September 23, 1985 was and is the best worst day of my life. That day, as usual, I woke after a night of drinking and doing other drugs with the same feelings of not caring if I lived or died. For me life was punishment; something to be endured. Deep inside I thought there was something really wrong with me. The normal thoughts came: I need to stop staying out late on work nights, I hope she doesn’t find out about the missing money, etc. I resented almost everyone and everything. My view of the world was simple: you got all the breaks and I got none. I hated myself; I wanted to be someone and somewhere else. After waking I needed to put on my game face. That face was the one that had all the answers and relied on no one. I worked in a data center for a local electric company. After meeting someone new I would make sure they knew what I did and how important I thought I was. This job was everything to me. At work that day I was called into the office and informed that undercover agents posing as interns found out that I was doing drugs on the job and that I sold some drugs to one of them. My life was over. I was losing my job, going to jail, and sure that my wife would leave me. The HR people gave me contact information for an employee assistance person if I wanted to contact them. In my mind, I did the right thing. I contacted that person for help. My motivation was to just get out of trouble. I never suspected my drinking and use of other drugs was my problem. I needed a game plan. I always needed a game plan. Do I use the little lost boy face or deny everything? I was sure that they had the goods on me so I decided to use the lost little boy act to get out of this mess. I would follow directions long enough to be let go.
The employee assistance person recommended that I go to detox at the local hospital. I didn’t want to go. I needed to stay close to home and “fix things.” This self reliant attitude proved to be one of my biggest downfalls. While in detox and working on “my plan” I met John, a third shift counselor. John made the statement to me that “if I got out of my own way I might just have a chance.” I didn’t understand this statement. In fact, it made me very angry. My belief of self reliance not only fed my false pride, it fueled my self-loathing. I would make statements to myself like “you jerk,” “you deserve everything you get,” and worse. During my stay at detox I was informed that in fact I lost my job, the police wanted to talk to me, and let me say that things between my wife and me were not good. So I thought, going to detox didn’t work. The company that I had worked for offered one thing to me that if I wanted to go to rehab they would keep me on their insurance for another month. The staff at this detox recommended that I take their offer and go to rehab. Detox didn’t work, it didn’t save my job, solve my legal problems, or fix my relationship with my wife. How was rehab going to solve my problems? I struggled with what to do next. I didn’t have an answer. Then the first clear thought came to me “I’m not going out this way.”
I needed, like John said, to get out of my own way. I headed off to rehab. I learned a lot about myself while there. I was just an average alcoholic/drug addict. I was not crazy. I was sick and needed to get well not “good.” My childhood was crazy but didn’t cause my addiction, it just fueled it. I learned that I didn’t have to have all the answers and that it was okay to ask for help.
After rehab I started (and still continue) to attend 12 step programs. There I met a great group of men that not only helped save my life, they loved me until I could build a relationship with a power greater than myself.
Today I have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I have a home and not just a house, I’ve been able to earn a good living, I didn’t go to jail, and my wife didn’t leave. She is the most beautiful person that I have ever met. I feel her love and not her fear like when I was using. We have been blessed with two awesome children. They are my everything. By not using and working on my recovery a day at a time, I get the chance to be a loving husband, father, and friend. I’m so grateful that I didn’t get all that I wanted in early recovery. The truth is I did not even know what to dream for. I would have sold myself short. I do care if I live or die. I don’t want to be someone or someplace else. September 23, 1985 was the best worst day of my life. Today I can love and be loved.