“I am taking a vacation from my problems!!” – Bob
Well, not a vacation exactly. I am going to run headlong into them, allow myself to learn new ways of coping with my world around me, and hopefully gain the tools and resources I need in order to stop living the miserable life and start living the productive one I was meant for.
I have been thinking the last couple of days about whether or not I wanted to tell people what I was doing before I did it and I think the answer has to be “yes” tell people.
I am checking into a 31 Day rehab program for alcoholism. First things first I guess – for my friends and family who really know me, this should really come as no surprise. I am sure that many of you had spoken to one another or to me directly about the role alcohol has played in my life, how I am dangerously close to becoming my mother (I actually took her example and not only ran with it, but perfected it). If I am honest with myself then I have to admit I am worse than my Mom was.
I have known that alcohol was a problem in my life and not just “Army culture” when I put my Jeep in a ditch in Italy and ruined my military career. I got out of the Army so that I could quit drinking or least minimize it. Turns out, through life’s ups and downs, alcohol is my coping mechanism. Happy or sad – alcohol was my partner. Alcohol gave me excuses to behave badly “Oh I was drunk, I don’t remember.” <— the story of my life. It is time to change the story. I am finally ready to re-write the script and ditch alcohol as one of the main characters. It has been a grueling process getting to this point and now that I am here I am honestly scared to death.
I won’t get into the details here in this post about what actually pushed me to seek rehab, but as many of you know I have been trying (and failing miserably) to quit drinking on my own. I did okay for a while. Like most alcoholics; if pressured or through a particularly bad alcoholic experience; we can quit drinking for months of even years. I never bought into the “once an alcoholic; always an alcoholic” mentality because I didn’t want too. I wanted to think that I was strong enough to make a decision and stick with it. I mean – isn’t AA full of weak people who claim to be victims? I don’t need that. That isn’t me. I am stronger than “those” people.
I am also more than a little scared…worried…anxious – about the reactions of some of my people, especially those who I served with. We bonded over alcohol. If I am honest, many of us came together because I am a fucking master at attaining and hiding booze – even in Afghanistan. You guys know. I also know that many of my military friends have alcohol abuse issues, PTSD, and physical ailments from military service; and I also know that many of you will never seek help for it. I certainly hope that you do though, and my greatest hope for all of us is to live healthy productive lives without the need for drugs or alcohol. Don’t get me wrong – not everyone of my military friends is broken – a good many of you drink like normal people do – but we all know that I take that to a much more dangerous level. So for me – complete overhaul is necessary. I value our memories together (the ones I can still recall on my own), but I also now realize that I am more ashamed of many of those memories than happy. It’s not fun looking back and realizing that you were that “one” person who took things too far, the one person who ALWAYS needed help getting back home. The one person in the group that would get drunkest the fastest. The person who passes out and then urinates on the floor because they are too dunk to find the latrine. The person who always has to be reminded about “what happened last night.” They say in poker if you can’t spot the sucker at the table in 10 minutes then the sucker is YOU. I am that sucker. I can see that now and it’s embarrassing to say the least. To those of you who carried me home, who never left the drunk buddy behind – thank you. So many times I probably would have killed myself doing something stupid if you guys weren’t there. I know that Step 9 (I think) is making amends to those we have hurt, and before I even start my program I want to acknowledge to my military friends and family that I am truly sorry that you had to care for me because I was unable or unwilling to care for myself. When I get there – some of you will get your own letters obviously but for now this will have to do.
The other huge reason that made me finally decide to really seriously seek help is my best friend, lover, and life partner Stephanie. I have been loved in my life, and I have been blessed with the very best people this world has to offer, but none have put up with the shit as much as my poor Stephanie has. I have lied to her. I have hidden things from her. I have presented myself as a pillar of love and support, with nothing on the inside to back that up. When push comes to shove; I crack and break. Stephanie is the strong one. Stephanie, like no one else ever has called me out, been the most brutally honest person, and has never shied away from looking at the real me. The broken me. The hurt me. She could have given me an ultimatum (and she has considered it), she could have just left me to fend for myself (which she did once after we first started dating and she realized that I had an alcohol problem), she could have ignored it all and lived her life with me as an “enabler” and we could live in co-dependent bliss. She won’t settle for that though and I know she won’t and she sure as hell is pretty much done putting up with my shit. So I had to choose. Not because she made me or asked me too but because I WANT to. I want to be the person she sees that is somewhere inside me. She keeps telling me that I am in there somewhere, and she has loved me consistently and unconditionally through the slow and painful process of realizing that I do in fact have a problem, and most importantly that I do in fact want help to stop. I know that Stephanie will come to “Family week” and that she will listen and learn and change with me. I know that even if every other person in my life say’s, “Wow, you are one of those AA people now” and ditches me; she will still be there. So while I am not entering rehab to “keep” Stephanie, I am however entering rehab to ensure that Stephanie and I have long amazing lives together. She is truly the greatest gift that this universe has bestowed upon me and I refuse to let that gift be throw away because of alcohol. I choose life. Love. Happiness and joy, and I choose to share all of that with my soul mate.
