Stories from a Recovered Drunk- Chapter 1

Updated: Aug 2

Chapter 1

Where am I? Is it late or early I can’t tell? Before I begin to comprehend what’s happening, I shuffle through a pile of garbage to find some cigarettes, the first cigarette after a black out always tastes the best. I think it’s because I know it’s my last 7 minutes of enjoyment before I deal with the repercussions of my decisions. After the smoke I start looking for my phone to see what time it is. It’s 3 am, Fuck, I missed worked. I’m in the parking lot of the gas station I usually stop at halfway between my house and work, I must have stopped on my way before passing out drunk in the driver’s seat. My shift started at 5pm, there’s no telling how long I’ve been passed out here. The cops haven’t been called so I guess no one’s noticed me, that’s always a good sign. I look at my phone, no missed calls and no text messages. Also, a good sign. I start to feel a little relief but there’s still a good chance I’ve lost my job. I also know I’ve been on a progressively worse bender that won’t be ending until something bad happens. Even if I convince my job to let me come back to work tomorrow, I know this current bender won’t allow that to happen. I know the bottle is going to ravish my life like it has many times before, but I can’t stop. Nine years of nonstop drinking and drugging has convinced me I need a mind-altering substance just as bad as I need air in my lungs.

I finish my cigarette and step outside to get some fresh air. I’m still drunk, disoriented, and trying to piece together how I got here. I walk very cautiously into the store to grab a blue Gatorade. I think if I rehydrate maybe I can sober up and figure out what the hell has happened. I try not to look at the cashier, or anyone in the store for that matter, in the face, as I’m certain everyone in the store’s been talking about that drunk guy that’s been passed out in his car for the last 10 hours. Luckily, I’ve been buying a case of beer here every morning at 5 am for the last year, so the clerks know I’m no saint. Either way, I hope I didn’t come in the store earlier and make a fool of myself. I didn’t have beer in the back of my car which means they didn’t sell me any. This could mean two things; I never came inside, or they refused to sell my drunk ass anything and I just stumbled back to my car and passed out.

I really want to get back to my hotel room. I had recently taken up residence in an extended stay hotel, my ex-fiancé finally had enough of my shit and told me to leave. I spent a lot of time in hotels over the years. I enjoyed falling off the face of the earth where no one could find me. It gave me freedom to drink my mind away in peace.

I make my way back to my car and look for my keys to head back home. Shit, where are my keys? Immediately I think someone from the store took them to keep me from driving drunk. I start digging through my car frantically half looking for my keys and half hoping I brought a bottle of vodka with me. If you were to look in a garbage can outside of a gas station, that’s what the inside of my car looked like. A foot high pile of soda bottles, cigarette packs, and empty bags of potato chips. I always liked to drive with the worst smelling chips I could buy, that way if I got pulled over, I could shovel those chips in my mouth, light up a cigarette, and pray the cop wouldn’t smell the booze on my breath.

After digging around for 10 minutes I was convinced someone stole my keys. I was a 45-minute drive from my hotel room so there was no way I could walk. I decided to call one of my friends, who worked the same shift as me, to see if he could stop by and pick me up after work. I can’t really remember the conversation I had with him, and I have no clue how much longer I waited at that gas station before he came and picked me up. The only thing I remember after making that call is walking back up to my hotel room thinking I had no booze. I was panicked. I was racking my brain as to how I would get to sleep and pass the time until 11 o’clock the next day, 11 being the time the liquor store opened. The store was about a 2-3 mile walk from the hotel, but a 6-mile walk was well worth the comfort I would have once I got my hands on a half-gallon of Aristocrat vodka, the cheapest vodka they had. I entered my room and immediately began searching. It didn’t take long before I found an almost full half gallon of vodka stuffed away in one of my bags. A wave of relief fell over me. I grabbed the bottle, opened the cap and took a swig. The warm sensation hit my stomach and I just laughed and did a little dance with the bottle. I took another big gulp, laid down, and lit up a cigarette. Life is good. No more worries about losing my job, no more worries about my car being at a gas station an hour away, no worries about my fiancé kicking me out of the house, no more worries at all. I just laid there smoking my cigarettes, drinking my booze, and watching reruns of law and order until I passed out. I despised this life.

