In July 2011, I weighed 278 lbs. On Mar 12, 2013 I made the decision to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This was my journey. Now I'm a recovering alcoholic, this is my new journey. I'm still running a marathon, just a different type.
One month ago today I began my current journey into this new phase of my life. I chose to keep drinking through the day before and then just head out and get this new life going.
I have writing many times here is my time in detox, but I still I feel it was the best part of this journey so far in the sense of forcing me on this path of sobriety. Although I didn’t know that it was a mental health hospital, it was really perfect for me. I had 4 days of living a routine where everything about my life was decided for me. And after the initial shock, I loved it. I never thought of having a drink, I had doctors to talk with everyday and people that I could observe and talk with and as much time to sit and do my Sudoku as I wanted. Looking back, even a month later, it was awesome for me. Now had you asked me ahead if I wanted to go, I would have said, “No”.
Today is the 16h, my month long anniversary of sobriety. Yay, one month. I have never had the urge to drink so far. There were times that if I hadn’t taken the measures I did, I would have probably wanted a drink. Mainly those measures are that my lovely wife gives me my meds every night that prevent me from drinking. If I take these meds and then do have a drink (within a week) I get violently Ill. Out of the desire to not puke my guts out, I choose not to drink. I told my primary care doctor our arrangement and he agreed that our arrangement was best. He said that those who give themselves their own meds have a much bigger temptation to stop at some point and get back to drinking. He said if you have someone to make you accountable, you will stick with it up to and including forever.
So now I’m at 1 month on and soon 2 months and then a year and then 10 years. I never plan on drinking again as there will always be a question of where it would lead and I never want to get back to where I was.
Time is too short
In many ways time is too short to drink. While I used to drink each evening, I didn’t have a care in the world. I’d watch news or some show that was mindless because it really didn’t matter what I watched. I really didn’t have the need for social interaction, so my relationship with my lovely wife got much less attention, unless she initiated it. But time is too short for that now. Quality of life is important.
There are many changes coming up. I begin back at work full time next week. It has been nice only working half days, but those are coming to an end. It will be interesting to see how things progress once I get back.
I want to fill my afternoons with more than sitting around the house, especially now the Fall is around the corner. I’m hoping for walked and runs, etc and time outside with our doggos and my lovely wife.
There is more to life than what I have planned. I’m excited to see what is around the corner!
I have been writing for the past month about my life as a secret drinker, really more of a closet alcoholic. I drank at night and was fine by morning. I worked, I laughed, I went to church, but at night I drank. I have lots of reasons, but mainly it was because I hurt and didn’t know how to process that hurt or to deal with it. I felt alone and no one understood what I was going through.
Will I ever drink again? I don’t know the answer to that.
That last question and answer may be surprising. I answered it that way because only God knows if I’ll ever drink again. I am humble enough now to say that I don’t know what I will do tomorrow. I never thought 10 years ago that I’d be writing this post. I didn’t “believe” in drinking or that it was helpful in any way. I never thought I’d drink on a daily basis, but yet I did. Why? Because I am human and imperfect.
You know, as I write this I wonder about my neighbors. What are they going through that I don’t understand. What about my co-workers that I interact with every day. Is there someone that is feeling the need to get drunk every night in order to stop the stress and pain in their lives? I don’t know the answer to that. Are there those who are cheating on their spouse? Are their those who have just found out that their spouse is cheating on them? Maybe some are about to file for a divorce or have one filed against them. Maybe some are beaten at night or abused or even some that don’t know how or if they will live another night or even want to live another night.
I guess my point here is that I don’t know what you are going through and neither do you know about me, other than what I am willing to share here. Let’s not take for granted that our neighbor (home, work, church, etc) is living the perfect Facebook life. I can promise you that they are not. In fact, realize that most people you come in contact with are hurting. From the cashier to the landscaper to the CEO of your company, there is a crisis in their lives or about to come to their lives. They will say they are okay. They are handling the stress, they are happy and life is good. But perhaps they drink every night in order to forget the day and they are wishing they might just never wake up.
