“Hi, my name is Stephen, and I’m an alcoholic.”
Those words had just rolled off my tongue. It was my first AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting. I never thought I’d be saying those words. I never thought my drinking would get to a point where it would become such a problem. I always thought I was in control. I wasn’t. And that lack of control had been made painfully evident during the last few weeks since the incident on Easter Sunday.
It was Easter Sunday, April 5th. I was alone, like I am on every holiday, or so it seems. A few days earlier, I had received the card from my mother that I had mentioned in a previous post, yet another reminder of how I don’t have family. My girlfriend was busy with her family. I decided to go for a ride on my motorcycle. After riding for a few hours, I stopped at a local establishment that is along one of my favorite riding routes. I had a beer. The owner encouraged me to have another beer. Then a gentlemen at the bar bought me a third. I was on my motorcycle. I shouldn’t have been drinking. After finishing the third beer, I headed out to my bike with the intention of going straight home. I never made it home. In a rather challenging curve, I ended up getting into some gravel and lost control of my bike. By the time I regained control, I was pointed directly across the road. I ended up riding down the embankment some 25 meters and finally fell off my bike. I was bruised and battered, but I was alive.
I walked up to the road. I had no idea what to do. My head was bleeding pretty severely from some cuts I had received from going through some bushes on my way down the embankment. Eventually a passerby called in an emergency. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance where I was given an alcohol assessment by the police. I ended up being arrested for operating while intoxicated. The case is still pending.
I haven’t had a drink since that day. I’ve learned a ton about alcoholism during the last 3 months. I’ve learned that the cultural definition of an alcoholic and the clinical definition of an alcoholic are very different. Based on the clinical definition, I am definitely an alcoholic. Based on the clinical definition, my mother is an alcoholic, as well as my golden child doctor brother and his deceased twin. We are all ‘functional alcoholics’. Alcoholism has a significant hereditary piece, and i definitely have the hereditary part locked up.
About 3 weeks after the Easter incident, my new girlfriend broke up with me. I saw it coming and wasn’t very surprised when it happened, but it still hurt. I can’t say I blame her. I’m not sure what I might do in a similar situation. Having someone to support me during this time would be invaluable, but it seems that’s not the way my life works.
Thinking back, it seems I’ve always drank. At times, my drinking has been quite heavy. It’s never been as heavy as it’s been the last few years, since I’ve made all the realizations regarding my family of origin. I was using alcohol as an escape. I knew it. I knew I was drinking too much. Even in my very first post on this blog, “My Day of Reckoning”, I acknowledged that I had taken up self destructive behaviors to soothe the pain. I was drinking nearly every day. I surrounded myself with people that drank, often to excess. I was a functional alcoholic.
Since quitting drinking, life has been extremely difficult for me. I’ve gone through a very severe depression, something I’ve learned is not that uncommon when giving up drinking. I no longer have my motorcycle since it was destroyed in the accident, and that absolutely kills me. I am having a difficult time adjusting. Being a musician it seems everyone expects you to drink. At a gig last weekend, I had one of the gig organizers hand me a bottle of vodka and say “Good Job!”. I handed the bottle to my drummer. People are constantly offering me alcohol. I went to see a friend’s band a few weekends ago, and they let me sit in with them for a few songs. After I was done, I went up to the bar to order my typical seltzer with lime, only to be given a drink that was half seltzer and half vodka. I could smell the vodka as I brought it up to take a drink. I had the bartender pour me a drink of just seltzer as I requested. It makes it very hard. I’m faced with having to completely rewrite my life and take it in an entirely different direction. It’s definitely a challenge! Since the accident, I’ve been a hermit, hardly ever leaving the house. I’ve had to give up many friends because they all drink and I don’t want to be around that right now, plus being around drunk people when I’m not drinking really isn’t very fun; more an awkward reminder of where I once was.
This entire episode reminds me yet again of how I have no family. I couldn’t fathom calling anyone in my family and telling them what happened. I would be summarily condemned. I couldn’t imagine calling anyone in my family and pleading with them to get help for their alcoholism before they endure a similar circumstance. I would be scoffed at for making such a ridiculous request. In their mind, it’s my issue and mine alone, and they are blameless. Little do they understand that I’m acting as a mouthpiece for the family’s dysfunction.
I’m also very upset with myself for continuing to let the issues of my FOO get the best of me, to a point where I ended up getting arrested. I’ve worked so hard to improve, and episodes like this make me think I’ve accomplished very little.
I’m trying my best to stay positive, but I’m really struggling.