Step 7 into an advice forum, all directed at me.

Overwhelmed - thats how i felt. Overwhelmed with a sense of not being alone in this for the first time ever.

Knowing that so many strangers cared enough to take this meeting and tailor it to my specific problem after only 4 days into my sobriety. I stayed for an hour afterwards, people were lined up for support. Giving me numbers and telling me "call me first - don't drink!" "You've come so far, don't throw it away" even "Stay strong and go for day five... or if all else fails call me for a ride and I'll meet you the day after for another white chip." ha-ha the last was my favorite, directed at humor more than encouraging me to drink obviously. I love that about AA - we all have the same sick, fucked up sense of humor.

I'm happy I made it to the 12:00 'Brown Baggers' meeting today, and they've asked me to come back tomorrow and let them know what happens, good or bad. It'll be a new day either way -  one for celebration or another white chip.

I'm an alcoholic...

Sweet Sweet Liquor

I missed writing yesterday... it was a LONG EXHAUSTIVE day that truly put me to the test. A LOT happened...

Driving to my first meeting of the day yesterday (meeting 5) I had my tire blow out on I-75 at 90 MPH. Car went sideways down the highway, the whole deal. When I pulled off the road and called AAA my membership had expired September 1st. After being a member since 2003 they pretty told me to go fuck myself. Called the road rangers... 2 hour wait. Called the police to see if I could get a car to sit behind mine while I changed the tire myself... it'll be an hour sir.

FUCKKKK!!!! I ended up calling AAA back and paying $75 to get my tire changed. It was that or risk getting clipped by some retard at 90MPH.

What did I want most as soon as that tire was changed? ANYTHING ALCOHOLIC... Wine, Beer, Shot, ANYTHING!!!!!!! Thank god my father showed up just as I was ready to pull away.

I'm a strong person, or at least I'd like to consider myself as such (with most things anyway), but the problem in my head is not just the desire to drink right now. Its not the wanting, the feel of need for an ice cold Bud Light. Its that combined with the fact that I "CAN'T"have a drink when I want one. I feel like a fucking two year old when his mother says "no snacks before dinner." I WANT A GOD DAMN SNACK!!

Needless to say I missed my first meeting yesterday. Instead I drove to my favorite bar after getting my new tire ordered, and pulled the manager aside who is also my friend.

I told him I'm an alcoholic, I've been sober for 3 days, and this is the longest I've been sober in 3-5 years, and I'm in AA.  His reaction was not what I expected. Shit I expected him to talk me out of it, that bar's going to lose A LOT of money without me 'paying the rent' every night. I think that may have even been what I was subconsciously looking for - Talk me out of this... give me an out.

He gave me a hug, and told me he was proud of me. That he knew I had a problem, but never realized how bad it was until I fessed up, and that he had wanted to say something but knew if he had I would have likely never talk to him again. He knew that I needed to discover it on my own. Then he said that he's my friend first, not my bartender, and that I can call him anytime to go do something 'sober' or just to talk.

HOLY SHIT! The person who had been feeding my addiction for the last 3 years was proud of me for getting help. What a wake up call!!!! The rest of my day was like that, fessing up to close friends who I had lied to for years, all of their reactions being the same. It really through me for a loop - at the same time it made me feel incredible hope.

I went to two meetings that day, and found a sponsor that night.

Also something else happened. My best friend who's going though the same thing right now opened up to me. She admitted that she had used me, manipulated me, and lied to my face for months because of the pills. I then had to ask her the question I'd been wondering since the day she went into rehab.

"Do you or have you ever really loved me?"

This by the way was a question I had to ask myself when the shit hit the fan. Did I really love her? or did I love what we were together when we were drunk? I knew my answer and had hoped for the same from her.

I got an honest answer, and it was the conclusion that I had come to myself. We would have both gone down that path with or without each other eventually, neither one blamed the other, and we do love each other.