Be nice. Use their names when you see them. Smile at people and wave at your neighbor. Give a bigger tip to your server at your favorite restaurant. They may need that smile, waive or bigger tip in order to survive and you will receive an eternal reward for doing the very thing that made them live to see another day. You will probably never know that you were instrumental to their survival of their day, but wasn’t that Jesus’ point in the parable to the sheep and the goats?
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
I sort of fell into the rehab I have received for my getting off of drinking every night.
What does “fell into rehab” mean?
I had a normal rehab planned from a company that specializes in it. I gave it about 3 hours before I knew it wasn’t for me. Fortunately I hadn’t started the process yet and made the right choice.
So my rehab wasn’t planned and I had to do some give and take to get it to where it worked for me. I think that is what you should think about in planning something like this. What works for you? Perhaps a more formalized process or in my case more informal.
I am blessed to have great support. My family is glad with the direction I am going and my lovely wife doesn’t drink, so I have very little temptation at home to be pushed into a direction that is wrong for me. I have had some ups and downs so far, but all in all it has been very successful.
Now I will describe the good and bad of the process I’ve undertaken. To begin with, I didn’t have specific structure other than help and support of family and friends. Of course I got rid of all alcohol in my house (which by the way it was everywhere and in odd places).
I took 4 weeks off from work, more of a sabbatical than a vacation. The first week was used in detox in a hospital. The nice thing there was I wasn’t allow a phone or computer, so I had 4 days of nothing and I was with others going through what I was going through. This got me away from work completely and got me “detoxed” from those things so I could totally disconnect from my work, the internet and TV.
Next I worked with a friend who has a lot of wisdom. He helped me figure out my issues with stress and moving past things that I needed to move beyond and working on the ones that I could. He was awesome with his direction and help.
I am in the third week of my sabbatical and this hasn’t been an 100% removal from work, but about 80%. I do not get any calls, emails or texts. My managers take the important requests and we meet every morning and decide what would be good to work on for that day. I then work on these issues each day for 3 – 4 hours. This helps me get some work done and still be detached. Finally my lovely wife and I spend the rest of the day together. Usually about 10 – 12 hours. This has been great for us as our kids are all grown now and it is nice to get our lives back. \
Really the bad isn’t horrible, but it is to me. I can’t sleep well. I keep trying and seem to fail at figuring it out. I have been given different sleep meds (and taken off the one I had used for 10 years). I think my blood pressure is getting too low as I was on 3 pills during my drinking years and now that I have not had a drink in 3+ weeks, my body is trying to adjust.
Personally I hate sleep. I freak about it and that make it worse. The doctor at the detox hospital said to just not care. “If you are awake at 3:30 in the morning, just let it go and read a book or something”. That makes sense, but to the sleep freak in me, it is terrifying. Yesterday I went back to my family doctor for the second time in two weeks and he took me off of a blood pressure drug and put on some meds for sleep that I have had for a while, but just a higher milligram. That seemed to have worked last night. I still got up a lot, but there was about 2 – 3 hours of sleep and I was able to sleep until my alarm went off this morning, so my sleep is getting better, I think. 🤔
I go back to work the Monday after next. I’m working on a plan to be able to still have some of the protections that have been developed over the past month while returning to my full time position.
My hope is that with everything that I have learned and experienced over the past month that, my life, and more importantly others lives will be improved for the better moving forward from the ups and downs I have experienced.
When I return to work life, people might not recognize me
Here is the problem, I so identified myself as a “normal” person over the past 8 years of drinking at night, that they had no idea who I really was. The same was true of myself. I would get to work at 6:30 and work until 3:00 each day and would drink from 4pm to 4am with sleep off and on. I didn’t have any hangovers or leave any clue. I hid everything.
“My life at work was stressful to say the least. Without revealing too much, our doors never close and therefore neither did my job end at the end of the day. There was always the next text, email or call that I had to deal with. In over a decade I have not had a “normal” vacation. I was always on all of the time. Needless to say, it doesn’t take much to know that I couldn’t keep this up forever. Even going to Church was at times difficult as I would receive a text, “I need help”. I’d try to text back without being noticed, but by then my concentration was shot.
