Thirty-six years ago on January 8th 1978 a baby was born to a normal middle class suburban family that baby was me. I have a loving family that provided me with all I needed, most of what I wanted and taught me right from wrong. We attended church; I even went to Sunday school and loved it. We spent weekends on the boat, fishing and water skiing at the beach. It looked ideal.
I don’t know when it happened but as soon as I needed to become less reliant on my parents, create relationships and make decisions for myself, however mundane and juvenile, I experienced a paralyzing fear. I felt wrong. I felt different inside. I never really felt a part of, regardless of how many friends I had or activities I was involved in. I saw my family members drinking, with impunity, laughing and seemingly having no care in the world after drinks, which I was not allowed to have. I romanced that drink. What would it be like? I was drawn to this magic elixir so I would sample the liquid left in the glass.
I loved the taste of whiskey from the gate. I will never forget the day I returned from middle school feeling anxiety like I never had before. My parents were not home. I drank. It stopped. I felt no fear and I did not stop till I passed out. I was 11 years old. This is why I know I was born with these alcoholic/addict tendencies.
By the age of 14 I had switched to drugs because they are easier to come by. By the age of 17 I had chased the buzz into courts, rehabilitation centers and an overdose that nearly took my life. All just so I could feel okay…like a normal person. I stayed clean/sober for my senior year of high school because I was court mandated to counseling and drug testing. I did not change my perceptions or seek peace of mind.
I got into a college and after some time I did not have to go to counseling or get tested anymore. That fear I felt enter my life long ago, was now manifesting as paralyzing anxiety and I drank again to just feel whole, to quiet the static in my head. Within 18 months I was homeless living in a truck stop hotel surrounded by empty bottles and drug paraphernalia. I am blessed I did not die there.
I got picked up again, by my parents and got a job and had the structure of living at home. That strained me out a bit and although I continued to drink, that worked for years. I eventually moved out bought a car, started and ran a successful business, all while getting high. Eventually the drugs and the drink stopped working and my foundation started falling apart brick by brick.
I had my business, and that was failing. My car got repossesed, piles of bills stacked up and trips to the hospital became regular. My family had no idea about most of this. The list goes on, because I felt I needed chemicals to get through the day. I sought medical help and they gave me more drugs that did not work. I tried to control my intake of alcohol. That did not work, and I was out of options.
My mother, sober for many years, pushed me in the direction of other alcoholics and addicts. They had already learned about their addiction. They learned about changing preconceived ideas about a higher power and about life without the chemicals. I surrounded myself with positive people who see life as a blessing. I went from vomiting blood, shaking and being unemployable to having a successful career, a wife, a home, a passion for life like I have never experienced and last but not least long term sobriety; All by trusting in a power greater then myself, making amends for previous harms, allowing a change in my perception, and helping other people afflicted like I once was. Today if you saw me walking down the street in Manhattan to my office you would never suspect that I was once with out hope.
There is hope and I’m living proof.