I then began to think about how amazing it will be to someday be able to do things together sober. After all we had made such an unstoppable force when fucked up. I can't imagine the things we can conquer with sobriety.

I'm doing this for myself - but I'm also doing this for the people around me. The people who care so much about me, knowing that I've lied to them for so many years, that they're ready to be there and support me in my recovery.

My lesson on day three?

Sweet Sweet Liquor will not be touched by me today, and by the grace of God not tomorrow or the day after that... if for nothing else I have to do this for the people who love me enough to risk being a part of my recovery - the people I can't let down yet again.

I'm an alcoholic...

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Texts...

If I get one more text message asking me to come out to a bar, or to stop by for a drink I might explode.

HOW THE HELL DO I LET PEOPLE KNOW I'M DONE and still remain some semblance of privacy?

Don't invite me to come have a fucking beer or a god damn shot!!

I'm an alcoholic!

My Rock Bottom

I heard a story tonight at my third meeting of the day (forth so far) that made me realize how different my mindset is from 'normal' people, and that I am in fact an alcoholic. It was a very simple story, a simple statement. Something many people don't think twice about, but once I heard it something clicked in my brain that said "WHOAAA _____ (insert my name here)... What the fuck? Really??"

A woman at the meeting said she works in a local restaurant that serves only beer and wine. At least once a day someone will come in and ask for a lets say a Vodka Cran or a Margarita. To which she'll reply I'm sorry we only have beer and wine.

Now before I finish the story my thought the second I heard what she said (in an attempt to foresee where the story was going I guess) was "Well what kind of beer do you have?" or "What's on Tap?"

She said the most common response when she says that statement is "I'll just have a water" or "I'll just have a soda." Her point in telling this story was that 'normal' people, people who can control themselves and moderate drinking, won't just move on to whatever kind of liquor is available. Whereas someone like myself would just choose a different 'poison' and say fuck it, give me a Bud Light.

I assumed thats what everyone else always did, just moved on to something else if their liquor of choice wasn't available. Apparently that isn't the case... and it really made me realize how some of the most simple actions I take are a direct result of alcoholism.

We also did a group reading in tonight's meeting. I found a passage from the 'Big Blue Book' - Page 21 that really described my alcoholic self almost perfectly.

"He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. He has a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but in that respect he is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, and then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless series of sprees."

Listening to this passage, I pictured myself. Never am I 'mildly intoxicated', and once I get going on a bender I'm not going to stop - I'll lie my way into more time to drink, for another beer or shot, just say fuck it to anything of importance. In that moment nothing to me is more important than my drink.

I guess I can amend that statement a bit however, I'll leave a bar in a second to help someone I love or care about. The real question there though is how much help can Dr. Jekyll really be as opposed to Mr. Hyde coming to the rescue?

After the meeting wrapped up I met a guy around my age when I stepped outside for my 'post meeting smoke.' Ended up sitting and talking to him for about an hour and a half. Not a bad guy... but he was determined to tell me that trying to be 'proactive' with AA instead of waiting until I hit my true rock bottom likely wasn't going to work. Thanks for the vote of confidence I guess? WTF!?!

He then proceeded to tell me that I sound like the guy who's only got 1 life, as opposed to many of the AA members who seem to have nine. Meaning for instance he has been in 4 or 5 very serious car crashes, and walked away unscathed.

Me? I'm the guy who gets away with driving drunk for years, never hurting myself or anyone else.... until you wake up one day and read about my tragic alcohol related death in the newspaper. I'm one of those drinkers with 1 life.

OK... now he was making sense. Finally something that has really began to put things in perspective for me. One slip, one drink is all it will take someday to kill me. My rock bottom won't be drugs, it won't be a trip to rehab, or losing everything.

I've tried drugs, I've lost almost everything... didn't make a difference, and didn't change a damn thing.

Rock Bottom for me will be my death.

