Reflections on

You have probably heard thousands of stories depicting the horrors of drinking.   Teetotalers love the subject.   They can go on and on about how booze destroys entire families, about drunk drivers killing innocent people, case after case of child and spousal abuse, and how if a person hadn't been drinking, most of these horrible things wouldn't have happened.

I never committed any violent crimes or killed any innocent children.   Maybe I did screw up a couple of marriages during a foggy period of my life, and maybe three or four fender-benders could have been avoided if I hadn't been drinking.

But the time my wife died when I tumbled a four-by-four down a mountain wasn't because of booze.   It happened just after lunch and I was still sober.

I keep telling myself that two or three beers hadn't made the difference.   Although, it has always haunted me, I blamed myself for making a mistake in judgment rather than booze making me less competent.

I still don't know the truth, and I may never know, but I never considered quitting drinking because of it.   Instead, it turned out to be one hell of a good reason for me to drink even more, which I did for years.

It was a totally unexpected, simple little thing that finally woke me up.

I was sitting at a bar beside an older man who was drunkenly struggling with his problems and using me as a sounding board.

Hearing a miserable drunk ramble on about his lousy life and the pathetic things that had happened to him was nothing new.   All drunks get in that mood from time to time, especially the older ones.

I half listened for a while and was about to leave when I realized that many of his stories eerily paralleled happenings in my own life.   It was almost as if I was sitting there talking to myself.   But when I looked at him I only saw an old, pathetic drunk who obviously couldn't deal with life as well as I could.

It was when he was winding down, looking at his empty glass—probably hoping that I'd buy him a drink—that he shared a revelation that he had apparently accepted as the real truth a long time ago.

He said that when he looked back at his past, he realized that every bad thing that had ever happened to him, and most of the wrong decisions he could remember making, happened when he had been drinking Then he.   disgustedly shook his head, slid his glass toward the bartender, and calmly ordered another drink.

Suddenly feeling very bored and despondent, I quickly downed my drink and left, wishing I hadn't sit beside the depressing old man.

I went to another bar to find some fun and nip my blah feelings in the bud.   A few drinks, a few laughs and I'd be okay, I thought.   I bar-hopped, splurged at one of my favorite restaurants, and bar-hopped some more.   Nothing seemed to work.

When I talked to my drinking buddies, I began seeing a little of the old man in all of them.   I kept wondering if they were going to become like him.   And even scarier, was I going to.

I finally gave up and went home, alone, half-drunk, and more depressed than ever.   I just couldn't forget how pathetically resigned the old man had been about his miserable life.

Sitting in a quiet, lonely house, I began thinking about how blindly we go about our daily lives and totally ignore how silly we act.

Being a drunk who liked to keep a crude diary, I began jotting down thoughts about drinkers.   Several negative, stupid thoughts came to mind.

As I began to recall things I had seen drunks say and do, I began to realize that most of the things actually fit me to some degree.   It was a real struggle to think of things that were only about other drunks.   It was the beginning of a rude awakening.

Although, some of the things were amusing, many of the serious, and seriously disgusting ones hit too close to home.   I knew then that I had to get sober long enough to really take a hard look at the world of drinkers, and especially at myself.

The next morning, after rereading my notes, I made a weak vow to stay sober until I was absolutely convinced that most of these things weren't about me.

I half failed.   Too many of these things actually fit me to a tee and I can now see that my family and friends knew it all along.

But thankfully, I've also half succeeded.   I still haven't taken another drink, and more and more of these things can no longer be used to describe me.

A grateful recovering alcoholic

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