I am an alcoholic. I’m also a PG&E employee and proud Peer Volunteer, clean and sober for 14 years.
My career began in 1988, when I was 26 years old. I was single then, and had been drinking for over 10 years. I was very popular with my high school crowd as “the life of the party”. I could always outdrink everyone who I was with. What started out as fun ended in living hell. My drinking continued through high school and then into the first job I worked.
At that time, my drinking was fairly well under control; I was young, I had the stamina to get drunk every night and work every day and the vicious cycle went on and on. I really don’t like “drunkalogs,” so I will try to be brief and say: I was married several times, I had a beautiful home and a wife who I thought I loved at the time; and most of all, my beautiful children.
Well, this wife didn’t love me as much as I thought; she did the right thing; she took my children, she booted me out of my beautiful home, and she divorced me. I STILL had not bottomed out. I could still outdrink anyone around; and by then, of course the blackouts had started.
Believe me, I tried to blame everyone and everything I knew for my drinking; the death of my child, the ex-wives, etc. Everyone was responsible for my drinking except me. The blackouts were, in a way, a blessing. I don’t want to remember some of those times.
Finally of course, the time came when it began to affect my work; I had to have my daily fix of alcohol every few hours or so. My life was a total living hell. There were so many days when all I could do was look out my window to see if it was daylight or dark.
That, my friends, is something that no living human being would ever want to go through. Of course, eventually the time came when there was no money for apartment rent, or for anything, except the few dollars I kept back for my booze. Thank God for the final blackout — I came to in a room with a quarter on the dresser in the room.
Thank God my family practiced “TOUGH LOVE.” None of my family would allow me in their homes; this was bottom-out time. I looked in the yellow pages of the phone book and found the number for AA.
Within minutes, a lady and gentleman from AA were there. Neither of them seemed shocked by the few things I told them. I was so sure my story was unique from anyone else’s story. I was so sure I was unique. Little did I know but I was simply an alcoholic, one who was ready to do anything in the world to change my life.
These people took me in, carried me to my first AA meeting, and lots of other people started working with me and detoxing me. I have never been so sick, mentally and physically. But I learned after that, that even my worst day sober was better than my best day drunk. The liquor had stopped working for me. There was no more “high,” or good feeling.
I would like to tell you that I stopped there, but after one year of sobriety, I decided I possibly could still be a social drinker. God, what a disaster. What I was always told in the AA program was that this disease is so very progressive, even when you are sober, and sure enough I lived to find that out. After my first or second drink, I went straight into a blackout. So my insane bout of drinking had started all over again.
I am so grateful to my Higher Power and to those that still believed in me, that I was one of the lucky ones who “made it back.” It was so hard to walk back into that door of AA and start over and pick up a new chip.
But I did. To hell with false pride – I was ready to quit drinking. Otherwise, I was doomed for an insane asylum or death. I am happy to tell you that I have just picked up my 14 year sobriety chip. Never could I have made it alone. I have to have all of you, my brothers and sisters, to remind me of who I am, and that is, a recovering alcoholic who must take life one day at a time in order to stay sober.
There have been many setbacks in my life, but thank God I have not had to take a drink. Seems that this past year has been my hardest; I broke my back, lost a wife I truly loved, and had a complete nervous breakdown. But I STILL DID NOT DRINK.
Every day is like a new day to me now; sometimes I feel as if I don’t quite know which direction I am going, but I know as long as I stay sober, the direction will sooner or later become clear. I have the privilege of being able to do some work in a detox unit, and its such a great feeling to share my experience, strength, and hope with another suffering human being.
I hope, in doing so that somewhere down the line, I may help just one person to find their way to the only program in the world that has worked for me; the program for the living, Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank God for Bill W. and Dr. Bob, our co-founders. Whatever would we have done had their paths not crossed?
I don’t have everything in the world I want right now, but I do have everything that I need, and it has been proven to me by my Higher Power and the Steps and Traditions of this program and all the great people in this program, that this thing does work. There are many things I would like to change in my life, but I feel if it is meant for them to change, it will happen.
I do have my children back, with the exception of one child who is out there, and is a practicing “addict.” There is nothing I can do for him, except pray. I have carried him to many meetings with me, so he has been exposed, and it is up to him as to whether he chooses to live or die. It is that simple. There is no in between.
I want to end by telling each of you, those of you who I don’t know, that I love you. We share the same disease and we know what we have to do in life. We have a choice today. And isn’t that wonderful? Some people with diseases don’t have a choice. I have been given the gift of sobriety; I love life without alcohol; I enjoy so much drinking my coffee on my back steps and watching the birds in the morning; simple things that nobody else would think is that important.
I find that I can make clear decisions, even though they don’t always have the outcome I would like. What more can I say? I am a grateful alcoholic whose name is Jean L. and every day is a new awakening, because I have been given another chance; and I must not let alcohol destroy my life.
That is the reason I have to stay active in this program and always remind myself of who I am, where I have been, and where I never want and don’t have to go again. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you.