I had traveled the road for a very long time. I nearly took a detour once, but drifted back to it. The second time I finally did depart, and I am such a better person for having done so. But had I not done that…
The road was familiar, though bumpy and fraught with long times needed for recovery. Oh, I could handle a little hangover. Sure, less would get done today at work, but no one would know. No one would find out that I had snuck a few miniatures of Yukon Jack the evening before…after nearly a six pack of beer. It was my life…my privilege as an adult to drink when I wanted to.
I looked forward to those times of day, late in the afternoon when a beer would hit my empty stomach. Such a wonderful feeling. Or a couple gin and tonics with lime on a hot summer day. I was happy when, in my state, they lifted the blue laws, and I could now buy alcohol on Sundays. Although, I didn’t like the fact that I had to wait until noon for the liquor stores to open.
Not everything was joyous about those days, however. Looking back on my journals I had kept on my computer, there were days and months — years, in fact — of writing about the guilt I felt about my drinking. Plans to quit, or to at least cut back. I was reading about the tenets of Moderation Management, a group that, unlike AA promoted the idea that alcohol abusers could learn to moderate their drinking without quitting altogether. Yes, that was for me. The thing is, I never moderated. When I looked back, I could not remember a day when I did not drink. You would think hangover days would be dry, but drinking a little just helped get through those days.
God gave me a chance in 2005, when I was in the hospital for nearly a month for diverticulitis, which required surgery, and then corrective surgeries for one that had gone wrong. I could have used that period of forced abstinence to quit. …to take a new road. In fact, alcohol did not appeal to me just after getting home from that. But I found a way to enjoy it again.
The second period of forced abstinence finally got my attention. Until that time, I did not understand the appeal of the road without drink. How could that be any fun? But after that DWAI, I got a chance to find out. I was required to go in for random breath tests. Even then I tried to cheat the system. It became a game for me. As an alcohol researcher for several years, I knew a thing or two about the metabolism of alcohol, and I knew how my body handled it. I could drink a certain number of hours before the test (which I could take any time during the day when my number came up). But alas, I was busted. Three times they detected alcohol, and so they put me on Antabuse…a drug which makes you sick if you drink while on it. And I even tested that! Believe me, that was not fun!
All the while, God was patiently waiting for me. He had pointed out the road after the surgeries, and I rejected it. But this time I listened. This time I took the road. I had lost a wife and our house, the latter having more to do with the economic recession than anything else. There was also a new woman in my life. A wonderful Christian woman who vowed to be by my side, even if I was to return to drink. But this time…yes, finally this time, the road selected for me was one I wanted to take. And I see no reason to ever see that other road again!
(A note here: I am not against drinking for others, and I will socialize with people who drink. I do not tell people they should not drink. I just know what is right for me.)