Day #2 in my ‘Are You Drunk?’ series
Category Archives: Ann Landers
Apr 01 comments
I stopped drinking when I was 38 years old, in 1993. I did not have the luxury of ignorance as I went about drinking during the years prior to that. My mother and father were both very heavy drinkers. My mother had to be felled by a brain hemorrhage (I found her virtually unconscious on the stairs and took her to the hospital), endure 6 months in the hospital recovering THEN 3 months more in an alcohol rehab facility before she gained sobriety. She was sober for 15 years until she died in 1988.
My father, from a long line of fighting Irish who drank, was more functional than my mother was, but no less the drinker. He stopped drinking as well. He went back and forth for a while, but eventually quit. He did drink in his later years, but never at the same level as before. He is still alive and kicking at age 91.
Our family was torn apart by alcohol in a terrible way. The arguments, disruptions, fear, embarrassment, danger and anger were ever present. Luckily the years of sobriety on the part of my mother really did much to heal the family and make the bad times part of our history, instead of our present. My younger sister in particular was substantially better off to have her later years (9-18) at home be with sober parents.
After many years where I didn’t really need to face it because my drinking seemed to be more moderate than theirs, I finally came to a point where I could see myself going down that same path. I had a number of nasty and sad incidences of my own making that made me realize this. I quit cold turkey on May 29th, 1993. Through no effort of my own, and for which I am very grateful, the desire left me and I haven’t had or wanted a drink for the last 17 years. I did go to one AA meeting, stand up and say ‘Hello, my name is Marty and I am an alcoholic’. I didn’t go back, though I left the door open that I would if I felt the need.
I only ever missed one thing, and that was as a waiter I would often be privileged to open and pour wine brought in by a particular customer, sometimes even the winemaker himself. I missed the social and sensual fun of doing that and being allowed to have a taste myself, as a courtesy. But beyond that, I never felt it’s loss to my life.
I never thought I drank to drown my sorrow. I felt I drank to allow for opportunities to arise. When you are drinking there is this small voice that says ‘maybe something fun will happen while I am here, drinking.’ ‘Maybe a pretty woman will think I am witty and funny’. ‘Maybe a bunch of us will get into some really outrageous activity’. For the most part it was about keeping alive the hope of something exciting happening. At least that is how I have thought about it so far. There were all sorts of underlying reasons as well, I am sure.
What I found once I quit was that I was better off not pursuing those adventures since they almost never really came to pass, and when they did, they more often got me into trouble in the end, not into the fun I was seeking.
It also came down to this: Who do I want to be? Do I want to be remembered as a drunk? Do I want my contributions to my world to be stunted because I was addicted to something? Do I want to be disappoint and hurt those I love and who love me? The answers to all of them were ‘no’.
I can tell you that 17 years later I haven’t woken up one single morning feeling I have missed anything by not drinking, nor have I felt I would have been more help to anyone had I drank the night before. I know I have dealt with the events of my life (kids, marriage, divorce, moving, unemployment, deaths in the family, etc) much better without the drink!
What is your story in this area? How have you dealt with it?
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer), 1918-2002, American advice columnist