I really had not wanted to see the movie "W" but went to it tonight with some friends. I have had all I can take of W and the Bushes. I found myself quickly tuned-in to W's drinking-like-an-alcoholic, his spiritual born-again moment, and then his life after that as an "untreated alcoholic." And to think he became President of the United States of America...yikes. I tuned into the portrayal of his egocentric thinking, his chronic feeling of being "less than" or "not enough", and his unwavering need to gain approval from his father. He had to fill that "hole inside ", and every night it drained out, and he had to fill it all over again the next day. These feelings, coupled with some genuine narcissism, entitlement (he was born on third base but thought he hit a home run) and privilege, are usually dangerous combinations unless some serious intervention occurs. I can relate.
I am a recovering alcoholic. I crossed the line from heavy drinker to alcoholic sometime between the age of 16 and 30. I really think it was about 16. It's a line once crossed that was not returnable for me. I tried...many times...nothing doing. During college is was cool to be able to drink all night and never get sick, and hardly ever get a hangover. That was really the last time it was cool.
I have learned a lot about personal motives in terms of their impact on my behavior. I have learned that I only need to reveal my alcoholism if it might be of some help to someone else. It is a killer of a disease, and it does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age, intelligence, culture, and all that. I have been wanting to write about my alcoholism and recovery for sometime. My motive is that my story might be of some help to someone else. It is one today of hope and grace. I decided to start writing the story tonight. This (OS) may not be the forum for my story, but it's my start on what will take awhile.
At age 16 several of us had gone to Caseville, MI for a summer weekend. I recall waking up on the beach in the morning with a vague recollection of 14 beers, girls, car broken into, and a general feeling that something happened...but I couldn't really recall. I later learned it was the first of many blackouts.
One spring a group of us drove from Durham, NC to the Kentucky Derby. We were late in arriving due to spending the night in the London, KY jail and a Saturday court hearing. Peeing on the side of the highway while my beer can was propped on the car roof sort of attracted the attention of a state trooper. An ominous warning failed to heed. Twenty years old.
Drinking was not only a way of life - it was my life. Drank everyday for 35 years. Managed to pick up a Ph.D. and a respectable professional career.
At age 25 was driving back from a friend's wedding with my then fiance after drinking "only champagne" because I knew I had a 75 mile drive home. It was night and she had fallen asleep with her head in my lap when I fell asleep too at 70 mph. Came to as the Gremlin was sliding along a guardrail after careening off a concrete bridge abutment. To this day I can see the windshield glass cracking into a slow-motion spider web. The entire right side of the car was ripped off . Glass pieces somehow got embedded in my sportcoat lining without even leaving entrance holes. I continued to feel the pieces inside the jacket for years afterwards. No serious injuries for either of us. We walked about 200 yards across a field to a nearby diner and called the police. A state trooper drove us home (about 5 miles) that night.
Married, divorced. re-married. Two beautiful children. By the time I was 40 I "knew" I was an alcoholic. Couldn't really admit it, so just hid it. Everyone thought I was just a heavy drinker. I knew differently. A DUI in '98 and another in '00. Blew a 0.30 on that second one. Job loss in '99 (finally). Hit my bottom in August 2000. Kicked out of the house and at age 49 I am staying in my father's basement and "not drinking." When he leaves the house for awhile I get on a bicycle and ride to the nearest liquor store about 3 miles away and buy several bottles a day. I hide them in the bushes outside the house and go out for drinks as needed - which is now day and night. So this married Ph.D. professional with two beautiful children , a home, a career, yes, a dog too, is hiding liquor in the bushes and living in a parental basement , and all the while too proud (aka scared) to get any help. At this point, alcohol has total control of me. Living to drink and drinking to live. Admitted to a local hospital August 25, 2000 for "heart attack-like" symptoms. The truth is that I was withdrawing from alcohol and I knew it, but I just continued to "live the lie." That's what we alcoholics and addicts do.
August 26, 2000 I was sitting in my father's kitchen at about 5:00 pm. He looked at me and said "You need help." My reply was "You're right. I'll do whatever I'm told to do." Those words came out of my mouth, but they were not mine. I had surrendered but didn't realize it at the time. My sober life had begun and has continued since. For me it has been a slow and steady recovery. My story since then is one of grace. Getting there isn't.
To be continued...