I wake up, still drunk as usual. I grab my cigarettes, Marlboro Menthols, I used to smoke Newport’s but for some reason I got it in my head that Marlboro menthols wouldn’t disintegrate my lungs quite as fast. I grab my bottle and take a couple of chugs and immediately run to the bathroom to vomit. The first drink of the day always made me vomit.

My hands are shaky. I have enough vodka leftover to stop the shakes and maybe add a little color to my face. My room is trashed with a family sized fried chicken platter. It looks like a 2-year-old got a hold of the food and smeared mashed potatoes and baked beans all over the place. I usually liked to buy a few boxes of pizza before any good bender, I knew I would blackout and wander out in public to find food if I didn’t have anything in the room.

However, this bender I opted for Fried Chicken, and it was a fucking mess. I decided I didn’t want to make the walk to the ABC store so I decided to call a cab instead. Within the hour I was back in my room feeling whole again. Once I got a nice buzz going on I would be able to make moves to get my car back and get to work. I was delirious.

For the next few hours, I drank and texted my ex. She wasn’t angry towards me, just disappointed that her love for me wasn’t enough to stop my drinking. That was all my relationships during this time period. Everyone thought I would change, and I would, but it would never last. Instead. I usually brought people down to my world. Girlfriends, friends, and people I barely knew. If you were around me for any period of time you would find yourself in a pit of despair. I attempted to convince her to come over to the hotel and she rightfully denied this sad proposition.

The time came when I realized there was no way I was going to be able to make it to work. I knew it all along, but I think it suddenly set in that without an income I wouldn’t be able to afford my current “lifestyle”. I began racking my brain how I was going to fix this. I figured it out. To say I had a lot of dumb ideas is an understatement, but this may have been one of the worst. I convinced MYSELF that if I beat MYSELF up and went to the hospital saying I was mugged, they would treat me not only for my injuries but also hook me up to an IV and treat me for dehydration, which always made me feel better after a long stint of drinking. By doing this I would have a doctor's note for work stating I had come in with injuries from being mugged and they would have to let me keep my job.

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

I guess I had watched Fight Club a few to many times. I started with the first punch. For anyone who’s never tried kicking their own asses, its actually much more difficult than you would imagine. First punch wasn’t hard enough, I needed to see blood. I did it again and again and again hitting myself in the nose until it started to bleed. I looked in the mirror and all I had was a bloody nose. There was no way I was going to be able to beat myself swollen enough to convince anyone I was beaten and robbed. My plan was foiled.

I sat on the end of the bed to think while continuing to drink. It was sunny outside. Enough so that I could feel the heat with my eyes, but I had the air conditioning in my room set to a cool 60 degrees. The cold room helped my alcohol swollen face feel better.

My usual drinking phases went as follows; happy, angry, depressed, then suicidal. I was in the depressed stage of my drinking, granted, I was always depressed, usually hidden with laughter and outrageous behavior. I laid back in the bed and continued drinking. I drank until it was hard to see my phone. I drank until all my dreams melted away. I drank until I was no longer a human, just a bad thought, a sinking feeling in someone’s stomach. I wasn’t a person; I was a problem. The only way I ever saw myself since I was 12 years old when that first suicidal thought filled my mind. I’m a problem. I am that nervousness and unease that I felt inside all the time. Only, I believed I was the cause of that to everyone around me. Too stupid, fat, and lazy to ever accomplish anything worth a damn. I know today that this was obviously not true and if you were to look at my life you would ask how I ever thought such a thing. Ill leave that for a future chapter. For now, I’m drifting away in self-loathing, self-hatred, and selfish thought. I pulled out my Bic lighter and let the flame burn until the metal was hot enough for branding. I put the hot metal to my skin and mashed it into my pec until I no longer felt the heat. I always said the burn from a lighter looked like a kiss. For that brief second of pain my brain shut out all the chatter and I could think clearly. I always said harming my self was my penance to God, but I didn’t believe in God.

