“And then that voice " I call it the ‘lower power’ " goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m OK!’, but it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street.” "Robert Williams.
Hi, my name is Eddie and I am an alcoholic.
“Hi Eddie,” was said in such a welcoming and loving way accompanied with smiles by the other alcoholics sitting around the room of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Their eyes were set on Eddie just like a young lady who’s just about to be proposed to by the man of her dreams; although, you do see some folks with their eyes close to soak in the story that is about to be spoken and every single person in here has a cup of coffee in their hand. Most likely on their second or third bout as if they have replaced their poison with the black potion while dealing with the insanity and obsession of alcohol. This obsession is real because of the unspeakable stories that were spoken in these meetings has brought me to acknowledge how low people will go and how far they will go just to chase the euphoria of, “ahhhh,” once more while knowing it wasn’t possible to get back to that first drunk time after time.
The storefront room is packed with men and women like a fresh box of cigarettes and they ranged from seventeen to seventy years of age, they ranged from rich to poor, and they ranged from intellects to not so. It isn’t that shocking to see the diversity of people because these hopeful souls have said that the disease of alcoholism doesn’t care who you are. It will first promise you death, but before death it’ll strip you away from everything you ever known and loved. It’ll take your wife, it’ll take away your kids, and it’ll take away your job to only be standing there in the end with that drink in your hand while you wonder what in God’s name happened?
This day was a chip meeting, which is a celebration of their days of sobriety. There was a woman with a see-through plastic box sitting on her lap filled with sobriety chips with several colors. She had more chips than Frito Lays. They most certainly had the appearance and resemblance of poker chips. I couldn’t help but to laugh at this inside of my head.
“Does anyone have thirty days of sobriety?,” the women asked… A gentleman rose up from his seat, was well dressed, as if he just came straight from work and was itching for a meeting.
“Tell us how you did it,” said the women in such joy and in a proud manner as if the fellow was her son.
He went on to tell his story and then sat down with some sense of accomplishment, but knowing thirty days is just one small step of sobriety when approaching the program of A.A. Knowing it would be constant work for his entire life, not to mention that one slip could be game. But you see, there are some members that come day after day identifying themselves as a new comer, which means they went out and drank and are coming back to start their sobriety over again. It’s probably safe to say that these people haven’t caused enough damage to not even dare take that risk of drinking again because the ones who have left a trail of havoc say that they don’t have one more drink in them. If they did take that drink, they would end up in jail, dead, or worse, kill someone else. It’s as simple as that! That’s enough motivation not to flirt with the thought of taking another sip.
The women began to ask if anyone had sixty days, one year, five years, and so on… It was such a beautiful thing to experience and share this blessed day with them as we ate Devil’s Food chocolate cake and drank coffee while listening to everyone’s stories for an entire hour and a half.
After the meeting, there was one man whose story stood out from the rest of the people and it was the man named Eddie. It was quite intriguing to hear what he had shared. When he spoke I felt my heart link to his like a chain. Almost as if he had lived the life I want to live without the ruthless avalanche.
One day at a time. That’s all that it takes to stay sober, but one day at a time was how he drowned himself in self-loathing and the never ending madness and hopelessness of the crashing waves forcing him towards the shore with a glimpse of hope, but to only be sucked back out to sea by the ruthless current of switching from scotch to brandy, brandy to whiskey, hard liquor to beer, and vice versa. This left him doomed like Odysseus and the laboring ships. What a journey this man had endured and survived to still be standing here today, so that he can share his experience and keep himself sober and hopefully say something meaningful and moving, so that a fellow alcoholic can take something from his words and not drink just for one more day.
He made a conscious decision to keep going out to drink and destroy everything in his path like the devil himself. These were the words Eddie spoke onto me while conversing after our first encounter while we shared a few smokes together after the meeting.
Why live the same pain and suffer the same sorrow day in and day out? Couldn’t he see the reckless abandonment he ceased? Maybe he didn’t care, or maybe he cared too much it and was just too much to bear, so he consumed his life with the aqua vitae.
How many times did Eddie try to stop drinking? How many hangovers did he have to have and how many times did he have to wake up not knowing where he was, or what he had done the previous night.
“Did I kill someone?” “I tell you David, I was so afraid when I would wake up in my driveway with a bottle of Jack and beer cans all around the inside of the car. How did I even fucken make it home? When I opened the door and the beer cans poured out onto the ground like my tears of disgrace I was so afraid, too afraid to look under the car and check if anyone was under there, if there were any blood on the hood or bumper. And when there wasn’t, I was so relieved. Always saying that I wouldn’t do that ever again, but that was a load of bullshit.”
