I am back home in Southern California.
Right now I am sitting in the home that I grew up in and so many different memories are coming up for me. When I look at pictures on the wall I see myself in different times and in different places. I think about the way that I felt about life then and the thoughts of all of the amazing things that were going to happen for me in my future. Right now it is graduation time… and I am seeing all of the kids that are graduating from my former high school walking down the streets of the downtown district with their caps and gowns on. They are thinking the same thing that I was thinking back then. Hot summer days that are full of sunscreen, summer clothes and unlimited optimism and potential for the future.
Last night I was having a talk with a family member about the circumstances that surrounded my drinking and using. We were discussing where and when the entire thing started. We talked about the night that I went into the hospital and what my family was feeling at that time. We talked about the things that I want to do in the future and where my heart’s direction really lies. It was a great conversation.
It is amazing to me the conversations that you can have with people when you choose to be open, honest and even vulnerable.
Was This All My Fault
Some people blame themselves for their family members drinking and using. I think that was what was happening in my family when they saw how truly far down that it could take me. Did my path down the long road of alcohol start when I was in high school or did it really progress when I was much older? I was asked that question last night by one of my family members.
“Was if my fault for letting you go out and hang out with your friends? Was it my fault for not keeping a closer eye on you when you were out there with your friends?”
I can say that I had my first drink when I was in high school. That was the first time that I ever tasted alcohol but it did not have the same effect on me as it would years later. I tried to explain that the progression of the disease and how it was very evident in me. When I was in high school I was someone who was just trying to fit in and would do almost anything to accomplish that. Drinking was one of those things that I did to fit in. Toilet-papering my rival high school was also something that I would do to fit in. When I was drinking in high school all that I can really remember about it was not being in control and waking up in the back of my Chevy Blazer the next morning with a really big headache. The loss of control was very clear to me. It is funny, because later on that was one of my favorite parts of drinking and using. The notion of not being in total control and letting the chips “fall where they may” was very attractive to me.
Loss of control was something that I had never experienced before when I started my drinking in high school. Now, not having to really worry about the control, because I have given it up to my higher power, is something that I truly cherish.
The progression of my disease really kicked into a higher gear with the loss of my first major relationship. I had been with the same person from when I was 17 years old until I was just over 21. With the loss of that person from my life I think that I created this attitude of anger and resentment that resulted in me trying anything that I could get my hands on. Most people will experiment with using drugs and alcohol in excess when they are in college… I think that this happened for me at the end of my first relationship. I was not in school and I was in San Francisco, and that was a perfect breeding ground for my alcohol and drug addiction.
I told my family member that I don’t think that it had anything to do with her letting me hang out with my friends. I know that there are many aspects that go into how a human develops and there could of been something there that attributed to my disease but I believe deep in my heart that there was nothing that my family member did to accelerate my disease.
That Night in the Emergency Room
We talked about the night that I went into the Emergency Room at the hospital in Santa Barbara. I knew that I was pretty close to death and that the doctor had told my family that I was not expected to make it through the first night. What I had never experienced before was hearing it from my family members and really seeing the emotions that were on their faces as they retold it.
“The doctor came out and told us that you were probably not going to make it”
I had heard that before and I had retold that story to many people over the course of the last 5 years of my life, but I had never heard it come out of my family members mouth while watching their faces when they said it. It was truly heartbreaking to me. Tears were coming down my face for sure. I though that I had come to grips with how I had affected my family during that time but then I started to put myself into their shoes. How would I like it if I had just brought my brother into the ER for what I thought was “drinking too much”. Then after they had taken him away someone came out and told me that he would probably never open his eyes again and that he was likely to die. Unimaginable, that was the first thing that came across my mind. We were just at a family Christmas party and now we are in the waiting room of a hospital and I have just been told that my brother was going to die because he drank too much.
This really made the range of my emotions come to the surface and I am glad that I could hear how it made them feel.
What The Future May Hold
The last part of the conversation was about what the future was going to hold for me. What was I doing in my life and what was the direction that I was going to take? I can remember thinking about the things that truly set my heart on fire. There are feelings that I have experienced that are unlike any others that I have experienced. They are always having to do with something that takes place in recovery. I think that answering a phone call or a text message from someone that needs help is the most amazing feeling in the world. Taking someone to their first meeting and seeing them announce themselves as an alcoholic for the first time is a feeling that many never feel. I remember how it felt for me the first time that I announced myself and the relief that my heart felt after that moment. To see a friend do the same thing and then talk to them after about how it made them feel… is purely magical.
I have been working in customer service for a long time. It is what i am good at and it is what has paid the bills. I know that ultimately there is more that will happen with me. What that will entail and how it will manifest in the future is unknown. All I know is that if I want to do something in my life that I am passionate about… it is going to be in the recovery field.
Lots of good things have come up for me in the last couple of days and I am glad that I have the opportunity to share them with you.