Homelife wasn’t much easier. With a special needs child turning into a man and other stresses, I could never stop. My child would never be happy with moving on when a difficult situation happened, they would freak, panic and in general, overwhelm everyone. I felt I had to be the one person to try and help, and most of the time I was not successful. Eventually I gained a lot of weight, at 5’9″, I was overweight for many years at 235 lbs. I tired running or working out, but it never seemed to stick. Finally in 2011 I topped 275 lbs, finally ending at 278 lbs, therefore the name of this blog. My wife was going to a doctor who looked at me and said he could help me also. He put us both on a diet and we both lost ~100 lbs. By the time I got to 220 lbs, I began running very slowly. I was able to do 2 miles pretty well and kept at that for a while. I then upped it to 3 miles every other day. Then 3 miles Monday – Friday with a 5 mile run on Saturday. That became my plan. I would run 5 days at the same mileage and then up it by 25% on Saturday. Soon I was topping 50 miles a week, I had a PR in a 5k at 20:48 and my half marathon PR was 1:43. Needless to say, it was during this time I lost the rest of my weight and got to 178 lbs.
Then my running career ended with the injury that I mentioned at the beginning of my first post in many years called, “The upcoming change in my life“.
Somewhere in the time of my short running career the stress from home and work caught up to me and I began drinking. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I remember ending my daily runs with a drink (not Gatorade like people thought). I would always run in the afternoon after work and so it seemed okay at the time.
Here I sit, 2.5 week sober after 8 years and temped so many times to drink, but not really. I feel the urge at the end of a day or at some other point when I would normally say my day had ended, but honestly, I really have no desire to return to that life. My work has taken a lot of pressure off of me in the past month or so and I cannot say more how thankful that I am to my lovely wife who had become my helpmate and rock during this time. Finally my children have moved out and really I had no reason to drink, other than the habit I developed over the 8 years.
Here I sit. I head back to work, 2 weeks from Monday. Who will I be when I return. After a month of no stress, no phone calls, no emails or texts, how will I do when I return. I will be kind and helpful as always, but I will no longer try to handle stress that is impossible to handle. So many people have been so wonderful to me, I would feel like I betrayed their kindness if I turned back. So I will need to figure this out before then. My therapist is giving me help to get through the day suggesting trips to the gym and also helping with cooking dinner which does interest me. I have 2 more weeks before I return, but that will go by in a flash and then I will have to be the new me, not the old me.
Back to the question, “Will anyone recognize me when I return to work?” I’m not sure. I have already had people remark how “light” my lovely wife and I look to them, “You and your lovely wife just seem lighter to us” my friend mentioned. Obviously the storms will come and I will need to take my place on the bridge of the boat, but I must learn to lead and not just run around wiping up the water.
I will need to lead. Strength and leadership is what I have been learning on this break. In two weeks everyone will see how successful I have become at both!
I hope to show them the NEW NORMAL version of who I am. This is a lifetime change, so how will they react? To some extent, I really don’t care.
As I write this blog I’m still going through changes with my new life of sobriety. I don’t know if anyone in the blogosphere have had any experience with this change, but thought I’d relate mine to you.
My biggest problem is sleep. Probably because I’d use alcohol to put me to sleep for many years. My issue is I wake up 6 – 8 times a night. I can’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time and sometimes much less.
There’s and app for that
I created an app so I could track the amount of times I wake up as by morning I don’t want to “feel” I woke up a lot during the night and perhaps it was just a perception. Below is last night’s sleep and wake times. The hours on the right are the amount of hours from when I woke the last time to the point I woke the next time.
As you can see, I didn’t have good sleep last night.
I wonder if this is due to my drinking at night for 6 years straight or something else. My family doctor prescribed me some sleep meds, but as you can see, they didn’t seem to help last night.
Sleep isn’t everything, but it is important, it also is needed for a productive day.
Know that I have no complaints, but just some questions. I have a great life and leave soon for a trip to visit a friend for a few days. I probably won’t write while there, but if I have time I will.
Let me ask the question, “If you are a Christian then how did you become an alcoholic”? I’m sure some have wanted to ask me that question. Anyone can get to the point of being an alcoholic. But the question is a good one and I hope to answer it here, in fact in the next sentence.
I have no idea!
Probably not the answer you wanted.