So you drank and drove a lot huh?
“Yea I didn’t even know it man, I would drink beyond drunk. It was so bonkers how stupid it was, how stupid I was. Talk about hell, I would black out every single time because I didn’t want to live any more. I prayed for death. I was a fucken zombie man, how pathetic is that? After a night of drinking, if someone wanted a ride home from the bar, I would tell them if they were sure about getting in my car because they might die tonight. I just didn’t give a shit anymore”
It’s quite sad actually, so when did this all start? How did you become a drunk?
“Well I can blame it on my mother and all of the drinking she did when I was a kid. The things she put me through and all of the things I’d seen and was never meant to, but I’ll say that my mistakes were at my own fault. No one made me pick up that drink, I wanted it. I wanted to drown and submerge everything I had ever felt and everything I had ever known. I was skum.”
“Well hey David, I have to run man it’s getting late and I have to pick up my daughter. We’re going costume shopping. You see I couldn’t do things like this with her if I were still drinking. Will you be coming tomorrow?”
Yea Eddie, I’ll be here tomorrow, I’ll see you then.
“Alright brother, remember, if you don’t drink you don’t get drunk,” Eddie shouted.
As the sun began to set, the purple and pink clouds began to fade to black, I was quite mind bottled how open Eddie was and all of the terrible things he had forced upon himself, I guess it serves him good and his recovery to share this with me.
After our third encounter, he began to open up even more than I expected, he opened up like a broken dam, his words spewing out like raging waters. We spoke for a few hours here and there as if we had been best friends for years. I had shared with him that I’m a writer, that I love poetry, and that I want to be a teacher one day and I was almost lost for words when he told me that he had graduated from San Diego State University with a Psychology Major, that he was once a teacher, and that he once had a wife who still hates his guts even though he has been sober for three years now.
Who can blame her? How many times did she have to see him on the floor of the driveway on her way to take their four year old daughter to Preschool with the sun piercing through his eyelids as she kicked him in the ribs " screaming, “What the fuck Eddie; you piece of shit, get in the house before someone sees you.” She didn’t know who he was anymore, where did her husband go? The well-educated man who once captured her heart was gone.
So you wife doesn’t talk to you anymore, not even to see your daughter?
“We won’t talk about us in any way man, that’s dead and I don’t blame her, but I do get so see my daughter. Like I told you the other day we went costume shopping. She wants to be a witch! She even gets to spend some nights with me now man and I owe it all to this program. I’ve been thinking about bringing her to some meeting when she gets older, she’s only five, but I want her to see how alcohol can affect her if she decides to drink when she grows up. I at least want to plant a foundation in her life, so if she ever hits rock bottom like her dad did, she’ll have a place like A.A to recover.”
Well that’s awesome brother, let’s just hope she never has to go down that path. So how did you get involved with A.A?
“When I was fifteen I had already been committed to institutions, you know like the looney bin, rehabs, and a few A.A groups as well. I hated the program of A.A and never gave God a chance. I blamed everything on him rather than myself. This program states that we have to find a God of our own understanding, but if I wanted to get in touch with God I could have gone to church you know, hehe. I thought this program was shit, so I never worked out the twelve steps. I’ll tell you man, before I walked into this room I didn’t know I was an alcoholic. I knew I had a problem, but I could never accept the fact that I was an alcoholic. When I did accept it, that’s when my recovery took flight. That’s when I surrendered myself to God and this program. I had nowhere else to look, but to set my eyes on God. I was absolutely powerless to my drinking, but I have found a power greater than myself in this room. This is what keeps me sober. I was kicked out of church before for being drunk, but if I relapse and walk in this room drunk, I won’t get the boot. Just a bunch of welcome backs and glad to see I’m still alive. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m blessed. I used to chase the high of alcohol and now I live on a natural high. I feel things I never felt before. I feel the wind graze the hair of my arms, I see the gorgeous and almost breathtaking skies, and I am able to love again. Not only am I able to see the creation, but I now see the creator as well and I couldn’t tell you that three years ago.”
I admire Eddie for his nobleness. He has journeyed into eternal darkness and now holds the light, spirit, and love of God that can’t be hidden under a chair. Remember, if you don’t drink you don’t get drunk.