Today is a special day to me. A day, that had you asked me 10 years ago, I would never have expected to or wanted to reach. In those days I was footloose and fancy-free. I did what I wanted when I wanted and didn’t really give a damn if anyone got hurt in the process. This is not to say that I would regard myself as evil, just apathetic to the world around me – Selfish and Self-Centered.
I was engaged to marry a brilliant, beautiful woman who was later to become my wife and some time later, ex-wife. For much of this period of my life I felt incomplete and searched through alcohol, books, meditation, religion, drugs, and introspection to discover why it was that I felt this way. I didn’t feel worthy of the woman who would be my wife and I couldn’t discover why that might be.
I’ve been blessed many times in my life. It turns out that around that time, I also had a dear friend – the man who introduced me to the woman I was to marry. This friend had the misfortune to, quite literally, break his neck. In short order, he could no longer work due in part to his physical impairment and in part to the medication he was on. He quickly ran through the resources he had and, seeing his plight, my fiancé and I agreed to take him in.
The story of he and I began some two years earlier at an SCA
event. We met, and I suppose that this says something of both of us at the time, seducing the same woman. When I say, “met”, I mean we met each other at or about her midsection – I arriving there from her feet while he was on his way down from the top. We were both severely intoxicated. From that point and for several years thereafter, we were friends.
I secretly judged him to have a problem with alcohol and remember thinking that if I ever got that out of control I’d have to stop drinking. What I failed to realize at the time was that the reason I could see his drinking so clearly was that I was often right there with him matching him drink for drink. He continued drinking after the breaking of his neck – mixing painkillers and alcohol. He became less and less coherent as time went by.
During this time, I was drinking as many as nine glasses of wine an evening just to quiet my mind enough to sleep. Add to this the occasional pitcher after work and weekends that, more and more often, stretched from Thursday to Tuesday, and you begin to have a picture of what my life looked like in those days. I chain smoked like a fiend when I was drunk – So much so that my friends took care to hide their cigarettes if I was drunk. I had also begun to dabble in the prescription drugs my friend was taking and marijuana. More and more often, odd things happened to me socially.
I woke up on several occasions and could not remember what I had done, where I had been, or who I was with the night before. I was becoming violent and belligerent with alarming frequency when I drank. I can remember, on more than one occasion, driving home from the bar, arriving home, and having no recollection of the trip. I am exceedingly fortunate that no one was seriously injured or worse, killed. I never had a DUI or DWI. I never contracted any infectious diseases. I only lost one job because I was too tired to stay awake on Monday after the weekend’s festivities. The only thing I can attribute my insane level of luck to is grace – I was certainly in the right place at the right time for trouble on more than one occasion.
So my friend, you remember him right? ;-) He goes to talk to someone about his ever increasing need for pain meds and the person, I have no idea as to the details, suggests that he check himself into a 28 day program. He then asks me if I think it would be helpful for him. Based on my earlier judgment of him, I strongly encourage him to go. In the end, he elects to go voluntarily.
I remember he called me to invite my fiancé and I to come to family night and have some prime rib. It was something I did not want to do but to support him I went. The experience was extremely uncomfortable. I tried to order a glass of wine to calm nerves with dinner. The waiter politely informed me that they didn’t have wine. I thought to myself, “Who in the world serves prime rib without wine?” I asked for beer instead and the answer was a more firmly stated no. I remember thinking that I just wanted to leave immediately. I made excuses to leave soon as I could.
After my friend completed the program, he seemed different. For one, he didn’t seem to want to drink despite my best efforts to encourage him to do so. For another, he seemed aware, present, and generally happy. Shrugging this off as brainwashing, I continued in my affairs until he one day asked me to talk about my drinking. I talked about, “soothing the beast” within me. He suggested that it was possible that people who drink normally don’t think of drinking in those terms. He used his experience, and his shared experience with me to show me the depths to which my own insanity around drinking had gone. For example, who in their right mind orders “A” beer and, then having done so, fails to drink the whole thing, puts it back on the table and goes home – certainly not me.
Confronted with this realization in such a way, I resigned myself to attending my first AA meeting. I did so within about a week. I remember thinking as I listened to the stories that I could identify with these people. They talked about their lives and their drinking in a way that suggested that they had been where I was. By grace, I was handed a solution and by grace, I took it and ran with it.
That was 10 years ago today. If you’d like to hear more about those years let me know and I’ll try to get some of that up here. Today I have a life that looks nothing like the life I had or the life I wanted in those days. Today, I actively try to develop and listen to my intuition. This is not to say that I get it right every time - My friends and family will attest to that! More that I get right a heck of a lot more often than I once did. I look for ways to be helpful to those around me and I have and value my integrity. I am grateful for so much today. I cannot, save for my plans, tell you what tomorrow, let alone next year, will look like. I can tell you that I’m up for the adventure and look forward to seeing and learning new things.