Did I happen to mention that I am a recovering Alcoholic…?

In the accepted parlance of the Alcoholic Anonymous recovery community, you are never a recovered Alcoholic, always either a recovering or practicing Alcoholic.

I bring this up with 26 plus years of sobriety behind me because of the stringent no drugs, no alcohol, no smoking or ”no new lungs for you, mister” stance by the Organ Transplant Community.

Though rather harsh, I happen to agree with this edict.

Why should anyone be given the gift of life when there has been no evidence that they are ready to cherish that gift by committing to not continue with behavior that, if not primarily the cause, contributed mightily to their condition?

I heard a tragic story yesterday about this guy who had made it onto the list for a transplant. I’m not sure which organ but somehow he had gotten on the list. From the time they were listed until he was called that there was a match, he had reverted to his old habits. Well, they tested him and he failed and was sent home. Three days later, he died.

Now I really don’t know if this was anecdotal or if it was true, but I sure do know that they made it clear to me that if I wasn’t serious enough to take of a few pounds and to get my BMI down a few notches, well then my position on the list would be adjusted downward accordingly.

But let’s get back to that Alcoholic thingy. You see I took to booze like a fish takes to water. There wasn’t anything I would not drink to get a laugh or a buzz. Straight Crème de Menthe, green tongue. Shots of grain alcohol, 21st birthday.  A fifth of Jack Daniels and then running naked through the Ohio State Campus the end result of a spectacular drunk that started at a fundraiser for Jimmy Carter back in 1979, you betcha.

No it was one particular night, well into my state of denial that I actually had a problem with alcohol, something shifted in my thought process that told me yea, you have a drinking problem.

I bring this all up to show you that I contributed to my respiratory condition with a wanton disregard for my own health by drinking, smoking pot and puffing on cigarettes. I also bring this up so show you that I did start to take control of my life 26 years ago.

Anyway, it was about 6 months before my great revelation and I was living in Parma Hts., Ohio with one of the most loyal friends I ever had. And he is still a great friend after all these years.

Joe Glazer was, without a doubt, the only person to stick with me as I alienated friends and family to such an extent that all I had left was Joe. (Wouldn’t that make a great reality show)

I seriously think he stuck with me only because we were saddled with an ironclad apartment lease.

But that’s all beside the point. I want to tell you a story now. Some might find humor, but I hope you can see the pathos as well. It’s about the night I decided that I wanted a waterbed. It’s also about the night I finally realized that I had a serious drinking problem.

I had always wanted a waterbed. I thought it would be the answer to my relationship woes, kind of like the wild and crazy guys on Saturday Night Live. Trouble was now that I was making decent money for the first time in my young life, I couldn’t get a waterbed because we lived on the second floor of the apartment building.

One fall afternoon I stopped at a waterbed store, see how long ago it was, there were still waterbed stores scattered about, and bought this killer king sized bed with padded rails, a quick heat filament, a great headboard and a pedestal with book selves on the headboard.

In 1980’s terminology, a sex machine bed.

Since this was going to be a monumental moment for me, I got shit faced drunk. Keep in mind that by this time in my life I was off every other drug and was firmly loyal to my drink of choice, whatever it happened to be at the time.

I picked out the bed and hired two kids who worked at the store to come and unload it and set it up. And then, of course, I discovered that I had no hose. It was sometime in late fall. I had no idea where I was going to get a garden hose so I did the sensible thing; I went out looking for a hose I could snatch from someone’s back yard.

I had every intention of returning the hose the next day but I could not remember which tract house I pilfered the thing from. Best laid plans and all.

It took a while to find one since most people had put up their hoses for the winter but I finally found one poor soul who left their hose out. We dragged it home; I took one of the kids from the Waterbed Store with me and actually talked him into doing the swiping.

We get back and the boys and Joe were smoking a little while I kept setting up shots for me and my waterbed posse. The guys left when we were about half filled up and Joe was fighting off sleep. Now this was about the last thing I remember.

Since it was taking forever to fill up, I drank myself into blackout mode. That does not mean I passed out. No, it is a far worse place to be because it means I simply had no idea of what went on while I was in the throes of a blackout. Think of Ray Miland and the movie The Lost Weekend

The next thing I remember was this pounding on the front door with the building manager yelling,”W hat the fuck is going on in there?”.

