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|09-15-2009, 06:47 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Overman - My Story
I'm just your average 30-something white guy from a middle-class home in the midwest. Nothing really unusual about my story. Came from a very stable family, parents are both non-drinkers and non-users, been married for almost 40 years now (I saw my mom drink a glass of wine once, my father...never). Some may think that's strange, but I later learned that my maternal grandfather was an alcoholic...so I guess you could say the disease skipped a generation.
I started drinking beer on the weekends in high school, around the age of 14-15. I remember the first time I got drunk; it was a feeling I never wanted to end. I felt on top of the world, as if I had all the confidence a man could have. I proceeded to binge drink throughout high school and then into college. While at college, I met guys who were more progressed in their disease than I was. I drank with them almost on a daily basis, and experimented with every illicit chemical under the sun. You name it, I've done it at least twice (except for peyote). I was drunk, stoned, tweeking, or on the nod every single day in college.
I'm a musician, and learned that alcohol was a great way to kill performance anxiety. It helped me overcome stage fright and play the guitar and bass more comfortably...at first. Later it simply became another hurdle.
By the time I graduated and got my first job at 24, I often joked to friends that drinking was one of the few things I "learned" in college. B.A. - Bachelor with Alcoholism.
What it was like:
I first started to realize I had a problem when I would compulsively buy a 6 pack (later, a 12 pack) every night after work and drink alone. In a sense, I was still living the college life...but I preferred drinking alone. It minimized the embarrassment, the fights, and the verbal arguments that I would usually get into. After a year or two, my drinking progressed to a pint of bourbon nightly...then a pint and a six pack. Before long, I was depressed, lonely, and showing up to work late w/ a hangover every day. I realized it was getting out of control.
But I needed to do more 'research'. I continued to drink progressively for the next 7 years before making my first real attempt at sobriety in 2005. I entered an outpt program at Laguna Beach, CA. They wanted me to go inpt, as my blood pressure was 200/100 from drinking 2-3 pints of vodka daily, but I refused because I was afraid of missing work and losing my job.
Their program was 12-step oriented, and included lots of exposure to AA. I had problems with the 'god talk' and other spiritual themes, as most do. But I tried very hard to maintain an open mind. I had three sponsors during and after my outpt treatment. Two of them relapsed before I did. The third was very rigid...an AA literalist. We had a personality conflict, and I didn't feel as if he was supportive of my sobriety. He simply liked being in control of the relationship.
Needless to say, I was drinking again after four months of sobriety. This continued for three more years. During this time I discovered SOS (Secular Org for Sobriety) in Los Angeles, and sporadically attended meetings there. I really liked the supportive environment, and the lack of HP themes and the whole 'sponsor' thing. It was a group of alcoholics that shared their experiences about what kept them sober. Most of them made themselves available 24/7. I mention SOS because it was a support group that I felt more at home in. Even though I continued to drink off and on, it planted seeds which would later empower me to achieve what I have now.
After losing three jobs (one of which I really liked), the woman I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, countless other potential romantic partners, having my condo foreclosed on, and then moving back into my parent's basement...I was fed up. I never had a grand spiritual experience or conversion that convinced me to do anything. Some describe such things, but for me that never happened. I think I just got sick of the cycle. I was done. My life was not turning out the way I wanted it to and I realized the major barrier was my dependence on alcohol.
My job performance was in the toilet, I found myself constantly lying to others, and I lost many friends as a result. I was hiding at home with my habit and my secrets. My life was generally directionless and lacking in meaning, cliche, cliche.
On September 14 2008, I got drunk at home and passed out in front of the pc. I had horrible nightmares about having a heart attack and dying at age 34. I even remember seeing a news headline and a police photo of my death scene. Almost as if it were an out-of-body experience...witnessing my corpse from above. When I awoke, I was sweating and shivering. I had never been so afraid in my life. I went to a walk-in clinic and saw a doctor who showed little interest in helping me. I basically pleaded my case to her, confessing the extent of my alcoholism and that I was quitting that day. I was fearful of withdrawals and the craving-related anxiety which often provoked my binges. She prescribed Campral and Xanax. After doing some research, I ditched the xanax (I was told by a psychiatrist I worked with that it was basically "alcohol in a pill") but continued on the Campral.
I resentfully attended some local AA meetings (which really sucked compared to those in CA), as SOS and SMART do not exist in this part of the country. I also started lurking and posting here at SR, which is a nice online community of people striving for sobriety via different paths. I modified my diet, finding it much easier to do so once alcohol was gone, and started to exercise sporadically. I read a dozen or so books on recovery, many of which were inspirational.
Most of all, I was honest with my family, friends, and coworkers about my condition and the importance of taking care of myself. I figured if lots of people knew I was an alcoholic, I would be under much more scrutiny and pressure to succeed at remaining sober.
What it's like now:
One full year later...
The cravings have largely subsided, though I occasionally see others drinking and having fun in public, or in movies, and a part of me thinks "man, I wish I could do that again". Then I promptly kick myself in the ass and recite my personal mantra that "I will NOT drink, NO MATTER WHAT!"
I've lost 52 pounds. I'd estimate about half of that was from the alcohol, the other half from the changes I made to my diet (less sugar, less carbs, more veggies, etc).
My mood has improved. I'm much less irritable and don't get angry over stupid little things anymore. I find myself easily forgiving others and ignoring things that I used to be offended by.
Other than missing a handful of parties and gatherings at local bars, I can't say that abstinence has drastically impacted my social life. OTOH, it has improved it. I now find myself more interested in the mundane things of every day life. I've learned to laugh more. I've become more grateful for the simple privileges that I enjoy, and know how much worse my body, mind, and spirit could be today if I were still drinking.
Thanks for allowing me to share,
"If you can smile whenever anything goes wrong, you are either an idiot or a repairman." (or sober!)
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