What led you to get sober?
I had tried to stop several times, and I would maybe make it three days, or three weeks, or even three months—but I couldn’t really get past that. I was probably drinking for two years knowing that I shouldn’t be.
At the end, I was dating somebody that had a child; I think she was 10 or 11. The last day I drank, I was totally loaded and driving her around York to go see friends. It was just a Saturday driving around visiting people, but I was pretty wasted.
At that point I knew my drinking was no longer just affecting me. For the amount of times I drank and drove, I should be dead multiple times. But when I started involving a 10-year-old girl, I was like, “This is ridiculous.” That was enough, thankfully, for me to really give AA an honest try. AA is really what helped me get through my first year.
It’s interesting you said that; I had tried for a really long time too and there were a lot of things leading up to it, but one that really got to me was I asked to pick up my niece when she was a baby and my brother-in-law said she had to sleep; I later found out he lied because he thought I was too drunk to hold her and didn’t trust me with her. That was kind of the driving force towards the end, where I was like, “I’m going to be this drunk person in her life.”
Yeah, about a year before I quit is when my niece was born; my sister flat out told me before she was even born, “If you’re going to continue to drink, you’re not going to be allowed to be around your niece.” That was before I even met her.
Oh wow, and it seems like you have a great relationship with her now.
Yeah, thankfully I can be a good uncle, and right now Violet [my daughter] is getting the best version of me that she can.
Yeah, and you talked about AA—I was going to ask what you do for your recovery program.
Yep, I really love AA as a program. I also believe that not every AA meeting you go to is going to be great. I always say that you have to sit through 10 of them to hear two that are really good, and maybe have one that was exactly what you needed to hear that night. I think you take what you need and leave the rest.
A lot of people where I live don’t like all those little cliché sayings like, “just for today” and “one day at a time,” but those little cliché sayings are actually what help me all the time. They’re these little mantras I can just whisper to myself all day long.
I also enjoy the fact that I have literature, like the Big Book and the As Bill Sees It book, that I can read anytime I want to. Even if I can’t always make the meeting, that’s been great.
But if it wasn’t for AA at the very beginning, I don’t know how I would have done it. I really put all my love and respect into it at the beginning. I’ve been through counselors and things like that, but it’s not the same as when you hear one drunk to another drunk; you kind of take that advice more to heart.
There’s something really great about being able to talk to other sober people. I have friends who are not sober who are really supportive, but there’s something particular about sober friends.
Yeah, because we’re part of this little group that not everybody knows about. We’re members of this little club that seems insignificant, but it’s not really; it’s actually a pretty badass club to be part of.
I mean all of us could just turn around and start drinking tomorrow if we want to, but the whole idea is we probably stopped for a reason and we want to hold ourselves to our commitment. I’m sure at one point we were all down on our knees begging to have a little grace and dignity back, and now that we have it, we’d like to hold onto it.
With any luck, if I make it to December 27th of this year, it’ll be my ten years.
Oh wow, that’s amazing, congratulations! That’s huge! So what are some of the biggest internal changes since you got sober, in the past 10 years.
I don’t think I would have been patient enough to be a father 10 years ago. I was always cool and laidback until my temper broke, and then I was just a flaming asshole to everybody. So the fact that I can kind of muffle that, and not let any of that poison get onto anyone else, is a good thing. I would say between fishing and AA it’s taught me a lot about being patient.
I also learned a lot to keep my mouth shut. If I don’t have anything positive to add to the conversation, I tend to not say anything at all and just listen and observe. I think I learned that from AA for sure. And I never really had a problem opening up to AA people, but being in AA has helped me open up talking to people not in recovery.
But I’d say number one for me is that whole patience thing. Anytime I got impatient before, I would just go drink and forget about whatever pissed me off. And I never meditated ten years ago. Although my practice probably isn’t so good right now, I do have that tool to use when I feel like it’s necessary.
Those were my questions. Is there anything you want to add?
One thing I would like to add is that chocolate milkshakes have saved my sobriety more than a handful of times. I love to remind people in AA that if you can do a word search on the internet through the Big Book, it does mention chocolate—so that’s official AA literature.