When I was a kid I always felt a little different. I was always very sensitive. I was pudgy with red hair and freckles. I wanted to be popular but wasn’t. I wasn’t the greatest academically or in sports. I did have a few good friends and stayed busy building models and riding my bike with those friends. But, I always felt different, like I couldn’t fit in. I got picked on a little.
As middle school rolled around, I discovered alcohol and weed. The alcohol made me that guy I wasn’t: brave, outspoken and not afraid of the bullies or authority. I even “dropped” the “bad ass” kid on campus with one punch after getting loaded one lunch time. I wasn’t afraid to ask the girls to dance. And I finally found that group of kids to hang around with. It was all the partiers who I thought were pretty cool from the beginning. They were all for the most part counter-culture, cynical about everything in life, which at the time I liked and nobody messed with them because they would lash out. I felt great with the new me. I went through high school, got hired at PG&E and got married. I raised a family with a wife who liked to drink like I did and had that same cynical attitude toward life.
When I got hired at PG&E, I managed to find the same type of “party people” who all had that attitude I liked so much at the time. Everywhere I went I sought out the drinkers and druggies. Life was fun at first and then started to become fun with problems. Lots of sick days, lots of looking over my shoulder and a marriage full of conflict. Every therapist I would see would always ask “Do you drink?” and the answer was always “Just a couple.” What a lie that was.
At the time I was mostly a pot head, but when the company started DOT testing I went 100% to alcohol. I ended up drinking as much as I smoked pot. At this point I realized that I can become addicted to anything. If it wasn’t pot or alcohol it would have been pills. I just didn’t want to feel any of the pains of life.
I finally got tired of the constant problems in my life that I made such a huge deal about. The problems with people, places and things. The committee in my head that was always going round and round about every little problem. It was a terrible way to live. I remember the first time I was talking to someone about an argument I had at Thanksgiving with my wife and the person I talked to said “You know, every time you have these problems it seems it’s when you have been drinking.” That’s when the light finally came on.
I decided at that point that maybe I had an alcohol problem. I was already on the hot seat at work so I decided to throw myself at the mercy of my supervisor and check into rehab. This I thought would get everyone off my ass, my problems would all go away, and I would be a big family hero. I wasn’t going to do it for myself. You see, I figured all I had to do was dry out for a few weeks and I would be cured. I didn’t realize I have to make an entire attitude and lifestyle change with my thinking and actions. I decided not to take the suggestions of the professionals at the rehab center and go to AA afterward as part of an ongoing maintenance program. I thought that was for low bottom gutter drunks.
I entered rehab and came home after several weeks with no banners and certificates of completion. I lived the next 1½ years as what they call a “dry drunk.” I didn’t attend any support groups like AA or NA as was suggested. Needless to say after that 1½ years I went back to drinking, picking up just where I left off. My intent was to only drink on vacations. A week later, I decided to only drink on weekends (Fri, Sat & Sun)…and maybe Monday if things were rough and, what the heck, Thursday was real close to Friday. Well, you can see what happened. I was back to the same old alcoholic drinking and behavior.
5 years later, back to the same place I left off, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Constant problems and conflicts with people, places and things again. Every time I went to the doctor I had a new health problem. At this point I knew I had to quit for myself. I called my brother-in-law who had been clean and sober for a number of years. This time he suggested I go to AA and work the 12 steps of AA and get a sponsor.
I went to AA as suggested, got a sponsor, worked the 12 steps and did everything that was suggested. I have not had a drink in over 9 years. Is my life perfect now? No. I still have all the problems of everyday life. Today, I don’t create the problems. I intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me. I know that I do the right thing in my life on a daily basis and when I screw up, I try to promptly correct myself and make amends to people. You see, my emotional thinking process sort of stopped when I started drinking and drugging. I had the emotional maturity of a 14 year old in many parts of my life. I had no serenity and was constantly ungrateful. I didn’t think I had a problem because I had all that “stuff”…the wife, kids, cars, boat, house, etc. What I really didn’t have was peace and serenity. My life was constant chaos, if not on the outside then in my mind.
Today life is so much easier to deal with. There are no more huge up and down swings. There is rarely any drama in my life. I am thankful, humble and have found peace. I regularly attend AA meetings and try to help other alcoholics. I hope if you are having a problem with any addiction you will be able to find a solution as I have.