“I can blame alcoholism for craving a drink,
but I cannot blame the disease for the physical
effort required to take a drink.
If a bottle of bourbon ever manages
to jump off the shelf, race across town,
break into my home and pour itself down my throat;
it’s no longer a disease,
it’s a f#@*ing poltergeist.”
From We Are Not Saints by David M.
Every day that I went into work I begged myself to not drink. As was usual, the previous night had ended in a blackout; the morning spent retracing my steps through the trail of carnage I had left in my drunken wake from car to bedroom. Clothing, fast food wrappers, cans of chewing tobacco all strewn willy nilly, flotsam and jetsam ejected from the drunk boat rocking violently on seas of vodka. Vodka, the clear liquid that leaves no legs on a glass; vodka, the alcohol that my coworkers and few friends that I had knew I was addicted to and whispered about in disappointment, disgust, awe; vodka, the drug that I put above everything else in my life as I truly felt I could not, would not operate without it.
Every day that I went into work I wanted so badly not to drink but surrounding myself with a seemingly endless supply of liquor by working at a bar certainly did not aid in abstinence. Monkeys don’t sell bananas. My hands would shake, my vision would be blurred, my head no longer hurt because hurting was the state I was used to. Instead it was a dull, dense, heavy confusion; a complete lack of clarity, a distance, numbness. No matter how unwell I felt without enough water, without good, whole food which if I had eaten my body was incapable of processing having been devastated by an almost ceaseless diet of liquor, without rest because I did not sleep, I always passed out, without exercise, without positive thoughts, I would ultimately still wind up skulking to my stash of vodka.
That first sip burned as I swallowed it followed by a willful effort to not vomit as my stomach asked for one day of reprieve. Instead I always kept the vodka down, burning my belly and immediately feeling a searing sensation wash over my brain like a slow, hot venom. Before long I knew that another shot would make me feel better followed by another to improve my game followed by another to stop from stumbling over my words followed by another to find my rhythm…
Every night, every night that I worked I put myself into a position to kill someone by not only drinking myself into oblivion but by regularly overserving the guests, most of who were driving as I worked in an establishment that was a destination business and not in a walking community. Every night I drove; somehow making it home, somehow surviving, somehow not killing. Somehow not killing.
No one forced me to drink. No one forced me to run roughshod over my life and the lives of others. No one forced me to destroy my poor mother who just wanted her son to be well. No one forced me to risk the welfare, the lives of strangers by getting behind the wheel every night. No one forced me to demolish any sense of self-worth, to hide from my fears, to run to alcohol and drink freely of its wanton destruction. I literally chose to do these things to myself. I actually made the effort to put the bottle to my lips, swallow and force myself to not regurgitate. I chose that. Finally, in a story for another post, I chose to change.
In order to stop drinking I had to first remove myself from the people, places and things that I associated with the drug. This is an incredibly easy series of words to type but the enactment of their meaning was far more difficult. There are many people for whom the act of turning their will and lives over to the care of a higher power granted them great strength to do what had previously seemed impossible, to stop drinking. The strength necessary for me to accomplish this same task was found within myself. I went dry on straight will but found sobriety much later through listening, learning, reflecting, asking, implementing and failing but failing forward. I found strength in communicating with other alcoholics, in being transparent, in being vulnerable, in being honest. I reflected upon my life and took (and still take) daily inventories, recognizing fear, accepting responsibility, being a stand-up guy who found meaning in life by being meaningful to others. I found strength in gratitude, in forgiveness, in serenity.
It started with a choice.
This post is meandering and labored but I really needed to mash out something to keep active in my sobriety. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please check out a read I have just begun that helped me to get off my duff and punch out this post, What Happened That Day by Michelle S. who also blogs at http://risingwoman.wordpress.com/
Thank you to Michelle for inspiring me to write regardless of how rough this post is.