“There in front of me was a man that still had something to give. Something left to offer the world”
I used to drink to numb all of my pain; any feelings I had. For me, it was a temporary way to make all the problems in my life disappear so I could just exist. Alcohol was my medication but after a while it became a cycle that I could not handle anymore. My name is Jamey and I am an alcoholic.
My story isn’t a crazy one. There were no police chases, DUIs, violent outbursts, or judges telling me that I needed help. I was just a single father of two great boys with a secret. At one point in my drinking history, I would kid myself that I was normal and that normal people would drink when they were upset, scared, or even happy. Well that is not the case when you drink for all your feelings. I went along with thinking that I was a functioning alcoholic and still got everything done. I certainly got everything done, except getting around to addressing the alcohol problem that I knew in my heart I had.
For years I even went to recovery 12-step meetings and tried to quit on my own. I never fully invested in their program, so there wasn’t any success. At times however, using these meetings, I was even able to string together periods of sobriety, but they never lasted. Something would happen, I would have to feel, and then I would drink. I told myself that as long as I remained “super-dad” and did everything my kids needed, the alcoholism could wait.
A huge problem for me was that my drinking was a secret. I had in the past drank socially but over the years my alcoholism shifted to a lonely place- isolation. Alcoholism can be a truly dark and lonely existence and it was for me. I used to be full of life. I had a phone full of numbers and social engagements to take up every weekend. My disease took all of that from me. It demanded all my free time to the point I was all alone. Maybe if I had kept a few friends, I would have asked for help but I was ashamed at what I had become and honestly felt I deserved to be alone.
It got so bad that I hated to even look in the mirror. I let my appearance completely fall apart and I felt physically awful. In the past, I was so proud of how I looked and I worked hard to keep it put together. I didn’t care anymore. Since I was all alone, I guess I felt there was no one to impress. I also, honestly, felt worthless.
One thing I did still have going for me, besides my boys, was my spirituality. God and I were not on the best of terms but I prayed often. It usually consisted of me asking for things rather than me thanking Him for what I did have, but we talked. I did a lot of praying in that mirror I hated. Mostly, I would stare at my dark, disheveled face and ask Him what was the point of it all. Little did I know, one day, in some way, he answered me back and it has changed my life.
I will never forget that cold spring morning when I began my recovery journey. The day started normal but I decided to get cleaned up. I had an extra pep in my step for some reason I can’t explain. Pulling myself up to the mirror, I took a cold, long stare at myself and uttered, “what is the point”. Realistically it was just seconds, but to me, that stare felt like an eternity. I didn’t just see the lost, lonely man but rather this time I saw past that. There in front of me was a man that still had something to give. Something left to offer the world.
Was this my bottom? I’m not sure. I really believe it to be a spiritual moment or a self-realization that enough was enough. It was time. Time for this phoenix to rise from the ashes alcohol had created and flourish again; become the man I was worth being. Deep in my eyes, there was still a spark of something great, I just needed to see it.
So the journey began right there in front of that mirror I had grown to loathe. I quit drinking that day and entered outpatient treatment. My journey against my disease is never-ending but the tools I have learned throughout my out-patient treatment and 12-step meetings have saved my life.
Getting vulnerable and seeking out help was the most difficult task but once that was done, I was determined to win. Without alcohol to numb my pain and feelings, it has been a battle, but one where I succeeded. It wasn’t always pretty and yes, there were tears involved, but I learned to embrace my feelings and use them to my advantage, not to my detriment. Today, I am back to being the man I deserve to be and the best thing of all is that I now know I deserve it. We all deserve a happy life and more importantly to be great in our own eyes.