EDIT: After a comment received from a lovely reader who goes by an intriguing moniker, i’ve noticed the following post is unusually depressing, especially for me. Before you read on, i’d like to go record as saying that i’ve beensober for 3+ years now, and have re-found a natural optimism i’d lost in the bottle. Every day i wake up sober is a great day and each day is better than the previous. One of the reasons i’ve been able to stay sober so easily is that my life has become immeasurably better, and my drunken past looks horrible in comparison. Stay with it, it’s worth it! Now, i return you to your regularly scheduled depressing post…
Heard in the rooms
If I drink, guaranteed I will be unhappy.
If I don’t drink, maybe I won’t be unhappy.
It’s not a lot, but it’s the only choice we’ve got.
Choose wisely, one day at a time.
Those who read me regularly know i’m regularly down on myself. Part of it is my self deprecating nature, the rest of it is the rigorous honesty required by Alcoholics Anonymous: what i do not broach, i cannot get past. i cannot overcome what i do not confront. Airing my dirty under-past here is also a way for me to embrace humility and fix my “egomaniac with an inferiority complex” fixation.
But today i’m not here to belittle myself. i’m here as the alcoholic father of two teenage children. i got sober three years ago, when my son was 16 and my daughter was 13. Naturally, i often wonder how much my disease affected them, and if i hurt them with my drinking and if those wounds left scars. Honestly, i worry that seeing their father try to kill himself fucked them up permanently.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Today, i realized my son spent more than a week preparing a Valentine’s Day for his friend. He set up his room with candles and roses so it would be ready when they came home from the restaurant he went to beforehand to ask them to set up the table with the supplies he’d brought. My daughter saved money for three months (and she can usually hold onto it no longer than a week) so that she could take her friend to Disneyland, paying for the tickets, the train to get there, the meals while they were there and the souvenirs to keep. She texted me a pic of their trip and their obvious happiness was the best Valentine’s Day present i’ve received in recent memory.
My children are not perfect. Like all children, they have many defaults and defects and my drinking maybe caused some and exacerbated others.
But my children know how to love with a selfless love, a deep love, a giggle out loud love and they are not afraid to show it. i’m relieved they’re more resilient than i’d given them credit for, and that they are brimming over with the kind of love that can conquer the world.
And when i say ‘Relapse’, i don’t mean mine but Philip Seymour Hoffman’s. He forgot that we cannot drink from the same river twice.
TMZ reported that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s swan dive into addiction started with a slip: a sip of alcohol. He had been clean for 23 years, and then had a drink at a wrap party and the rest, unfortunately, is history.
i have met people in AA who had decades of sobriety and watched it all slip away when they forgot they couldn’t even have one drink. Their horror stories of what it was like when they “went out” are one of the things that helps keep me sober.
Before i got sober, i wallowed in my alcoholism, wore it like a puke stain, felt proud about how i could binge with regularity and still balance home and work (here’s the secret: i couldn’t).
Five years ago, i was so cavalier about my drinking i started the other website (Diarrhea of a Chronicle Drinker), elected myself Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, established D.R.I.N.K.E.R. (Drunks Really Involved Now Known as Exiles Reunited), and founded the Bar None.
In recovery, one of the first best truths i learned was when a fellow AAer said, “I can never be cavalier about my drinking again.” i knew exactly what she meant as soon as she said it. i can choose to lose my sobriety whenever i want, but i cannot go back to the place i was before. i know too much, now.
Picking up the drink again would mean drinking with a vengeance and in a few weeks or months, i would be at the same place it took me thirty years to arrive at the first time. But the destination would be the same, except my life might not be saved.
Understanding that, and knowing the other option is happiness in recovery, make it easier for me to choose ‘sobriety’ each time.
Remember not to forget.
i knew Kristin Davis from “Sex in the City”, that one show i never watched unless the girl i was with wanted to. i didn’t know, until recently, that Kristin Davis was sober.
What makes her story interesting compared to many other people, was that she had a ‘high bottom‘. She stopped drinking at 22 because she knew she had a drinking problem and saved herself the trouble of screwing herself over repeatedly (like i did!). Here are some directions from a lovely woman who may have a different path than mine, but is on the same journey.
What it was like
To the outside world, I was a good girl. But I drank a lot, which was rebellious because my parents didn’t drink at all. In the South, pretty much everybody drinks. There was always lots of alcohol, lots of access to alcohol, people sitting around every night with a Mint Julep, or whatever.
Alcoholism is a genetically predisposed disease and it does run in my family. I also think I felt like a misfit. I was in the South, everybody was blonde. I just didn’t feel like I fitted in. It was sort of my way of fitting.
Alcohol freed me. I was really shy and I didn’t know how to come out of my shell. I drank for the same reason I loved acting. I wanted to feel things and express myself and be free. And I’m not naturally that way.
At high school, it was just crazy. We’d all be behind the gym drinking, about 20 people passing around bourbon or whatever.
I could often be found getting pissed on bourbon behind the school gym with boys.
I’m shy and it helped me overcome that. After a while I just got used to being drunk.
It was a problem waiting to happen as far as I was concerned.
This is going to sound strange, but I really didn’t think I would pass 30. I drank a lot when I was a teenager and I don’t drink any more, because that’s when I thought, you know, I’m gonna end up a car wreck. I just had a fatalistic view of the whole situation at that point.
I consider myself to be an alcoholic. My drinking became a very real addiction that needed to be dealt with.
My twenties were the worst time of my life. There is nothing on the planet that would make me go back there. I was trying to stop drinking, not an easy thing to do.
What made me stop? I realized it was not going to end well.