It’s going to suck hard this rehab thing. I am not looking forward to most of it. Any of it. Well, the yoga classes sound good. Other than that though – everything else is scary. I have NEVER coped with anything in my life without beer. Never. Alcohol has been the only constant in my life since the day I was born. My therapist asked me when I started drinking the other day, and my answer was simple. Since I could take sips of my Mom’s beer sitting on the table. Probably picked it up around 3 or 4 and have been doing it ever since. There is a picture of me when I was about 11 or 12 sitting there with my Mom and her friends and I have a beer in my lap. I remember begging them to allow me to drink that beer. The stellar role models I had back then, started me on this path of self destruction – but there is no reason in the world that I need to remain on that path any longer. I have always been miserable, and I have always had alcohol. I don’t think that is a coincidence. I’ve tried to quit on my own, I have surrounded myself with other alcoholics in order to mask my own problem, I have resigned myself to the fact that I am an alcoholic and I LIKE it. None of those attitudes have worked because for one; I don’t really like it. I hate it, and have hated it for quite some time now. Now I just need to admit that I am not capable of doing it alone, without a “program”, without any alcohol at all, without help. Speaking of help – I am going to end this post/announcement with the reason I know that I am doing the right thing for once…
For the last several months (probably around the time I stopped working on this blog everyday) I have been on an insane downward spiral. I have never been a drinker of hard alcohol – it has always been beer but recently I have engaged in some of the worst self destructive and scary behaviors all while trying to hide it all from Stephanie. Who you know I spend 24/7 with right now – so it’s kind of hard to hide being drunk off your ass. I managed it though. I am a professional. Stephanie isn’t stupid, she knew what was going on to some extent but until I was honest with her; she had no idea just how far I’d gone. I have said to her several times in the last few months that I think I need rehab. I need to completely submerge myself in recovery, learn new coping skills, and do it in a safe environment. I told my therapist I was ready to go get help and she called the treatment center to get me started. I came home and then send a message to a friend because I was scared to make the call and I knew he would be able to make sense of everything for me – however, I was able and ready to make the call even though I hadn’t heard back from him yet.
I called the center, went through the phone interview and was “accepted” into treatment… with a price tag. A HUGE one. The entire program costs about $40,000. <gasp> We sure as hell can’t afford that. I qualify for a scholarship that covers about $30,000 of the cost, but I was told I had to come up with $10,000. Once they had that money I could enter treatment. I lost it on the phone with the lady I was talking too. It might as well have been a million dollars they were asking for. Stephanie was going to try and take out a loan for $5,000 and I was going to start email friends and family one by one until I could come up with the other $5,000. I sent one email to a friend who had offered financial help to me in the past to see if she would be willing to donate to the cause. That was the only email I had to send. Her response to my email, “I can do the entire $10,000 if that would be easier.” WHAT THE FUCK!?? Seriously. I was floored. I am still floored. I won’t say who my benefactor is because I don’t know that she wants the attention, but I will say this – I am grateful. I honestly don’t have the words to express what a gift you have given both Stephanie and I. I mean…really – I just can’t. I am amazed at your kindness and generosity; and your willingness to loan such a huge amount for such a risky investment. Please know that I am ready, willing, and capable of doing the work I need to do and there is really no other way I can thank you properly except to live a better life (and let you hang up the phone). 🙂
So the plan is now that I will enter rehab on Friday the 3rd. Anxious and scared, but also hopeful and determined. It’s going to suck. 31 days. No Stephanie; we will have no contact for 7 days, then I am only allowed to call her 3x a week for 10 minutes each until she comes for the family week portion. Since we met almost 6 years ago, we have NEVER gone 7 days without seeing or talking to each other in some way. Yeah. I don’t like that part at all, especially because I am doing this at a time where Stephanie’s “situation” is coming to a head and I feel like I am abandoning her when she needs me the most. I realize though that is an excuse – because honestly, I am of no help to her the way I am now. If 31 days of hell and healing with make me better able to handle what life throws our way; I need to just do it. The sooner I start, the sooner I can be helpful and be that person that Stephanie deserves to have by her side through her own difficult struggles.
So to everyone out there, be you a real life friend or just someone who reads my stories – welcome to the new journey.