Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sober

I remember trying to start the car, thinking to myself. “I’m ok, wow. Fuck. I’m ok, now I need to leave.” I was in total shock, my car was facing the wrong direction, over the curb against a telephone pole, every airbag was deployed, and I still tried to turn the car on again…

That’s fucked up.

That night I could have killed somebody, or myself. Thankfully it was late/cold/icy and nobody was out on the roads…but I can’t help but think of what if? This was far from the first time I drove when I should not have. I made a terrible decision that will haunt me forever, and I barely remember making it. Just another night in a long string of “barely remembers” in my adult life. I used to call it “lost the time” but it is nothing more than “blackout drunk” and I was really fucking awesome at it. It was fun, it was “Dan being Dan,” and it’s over now, forever. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about that night after the National Championship. 

Today, I reflect on 1 year of continuous sobriety from “booze and brews” and look forward to a future without alcohol, because I am a much better version of me without it. “Sober Dan” is still finding his way, and it’s not always easy (especially if dancing is on the agenda) but I’m much happier. I’m stronger, I’m more confident, and I’m taking care of myself.

In hindsight, I knew that drinking could be a problem for me. I didn’t have a drop until I was 22 because I was terrified of ending up like my mom who had a terrible problem with drinking, and others in and around my family. I’m a collector, and have an addictive “all-in” personality. I eventually told myself I can handle it, and the rest is history. I can’t, I didn’t, and I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

If you are close to me (or not?), and very few of you are, then you likely have a story or 10 about me. For better or worse I suppose. It wasn’t all bad, I can still laugh about some of them. However, there are far too many. I made a lot of “friends” and connections through the community of craftbeer enthusiasts, I’m thankful that some of those have endured at least in part through this past year. Trying to find common ground among people is hard for me, and drinking is such an accepted behavior in our culture. It’s truly the norm, and I’m the odd one out now.

Over the last several years there were many factors that elevated my drinking to new heights, and it became my way out of my head. When I couldn’t handle my shit I drank, when I felt sad I drank, when I felt great, I drank….etc. So long as I could forget what was happening, I drank. I destroyed relationships, I ruined my marriage, I lost friends when I had/have so few, and I nearly lost my job. Although for many of my friends drinking was/is central to their way of life, and I’m still struggling to find my way with that. There has to be more to it right? Was that all there ever was? Is that the tie that bound us?  Finding new ways to spend my time hasn’t been hard, in fact none of it has been really that hard. It was a change that had to be made, and I made it. I wasn’t the type that woke up and needed to drink, but when I started, stopping was sometimes (nearly always) a problem.

My craftbeer “hobby” was unmanageable, expensive, terrible for my health, but a great way to hide my problems behind an acceptable and often applauded world. Looking back it’s all so obvious, but at the time I had no idea. More than one person who care(d)(s) about me told me this,  but I wouldn’t listen. I see people still in this community doing the same thing, I hope it doesn’t take them nearly dying to figure it out. If you are reading this, and that feels like you. Step back, think about it. No one can do it for you.

So what’s my point here…I just felt compelled to share, as part of my recovery process. The 12 steps you may be familiar with don’t work for me, I don’t have/want/need religion so the program isn’t appropriate for me. Nor do I feel that I have to give myself up for anything. I simply have to get better, and I’m doing that “one day at a time” (the steps get that part right!) and I believe if you need help they are a good place to start. The meetings are….interesting, but not for me. Talking about it, sharing, and being open is key. I’m not afraid to hide behind it, nor will I be ashamed of myself anymore. I’m me, full of faults, and that is good enough.

One of the most amazing things throughout this entire process, has been the number of people that have come to me or confided in me in one way or another as they fight their own internal battles with addiction. I’m so thankful to be here, so I have the opportunity and privilege to help other people through. My part is small in their big picture but I’m so happy to help. If you are reading this, and you ever need someone to talk to please don’t hesitate to reach out. I don’t know if I would have or could have done this alone.

If you have made it thus far, thanks so much for reading about my story. It helps me to write/reflect/share with more than just my therapist! Thanks to you all for being so supportive in your own way, and especially thank you to Amy, who is always there for me, no matter what. I love you. To everyone I've hurt along the way, I'm sorry. 

I’d like to think that things do happen for a reason, this terrible thing was what I needed to figure my life out, and get my shit together. I still suffer from anxiety, depression,and panic attacks but I have learned how to handle it and deal with life rather than simply trying to drown it out.

Much love.

-Dan-

If you think you need help, here are some great resources to keep handy. The single greatest investment you can make is in yourself, and I highly recommend EVERYONE go to therapy. Especially if you don't think you need it, because you do :)

1 (800) 273-8255 
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

To Write Love on Her Arms

PS - maybe your wondering why I would post on my old beer blog, for me this is a way of closing this chapter. It will be the final post on this account, and serves as a reminder to me (maybe others) of how out of hand this scene can be.

2 comments:

  1. My sister sent me here (amanda mahony) I think you guys know each other and it's possible we have met too. I just wanted to applaud you for your courage and for being an inspiration to the addiction and mental health community, because often, they go hand in hand. Maybe you will inspire others to do the same!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading it, and for the kind words. I do hope that I can inspire people. If even one person takes pause to consider their own life that is a win for me.

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