In March of 1987 I was sitting in a bathroom in Longmont Colorado with a knife in my hand deciding if I would have the guts to ram it into my throat and end my life. I had reached the end of my usefulness as a human being. This is not drama; this is instead what my bottom looked like as an untreated alcoholic. I was not quite 26 years old and I had drunk myself into a state of total failure. For some months I had been living with friends of mine who gave me a place to live after I had been asked to leave my job, because of my addiction. Kevin and Donna didn’t allow me to be homeless; Kevin and I were friends because of our addictions, and my way of saying thank you was to start sleeping with Donna.
On that March day Kevin and Donna were out of the apartment and I was falling apart; I didn’t chicken out on killing myself; I did see a vision of Donna coming home and finding me, blood pooled around me and flowing into the attached kitchen, and I didn’t want to make Donna and their daughter have to live with that memory; that vision kept me from taking such an action. Instead I formed a plan; I would drive my car off of Peak-to-Peak highway between Nederland and Allen’s Park; it would look like an accident and everyone, including my own family in Illinois, would believe that I was probably drunk when the accident happened. Luckily I was so financially broken that there was no way to buy the gasoline to get the car to Nederland.
I stayed at that bottom until April 6 of that same year when I came to with one thought in my head “if you drink today you are going to die, if you should chose to stop I will be with you always.” I haven’t let go of that thought in these 30 years and I continue to experience new heights of experiencing life since. However, it was not an easy transition from that bottom; I made it clear to Donna that I was going to get clean, from alcohol and drugs; I also made it clear that I was not going to do any of that AA shit! By April 9 my detox had become so hard that I threatened to kill Donna and her child; the same people that I did not want to damage by allowing them to find me in a pool of blood just 1 month before; I told Donna my plan, I also told her that when Kevin came home I was going to kill him as well; “I just want someone to feel as broken as I do” I said.
Donna very calmly asked me if I would allow them to contact the Alcohol Recovery Center (ARC) in Boulder and she asked if I would go there to finish detoxing; I told her that it was probably a good idea; she did and I began the process of rising up. There was a policy with Boulder County that I would need to have a blood alcohol content in order for them to accept me; I begged them to make an allowance, I was so convinced that one more drink would be my last and that I would not, I could not, drink in order to be accepted; they took me in and for the next 6 months things became worse. For a second time I was introduced to AA; the people in the rooms took me in and taught me how to sit on my hands so that I wouldn’t pick up a drink, and slowly I was able to put multiple one-day-at-a-times in a row until I had put together some time.
In the beginning not drinking and realizing that my life was completely unmanageable were the only two things I did correctly; even these 30 years and a few months later, I believe that my first year of sobriety had to be hard, and sometimes miserable, so that I would continue to have the resolve to continue. I have often stated “I stayed sober for the first 5 to 7 years because I didn’t want to suffer through getting sober again.” It is deeper than that, I stayed sober then, and I stay sober now, because I believe with all of my heart and soul that I don’t have one more drunk in me; I truly believe two things; 1) I turned that part of my brokenness over to God and God and I both know that the next drunk will kill me, and 2) God loves this broken ass drunk enough not to allow me the freedom to test my theory.
The only thing I have been perfect in doing in these past 30+ years is not picking up a drink; I have had to learn, through other life lessons that God is all or God is nothing. Today, July 23, 2017 I am sitting on my patio feeling humble, happy, joyous, and free; not because I have adhered to all of the 12 steps of AA in a perfect manner; but because life is a beautiful and profoundly real experience that I am blessed to continue to experience and grow from. My successes in these sober years have been successes of allowing myself to live, even when I don’t understand what is happening, and to get up, suit up, and show up for the day in front of me.
2 thoughts on “Reclaiming Life on Step at a Time”
What an amazing and beautiful story…
I had no idea. I can’t even imagine, but I’m so glad you came through it. Everything about you makes me smile. Hugs.