Joe scrambled up and went to the front door. I was still groggy on the couch when our downstairs neighbor, the manager who lived right underneath us, burst into the room and said what are you ass holes doing now.

Joe quickly woke up and immediately knew we had passed out while the bed was left to fill. It had gotten so full that water was everywhere. Joe splashed down the hallway yelling Chris, Chris, Chris and the manager was yelling, so I figured I better get up and see what was what.

There was at least two inches of water sloshing around in the hallway. The carpet was completely soaked. As I ran down the hallway, I felt like JoBeth Williams running down the hall in the movie Poltergeist. It seemed to me that it was taking me forever to get down the hall to my bedroom.

When I turned to look at what was going on I saw the pilfered hose dancing around the room spraying water everywhere. The Bed was belching water straight up into the air and we all kind of hesitate. Me, Joe, the Manager and his wife and two kids just marveled at the sight of water spewing all over my bedroom.

I started to laugh which really pissed off the guy whose bed was getting soaked from the water streaming into his room from the light fixture, the walls and leaking from the joints.

That didn’t sit too well.

Meanwhile, you have to remember I was not anywhere near sober but thank god for Joe because he grabbed the hose and put it in the tub and turned off the spigot so that the deluge was halted.  It was then that he gave me that look and I knew right then and there that I had a bad drinking problem.

Amazingly, we were not kicked out of the building. The manager liked us and said he would keep it from the owners if I paid for all the cost of fixing up his bedroom. It was also amazing that the bed wasn’t damaged. I used it for about another 6 years.

As everything dried out the damage proved to be minimal. I had dodged another bullet. I was not going to be held accountable once again. I did stop drinking for about three days, which to an alcoholic is about ten years in real time.

Perhaps if I had been forced with consequences sometime along the way or had been called to account, my life would have probably been way different.

After this incident, the spiral tightened and I went down fast. By March of the next year, I was out of a job, a girlfriend and almost all of my dignity.

Remember when I told you about the two kids helping me. Well, I had to have someone because a ready I was having problems breathing, problems walking up stairs and such and my coughing spells were getting longer, deeper, and painful.

That bed incident was a pivotal moment for me. I knew I had to do something, but I did not know yet what was in store for me. I started to shy away from people, drinking alone, drinking during the day. I had alienated almost everyone but Joe.

I discovered that even Joe had his breaking point.

When I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired, I called up an old family friend and I have not touched a drink since.

I kind of needed to share with you all just how deep my alcohol problem was. But I also want you to know that both alcohol and cigarettes can be tossed aside. You just have to find your bottom. It doesn’t have to be so deep and humiliating because that was how I looked at it.

I had a deep bottom to get down too. My dad and aunt were terrible alcoholics. What that did to me was make me think that I didn’t have a drinking problem. After all, I wasn’t nearly as bad as those two.  

BTW, when I finally came out of that downward spiral, Joe was the first one there to greet me and welcome me back to the world.


6 Responses to Did I happen to mention that I am a recovering Alcoholic…?

  1. Sandy says:

    Chris, I remember vividly the conversation we had on the phone about smoking cigarettes. What you told me made so much sense to me that I threw my pack of Marlborough Lights away the minute we got off the phone. That was seven years ago. I never smoked another in my life since then. I kicked it cold turkey and have saved my lungs and my money. For that I will always be grateful to you. You’ve been through alot, and I’ve seen most of it, I hope that God gives you the strength to go a little further. I know he will!

  2. It’s cause I will always love the girl that got away from me in 9th grade…

  3. I have arrived to my conclusion that your post head “did i happen to mention that i am arecoveringalcoho…” font size does not fully formed on my web browser, (I just want to inform you) but possibly it’s my custome configured firefox plugin that is causing a issue otherwise this is a hot topic.

  4. Anne W. says:

    that’s quite an achievement – sobriety that long – congratulations.

    • Why thank you anne…. It has been hard to deal with the fact that life itself doesn’t change and that bad things happen even when you are sober. I have been able to overcome these “set-backs” with grace and dignity now that I am sober. And truth be told, life is much better when you look at the world through the clear eyes of sobriety…

      • Anne W. says:

        one of the most ‘interesting’ things I heard was someone I knew in recovery (although I heard she’s since lapsed) and I were talking about how the people in Eric Clapton’s AA/NA group were impressed he didn’t start using again after his son fell to his death. The friend said ‘hell that we can deal with its the little things that make us start using again’.

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