I’ve been asked to give a brief description of my life up to the present. I surely don’t want to bore you with a plethora of unnecessary details so I’m going to say what I’ve learned through Alcoholics Anonymous. When we speak at meetings we are asked to tell what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now.
What It Was Like
I grew up in Virginia, for the most part. as we moved frequently due to my father’s vocation as a career Naval Officer (California, Virginia Beach, VA, four places in South Carolina, Boston, MA, Washington, DC and back to Norfolk VA where I completed school and college). I graduated from ODU in 1982 with a BS in Psychology.
During high school drinking beer on weekends was an expected behavior of anyone in the crowd that I chose to be a member of. By the age of 16 I was dealing pounds of pot a week, all by the ounce, and my base clientele was growing exponentially. I, luckily or unluckily, had great connections and access to drug suppliers through my three older sister’s friends and acquaintances. My parents were aware that I drank and smoked pot, but they looked the other way as long as my grade point average remained at the Honor Roll level. School was never a challenge for me and I was on the Honor Roll or Dean’s list throughout high school and college.
My senior year in high school was the year I began to notice the beginnings of physical dependency and an emotional need for the effects of alcohol. For four-and- a -half years in college I fought the desire to drink throughout the day. I was tortured daily by hangovers and the overwhelming obsession to drink. I would not and did not drink during the day throughout my college years. I looked forward to graduation day as the release from the responsibilities that being in college entailed. I was managing two night clubs (for a family friend) and we were planning to open a third. Drinking at work was overlooked and probably expected. Upon graduation from college I could drink and work in the same place practically 24-hours a day.
After college I immediately began drinking 24 hours a day.
By graduation I knew I was an alcoholic. I relaxed into it and continued to pick career/employment opportunities according to their conduciveness to my constant alcohol intake. As with many other alcoholics I tended to relocate often in order to “start over” with a clean slate and new friends, etc.
Over the years I have lived in Virginia; the Outer Banks of North Carolina; Florida; New York City; Princeton; New Jersey; Los Angeles, California; Puerto Rico; Mexico City, Mexico; Lexington, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Hawaii. I loved traveling and all of the adventures, but in the end I always brought my worst problem along – me.
By the way, I was admitted to hospitals and detoxes in every city and state I lived in; most of the time for alcohol overdose and chronic alcoholism. Throughout my years of hard drinking I was also very much into surfing and bicycling. Along with my favorite sports came a blessing in disguise – a very healthy appetite. I’ve been told repeatedly that my eating habits have saved my life and health to date. Most chronic alcoholics tend to concentrate on their intake of alcohol; food only when direly necessary.
I was saved from serious long term bodily harm, but the emotional, financial and spiritual damage is immeasurable.
While living in Hawaii on the island of Maui, I became partners in a small pawn shop. I thrived in this business and drank and spent money accordingly. Drinking ruins my decision making abilities and it did so as I greedily made high interest (illegal) non-collateral loans. Under the influence of alcohol I decided to be my own collection agency and accumulated five felony charges; terroristic threatening and burglary. Unbeknownst to me, if you commit a felony crime on someone else’s property it is called burglary. I despise thieves and abhor the term burglar because it illicits the idea that I broke into someone’s property with the intent of stealing something that was not mine. I was after my money and the profit I should have made on it. Needless to say I received a long prison sentence and a new title to add to my name; FELON. For many months before this incident and my arrest I had a fervent daily prayer:
God, relieve of my alcoholism
and give me an alcohol-free environment
with work that will keep my mind occupied and off of alcohol.
I remembered people in church saying be careful what you pray for-be specific. In prison I was in a relatively alcohol-free environment and worked six days a week in the administration office processing requisitions and purchase orders or teaching GED classes. My prayers had been answered, but not exactly according to the way I would have preferred.
What it is Like Now
Post prison life has been good to me, but I can’t say I have been good to myself.
Although I have attended AA meetings and churches on a regular basis, alcoholism has reared its ugly head repeatedly. My drinking patterns were changed from daily to periodic and, over the years, to greater lengths between bouts. The length between the binges however has not lessened the all consuming destruction that alcohol causes in my life.
I have sisters in Potomac and Westminster and I decided to make yet another geographic relocation from Key Largo to the greater Baltimore area. I stayed in Potomac for a few months and helped my sister redecorate her house. My job search there was basically fruitless and I didn’t like the area that much so I migrated to Baltimore City.
I knew that in order for me to get any long term sobriety I would have to live in a structured environment. Via the computer I found a sober living company here in Baltimore that had 11 houses. I moved into a house in Canton and was immediately disgusted with what I thought was going to be such a good move. I won’t go into detail about the overcrowding and the inherent problems; this supposedly State approved sober living environment was obviously a money generating machine and nothing else.
I shared my thoughts on this program at an AA meeting and was told about Earl’s Place. I immediately called and made an appointment with Sheila. Unlike the other place, there was a long waiting list to get in. I filled out all the forms and set my mind to getting in or else.
While I waited, I left Baltimore and went to stay with my sister in Westminster. She and her husband were more than willing to help me until I received the call from Earl’s Place. I searched through the computer for employment and was amazed at the amount of jobs in the restaurant business; practically none. I was lucky though and landed a job as a server (waiter) in the best fine dining restaurant in Maryland. It just so happened to be close by in Taneytown. My sister was happy to drive me to work because it was near their home and she was familiar with the area as her husband is a systems designer and works for a company in Taneytown.
With everything else going my way and a job that I enjoyed one would envision a happily ever after scenario…not so for an alcoholic. Alcoholism reared up and claimed me again, this time taking my living arrangements and my job as trophies. My sister asked me to leave (in a loving way) and I could no longer work because I broke my nose and gained some beautiful “embroidery” (stitches) across my face and although I was not asked to leave my employment, I took an extended leave of absence.
After my release from detox at Bay View/ Johns Hopkins Hospital, I quickly found a Rescue Mission in Westminster. I signed myself in and made myself at home amongst my fellow outcasts and addiction afflicted people. I could write a book on my month-and-a- half stay at the mission…another day.
My sister received the call from Earl’s Place that a space was available and relayed the message to me. My dear sister came and collected me and as fast as she could deposited me in downtown Baltimore at Earl’s Place.
I was and still am excited about being at Earl’s Place. I definitely need the structure in my life at this time. After arriving I interviewed and signed up for aftercare (ongoing outpatient treatment) at Powell Recovery just a few blocks away. During the first 90 days at Earl’s Place you are required to attend an AA meeting every day-we also have house meetings. I attend aftercare two days a week and I volunteer at the local Lutheran Mission Society (LMS) full time while I am seeking employment. After over two months of volunteering at the LMS in Fells Point I have been recommended for a paid position within the church. I’ve also been helping with The Supper Club at First United Evangelical United Church of Christ in Fells Point every Wednesday night. I’ve kept myself very busy and time has flown by, on the fifth of March I will have been at Earl’s Place for three months. I have been and am presently sober with a very positive outlook on the future.
I seriously doubt that I would have been capable of maintaining my sobriety and progressing in such a positive way without the stability, care and guidance that Earl’s Place has provided me up to this point. I hope someday to be able to give back some of what I have been given so freely. Updates forthcoming.