After going to that AA meeting on the 23rd of September, I decided that I needed to commit myself to sobriety. I knew that this meant getting past my angst with the first step.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
See, I truly didn’t believe that I was powerless over alcohol. And I was positive that my life was not unmanageable. As I mentioned in my last post, I had not lost anything. I wasn’t “at the bottom.” I still had my wife, my house, my car, my job, my son. I had everything.
And yet, I was drinking daily. And not just a little bit, but quantities that scared me. And rightly so, because they were dangerous amounts.
But I had rules.
See, I wouldn’t get behind the wheel after I’d been drinking. I wouldn’t drink before 5:00. Well, maybe not before 4:00…okay, maybe sometimes not before 3:00…unless it was the weekend and we had people coming over at 3:00, then I wouldn’t start until 2:00…
And I wasn’t hiding my drinking.
No doubt about it, I drank openly in front of anyone who happened to be at my house. I drank in front of my wife, our friends, my son, my son’s friends, and our extended family.
Yup, definitely not hiding it.
Except, I’d stash empty bourbon bottles deep in the recycling when I didn’t want Mrs. TKD to know I’d gone through another one so quickly. I did almost all my drinking at my own house. I rarely went to bars (see that rule above about driving) or to social events like parties or dinners with friends. See, dinner with friends was a challenge because I didn’t see a whole lot of point in a casual drink before dinner and a glass of wine with dinner. Sometimes, I’d have to “pre-game” — which might mean violating that rule about driving.
Gradually, I came to understand that there might be more than one definition to the phrases “powerless over alcohol” and “our lives had become unmanageable.”
Just because I could occasionally have causal beer or drink, didn’t mean that I was in control. In fact, I came to realize that maybe — just maybe — the fact that I had to order a cocktail or a beer at every meal out even when others weren’t drinking might be an indication of powerlessness.
And while I hadn’t lost anything yet, maybe — just maybe — drinking every day to the point that I was absolutely in a pit of misery and severely depressed was what some might describe as unmanageable.
On September 24th, I went back to that 6:00 AM meeting and through hyperventilated breath, uttered words I never thought I’d say “I’m Damien. And I’m an alcoholic.”
I’ll never forget the fear, the shame, or the sense of defeat that I had when I said those words. I told the group that I couldn’t do this myself and that I needed help. That I’d been sober for 24 hours and that I was crawling out of my skin. I cried.
I didn’t know it at the time, but several people in the group cried too. They’ve since told me how powerful my words were that morning.
A member of the group gave me a 24 hour chip and a big hug. After the meeting, another member gave me a list of 15 or more phone numbers with the words “Welcome Home!” written at the top.
I’ve carried both in my pocket every day since and my life has gotten better every day since.