Just as a reminder, you can look under my Faith tab and read my conversion experience. As a quick summary, I’ll let you know that I was radically changed after a simple prayer. No, not a prayer at a an alter call, but a simple prayer in a random place. I just said, “God, I love you”. I even remember thinking to myself that I had never said that before. Fast forward 3 months… My life had changed so radically I had a panic attack as I didn’t know who I was anymore. I got myself off all drugs and alcohol. I realized I could pray and KNOW that God heard my prayer, unlike before this moment of major change in my life. I had an unexplained desire to read the Bible. The thing you need to know was that no one knew of this conversion. It happened alone with no one around. So all of these changes happened independent of anyone telling me to do something because now I was a Christian.
Once again, the last paragraph was a quick explanation of the day I changed from a worldly lost young man, to suddenly finding myself in a new Kingdom with a new Lord, and a gracious savior, Jesus Christ.
Fast forward to 10 years ago
It had been 30+ years since I had a drink of any alcohol. Drinking came slowly for me, like the proverbial frog in a pot of water. If he was put into boiling water, he would try to get out, but if you bring it to a boil slowly, He just sits there and dies (not that I have ever tried that, but the analogy is true to this post). I had a drink with a friend. That was the beginning. I then drank sometimes on the weekend. Then every weekend. I changed from beer to Vodka as I figured it was less calories.
One day, I decided to have a drink during a weekday. I had gone through a lot of things and just needed a break. I did this without my lovely wife’s knowledge. Then I started to drink other weekdays. I finally had stopped and then was away for a month for work and figured I had nothing to do at night, so I’d just have a drink. That was the beginning of drinking everyday. Not much, maybe 2 – 3 shots a day.
The storms of life never stopped
Back to the question, “If you are a Christian then how did you become an alcoholic? The Gospel of Matthew has this quote from Jesus…
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand”.
Notice that the storms came on those who build their house on the rock and on those building their house on the sand. It doesn’t say the storms were less for one or the other. The same storms came, but the difference was the foundation was built.
The storms came in my life one by one and even though I had built my house on the rock, I chose to react to those overwhelming storms by drinking alcohol. It was my choice and it got way out of hand. The 2 -3 shots, became 6 – 8 and then 9 – 10 and finally 12 – 14 a night.
So where was God during this time of overwhelming stress and drunkenness? Right where he had always been since that first day when I told Him that I loved Him. He was still in my heart and still guiding me though this mess I created. He didn’t leave me, He just chose to let me get to the point that I knew I couldn’t handle things in my life with drinking every night and then, like a gentle whisper, tell me that I needed help. Wait, what? He had delivered me from my past issues over and over again, but this time He didn’t. He showed me I needed help from a hospital for detox, to my work giving me a month off to recover with no calls and no pressure. He could have chose to set me free from alcohol in an instant, but He chose the better way. His ways aren’t our ways and His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.
The better way
In Matthew 26:53 Jesus said about his coming crucifixion, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” God could have given Jesus 12 legions of angels to set him free from the agony and torture and death He was about to experience, but that wasn’t the best thing for us. He needed to die and give himself as a ransom for the world. He also knew just having me easily quit alcohol wouldn’t have been the best solution. Instead he had me write a blog about it, tell my family, friends and everyone in my company. He then provided me a safe place to detox and then allowed me to go home to spend time with my lovely wife and get our marriage on track. He knew what was best.
How did I get into this situation?
It was my choice, it was the wrong choice. If I had to do it all over again, I hope that I’d make a better decision. That said, going through the depths of alcoholism, depression and despair, and being set free to enjoy life, my wife and my life has been such an amazing experience that I never want to go back to drinking and know I cannot ever go back.
It is like having a third chance at life. 1) birth. 2) rebirth. 3) set free from a millstone around my neck.
I hope I answered the question I posed at the top of this post. I hope you will never get to where I was, but if you are or know someone who is, Jesus is nearby and wanting to help with a cry of your heart. Help may not come by the means you choose, but remember my quote from an earlier post, “God will not keep you in prison forever”. It took me 8 years, it might take you a simple heartfelt prayer.
Jesus said, “And surely Iamwithyoualways, to the very end of the age.” I am so glad He is with us and that he forgives and restores!