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Year 1

Year 1

About a half hour later Carolyn came back into the room where I was and told me I had a phone call. When I picked up the phone, I was greeted by a nurse at the local addiction rehab hospital. Carolyn had made an appointment for me later that afternoon. So I went. I was there for about three days before they told me that my insurance ran out. The insurance company was certain that a 24 year old could not have consumed that much Milwaukee’s Best to cause any significant long lasting damage. They did, however, offer me outpatient services. I was so mad at their complete disregard for my decade of debauchery, I went to the out-patient services to spite them. I’ll show them who is an alcoholic....I won’t drink anymore! That kind of strategy is great insight into the brain of an alcoholic.


Around this time a close friend had graduated from GA Tech (most of my friends were now graduating college) and his parents had given him a new car as a graduation gift. So my buddy sold me his old 1982 Honda Prelude for $250 ....This was the car we always drove to the bar....because we didn’t care if someone broke into it, stole it, got sick in it....the thing had over 200,000 miles on it, the entire electrical system was shot, had no AC and you had to drive ( in Atlanta) with the heat on so it didn’t overheat. Oh yeah, the driver’s side door was permanently stuck shut so you had to enter through the passenger side door.


It took me 5 months to pay the car off.


Any ways, for the next few weeks I went to outpatient services. It was a small group of maybe 8 to 10 people. I met a girl there. She was an attractive redhead....she had this way about her....a certain je ne sais quoi. She had recently quit drinking as well and was naturally, I asked her out to pizza. She drove.


I made it to 6 months without a drink because I wanted to kiss that girl.


I never did. We ended up becoming pretty good friends and spent a lot time together in the first few months. While I’m certain I had ulterior motives, I was somehow smart enough to know not to act on them....she was the only sober person I knew and the only person who had some idea of what I was going through....and quite frankly, the only person who would sit next to me in meetings.


There is a common line of thinking that if you don’t stop drinking (or any other unhealthy behavior) for yourself, that it won’t won’t last. For me, in my personal experience only, I don’t care what the motivator is....your spouse, your kids, your job, your stuff, the police or a kiss....hang on to it with both hands and ride it for as long as possible. I believe that if you quit something for long enough, your reasons for quitting will change.


I spent the first year not drinking, going to meetings and then meeting my friends out at the bar. I would stay out all night and smoke cigarettes and drink Coca-Cola....and then drive my drunk friends home. I was still pretty young and was held captive by the notion that if I wasn’t at the bar....I was somehow going to miss that “best night ever”. That year was like watching one episode of Cheers over and over again....exact same people, exact same jokes at the exact same bar. There was no “best night ever”.


Somewhere in that first year that girl and I stopped hanging out as much. The folks from the meetings stopped asking me to hang out with them....and the thought of hanging out at the bar with friends was tiring at best. I was surrounded by lots of people....but I swear to God....I was the loneliest person on the planet. I spent months 10, 11 and 12 of that year teetering on the fence of taking a drink or ending my life.


The first year of not drinking for me was the hardest....granted, I did not go about it in the healthiest way imaginable....but it was the most awkward....the most uncomfortable....most depressing and probably the worst year of my life.


While I had stopped drinking, I had not changed a bit. I was still doing everything the same....I just wasn’t drinking.


At the end of year one....I heard someone say in a meeting “ it’s not the change that’s the not changing”


That clicked with me. The pain I was experiencing wasn’t from the change I made was from the not changing.


That one statement has probably been the single most influential advice I have ever received.

I made it to the start of year 2 on the hope of a kiss, a piece of shit car and some good advice from a stranger.


To the girl....Thank you for not kissing me ....and congrats on your 20 years as well. I love you.


To the friend....Thanks for the car....and the payment plan. I love you.


To the stranger....Thanks for the advice....I hope your life has changed into all you ever dreamed of ....because of you, mine has. I love you.


Stay Tuned....or Don't

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