BY THE END OF MY DRINKING, life had been reduced to basic survival mode. I was still employed, mostly because I worked for my father, and I lived alone in a small farm house in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Every morning I would come to on the couch with tattered nerves and dim remembrance. My floor was littered with bottles and cans and whatever melancholic country music I was listening to the night before would still be playing. I would lie there for a minute dreading what was about to happen. As soon as I sat up I would have to run to the bathroom and vomit bile and foam because I certainly didn’t eat. Upon finishing the dreaded routine, I would return to the couch and finish the room temperature beer left the night before and smoke a cigarette. Only then could I make it to the shower in which I drank three more beers. After dressing, I had a breakfast of vodka. I would pack my lunchbox with enough booze to get me through the workday.
Ultimately, I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia, heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure, sepsis, and I had blood clots in my chest and legs. A whole team of specialists were assigned to my care. I required supplemental oxygen and a PICC line was inserted through which ran a myriad of medicines. During one of the cardiologist’s visits he actually shook his head at me and told me I have to quit drinking.
My mother drove from across the state to be with me and had to witness the signing of my living will stating I did not want assistance should my condition worsen. I was tired of life and even resented God for keeping me alive.
What the body can endure is amazing. Weeks later I was discharged and went to convalesce
at my mother’s house. I could no longer work, I was absolutely broke, lost my house, I had not a trace of dignity; there was nothing left. Despite all of that, I was still using opiates but that was okay because the cardiologist only said I had to quit drinking. He didn’t mention opiates. I actually believed that.
On July 4, 2017 I checked into detox and rehab in North Carolina. My counselor helped me work on a transition plan and I found Step Denver online. The thought of moving across the country with three weeks sober was frightening, but a place like Step does not exist in North Carolina and I had nowhere to go. My mother bought me a one-way ticket, gave me $500, and I brought two bags of clothes not knowing what lie in store.
While residing at Step Denver I found a meaningful life again. At first, I struggled because I had forgotten some basic life skills. I couldn’t make a bed properly, I didn’t want to follow any rules, I had to clean up after myself and be accountable to my peers in the program. Forty-five hours of community service later, I started to pay attention to what I was doing and actually committed to trying things a different way. The one thing I did do well was twelve step meeting attendance; I made 110 meetings in 90 days. I met my eventual sponsor at Step’s Monday night in-house meeting. I worked on my resume in the Career Counseling Center and ended up with the best job I have had in my life. I was honest with my employer about my whole situation (something I had never done before) and have been promoted, given a raise, and become one of his lead employees. He even had me to his house at Christmas because I have no family here.
Through gainful employment and working with my Recovery Support Manager, I have paid off all outstanding debt, increased my credit score 140 points, and have savings sufficient for future housing. My life has taken an about face for the better.
I’ve heard people say write down what you want from your life after a year of sobriety. Had I done that, there’s no way I could have gotten even close to the gifts afforded me by recovery. In 313 days of continuous sobriety, I followed through with my medical treatment and overcame heart failure, I have a great job doing something I love, I cleared up my financial wreckage, I have an opportunity to get my driver’s license back, I’ve slept in a bed every night, I have a sponsor and am working Steps.
I speak with my father and mother every week. Sometimes she cries because they are proud and they miss me, not because I’ve disappointed them again. I have made great friendships and next month I have an opportunity to fly home and make amends to my family. Most importantly I have come to trust and rely upon God.
Thank you Step Denver.