RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Sobriety Date: April 18, 2010
My name is Bill and I’m an alcoholic. I was born in Parma Ohio, my dad was an alcoholic and ended up being a member of this program. He died with 29 years of sobriety. I don’t know if any of that matters as far as why I am an alcoholic, but all I know today is that I am an alcoholic, and I’m grateful that this program found me.
The first time that I ever had alcohol was at a very young age. I remember tasting it at family events and then sneaking it with friends. The first time that I ever drank too much, I was 14, it was red wine and I got sick. I thought that I cleaned up after myself, but when my sister got home she cleaned up my mess, and that wasn’t the last time that she would clean up my mess.
I was a decent student, I played sports, I had good friends and up until the summer of my junior year, I didn’t really drink. We started going to parties and I enjoyed everything about it. I went to college and I drank more, but everyone was drinking, so I guess it was easy to blend in. I got my high-school girlfriend pregnant, we got married and our daughter was born when I was only 19 years old. We lived with my dad for a year and he was sober at the time, so neither of us drank. When we got out on our own, we would go out with friends, and drinking too much became pretty normal for me.
I could go into all the details about hiding alcohol, drinking in the morning, sneaking around drinking, lying to her, arguing with her, and just in general becoming the type of person that she didn’t want to be around.
The next six or seven years were no different, and I ended up drinking my way out of that marriage. A month after we split I got my one and only DUI. I am not saying that I didn’t deserve more, but I only got caught once. I guess I calmed down a little bit after that, but not for long. I met my second wife about 5 years later, and we used to go out and drink quite a bit. We got engaged, she got pregnant, we bought a house and everything on the outside looked fairly normal. I could go into all the details about hiding alcohol, drinking in the morning, sneaking around drinking, lying to her, arguing with her, and just in general becoming the type of person that she didn’t want to be around. We split in 2006 and the next 4 years were pretty dark for me. My drinking increased, I had money problems, I isolated from as many people as I could and I was definitely a full-blown alcoholic.
My dad died suddenly in March of 2010, and that took me off the deep end. I was 41 years old and had no coping skills, so for the next 33 days, I literally never drew a sober breath. On April 17, 2010, my sister came up from Indiana and took me to detox. It wasn’t necessarily by choice, but I was told that was my only option, so I went. To explain where my drinking took me, I entered detox with a blood-alcohol level of .44, and I was not only conscious, but actually talking and functioning.
I spent six days in detox and was told by the doctor that if I continued doing what I was doing, I would be dead within a matter of weeks. I heard the words, but I don’t know that I believed them. My family had called around to figure out what to do with me, and I was taken to Cleveland, to the Keating Center. I stood at the door of the Keating Center, with my mom and my sister, both of them crying, because I was saying that I wanted to go someplace and think about it. Through her tears, my mom said to me, “You don’t have any place to go.” I agreed to stay, but I’ll tell you that I had no desire to be there or to quit drinking.
I had this plan, that I would just kick back for a little while and then go on with my life. I made a decision that I wasn’t going to talk, or share, I was just going to cross my arms and everyone else could do the talking. That stubbornness, probably saved my life.
For whatever reason, I did what I was told. I got a sponsor, I went to meetings and I began to make friends. Many of those guys that I met during that time, are still sober, and also still my friends.
I stayed within the Keating Center for a year and a half, first at the Rock, then at a 3/4 house. As Marty put it once, “It was the best time that I never wanted to repeat.”
I’d like to tell you that everything was unicorns and rainbows, but that’s not my story. I didn’t even realize it, but I was struggling for the first 9 months. I couldn’t understand why people kept relapsing and I was trying to figure out the secret to stay sober. We were always told, “Pray, go to meetings, and try to help another alcoholic.” I asked my friend and roommate at the time if it could actually be that simple, and all he said to me was “Yes.”
That simple answer changed my view and possibly saved me from a relapse. That friend is still in my life today, we have been sober the same amount of time, and quite honestly he’s my brother, not my friend.
My son, who is almost 21 years old, doesn’t have any clear recollection of me drinking, and I’ve been sober for more than half his life.
Here are some of the good things that have happened to me in sobriety. I reconnected with my daughter that I had alienated for 12 years, and in October of 2019, I walked her down the aisle. My son, who is almost 21 years old, doesn’t have any clear recollection of me drinking, and I’ve been sober for more than half his life. I’ve repaired relationships with my family, both of my ex-wives, I have real friends and a sincere, positive outlook on life.
Some of the bad things that have happened in sobriety. I’ve had family members die of natural causes, and I’ve also had family members die tragically. I’ve had friends in this program that have died in both ways also. I’ve had stresses, I’ve had job losses, money problems, relationship issues, I’ve had my heart broken, I have felt sad, lonely, afraid, and just all around awful at times. In other words, I’ve lived my life.
This is my first run at sobriety, and to this day, I have not relapsed yet. I always say “yet,” because I was taught that if I forget who I am, or what I need to do everyday to stay sober, I will drink again. And it’s my opinion that if I drink again, I’m not coming back. I’ll end up drinking myself to death.
When I first got sober, I couldn’t stand all of the recovery sayings. I thought they were goofy and meaningless, and they actually irritated me. Today I live by every one of them, with the exception of one.
Everyone always says to “Keep coming back.” I disagree. I think you should just stay. It’s a hell of a lot easier and I promise you, it’s worth it.