"You've lost weight since this was taken", she observed.
"Yep. About sixty pounds", I boasted.
"I...do you mind if I ask you how you did it?"
"Sure", I replied easily, "I quit drinking."
And for me, it is an easy reply. I'm not ashamed to be an alcoholic, I was born that way and there really isn't anything that I can do to change my genetics- but I can take responsibility for my behavior, hence the sobriety. Plus I'm afraid of dying.
Six years and two days ago, I left work early because I didn't feel very good. I'd been nauseous for weeks and it had been impossible for me to keep my beer down long enough to get drunk the previous night. I was too sick to drink but I really, really wanted a drink.
So I drove myself home and found a couple of Natural Ice cans in the 'fridge. I gulped one down, felt a sharp stabbing inside of me, then threw up into the kitchen sink. I looked down at the foamy, bloody mess in the sink and decided that I'd drink the second beer a little slower...at some point, I wandered upstairs and posted the following dreadful poem on this blog:
So much pain.
Barely holding it together.
Not MY pain.
Let's ignore it and hope it goes away.
I know I can.
If it's not too late.
Return to maybe.
Return to blender.
Fuck it all.
I don't remember writing that. I do remember that a couple of my friends had recently died of their bad habits and that my Uncle had killed himself, so I have a feeling of where the morbidity was coming from. It has been a long time since I've been able to go back and re-read any of my writing from those days, it is the work of a dying man embracing his own ruinous suicide and being too fucked-up to care about it.
In retrospect, it was pretty clear that I knew I was in trouble but I was having a hard time figuring out what to do about it, so I waited until I was a few minutes from losing the ability to make a decision before I finally made one.
In the end, I decided to pick myself up off the floor and drive myself to a hospital. I'm not up to the task of describing what happened there, suffice it to say that I woke up after a three-day coma and was told that the docs were somewhat surprised that I'd regained consciousness. They expected me to die within 24 hours. I was only 38 years old and I'd done myself in, which kinda sucked. I had expected more, somehow.
Except that I didn't die. After a day or two of not-dying, I was evaluated by some shrinks and pronounced 'sane' enough to be released, albeit against medical advice. I was strongly urged to check myself into a rehab center or at least join Alcoholics Anonymous...I didn't take any of their advice. I had plenty of time to make up my mind while I was in ICU, I knew I wasn't going to drink again and listening to their dire predictions about my relapses and demise only pissed me off.
I'll keep myself sober just so those bastards don't get the last laugh, I thought.
Maybe that was their intent. All I know is that it worked- for me, anyway.
I don't have a secret method or gimmick that miraculously cures alcoholism; I swear to Godzilla that I wish I did have one. If I did, I would share it with my friends and my family and sell it to celebrities- I'd never have to work another goddamned day in my life if I could cure drunks of drinking. Of course, I'd probably be assassinated by agents of the the Liquor Lobby, but that's a whole 'nother rant.