My story starts out pretty simple. I had a really good childhood growing up in Knoxville, TN. My mother worked to support me and my sister and give us a great childhood. I didn’t know much about drinking or alcoholism growing up, even though it was all around me. By the time i was 12, i had 3 family members die from alcohol related illness, but i was still unaware of the dangers ahead. My mother wasn’t a drinker and my father, before he left, didn’t drink too much, maybe an occasional beer or two. I can only remember a handful of times that alcohol was even in the house. It wasn’t a big deal in my household. As we all know, things change.
I didn’t start drinking till after high school. I got a fake id to get into the bars, but i was still a non-drinker at that time. I would sometimes order a drink to hold, and by the end of the night, it would be watered down and i’d just throw it away. That didn’t last long. As i started going out more, my drinking started and never stopped. I would go out 5 nights a week and would usually blackout. By the time i was 21, i was drinking constantly, day and night, and it was starting to affect my grades in college. Luckily, i got through that enough to graduate from the University of Tennessee with a Psychology degree. After i graduated, my drinking went into overdrive.
I drank before work, during work, and after work. I was blacking out almost every time i drank, and i found myself in the ER several times with alcohol poisoning. I was told to get help or i’d die, but drinking was way too important to me. I had heard about AA and rehab, but i wasn’t that bad. I only had bad luck with my drinking. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. For years i would drink into oblivion and i got fired from multiple jobs, but i was functional, so i always found another. Wetting the bed, getting sick on the carpet, was a normal thing for me. I was lucky enough never to be arrested. I thought everyone drank as much as i did and that continued until i had enough.
December 2008, i decided that i was going to have an epic New Year. I went to the liquor store, bought 3 handles of vodka, and drank all of them except half of one in 4 days, by myself. That’s when i had enough. I don’t know what came over me, but i was crying, emotional, and looking for help. In my drunken stupor, i found a phone book at my house (i still don’t know how it got there or how i found it), and looked up Alcoholics Anonymous. I found a local number and dialed it. It connected me to The Watershed. I talked with the counselor and told him my story. I don’t remember much of the conversation other than him telling me not to worry and he would not hang up until i got help. I have him my insurance and personal information and he assured me he would call me back the next morning. That phone call saved my life.
I was so drunk that i thought someone was coming to get me that night. I got my suitcase and was throwing clean and dirty clothes in it and i was ready to go to rehab! I was looking out the window for a car to come pick me up, but it never did. I finally passed out. The next morning, the phone rings. It was the guy i talked to the night before! I was amazed that he remembered. I was amazed that i remembered! He told me that i had a flight booked for 5:55 at the airport (note that 5 i’d my lucky number), and to call him when i got there. At this point, i was having remorse for calling because how can i just up and leave my job and friends? They actually took care of all of that. This was before social media, so leaving for a month without being noticed was a lot easier than it is today. I packed up, went to the airport, and started my journey. I had a layover in Charlotte and i insisted on having “one more” at the ESPN bar in the airport. A triple rum and coke. That was the last drink i ever took.
When i arrived at The Watershed, i was a mess, physically and emotionally. I weighed 102 pounds and was a wreck. I was at the Boca campus and i fought recovery the first week i was there. I was a terrible person. The staff told me that i probably wouldn’t make it home to the airport before i started drinking again. That was a key moment for me. My vanity wouldn’t let that happen. There’s no way i’d let them be right and i was going to prove them wrong. That’s when i had my spiritual awakening. From there, i embraced the program and after a few weeks of hard work, i coined out and was able to go home.
Coming home was tough and at this point, i was still on the fence about actually staying sober. At first, i thought that i would try a year of sobriety just to prove i wasn’t an alcoholic. Then i started attending AA meetings, doing service work, and going through the steps with my sponsor. That was the beginning of a new life. Now, 10 years later, i chair a meeting twice a week, i’ve had countless sponsee’s (one is a movie actor and inthe plays for the NFL), and my life couldn’t be better! My experience, strength, and hope isn’t special or different. I have been called a “one chip wonder” at many meetings and conferences. I think the only thing i did that was any different was listen and actually work the program. I wanted sobriety just as much as i needed it. My life is much better thanks to what i learned at The Watershed, in the rooms, and from fellow addicts. It’s not hard to do if you want it and you’re not alone if you do. Be well.