I’m being stalked by a killer!
Alcohol wants me dead.
Not just dead though, no. That’s not enough. Alcohol wants to ruin me first. It wants to steal my joy, hope, love, health and freedom. It wants to get me fired and keep me unemployable. It wants to break my spirit and destroy my self-respect. It wants to make my friends and family so angry and hurt that they can’t help but hate me and finally, it wants me to hate myself. It wants to torture me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually until the people I love are so sick and tired of my behavior that my death would be a relief. Alcoholism/drug addiction is an unbelievably malicious killer. It won’t just settle for killing me. It may also want my kids.
My roommate in rehab was an older gentleman, older than me anyway, at the time. I think provenance (or a clever staff) put him there for me as a cautionary tale. His name was Jim and he’d drank heavily for most of his adult life. His liver was failing. He was bloated, his eyes and skin a sickly yellow. His only chance was to live was to stop drinking right away. His story was sad, especially because it was of his own making. He was on the receiving end of a Family Intervention. His kids barely wanted anything to do with him. His wife was giving him this last chance, recover or go away. He came into rehab a week or so after me and I completed my stay a week or so before him. When I left he was looking much better, had a little light in his eyes, a little hope. Communication with his family had been revived. As we had gotten fairly close, shared trauma and all, we agreed to stay in touch.
During my first week out I got real busy working on my recovery. My wife had left and I no longer had a job to go to, which was the best! I was able to focus on my recovery 100%. I volunteered at the rehab, drove the van, stuffed envelopes, took commitments at the meetings I went to… recovery stuff. I remember driving to a meeting, windows down, music blasting, and out of the blue my mind said “I love…” and I was unable to finish the thought. Which was not a bad thing, not at all. I was free from alcohol and starting my life over with a potentially clean slate, a hopeful outlook. At that point I just loved. That was all. I was happy, joyous and free. The miracle had happened, for me.
I heard from Jim two weeks later. It wasn’t going so well for him. He had found it necessary to drink after rehab. His wife and family had stood strong, enforced their bottom lines. They knew he was a dead man if he drank again, we likely all are. But Jim was for sure. So they held strong. “We will not help you drink yourself to death”, they said. So he called me for help. “Can I stay with you?” he asked. My newfound sobriety was precious to me, but so was Jim. “Of course,” I said, “but you can’t drink here… I can’t risk it.” He agreed and we gave it a shot, no pun intended. It didn’t last. Jim did what alcoholics do. Jim drank. Somehow his disease convinced him that a drink was his only choice. With little hesitation I threw him out, I had to. He was pitiful, crying, his midsection bloated. A wasted life. A waste. I had to protect myself, my sobriety. Jim was me… is me, if I decide to drink.
Jim’s wife called me a little while later to thank me for my kindness and share the news. Not good news, of course. It rarely is. Jim was dead, his liver had failed. His family was angry and sad, but mostly angry. She thanked me for letting Jim stay with me and more so for kicking him out. At the time I was only protecting my sobriety, but even then I knew deep down I could not make it easier for Jim to drink. I would have aided and abetted his disease. His widow knew that too. All those memories, Jim’s entire life, ended so sadly. With his whole family tired of him. Tired of Jim. That’s the final chapter in Jim’s legacy.
If I stop doing what works, I fear I will fall victim to alcohol until it kills me, and worse still, that may take a long time. I have freedom now but I have to stay vigilant forever. Fortunately, my life today is fun, I am able (and willing) to help. I am free and I know what works, I just have to keep doing it. My disease isn’t going away, it still hates me as I’ve never been hated before. As I’ve never hated anyone. Alcoholism wants me dead and it’s still out there scheming, hating, stalking me, and others like me. My revenge is living a sober life and stealing as much back as I can from this killer. I hope that’s what I am remembered for… my sober legacy.