Today harming myself wasn’t going to do it.

I knew I had done it again.

I lost everything again.

I disappointed everyone again.

I proved everyone right again.

I’m a lost cause.

I should have died when I was 16.

There will be no end to this.

My brain slows down. I hear sad music instead, the soundtrack to my tragic life.

My mind has stopped racing. I know what I must do. I tell myself this is what’s best for everyone, It’ll be like ripping off a band for my family. I can end their pain with mine. I talk to God again. I tell him if he wants me to live, he’ll find a way because I’m going to test his power today. I start to type out a suicide note on my phone but I’m too drunk to write any coherent sentences, so I just type “I love you” and send it out as a group text to my family. I have 2 full bottles of my anti-depressants sitting next to my bed. I start gulping them down with vodka by the handful. I finish the bottle of pills and start chugging down as much vodka as possible to amplify the effects of the pills. A sense of relief waves over me and I laugh a bit. Relief that I no longer have to fight this compulsion. Relief that once I’m gone my family can rest easy. My mind is so calm now. It’s never been so quiet. I’m ready.

I have no idea how long it had been since I swallowed the pills when suddenly someone bursts into my room. I recognize the person as someone who used to work in my dad’s restaurant years prior, I wave and laugh as he asks, “What’s going on man!”

That’s the last memory I have.

I wake up in a panic. I’m choking on something, but I have no idea where I’m at or what’s happening. I begin to move and quickly realize I have tubes stuck all inside my body and I can't move. I start yelling as loud as I can, which isn’t loud considering there’s a giant plastic rod stuck down my throat. The nurse comes in and casually tells me to calm down and yells to someone that I’m trying to rip out my tubes. A doctor comes in a tells me they’re going to give me something to calm me down. I drift back off to sleep.

My next memory is waking back up but calmer this time. Slowly realizing I’m in a hospital and that I must have really fucked up. I yell again because I’m still having a hard time breathing and when I say yell, I mean gargle, because I still have something jammed down my throat. I’m pointing to the contraption in my mouth, the nurse isn’t very sympathetic to my cries. The more distressed I become the more difficult it is to breathe, and more anxiety begins to build, which makes me even more distressed. The nurse tells me I need to calm down and just breathe or its going to continue feeling worse and worse. With tears in my eyes at this point I lay back down and try and calm myself. I felt like I laid in that bed for hours wide awake just trying not to die, when in reality, I had stopped breathing on my own hours ago and these tubes were the only things keeping me alive.

About 24 hours after I first woke up, they removed the tubes to determine if I could breathe on my own. I was good to go. My mom and sister came in to see me. I don’t remember what was said but I remember cracking a joke and my mom laughing with tears in her eyes. I wanted them to be happy. I thought me being gone was the best way to do that. Alcohol and drugs had distorted my perception of reality so much I couldn’t see the love my family had for me. I refused to see it. I wasn’t worth it.

About a month after I was released from the psych ward, I found out what happened after I sent out the “I love you” text messages to my family. My father, sensing something was obviously wrong, had tried to come to my hotel room to check on me. He was unable to get in due to their security doors at the front entrance, so he called the front desk to do a wellness check on me. After the hotel clerk found me the way I was, he called an ambulance. When they arrived, I had stopped breathing and they had to intubate me. Even after a decade of sobriety what saddens me the most about this story is how I put my father in a position to see his son’s lifeless body being taken away in an ambulance.

I need this to be extra clear so let me reiterate, my dad gets a message from his son that says he loves him. He knows something is wrong, so he leaves his job immediately to save me and instead finds his sons lifeless naked body on the floor of a shitty hotel room with tubes down his throat and paramedics trying to save his life. I did that. I seared that image in his brain forever and I can never take it back.

I wish this was where things turned around for me. I wish I would have seen the light and changed my ways. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It wasn’t even the first or second time. I’m still here though, 10 years sober, hoping I can tell my story and bring hope to family members that think their loved ones are lost forever.

I’m living proof that we do recover.

I’m living proof that God exists.

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