His Story: Patrick

Name: Patrick M.

Sobriety date: 6/19/2013

From: Maryland

This is Patrick’s story:

First time drinking: The summer after high school. So 2008, sometime during the first two weeks of June.

Rock bottom: Two answers here. My worst single moment was on my last day drinking – June 18, 2013. I drank all day before going to meet a friend for dinner, which I only did to have the opportunity to drink outside of my house. I left around 3 p.m. and woke up in a hospital at about 8 p.m.

I’d been hospitalized with a .43 BAC (not a typo – 0.43 is legally dead) after falling somewhere. My pants had been cut from my legs, as they were soaked in blood. My arms were restrained. My eyes opened to a social worker and my parents and an emergency room swirling around me. I wept.

That was painful. But more painful – and what I consider my bottom – is the 4 months that led up to it. In January 2013 I moved to Cleveland to take a job that managed to miss all my bad qualities. I’d been an unemployable drunk for almost a year prior and was willing to do and say anything at that point. Taking this job meant moving even further from my long-distance girlfriend and moving away from my family and friends.

Two weeks in we start bleeding money – much more than it cost to keep me on staff. Scared for my job and confident I’d get fired, I drank. I isolated. I acted out and got arrested and told my boss I wasn’t telling him why I came into work with black eyes. I turned my phone off for days at a time. The only thing I hated more than other people was myself. I was more ready to die than ever before.

Somehow, this went on for 4 months. The last week of May, I got dumped one day and fired the next. I deserved both.

How I decided to get sober: I don’t really like bleeding from my face and I never want to feel as cold, alone and desperate to die as I did in 2013. Also, my parents said that I couldn’t stay with them if I wasn’t going to get sober. Additional background: I had almost tried to get sober once before. I got caught cheating on my girlfriend a few years earlier and, when asked to explain myself, went with “yeah, but I’m an alcoholic.” I had not planned to say that (and it doesn’t explain anything). I had barely planned to explain myself at all.

To this day I’m not sure why I said it – but I played the part and went to some meetings, fucked around, kind of liked sobriety, but threw it away. So why this time? I knew I’d die if I started drinking again. I still know it.

What keeps me sober today: If nothing else, my life is objectively better since I stopped drinking (I’m healthier, skinnier, have more energy, have money for fun shit like travel, can hold a job, etc.). I also can’t imagine adult life without a support group like AA – being an adult is stupid and confusing and difficult sometimes, and no one knows that better than people in recovery.

Finally, getting sober came with an additional restriction for me, sponsor-imposed: stop lying to people. It was sport for me – and I’m not even a good liar, I just did it because I could. If I start drinking, I’d have to start lying again, and I’m not sure if I could keep up the charade.

What advice I have for those struggling with sobriety: I feel like I should write something long and sweeping and emotional here, but it might come off the wrong way. I’ll be brief (and dark, probably). At its core, sobriety is hard, but living with addiction is even harder. I’ve lost friends and family to addiction and the family of diseases that come with it, two in November alone. Death by addiction is ugly and drawn-out. It starves and maims you (and everyone around you) long before killing you, scared and alone and unable to find respite even in the substance(s) you trusted for so long. It is an awful way to go. It’s also not a predetermined fate. It doesn’t matter if you love AA, or God, or believe in the validity of either of the above. You get every day of sobriety to discover what it is that lets you live life on a day-to-day basis. That’s not too different from what regular people are doing, too. (Though they’re a lot less open about it.) This disease should’ve killed me – it should’ve killed all of us. Today, it hasn’t. Tomorrow, I get to try again.

 

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Before: Drunk Patrick (left) goes to bars even though he’s still got the scabs and chipped teeth from last week’s drinking.

 

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After: Sober Patrick lost 50 pounds, got the sensibility to have a decent haircut, and got over fear of other people and other places to take unforgettable trips to South Africa with old friends

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