On August 13th, 2007, I made a decision that quite possibly saved my life.
For those who have known me long-term, a lot of this was already known to you. For years, I had been a social drinker. I generally didn’t drink alcohol much at home, if at all, but if I was out with friends, well… it was on like Donkey Kong. There were several nights/events out on tour with bands that, as Barney Stinson would say, were LEGEN… wait for it… DARY.
I focus in for now on the spring of 2004. I had an extremely difficult time dealing with the end of a relationship that was my own fault. I have to stress that part, and it’s my cross to bear. The governor on my alcohol intake got shut down, and all became fair game. I was still working nights, and unless I was having drinks to sedate me, I’d be up until sunrise just because I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t care to sleep. I can still hear songs come on the radio today that were new to mainstream at that time, and it makes me think back to how empty I was. I didn’t really change my out-in-public habits, so those around me went for the longest time without having a clue what was going on. I drank by myself. Lots. For a span of almost three and a half years. Everything that transpired during that timeframe was merely collateral damage.
Nearly all recovering alcoholics have that one moment that they can point to and reference as their “moment of clarity”. Mine was July 4th, 2007. I was back home in St. Louis visiting my parents, and we had gone over to do BBQ dinner and tabletop games with friends of ours who my parents had known for years and I’d grown up with. As the night went on, I convinced myself that the jug of sangria wasn’t emptying itself quickly enough, and that there couldn’t be leftovers. Hell, I wasn’t driving that night. I did, however, and up vomiting plenty of that sangria up on the lawn right in front of my parents, and as shitty as I felt physically, I felt even worse mentally because I knew that I had embarassed and disappointed them. That’s the worst feeling.
Jump ahead to August 12th, 2007. I’d already RSVP’d to the birthday party for my friend Justin. A guy who I’d been introduced to via local/regional wrestling (he was one of the top wrestlers in the central states region), and was fortunate enough to get to talk to and to know, and went from being a fan to being a friend. I did enjoy a few celebratory drinks at his party that evening, but for the record, I was NOT one of the two people who decided to test the power of an electrified hand-held flyswatter on their tongue (I was merely the cameraman documenting the two who did). It was a great night.
I went home from that party, and went to sleep. I awoke the next morning and made the decision, then and there, while sober, to give it up. To quit drinking. To never voluntarily allow a single drop of alcohol into my system.
Appropriately enough, as a lifelong pro wrestling fan, my favorite wrestler’s gimmick, and personal lifestyle, is Straight Edge (alcohol-free, drug-free, tobacco-free, etc). I respect the hell out of him for being that way his entire life. It took me finding and hitting my own rock bottom to be able to climb back up out of that hole and find my Edge (I’d already kicked the other habits – alcohol was the longest, and most difficult, vice to escape). Today, I write this as a survivor of my own prior lifestyle. Without finding sobriety, I very easily might not have made it this far, and wouldn’t have ever become a loving father to an absolutely amazing three year old girl. Two thousand, five hundred and fifty seven days strong – and hopefully thousands more still ahead.