A constant vague, yet overwhelming feeling of foreboding, mind-numbing depression and anxiety, a suicide attempt. These are just some of the legacies I have from years of booze and dope. Are there some good memories? Yes, but I have completely accepted the fact that they can never be recaptured. For so long I refused to believe that I was an out-and-out alcoholic. I therefore didn’t have to worry about the disease being progressive. At least not for me. Both my parents were alcoholics whose symptoms got worse with time, so I was too smart to fall into any kind of trap like that. It was just a matter of control, of keeping my drinking in perspective. I went to work almost every day, kept a roof over my family’s heads and food on the table. Sure, the hangovers were getting worse, in fact were a constant part of my life. But I could “handle it”. Gradually, though, the control started to slip away, eventually becoming nonexistent. Every day I would tell myself “I can drink today, just not so much.

Like they say: Easy Does It”. But once I started, I had no control over how much I drank. I had as much as it took. Trying to fall asleep sober had become impossible. I had read somewhere about Maintenance Drinking and knew I might be in trouble when it became apparent that’s what I was doing.  It wasn’t about feeling good anymore, just trying to feel half-way normal. AA talks about surrender, and that’s what I finally did….to whiskey and beer. Alcohol had become my complete lord and master.  If you can say “I was never that bad” and have committed to a clean and sober life, I would say “Good for you!!!”. If, however, you are entertaining any notions that you can stop and then start back up without things getting worse, much worse, I would say “Carry on my friend, you shall see”. Alcoholism always gets worse. In retrospect, it scares me to realize that all the while booze was stealing my life, it kept me convinced it was my best friend. In fact, it was the only thing that was keeping me alive, even if it killed me.

I have been sober for 5 years now and to say that a Higher Power, Nova and AA have changed my life would be an absurd understatement. I have been given a brand new one. Even before my first drunk, I was never comfortable with who I was, never fit in. I was like a missing piece looking for the puzzle. I dealt with other people by avoiding them as much as possible, trying to be cool with my outcast image. I’m still not totally comfortable around people but at least I can talk to them, even speak to a group if it’s important. When I stopped taking myself so seriously, it didn’t matter so much what others thought about me. I learned a lot about ego while I was at Nova, more from listening at AA meetings. Most of the discomfort I feel can be tied to self-pity, resentment or false pride. One of the things that helps keep me humble is that my journey has just begun, I have far to go and much to learn, with no particular final destination in mind. It’s the quiet wandering and simple exploration that brings me joy.

Stan P.