I’m 38 now. I started drinking in highschool. It became an every day affair by my early 20’s. I was only able to stop two years ago at 36.
It started out as useful and fun. I have panic attacks which alcohol seemed perfect for. It is indeed hard to have one when you’re 10 beers in. Plus I loved to drink. Drinking, smoking, a little pot, it was all fantastic. With the right combination I felt exactly how I wanted to feel, on top of the world.
Eventually it became my identity. I was to many “my funny drunk friend.” At the start of any night I could be witty, gregarious, a great guy to bring out. I was fairly creative, ambitious in my passions. Girls were attracted, some success was had. Things were going well.
It’s hard to pin down when things changed. Friends were getting married, establishing careers; I was still a free spirit who would best them all. Yet increasingly nights were spent by myself. Sure I still felt good with the right mix, but the feeling was harder to nail down. I knew it wasn’t normal to drink like I did, but who wanted to be normal anyway.
In my late 20’s and early 30’s, I began to notice the diminishing returns. I wasn’t where I thought I should be. I was remiss that I didn’t finish college like everyone else. Where was the wife, house and kids I was promised? Somehow the world was cheating me. When I felt down, I could rely on alcohol to forget for a while; occasionally to produce the now clearly unfounded sense of well being. Since I was drinking everyday, I mostly felt bad. Drinking was a return to normal, not better than.
By 36 I was in rough shape physically and mentally. I vomited almost everyday, either in the morning from a hangover, or at night so I could drink more. Headaches, nausea, and a general feeling of being unwell were the norm. Depression had consumed me. I felt numb to most feelings. I spent my evenings crying in front of my computer, watching YouTube. No one called. My life was a treadmill of disappointment, low pay, no career, no girl gave a second look. I hated my life, and I resented alcohol for “making me this way.” Yet I was unable to quit, I tried routinely. I got a DUI on one of my constant drunken drives to the store to get more beer. My hands shook one day uncontrollably. A doctor confirmed my liver was in bad shape. Suicide seemed like a good way to end a waste of a life.
Somehow I had the wherewithal to reach out. I stumbled into a few AA meetings ( they’re not for everyone, see below ). After a few meetings at a group I liked, I had the moment. I said out loud to a group of strangers what I had known for a decade, “I am an alcoholic.” There was progress in that admission. I no longer pretended that I could handle alcohol in any way. I knew that if I continued to drink I would soon be in prison or dead. My drunk driving would ensure that.
I found someone in the group who I could relate to. Ironically for those of you worried about the “god thing,” my sponsor is an atheist like I was, and to some degree still am.
I went to meetings. I worked the steps. In retrospect they are ridiculously simple. I admitted to myself that my life had been a train wreck. I apologized to those I hurt. I made simple steps to make it better. I began to try and help other people, especially others like me who became caught in the alcoholic trap.
In the beginning I ate a shit load of candy and smoked incessantly. I avoided alcohol like the plague. I never went to bars, I had to create distance with some friends. These were all temporary steps to avoid the obsession which often crept in my head.
Eventually the obsession fell away. I had entire weekends which I realized afterward, were spent without a thought of alcohol. I began to get my life back. I did better at work. I went back to school and finished my degree. I quit smoking.
Sitting here two years later feels strange. In some ways my life is the same, in others radically different. I am relieved to be free from my shackles. My life is not grand, but yet it is satisfying.
I increasingly have a sense that joy is found in helping others. My life drinking was spent in constant search of “what would make me happy.” I now am not sure that my own happiness is really that important. Ironically as I move further away from self-seeking, I am more joyful. I’m proud of myself. I’m pleased that I can help. I continue to enjoy life.
If you’ve read this far, please know that you can do this too! There is nothing special about me, and I do not feel it required will power to get sober. If you’re willing to get help, which by being on this sub I feel you are; then you change your life. You do not have to drink!! I wish you much success in your journey. It’s worth it.