The statement was absolutely true. I needed to make this decision, not only for me - but for everyone else I'll hurt or take down with me if I ever hit that of the most extreme rock bottoms. I don't want my final legacy to be my alcoholism. That's not what I want to leave behind as the final memory of me.

As I sit here now my mind continues to go at a mile a minute. There's so much I want to say, so much I want to do. I'm worried about my best friend... I can't imagine what's going on in her mind after knowing 24 hours after my first meeting that I'm seriously fucked up when it comes to drinking. I'm wondering how long it will take me to slip. I know its going to happen... I'm determined not to let it, but I can feel it with every fiber of my being. I keep picturing how its going to happen, where its going to happen. Will I be alone? Even worse... Will it be my rock bottom? 

Then it hit me - the ultimate stronghold. If all else fails I need to stay strong so I don't take the people I love the most down with me. I'm doing this for me, 100% - but I can't risk falling off the wagon and potentially pulling someone I love off with me. That's what will, for the time being, keep me from slipping - at least until I figure this whole program out. 

"The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death."

I've accepted I have a problem, something I can't moderate or control. Now its time to learn how to deal with it.

I'm an alcoholic...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Third Meeting

Just got back from my third meeting. When I got there I ran into two people I know, not people I know well, but nonetheless people I know. It was extremely awkward at first... I was afraid to say hello.

 The first I ran into outside while smoking a cigarette before the meeting (I tend to light up when I'm nervous). He didn't recognize me... disaster/embarrassment averted. I would later see him outside after the meeting, and fess up to the fact that I was too embarrassed to say anything, to which he replied "I figured, but you don't have to be embarrassed. I've been coming here a long time, and you my friend are going to see a lot of people you'd never expect to see here. A LOT of people you know."

It hit me hard. 

Once inside the meeting I looked up and realized the person running it was someone I used to drink with. I can't figure out where exactly, but I've definitely been wasted with him a time or two. The meeting was an open discussion, and he started it off. HOLY SHIT did his story hit close to home. 

He started talking about how he was seeing this girl, and how they had shut themselves off from everyone in their lives because of their drinking and drug use. The two of them enabled each other so much so that his only friend was her.  They would ALWAYS drink together, and once drunk they would usually end up in a huge fight, and when they fought - he had nobody. 

I started thinking about the last year of my life, and how my best friend and I had enabled each other. We became best friends without excessive drinking, but quickly enabled each other to the point where we'd skip work, class - life in general just to drink. It got to the point where we shut everyone else out of our lives. The first three months we were together constantly, and never fought. Around that third month is when I think we really kicked the drinking into high gear, and that's when the fighting started. We'd go out, get shit faced, and end up in huge pointless fights. The fear of having nobody would set in, I'd panic, and go drink alone. 

His story brought me some real clarity. I realized that our fighting wasn't caused by us hating each other, it wasn't caused because either one of us was a mean or violent person, it was caused by our alcoholism. 

I now look back at the last year and realize how much I truly hurt someone I love so much. How much we both hurt each other. Not only by being enablers, but by our actions when we would drink. I can't go backwards... all I can do is take it one day at a time, and look forward. Look forward to the hope of having the amazing, sober friendship I once had. 

I need to do this for me. Being sober will not only better my life, but allow me to be the person I've always been. I'm a genuinely good person, a kind soul who's gotten lost the last year or so. I've lost touch with my core, and haven't been me in quite sometime. 

I'm excited to be the person I once was. I'm excited to not have to hide the fact that I'm drunk or at the least intoxicated most of the time - because I'll finally be sober. 

Only problem is on my way home from the meeting I once again pulled into a bar. Even now I find myself with an overwhelming desire to just say fuck it, and pound 'just 1 beer.' A fellow recovering friend told me to keep my chip in my pocket as a reminder. I pulled it out and was instantly reminded that I'm not alone, and decided maybe 'just 1 drink' wasn't a great idea... so here I am blogging away. 

