And then there was that one time when it was 8 or 8:15 in the morning. I had called in sick the last couple of days because I’d been drinking. Too much. I called in that morning, too, because there wasn’t any way I was going to be able to pull myself out of it. Not that day for sure.
And Hell was especially hot that morning because I had not a drop to drink. Whatever I’d been drinking those past few “sick” days was gone and that wouldn’t do.
My ex-wife was going to take Maggie to school and then stop at the grocery store or something. I watched from the window as they drove down the street and around the corner. And around the next corner. The moment The Cube went beyond the trees I ran to my truck and drove to the liquor store like it was closing in five minutes. Even though the business day had barely started.
I was scared shitless while driving but really my heart was racing for a different reason. Soon the horrible morning alcoholic pains would quiet down. Soon I would feel that sweet release as Hell was put on hold. For another day.
At the liquor store I bought two half gallons of whiskey. I didn’t care what I looked like, what I smelled like, or what the cashier thought. Any public shame in that store no longer applied.
Then I raced back home as fast as I could, barely obeying traffic laws, and ignoring the other drivers. I didn’t want to see anybody I knew. Back at home I got nuzzled in the basement like I’d never left and put on Elizabeth from 1998 for background noise. Then sweet bliss as I squeezed the cheap plastic whiskey bottle over and over again. Like there was no tomorrow. Any consequences for being drunk that day (or the days before) were no longer my concern. Tomorrow was tomorrow. Morning drinks mute the fires of hell.
This is what it means to be powerless over alcohol. This is what it means for my life to be unmanageable.
And to make my horrible story even worse I have a whole bunch of stories just like this. I played the odds each and every time I needed a drink and didn’t have one handy. I played the odds even when I did.
A guy said in a meeting that he knew exactly when he crossed over to being an alcoholic: when he started lying to his wife about his drinking. When I started hiding my drinking, started the sneaking around…that’s when all was truly lost. If you’re there — there’s a way out when you’re ready.
As I write and review and write this morning at 7:56 am, I’m filled with gratitude that the only morning drink I need in the here and now is a gallon of coffee. I still don’t do moderation well but I’m no longer magnetized to the basement futon and filled with emotional sludge.
And just so I don’t end on a Debbie Downer: recovery isn’t so much about all the wonderful things I now have. It’s so much more about the horrible things I don’t.