*The following is an excerpt from the book "Polluted! My Sober Journey: Alcohol, Addiction and The 7 Stages to Getting Clean."
I had run out of excuses and time. I no longer had the luxury of ignoring the red flags. I had to find a way to clean up my life and get sober, or I was facing a miserable and pathetic death, just another alcoholic who disappears from the radar without a trace. If there was a Bermuda Triangle for alcoholics and addicts, my ship was heading for disaster (I know that's a horrible metaphor, but it makes me laugh, so I'm leaving it in).
I finally hit rock bottom.
Often people hear the term "rock bottom," and they think it means something negative. It certainly sounds negative, the lowest point in a hole where there is nowhere else to go. But if you're an alcoholic who wants to escape addiction, rock bottom is the starting place. Rock bottom means a new beginning for the addict who genuinely wants to get clean and sober. Rock bottom means rebirth.
I had reached the stage of my polluted life when I wanted help. It was more than just needing help; I WANTED help. Enough is enough. Let’s fix this shit before it’s too late!
Recalling my vow to God the year before, I fell to my knees on a sunny December day. I was suffering through another horrible hangover when something inside me was triggered to make a sincere cry for help. I went to a local church (I was not a religious person, by any means), and fell to my knees in one of the pews. I prayed with all my mind, body, and soul, pleading for intervention. I needed help and was finally ready to accept it in whatever form it appeared.
There’s no other way to explain it but to say something changed in me that day. I left the church and called my friend, Guy, who was already sober. Guy told me to meet him at an AA meeting that night. I promised I would, and this time I kept my promise.
My path to sobriety finally began in earnest. I haven’t had a drink in more than 12 years.
My descent to rock bottom took years, and I'm grateful to have survived. But the day I went to my first meeting was only the beginning. I had a long way to go to climb out of the deep hole of addiction, which had left me spiritually and psychologically wounded.
Getting sober and staying sober is not easy. There’s no reason to lie about it or make it sound like a picnic filled with cookies and cakes (although there are often some awesome cookies and cakes at AA meetings). The reality of staying sober requires a lot of work. It also demands that we dig deep into our past and find out where things got so screwy, why we do the crazy things we do.
In my journey over the last 12 years, I have come to accept, and embrace, the fact that I'm slightly nuts. I'm incredibly neurotic. I struggle with painful shyness. I’m socially awkward, to the point where I avoid people, especially groups. I'm self-conscious and vain. I often feel entitled and superior to others. I can be incredibly selfish. And I have some, really, really weird shit going on in my head.
But this is just who I am, and I've learned to be comfortable with myself. Through sobriety, I've learned to be happy with who I am, including my nutty mind—learning about ourselves and what makes us tick as human beings are part of the unique and exciting journey of recovery and sobriety.
As I was about to learn, getting, and staying sober wasn't going to be easy. But it sure as hell wasn't going to be boring, either.
Hold on tight, kid. The roller coaster is just getting started.