In the hope that it will keep someone from having one of their own, I give you my “rock bottom” story.
I know what it’s like to have a dozen assault rifles leveled at me.
Wait. Let’s back up a bit. Maybe a little history will help you fully grasp the severity of my situation.
Being the son of an “outlaw” biker, I grew up around drunks and wild biker parties. Drunk was normal. Drunk was what normal people did when they weren’t at work. Get home, activate drunk. That’s life.
Let me give you a highlight example — when I was 15, my dad had a mild heart attack, early in the day on the Fourth of July. The party was going to be at our house, so we had a well-stocked beer fridge in the garage. I’m talking “stocked-for-a-small- army-of-alcoholic-bikers” stocked.
I was tasked with finishing all the beer in the house before my dad got out of the hospital. You know … because the doctor said he shouldn’t drink when he got home. A task I welcomed, and “accomplished” in short order. So while my dad recuperated in the hospital, I spent the next three days absolutely annihilated. And nobody saw a problem with that.
THAT was my normal. That’s where I’m coming from.
Needless to say, I was physically dependent on alcohol before I was old enough to purchase it. Legally anyway.
Now, it’s important to understand, when I say, “physically dependent” I don’t just mean, “I really liked to have a drink on the weekends.” I mean, if I did not have booze in my system, I would get DT tremors, cold sweats, migraines, irritability, severe mood swings, and the occasional mild seizure.
Do you know how embarrassing it is for a twenty year old to have to hide his unsteady hands?
Anyway, fast forward a dozen years, a wife, daughter, and mortgage later …
I started early that day. As I always did on Saturdays. See, I liked to get extremely drunk, as quick as possible, to make up for all the lost drinking time spent at work during the week, then “maintain” throughout the course of the day until I passed out. A typical Saturday grocery list was a bottle of Hot Damn 100 proof, two tall cans of Joose (think Four Loko) and a thirty pack of cheap beer.
I would pound down the harder stuff, then chug beer for the rest of the day.
This day was no exception.
I was as drunk as I set out to be by noon.
My buddy came over sometime in the early afternoon, and even though he didn’t drink, my alcoholic logic saw it as an excuse to get super DUPER drunk. “Wooohoo! another person! Party time!” Feel me? So I doubled down. By the time he left, I was completely blitzed. Staggering, slurring, belligerent, unreasonable — just gone.
The next few hours get blurry, but I know I was a nightmare to be around, to say the least. And certainly not capable of responsible parenting.
Sometime in the evening, my wife made the wise decision to remove herself, and our toddler aged daughter from the house. Unfortunately, in my alcoholic logic didn’t think it as wise then as I do now.
See, I hated being completely alone when I was drinking. HATED. Even if I was the only one drinking, and making a complete ass of myself in doing so, as long as I wasn’t alone I didn’t care. Until the next morning anyway.
So when my wife informed me that she was going to be taking our daughter and staying the night elsewhere I flipped out. I started a horrible screaming match in an attempt to convince her to stay.
Makes perfect sense, right?
Seeing the futility of my attempts at drunken persuasion as she quickly threw together an overnight bag absolutely enraged me so I resorted to desperate measures.
This next sentence is the hardest, most embarrassing sentence I’ve ever written in my life.
As she reached for the door with our daughter in her arms, I threatened to shoot myself in the head if she left.
Yeah. That happened. Now, I wasn’t actually suicidal. Just, really angry, really drunk, and totally irrational.
She was on her cell with 911 before she even left the stoop. She informed them that I was astonishingly drunk, had threatened to hurt myself, and had the weapons to do so.
Overhearing her panicked conversation to the 911 operator as she headed to the car angered me even more.
“I’ll show her!” I thought. “I’ll call the cops right back at you!”
So I came back inside, and called 911 myself, to inform them that my sober, rational wife, just “kidnapped” our daughter. Now, I don’t remember exactly how that conversation went, or what was said, but the operator was aware of the situation from my wife’s side, so kept me talking on the phone while, unbeknownst to me, the police surrounded my house.
After the police were sufficiently dug in, the operator told me to step out on the front porch. Without questioning why I stepped outside, and was completely shocked to hear, “FREEZE!” and find myself looking at about a dozen cops crouched behind their vehicles, with assault rifles trained on me.
It was at that moment that I finally realized I had messed up. Big time.
From then on, I was extremely hostile, but compliant. Went onto the lawn with my hands up as directed, got tackled, rolled around, and handcuffed with a knee in my back. Then I got to sit there, handcuffed on my own front lawn, with no shoes or shirt on, and what felt like the whole world looking on, as the cops went through my house and seized my guns.
Because I had not actually committed a crime, and the officer in charge was EXTREMELY generous, I got to stay the night in the emergency room on a 5150 hold, babysat like a child, rather than in the drunk tank.
This was hands down, the worst night of my life. But it pales in comparison to the shame of the next morning. Suffering from unimaginable guilt, and a hangover for the record books, I listened to the doctor tell me that I was incredibly rude to hospital staff, and needed to be VERY grateful that I was not arrested, as that is what many of them wanted to see happen. He also told me that I had enough alcohol in my bloodstream “to kill a horse.” After a mental health evaluation I was even more mortified, but free to go.
Shoeless, shirtless, smokeless, embarrassed to tears, and awfully hungover, I got a ride home and immediately called my wife to blubber my way through an apology. Which, to my surprise, she accepted.
While this was certainly my rock bottom moment, it was not the start of my sobriety. I would go a few months without drinking, start to feel like I had control of myself, then convince myself that I could handle “just one.” But every single time, one turns into two, which turns into six — then the can is open. Thirty pack. Back to square one.
This went on for a few more months until my wife promised to leave if I did not get help. At that point I finally accepted that alcohol can NEVER be a part of my life, got help, and got sober.