It was sometime around 2019 and I was leaving my favorite brewery.
I was day-drinking and stressing out about all of the work I had to do on my day off.
I’d been having to work more and more on my days off and day drinking was just what I did.
On this particular day, I closed my tab, got into my car, and started crying.
My year wasn’t going well, my job was changing, and I felt like I was losing control of my life, and my job.
I got in my car turned the corner onto Lakeview road, and with tears flowing down my cheeks I looked at the water and contemplated how easy it would be to jump the curb and floor my vehicle into the lake.
I paused and thought about how quickly my car would fill up with water, and how long it would take before anyone would notice.
I kept driving.
I got to the next red light and thought about calling my mother. I didn’t. I just sat there sobbing until the color changed to green.
That was the first time I had taken a moment to think about how I would go about committing suicide.
I knew that when I first met alcohol that she and I would have a long-lasting love affair, but what I didn’t realize was how much addiction would take hold over me.
No one ever plans to be an addict, and there’s not one instance that created the monster.
I didn’t even enjoy alcohol to its fullest until I first went to Mexico.
It was almost a weekly affair in high school, and to be honest, it wasn’t so much about the alcohol, but how much better alcohol made me feel. How I felt around people that I didn’t think I was on the same level as, how I felt dancing under the lights, and how confident I felt around girls.
I describe myself as being a shy guy, but under the influence of alcohol, I came alive. I was funnier, I danced better, I was more confident. At least that’s what I thought of myself.
Once I left high school and lived on my own the drinking did slow down a bit because I wasn’t 21. But that pent-up energy would explode every time I was around alcohol. I would drink as much as I could and I would definitely drink to get drunk.
It was around this time that I felt my first anxiety attack. I’ve had them before growing up but never knew what it was until college.
Sitting in the campus health center I remember hearing my doctor explain what was happening. She gave me a workbook about anxiety, and this was a new word for me. Anxiety. Not anxiousness, but Anxiety.
I was prescribed medicine to calm me down, but I felt booze did a better job of setting my mood.
That set the tone for the next decade of my life. Drinking, smoking, drugs, all of these things that I would use to manipulate my mood to also change my perception of myself, and suppress any feelings I had about myself.
Masking my insecurities was the key. I began to believe that I could not be my confident self without drinking, and as my college career started to disintegrate my career path began to excel.
A drinking problem with a substantial paycheck in a college town created an absolute monster.
I’m still ashamed about a lot of the drunken encounters, conversations, and relationships I had in my twenties.
I cringe when I think about how many yelling matches, late-night embarrassing knocks on the door, and friends lost during that time.
When I found out I was going to be a father I was at the peak of my alcoholism and drug abuse.
I was drinking away my paycheck and was behind on rent monthly. My belongings were all hanging on by a thread, and I constantly asked for favors to help pay bills or fix and maintain my car.
In high school, my friend went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and when he was done we talked about his experience. He said those people were way worse and were in a different league when it came to drinking.
That was my barometer on how much of a problem my drinking was until college.
A week after I learned about the pregnancy I was finally arrested while drinking and driving.
I always figured that if I got arrested I would stop drinking. I was always making justifications and weak goals.
I gave it up for a week.
I did my community service and picked right up where I left off. I was drinking and driving with a suspended license, and practically begging for someone or something to try and stop me.
Not even falling asleep at the wheel on the highway and spinning around was enough. None of it was enough.
In 2019 I was at a bar day-drinking and the bartender was talking to a patron about how slow it was because everyone was doing Dry January.
This was the first time I’d heard of the event. A way for drinkers to clean out their bodies after a holiday season of boozing.
Sounds great. I’ll start in February. I made it the whole month and got pretty drunk the day it was over. It was the day of the Super Bowl.
2019 was filled with panic attacks, waking up in the middle of the night in a deep sweat, and calling staff in the morning that I was running late. Running late because I was throwing up and trying to get it together to work all day.
How I was able to gather the mental fortitude to even fathom how much I was drinking is still a mystery, but the idea that I would stop was building up momentum.
On that day that I got home after wanting to drive into the lake the soul searching began.
One of my favorite musical artists is Jason Isbell, and the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding is called, ‘If we Were Vampires’. I have a lyric from the song tattooed on my arm that reads: Maybe time running out is a gift.
When people ask me about what it means I’m more than happy to oblige. I say, ‘It’s from a song, and it’s about two people thinking about what life would be like if they were vampires. If life just went on and on. You wouldn’t appreciate the little things, you wouldn’t appreciate your companions, and would start taking everything for granted.
I didn’t want to take anything for granted anymore.
On January 12th, 2020 my family and I were making our way to our third new state park of the year. Hiking was becoming a way for us to spend time outdoors, appreciate something bigger than us, and work on my mental health.
On this day we ventured out to Lost Maples state park and had a remarkable time exploring. It will now be a state park that I remember for the rest of my life.
After a long day out at the park we decided that even during Dry January, we’d earned an adult beverage.
We went to our favorite pizza place after a day of hiking, and I drank a Lone Star beer and a shot of whiskey.
And that was the last time I touched alcohol.
This was before anyone knew how tragic the pandemic would become and how 2020 would become a year for the books.
People ask if it was difficult to start sobriety during a global pandemic, and I don’t know if it’s important to say either way, but I made it through. I made it to 2021, and if you made it this far, I’m really glad you’re here.
I hope if you’re trying to decide whether or not you should try sobriety that you give it a try. Making a list of pros and cons didn’t work for me because my family wouldn’t have come about if I wasn’t drinking, and that’s one thing to be grateful for.
So I’ll put it this way: Alcohol was no longer making me happy or filling any insecurity voids. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Feel free to reach out if you need anyone to talk to about alcoholism. There is a pathway out.
Addiction takes many forms, and I’m by no means free from that. Obsessions are what still run through my mind, but I’m trying to stay busy; challenging my mind and taking on new projects. So it’s always a growth stage, but I’m happy to keep trying my best one day at a time.