Oh, nothing that bad [happened]. I just realized that drinking was counterproductive to what I was trying to do. Acting is very difficult in weird ways. You’d have to get to class by 8am, work all day, rehearse all night, and it’s not really good to do when you’re hung over.
I’d wanted to be an actress my whole life, that was my goal, that was all I cared about. Something had to go, so I chose drinking to go.
What it’s like now
I believe [alcoholism] is a disease. I don’t think you can mess with it. There was a time when people who didn’t know me well would say, “Couldn’t you just have one glass of champagne?” And I would say, “No.”
It [My sobriety] has caused a lot of confusion out in the world. I get sent many a Cosmo! I never drink them.
Sometimes it would be nice to just have some red wine with dinner, but it’s not worth the risk. I have a great life, a great situation. Why would I want to risk self-destructive behavior?
Nowadays I would say chocolate and coffee has taken over. Lattes. It’s funny because I find myself thinking, ‘I’ve got to have a latte.’ I have a limit of two.
Here’s Kristin discussing sobriety with Craig Ferguson, who is also sober (in 2008).
Sources for the quotes:
To address the truly amazing comments i received in my previous post and especially the fact that i have over 200 followers on this blog, i wanted to be up front about some things.
i’m the red headed stepchild of recovery blogs. i started another blog years ago where i reveled in my alcoholism and, even though i came out as sober there, i continue to post articles of questionable taste, with bad language and photos that are NSFW. It’s a blog i wouldn’t let my mother read, in other words (though i won’t let her read this one either!).
i have no idea how i received 200 followers on this blog. As i state on my “About” page, i don’t have the answers but i know the people who do. i’m just a guy in recovery who is grateful for every sober day and am so happy to be sober that i have to tell people about it. All i can say to those of you who follow AlKHall Anonymous is that, even if there are more serious sobriety blogs out there, i am deadly serious about my sobriety. Because ‘deadly’ is the other option.
i guess what i’m saying is, that even though i’m not a leader, i still thank you for not judging this book by his cover story.
Matthew Ryan – Follow the Leader
i had my infamous last drink on January 11, 2011. Today i went to the big AA meeting here in Yeaman and picked up my 3-year chip.
This is what i said.
i could have stayed sober for three years without you and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. But my sobriety and my life would not be as rich, valuable and worthwhile as it is today if it hadn’t been for you. Thank you for making of me someone worthwhile.
That goes for everyone reading this post as well. Thank you all for making me someone worthwhile.
Hello, my name is Al, i’m 50 and this is the best Christmas i’ve spent without my parents.
My parents both come from very close, traditional families and they bring that and more to the table during the holidays. Maybe because they take care of everything so well, i’m really good at enjoying what they do but not doing anything myself. On the years we’re not together (transatlantic flights aren’t cheap), i’ve tried to imitate them as best i can but the gold star on the tree has been more for effort than for actually achievement.
Except this year– at 2 years, 11 months and 14 days into recovery– i finally pulled it off. i brought my own stuff to the table. Literally.
This was the table i set for dinner. You know me, and if you don’t there oughta be a law, i always try to throw in a dash of creativity wherever i can, and so i decided this year, instead of putting the munchies in a bowl, why not just scatter them around the table? People can pick up and eat what they want and it gives the decor a unique flavor. So, as you can see, i strew the crackers and nuts about the table and added glow stick bracelets on the dessert plates.
My son and his friend made a perfect dinner, veal and Indian rice, and we had an ice cream cake for dessert.
Speaking of dessert…
After the meal, i cleared away the leftover nuts and threw candy all over the tablecloth, to munch on with the ice cream cake. It was a fun touch!
Sparing you the glory details, the Christmas Stars aligned this year and i was able to prepare a steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and salad dinner for my son, his friend, my daughter and her friend. i’ve wanted to to do this for ages and it really didn’t seem as though it would work out, but then at the last minute everything fell into place and i got my Christmas Miracle.
When all was said and done, with the last dish washed and the last bit of wrapping paper in the trash, i had the feeling that Christmas this year was a good one, even if i was the one in charge.
Sobriety brought me the most unexpected and valuable present of all.
i truly wish for you the same joy and cheer that i have found this year. May it continue all the way through 2014 and beyond.
i turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. The reason i mention this is because my parents were here from the States and they brought 2 presents more than they knew.
In addition to the gifts and the help around the apartment, my father was kind enough to spend a lot of time making a musical slideshow of my life, from infancy to adolescence to manhood. We watched it on my birthday and what I noticed was that, for many of the photos, i was obviously feeling no pain – or anything else. Shiny eyed, sloppy grin, puffy face…
Sure, the photos were taken during parties and special occasions, but the number of “well lit” photos was significant. Even my kids laughed a couple of times (yeah, let’s say just a couple) and said, “Oh yeah, you’re so drunk there!”
This was good news for a couple of reasons, the main one is that i’m no longer that guy. For family gatherings i’m sober and present and together and no one needs to worry about me embarrassing myself or them. Another reason i enjoyed the show was that my kids felt comfortable talking about my drinking days, and that it wasn’t treated like a taboo subject. Speaking as someone who comes from a family with more elephants than rooms, this was reassuring.
The second present that unfolded during the festivities was my father. At dinner, he got choked up (he does that a lot nowadays) making a toast to me, saying how proud he was that i looked comfortable in my own skin. He said it’s the first time in a long time that he’d felt that way when watching me, but that’s all any parent wishes for their kids.
When people ask me how it feels to turn 50, i can honestly tell them i’ve finally learned to let go of things. Not take everything so damn seriously. Thanks to sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous, i’ve achieved a peace of mind that makes the next 50 years look a lot more exciting than i ever could have believed.