My name is George and I am an alcoholic. My sobriety date is August 26, 2000. I tell my story in hopes that it might be of some help to someone else. This is one way of giving back the gift of grace that was bestowed on me. I was taught to tell what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now. I have written several previous posts on this subject, and I am working on writing my entire story, and these are excerpts. They are on my blog site here on OS. Today, I love and appreciate hearing people’s stories – their life stories…your stories. This is another part of mine.
Ah, Thanksgiving Day! What a great day for drinking all day, overeating, napping (aka passing out), and drinking some more. An alcoholic’s dream day (mainly because I actually ate real food on Thanksgiving Day); the drinking started in the morning and for one day I didn’t need to hide it from anybody.
The problem is that for years I had been drinking everyday; but, it was now totally out of control. The thing that separated me from heavy drinkers is that once I started drinking (that first drink thing) I simply could not stop. The occasional morning drink became constant. At the end I had to drink to avoid throwing up before I took a morning shower and went to work – yes, I actually still had a job. All day long I thought about drinking. I thought “I’ve got to quit” or “Only _ more hours until I can leave and get a drink.” It became a deadly obsession and totally controlled my life. It was my life.
For years I drank vodka from those little airplane bottles. I kept an 8-pack or two hidden in my yard shed, and garage, and car, and…. The shed was built on cinder blocks and so I often threw the tiny empties underneath. It was on the edge of the woods, and nobody would ever look there. My thinking was that I’d be moved away or dead-and-gone before they were ever discovered. Ah, the “perfect plan” so nobody would ever learn my alcoholic secret. Note to all the alcoholics and heavy drinkers reading this, vodka DOES smell! The only one who can’t ever smell your breath is you. During the final years of my drinking the smell of rotten alcohol even oozed from my pores, and yes, others noticed it-except me.
Exact Replica of Original Vodka Shed
In September of 1996 Hurricane Fran rolled through the Research Triangle, NC during the night and mowed down miles and miles of trees. I live in the woods and had 13 huge oak trees down, and I mean huge trees. The root balls of these uprooted giants were 12-15 feet in diameter, and they left gaping holes in the earth. Neil Young described it well:
"Comes a time when you're drifting … This old world keeps spinning 'round...It's a wonder tall trees ain't laying down...There comes a time..."
These humongous oaks had simply "laid down from all the spinning” in the fierce winds. No real drama. If you want real tree drama you should watch an acre or two of tall pine trees whipping back and forth in a hurricane wind. They snap off at about 20-30 feet high – much as if you were snapping a wooden pencil, and the cracking noise can be heard above the wind. In the next day’s calm you can see acres of pine sticks rising from the ground. Very surreal
When I went outside the next morning to survey the damage my first thought was total relief as we had nothing on the house – unlike some of the neighbors who now had trees in their living rooms. No injuries anywhere; but, these giants crushed everything beneath them. And then I saw the shed – the perfect hiding place shed. A two-trillion-ton-tree had rolled over onto it, and the shed and its hidden cache of hundreds (maybe thousands, maybe millions) of empty Smirnoff’s had literally exploded into the woods. Plastic shrapnel was everywhere – it had snowed vodka bottles. My perfect hiding place was demolished, and worse, my secret was all over the yard and woods. I spent the next 30 minutes hastily raking up my secret. What troubled me was not that I had drunk hundreds of bottles, but that someone might find out. I have heard so many alcoholic’s tales (aka lies), and told my own, of the extent we go to hiding our drinking, and lying about it no matter what. I replaced the shed a few weeks later but started hiding my bottles in other places. Smart, huh?
So here it is, an act-of-God (to use an insurance term) has destroyed my hiding place and refuge, and I am clueless (as are most alcoholics). It would take two more years before I got my first DUI, and then sixteen months later a second one. Also got fired during that time, went to treatment three times, got kicked out of my house, and still kept drinking. Remember, the thing that separates me from heavy drinkers is that once I have that first drink, I can’t stop – no matter what. If you’re not an alcoholic, this can be hard to comprehend or understand. If you are, enough said.
As I write this post tonight, I have been sober over eight years. Life is good. Future posts will focus on the recovering years. Keith is on TV reacting to Palin and the turkey-slaughter interview. He has been on vacation and couldn’t resist it even though it’s old news by now. I have just cooked a turkey in my oven to take to the office tomorrow and the whole house smells good. And did I say life is good today? Note to my vegetarian friends: My 22 year-old daughter is a vegetarian and we have tofurkey (toe-fur-kee) for her. I gotta admit, it makes me chuckle when I say the word “tofurkey” out loud, but I love that girl and tofurkey it is (for her, not me). You try saying it out loud.
A turkey cooking suggestion: I cook mine in those plastic bags and they work great. If you’re not stuffing the turkey with traditional stuff – push an onion up there for moisture. I heard that pouring a Coke over the turkey (just enough to coat it) after placing it in the bag will make it brown-up. Well, it did! Can’t wait until the lunch at work tomorrow and every one of the women will marvel at its brownness, and the guys will roll their eyes at me about my browniness. It’s a very traditional office in terms of gender roles. C’est la vie.
Happy Thanksgiving Week to all!