For as long as I can remember I didn’t feel like I was quite right. I was a loner at home and at school. Although I became accustomed to my loneliness, I never could learn to like it. I could be in a room full of people and still feel all by myself. My lack of human interaction cut like a knife, and I didn’t know how to fix it. Then I discovered alcohol.
At the ripe old age of 12, my dad gave me a few swallows of his beer. After all, it was a hot summer day and I was thirsty. For the first time in my life I felt good. At least I thought I felt good. Actually, I think I just felt different than I did for so long before that. That warm glow felt so good that I would remember that sensation for a long time! I didn’t realize it at the time but the alcohol made up for what I now know was a chemical imbalance in my brain. I had a shortage of serotonin. You know, the good stuff we all need in the ole gray matter, which lets us think and feel good. Since the ceiling was spinning round and round as I lay on my bed, mom insisted that dad refrain from sharing his beer with me in the future. He did, but the damage was done, as I would remember how “good” the beer made me feel. I looked forward to reliving that sense of ease and comfort with great anticipation. When I was 16 that day came. I had my license to drive and my ride. Not much of a ride but it got me where I wanted to go. Look out world, here he comes!
Over the next several years, my license to drive took me to a lot of beautiful places and a few dreadful places as well. As an over-the-road gear jammer, I saw more than half of our 50 states. I saw the country and got paid well for it. What a concept. Pretty good work if you can get it. Every rose has its thorn though, as it was long hours and very stressful. The loneliness didn’t bother me because I was used to being alone.
I drank and drove my personal vehicle hundreds of times and I thank God I learned my painful lesson – that Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is very wrong – before my license to drive became a license to kill. I had a progressive, chronic, and incurable disease called alcoholism. I just didn’t know it yet. Maybe I could say it but I didn’t believe it in my heart. Maybe I just didn’t believe it because I thought alcoholics ended up on skid row and surely that couldn’t happen to me, or so I thought. Besides, everyone lost control when they drank, and went to jail, wrecked cars, burned down houses, broke into houses, walked into strange houses, “came to” in ambulances, broke bones, went to treatment centers, went to psychiatric hospitals, deserted their family, got fired from good jobs, slept in the bushes in the ghetto, stole $100 bills from their dad’s wallet, frequented drug houses and red light districts, drank up food and rent money, right? What a lie I lived. What a lie I was.
Fast forward to February 2009. I had been a functioning alcoholic for a long time, and denial is stronger for a functioning alcoholic. Once I was not functioning well, that denial was broken, and I had to find some hope and find something good about myself. I had to admit and believe that I was dying in order for recovery to happen. NLCMHA helped me with that a lot! I don’t think I’d be alive today had it not been for the love and support I received from everyone there. I’ve been diagnosed with chemical dependency, clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. I’m living proof that recovery is possible if one gets the right kind of help. NLCMHA was that help for me! I thank God for them all because I learned something from all of them.
David, sober and trying to get better since March 1, 2009.