Addiction is like a dark and gnarled tree that grows from the seed of fear.
I’m convinced that I came out of the womb terrified. That first slap on my ass administered by the doctor was like an alarm clock startling me into a world of anxiety, angst, and fear. I started life afraid of every shadow that crossed my path. It wasn’t until I discovered alcohol when I was twelve years old that I was able to suppress the fear, awkwardness, and shyness that dominated me.
In addition to the abundance of fears that plagued me, I was also burdened with an overly sensitive personality. It seemed like everything hurt. Stepping on a bug could make me weep for hours. When I was around five years old, I watched my older brother, Scott, trip while running up a flight of stairs, banging his knee. It didn’t seem to bother him very much. He simply stood up and continued on his way with barely a whimper. But I was devastated. The sight of him falling and possibly getting hurt tore me. It was nothing, just a kid falling and jumping back up. But to me, it was excruciating to witness.
Eventually, I began to hate how sensitive I was about every little thing. And I was extremely uncomfortable in the world, an outsider always looking in.
Here, drink this! This will take care of the problem. It’s a wonder I waited until I was twelve to start drinking. I got a late start.
I grew up in a small California town that had one movie theater and a pizza parlor. And that was about all there was. It was a quiet place to grow up, dull, and a little boring. My parents divorced when I was three, and my brothers and I were raised by our mom and a father we saw on Saturdays, birthdays, and Christmas. It was a loving family filled with a great deal of humor and laughter. It was also dysfunctional and broken in many ways, like so many other American families.
The first time I remember tasting alcohol was the spoon full of Crème de Menthe my mother allowed me to pour on vanilla ice cream. I don’t think it made me feel drunk, but I loved the fact that I was trying something that only adults were allowed to enjoy. It was an innocent gesture on my mom’s part, nothing more than adding a little extra sweetener to my dessert. But it made me feel grown-up and cool. Whenever mom wasn’t around, I began to add several tablespoons of the sugary liqueur to ice cream, always licking the spoon clean (even at a young age, I instinctively knew that a proper alcoholic never lets a single drop go to waste).
My first “real” drinking experience occurred when the brother of one of my school friends bought us a six-pack of Schlitz Malt Liquor, the extra tall cans. It was a hot, summer day, and we pounded three each in rapid succession. I clearly remember how amazing I felt as soon as the buzz hit me. Warm. Confident. Strong. This was what I had been waiting for my entire life (all 12 years). This was it, the magic potion that would save me. My problems were solved. I was instantly unafraid and courageous. I was invulnerable to harm. The world belonged to me, and I was a king.
The rest of the afternoon was a blur of stumbling, wrestling, laughing, and vomiting. When my mom came home from work, she found her little boy passed out drunk with a layer of puke down the front of his shirt.
The hangover and shame I experienced were awful and humiliating. I promised myself that I would never, ever drink again. Never! Ever! That promise lasted about two weeks.
Over the next 30 years, I continued to chase after that first rush of drunken power. Over the coming decades, I drank, took copious amounts of drugs, and made endless promises to myself that I was never, ever going do it again. Guess how that turned out?
The last year of my drinking was a living hell. That may sound dramatic, but there’s no other way to describe it. I was 42 years old, flat broke and living alone in a shitty one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. I drank every day, snorted and smoked cocaine whenever I could, and hung around other alcoholics and addicts.
I was living a life of quiet desperation. I was a complete mess, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I had been arrested once and had visited the hospital on multiple occasions because of alcohol poisoning and panic attacks. Over the years, I had burned down every meaningful relationship in my life. I was fat, miserable, and lonely. And that’s sugar-coating it.
Worst and most destructive of all, I had lost all faith – faith in my abilities, faith in other people, faith in life, faith in any concept of God.
I was drowning in a polluted ocean of addiction and despair. It wasn’t until I found the courage to cry out for help that I was saved from the alcoholic destruction that was waiting for me, a form of slow suicide that has killed many of my friends.
The last day I drank was December 8, 2007. The next day, December 9, the gift of desperation descended upon me like a dove. I was extremely hungover, sick, and tired of being sick and tired. I had had enough, and I wanted help. I had tried everything imaginable to get sober on my own, including therapy, acupuncture, and self-will, but nothing worked. It was abundantly clear that I couldn’t get sober on my own. I needed help from people who had gone through what I was going through.
I called a friend who was working on his sobriety. He took me to the first of many 12 step meetings that I have attended over many years. I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since that first meeting, and I pray every day that I never have another one.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
As the saying goes, always expect the unexpected. Entering any new adventure requires an open mind and a willingness to learn and grow.
Getting sober isn’t always easy. I’ll let you in on a little secret; it can be scary at times, like riding a roller coaster when you’re afraid of heights, speed, and loud noises. But it’s worth the ride if you’re willing to accept that you don’t have to be in control. Hold on tight, enjoy the wind in your hair, and see where it takes you. You might be pleasantly surprised.
I want to make it clear that I got sober through the twelve steps which are the basis of my sobriety. Therefore it informs my language when I discuss addiction and recovery. The 12 steps have saved my life. I love the program and still do my best to practice its principles every day.
But not everyone gets sober this way, and that’s fine. There is more than one way to get sober, and I support any method that brings a person lasting peace in recovery.
However, as a “twelve-stepper,” I often make references to the steps because it is the foundation of my recovery. The steps have been a great road map for me to follow. But I’m not here to promote the program. I only want to clarify and demystify what it’s like to get sober. If you choose the 12 steps as a means of getting sober, you will have plenty of time to learn more about each of the twelve steps.
It’s important to note that the term “alcohol” can be interchangeable with “drugs” or any other destructive substance in your life. Whether you engage in compulsive drug abuse or alcohol abuse, each can be exchanged with the other based on your circumstance.
If you’re feeling frightened, angry, or hesitant about giving up alcohol (or drugs), you’re not alone. Most people who get sober feel the same way, reluctant to give up the one thing that has given them peace and comfort over the years. But at some point, peace and happiness disappear. Eventually, alcohol mostly brings sadness, regret, and sickness to our lives.
Are you an alcoholic? I have no idea. That’s a decision you have to make for yourself. Whatever you decide, getting sober can be accomplished. There is a solution. Millions of people around the world have been successful at achieving lasting peace in recovery. In my own experience, getting sober continues to be the single most significant achievement of my entire life. I love sobriety. Without it, I have nothing, not my health, not my wife, not my home, no money, no serenity, and no hope. Nothing!
There’s no mystery to getting sober. It just takes a little hard work, commitment, and a willingness to make some healthy changes that will bring joy and hope back into your life.
If you’re willing to try, perhaps it’s time to seek the help (and the life) you desire and deserve. A life free from addiction!
If you’re interested in couns
To find books on addiction, recovery and sobriety visit: Sobermofos.
For addiction therapy and consultation options please visit: Online Therapy.
Want to reduce anxiety, stress, and sleep better? Meditation works! Visit: ZivaONLINE