This process, this program isn't going to be easy for me. Will I stumble? Sure! Might I fall a few times along the way? I don't plan on it... but I'm only human. 

"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. "

Avoiding it got me nowhere. I'm on a new road now... its going to be one of those unpaved, pothole filled rough roads, but who knows... maybe I'll find my destiny.  Just gotta keep driving, one day, or as a friend says, one hour at a time. 

I'm an alcoholic... 

The beginning...

Today is day number two. I got my 24 hour chip yesterday at my first AA meeting. 

I'm finding it so hard to understand how I got here... I come from a LONG line of alcoholics (although none of them admits to it... we're Irish its what we do) and growing up watching 'alcoholism in action' since I was young I've always said "That will NEVER be me." Well... here I am, at 26 years of age, with a drinking problem. 

I'm not just a drinker. I'm the best kind of drinker, what I like to call a 'fully functioning alcoholic.' The guy who gets all out shit-faced 7 days a week, wakes up the next day for work, and does it all over again.  Ever meet that person at the bar that can drink and drink and drink, and rarely shows any sign of being intoxicated? I'm that guy. Sure, I know what your thinking... everyone says that. I my friends have proven the statement. Night after night, year after year, I've driven home so drunk I have to close one eye - breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth - praying I'm on the right track. I've been pulled over so many times while drunk I can't even count them, never once getting a DUI. I have the uncanny ability to make myself seem sober, that combined with my ability to pretty much 'talk my way in and out of almost any situation' has worked every time - to the point where I'm no longer afraid to get pulled over. I feel invincible. 

The best kind of drinker... thats the way I've always thought of myself. I'm the guy everybody wants to be around at a bar, the one who buys insane shots for EVERYONE, and never slows down. I'm the life of the party, and nobody parties like I do. 

There is no such thing as 'just 1 drink' with me. I go out all the time with the intention of 'just 1 drink' which quickly turns into 2, 3, 5, 7, 10 - until the bar closes. I always just need 1 more drink, then I'll stop. 

If someone asked me a week ago if I was an alcoholic I would have laughed my ass off. I'm not one of those people, my favorite line "I'm not an alcoholic. The only meetings I go to are at bars." 

NOTHING could stop me from drinking... NOBODY EVER STANDS IN MY WAY!

The last year I've taken it to a whole new level. I started leaving work to drink, not even going into the office some days. Getting drunk before work, during. 

I find myself craving a drink all day, every day. I recently went on a bender where I did nothing but drink and sleep. I'd wake up, drink, go to the bar - drink, come home - drink, go to bed, and do it all over again when I woke up at 2PM the next day. 

My most amazing 'ability' - nobody has ANY idea I have a problem. I'm just that bar regular, the 'Norm' of my 'Cheers'. All my friends think I'm just really good at handling my liquor. One of my closest friends called me a hypochondriac when I told her I went to an AA meeting. I've hidden my problem so well from so many people that mostly everyone finds it unbelievable that I have a problem. Hearing the stories at my first meeting last night I doubted it myself. It took me leaving the meeting having received my chip, and heading directly to the bar for a beer that made it seem believable to me.

I'm still not even sure if I 'need help' even after all my realizations. I know I need to stop, and my heart is telling me its time to quit. My mind just keeps playing tricks. I'm questioning my will power. I KNOW I need to stop, I need to get help. If it weren't for my best friend (who's the only person who knows me well enough to see it) I wouldn't have even gone to a meeting. I walked in to make her happy, fuck it... I'll go to a meeting. I don't need help, but I'll go so I can prove to her I'm not an alcoholic, fuck it! 

Something funny happened at that meeting... I got my 24 hour chip and almost cried. The feeling of knowing an entire room of people had all been at that exact same place, at the exact same moment touched something inside me. It set off a spark somewhere. Today at my second meeting, after hearing the story of today's speaker, It made me realize I'm not the only one. I'm not alone. 

I'm an alcoholic...