My journey started 48 years ago. For reference I am 51 as of this writing. It was purely accidental, however the end result is still the same. My dad left a drink on the counter and walked away from it. I saw it, and probably thought it was a coke or sweet tea. I picked up the glass and took a swig of it. I don’t remember if I coughed or choked. I do remember the taste. It was hot and sweet at the same time. My dad’s drink of choice was Jack and Coke. I have found that most, if not all alcoholics remember their first drink like it was yesterday. I absolutely do. My mouth still waters thinking about it.
My childhood was a normal middle class upbringing. Two parents that were always there. They let and encouraged my brother and I to participate in any activity we wanted. Sports, scouting, summers at the beach, sledding and camping in the mountains, etc… They were always there whether it was volunteering or coaching. It was a good childhood in 1970’s North and South Carolina.
In December of 1981, we moved to Texas. A little town just southwest of Fort Worth, Granbury. I made the varsity football and track teams as a sophomore. I wasn’t the most outgoing guy in the school, but since I was a jock, I had a built in group of friends. One thing to keep in mine at this time is that the drinking age in Texas was 18. I looked older than the 16 year old that I was, so I always got tapped, ironic wording I know, to buy beer before we cruised the drag in town.
The summer between my Junior and Senior year (1983) was the real start of my troubles with alcohol. One day a group of us were together and I bought the beer. Of course! We went to a lot next to an empty lake house to sit, talk and drink. None of us was drunk. We were all under age. Ranging from 14-17. One of the guys had the bright idea to see what was in the house. A window got broken and some of the guys went inside. However a neighbor heard the noise and called the police. We were all arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief. I accepted the charge and took my punishment. 1 year probation and the charge would be expunged from my record.
Later that year, myself and 3 other football players were caught drinking the night before a game. One of my friends, Anthony, ran into a coach at the JV game. Nothing was said the next day. That is until after we lost the game. Our coach called all the families into the locker room and asked the 4 of us to stand up. He told everyone we were the reason that the team lost. Granted we were all 4 starters, 3 of us never left the field. We played offense, defense and special teams. We just got beat. I know, justification…. On Monday morning, he told us we were kicked off the team. Later that day, however, Coach Mitchell had a change of heart and said we could accept his punishment. The only caveat being that we had to accept it without knowing what it was or be off the team. I again accepted my punishment and told him thank you. Our punishment was to run two miles in full pads after every practice! I was in the best shape of my life!
In the summer of 1986, I got my first DWI. I received 1 year probation along with an alcohol awareness class. 3 major consequences over the span of 3 years. That SHOULD have woke me up. It somewhat did. I married in 1988 and our daughter was born in 1995. There weren’t any issues between 1988 and 2007. I was able to drink like a normal person.
By 2007, my wife of the time had become addicted to pain medicine and alcohol. This was related to a broken neck she sustained in a car accident when she was 5. I was travelling for work a lot and didn’t see the progression. She was doctor shopping and eventually they found out and began cutting her off. I tried to get her to go to treatment but she refused. I was trying to take care of our daughter, who was 10 at the time. It finally got so bad, I asked her to leave. She moved out and 2 months later, she committed suicide. This started my alcoholic drinking. I blamed myself for her death. It started slowly but steadily gained steam. To the point I wasn’t just drinking at night, I was drinking morning, noon and night.
In 2008, I remarried. This was a huge mistake on many levels. I still hadn’t dealt with my guilt and anger so the drinking just kept getting worse. I was laid off in November of 2009. It wasn’t alcohol related. That would come later. My wife gave me the same ultimatum that I had given my first wife. Treatment or leave. So off I went. I didn’t want to and I certainly didn’t put in the work necessary. Two months later she filed for divorce and moved out. A month later I had my 2nd DWI. I received 2 yrs probation and 3 days in jail. I also had to have an interlock on my car for 2 years and an alcohol monitor for 6 months. This kept me from drinking for a time. I had no intention of stopping once I was finished with probation though.