Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it!
July 9, 1999 was the last time I got drunk.
I do not know what day it was the first time I got drunk. I do know I was only 14 and did not like it much. Three years later I began learning to like getting drunk, but I preferred getting high on chemicals, such as mescaline, acid (LSD) and white crosses (methamphetamines). Later on I learned to like marijuana, hashish, and hash-oil.
Back in the early days I was a purest and did not like to mix my highs. I wouldn't drink if I had dropped a tab of acid or whatever. I learned the hard way not to mix my drugs with alcohol when I drank a tall Colt 45 (malt liquor) after dropping a couple of Quaaludes (barbiturates/downers). I was out for two days straight! Fortunately, my two foster brothers covered for me.
By the time I turned eighteen, I made the decision to lay off the drugs (with the exception of pot, peyote, and hash, of course). I only did so because I was no longer a minor and the penalties were much harsher for "adults". I learned to drink moderately and not get too wasted and miss out on all the fun.
Of note, my lifestyle choice resulted in my being homeless, as I preferred to live the freewheeling life of a hippie. Even so, it still seemed like a never-ending party, so I did not mind so much. I used to runaway a lot when I was 16 and 17, so I was used to not having any place to lay my head. But I was young, slender, and cute, so I never really had a problem finding someplace to crash for a night or two, or three, or even a few weeks at a time!
I even met my first wife during that time. I backed off the partying (for the most part) and we played house for a couple of years. But I was still young and restless and didn't like the prospect of living with a woman who was used to having things I couldn't provide. We parted ways and I learned how to hold down a job and go clubbing at night. That is when I started drinking more than I was drugging. It took me a few years and some embarrassing moments to learn how to hold my liquor, but once I did, the race was on!
I went through women, jobs, and roommates, like it was some sort of contest. I was so selfish and self-centered that nothing mattered to me but getting what I wanted, when I wanted it, the way I wanted it. And most of the time I got it -- no matter the cost -- regardless of who I hurt in the process.
At age twenty-one I once again found myself homeless; the result of burning all my bridges. Again, I really did not see it as an issue. I do not remember much from that time except that I never went hungry and always found someplace to crash for the night.
One day, someone I did not recognize suggested that I might want to look into a free two-week alcohol awareness program. This stunned me and I angrily asked him why he would make such a suggestion to me. Who was he to call me an alcoholic, anyway?!?
He quickly stated that the only reason he suggested it was because after completing the program, they offered transitional housing which would give me time and opportunity to get back on my feet. For whatever reason, this must have made some sort of sense to me. I agreed to allow him to take me there, but cautioned him that I probably would not qualify for the program, as I was homeless, not drunk.
As I am answering the intake questions, I am thinking to myself that I should not even be here, that I'll never get in, and how was I going to get back downtown. After completing the intake survey, I was informed that my answers to the questions qualified me. I did not know if I should be mad or glad, but in all truth, I was somewhat relieved that I had a good place to stay and three meals a day for the next two weeks.
The whole time there I never believed that I was an alcoholic. I couldn't be! I was only twenty-one years old! I was just a party guy, not some street lush that was drunk all the time. But I agreed with what they were telling me, just to get through the two weeks and into the halfway house.
The very last night, they gave everyone a pass to go out for the evening. The only requirement was to not drink or drug and to be back by midnight. So I called someone from my old neighborhood and inquired about a certain easy-going young lady friend of his. He informed me that he was meeting her and her roommate that night at a certain nightclub that very evening. Excited that the club was in relatively close proximity to where I was, I made plans to meet them there.
I had no intention of drinking (and I didn't). I just wanted a little female companionship. I found what I was looking for, just not from whom I originally planned on being with. At the nightclub, her roommate made it known to me that she would like to spend some time with me. I was naturally excited at the prospect, as she was much prettier than her roommate!
Needless to say, I did not make it back where I was supposed to be by midnight. In fact, I never made it back at all. This girl and I were so infatuated with each other that she invited me to move in with her. After a month, her roommate (the girl I was originally hoping to be with) moved out and moved in with her boyfriend.
After living together for two years, we got married and are still together to this day. That was over forty years ago! WOW!
My drinking was never an issue during our first few years together. She wasn't much of a drinker and we were happy in our new life together. But eventually my drinking became an issue. Understand, I wasn't a daily drinker. I was what is referred to as a binge drinker. I liked to go out about once a month and tie one on. I still did not see myself as an alcoholic, because (at that time) I could take it or leave it. It wasn't something I had to do. It was something I enjoyed doing. But eventually it became a problem again.
By 1999, it got to the point that I could not go any longer than a week without getting good and drunk. I was forty-five years of age and trying to live as if I was still twenty-something. I was a mess. I knew I would be alone and homeless again if I didn't find a way to turn my life around. So, I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.
There was an AA clubhouse about a mile from the house my wife and I bought in the fall of '97. In June of 1999, Monday through Friday, I attended the noon AA meeting. I did not tell my wife. I did not tell anyone. This went on for about a month and every Friday night I would go to my favorite watering-hole and get totally plastered.
I was truly hopeless, and AA did not seem to have the answer I was looking for, but there really were no other alternatives for me. I had tired rehab back in April of '87, but even then, I didn’t see myself as an alcoholic. I only went to look good in front of the judge when I went to court for my third DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge. But in June of ’99, I knew --beyond a shadow of a doubt-- that I was 'an alcoholic of the hopeless variety'. So, I kept going to meetings.
One day it happened. Someone in the meeting shared something that caught my attention and I liked what he had to say. He spoke truth and he spoke from the heart and I could relate to what he was saying. He did not share in every meeting, but when he did, I listened, because he was the only person in the meetings that made any sense to me. He was the only person who offered any real hope of turning my life around.
One day after a meeting that he had shared in, I got up the courage to let him know that I really liked what he had to say. He gave me his business card and invited me to call him anytime I wanted to talk. Saturday morning, June 10, 1999, (the morning after what became my last drunk), I called him up and told him I wanted to talk. He graciously came over to my house and we talked for a couple of hours. I asked him if he would be willing to be my sponsor and take me through the twelve steps. He told me to meet him at the noon meeting on Monday, June 12th. After the meeting we talked some more, and he said he was willing to sponsor me and take me through the twelve steps. That was twenty-one years ago.
Today I am very grateful for God moving in my heart and leading me to AA and directing me to the man who not only took me through AA's suggested 12-step program of recovery, but also helped me to accept God and trust in Him for everything.
It took me eight years before I was ready to "pass it on" to the next hopeless drunk seeking help. And I pass it on the same way it was passed on to me, with faith in God through Christ as the only one who has the power to do what I could not do for myself.
"For nothing is impossible with God."