Hello, my name is Jonathan, and I’m an alcoholic. I’m not sure if I should say “Recovering” or “Recovered” though. Anyway, you don’t have to call me Jonathan, unless of course my mom is around. No, you can call me Brother Jon, or BroJo for short. Along with many other great people I’ve been asked to be an administrator*** for this site. It’s very humbling for me to be asked to do such a thing. I will do my part to keep things going, and hopefully that will include my best. I’ve chosen today to write my inaugural post on this site for good reason. Today marks my 1000th day without booze. This is a happy day. At my two-year mark I shared a post about the last day I actually drank. The following is about the last time I became blackout drunk, which happens to be about a week before I gave it all up. I wrote this about a year and a half ago. It’s been edited and updated for time purposes.
Substance and Alcohol Abuse
This guy knows a little something about substance abuse, and a lot of something about alcohol abuse. About five months before I turned 30 I quit smoking. (This is my “substance” abuse.) I was a good kid. By that I mean I started smoking after I turned 18. That doesn’t make it any better, but I still hang on to that. Now, some people are casual smokers. Have one here and there, when the time feels right. I couldn’t do that. I smoked for about eleven years. Each of these days consisted of me consuming, at least, a full pack. (No big deal, right?) Most of these days consisted of me consuming two packs. While I was drinking this number went up to three, and most times four packs. I was a nicotine animal. Let me take you into the mind of a compulsive smoker.
Wake up. Smoke. Check phone for messages. Smoke. Figure out what to wear for the day. Smoke. Take a shower. Smoke. Get dressed. Smoke. Walk down stairs. Smoke. Start car. Smoke. Drive to work. Smoke. Get out of car. Smoke. Work. Smoke. Work. Smoke. Lunch. Smoke, smoke, smoke. Work. Smoke. Work. Smoke. Drive home. Smoke. Get ready for night out. Smoke. Drive. Smoke. Walk to bar. Smoke. (That’s one pack) Order drink. Smoke. The list goes on and on and on, too much for me to type.
I didn’t start out this way. I started smoking about three months after I turned 18. I started with Swisher Sweets, just to see what it was like. By the summer time I was on to Winston Reds. (Taste good, like a cigarette should.) About three and a half years ago I decided it was time to quit. I started taking Chantix (Varenicline, Champex in Canada). I DID NOT go to the doctor to get this prescription. Someone already had it and let me take theirs. I was smart enough to read the Black Box Warning. As of July 1, 2009, the FDA requires Chantix to carry a boxed warning due to public reports of side effects including depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal actions. Because of this I decided it was best for me to quit drinking while I was taking this medication. I quit drinking for about three weeks. I took the medication for those three weeks, finally putting the cigarettes down after two. I quit. For one week. I had stayed out of the bars for three weeks. I felt depressed, but not overly. I figured I just needed to be around “friends”. I went in for a beer and bummed a smoke within the first 30 minutes. I came back with a vengeance after that. This led to the last and worst year of my drinking career. This, conveniently, takes us into the alcohol abuse.
Like I said before, I was a good kid. This time it means that I didn’t start drinking until around the age of 20. I did here and there before, but nothing to write home about. I didn’t get much taste for beer until later in my drinking career. (That’s when I thought “switch to beer and everything will be okay.” Dumbest idea ever!!) I started out with the whiskey-cokes. My favorite was Crown & Diet, with a lime. Zero Carbs, Zero Calories. I had to drink it so it would help me lose weight. Another great idea. At first it was just for fun. I didn’t set out to get drunk, but it felt nice. I grew up very shy and quiet and these drinks were allowing me to open up to everyone around me. Everything was happy-go-lucky at first. Then I was convinced that I couldn’t be in public without a little of the “Sauce” in me. I would walk into a drinking establishment, sit at the closest seat, order and drink and not move until I was loosened up. This was even during those times that I could clearly see friends of mine on the other side of the bar. They would come over and ask me to join them and I would always refuse, telling them that I would after I finished my current drink. That turned into about two or three, and then I was bullet proof. I would talk to anyone. I was the life of the party. You could actually hear me speak. I made jokes, laughed loudly, involved everyone in the fun. I was quick-witted and sharp-tongued. I could keep up with the smartest of the smart asses. There was two distinct “Jons”. Sober Jon and Drunk Jon. There was a person there in the middle also, but he was harmless so I’ll leave him out of this.
Everything was pretty great until the last three years, from about 26 to the middle of 29. At 26 I was back home, living with my dad. You could see how this might cause some ill feelings. Back then dad had a pretty set routine. He would get home from work at around 5:30 pm and have a beer. Then he would fix himself a drink, vodka and diet coke, and sit out on the porch, almost every night. I started keeping whiskey in the house too. I would join him, most nights. If I didn’t join him I was out at one of the three or four places in our small town that sold my favorite drink. It wasn’t every single night; at least that’s what I told myself. It might as well have been every night. I was known as Hagar Bomb and Keger. (Hagar Bomb is a play on Jager Bomb) I had a lot of friends that all enjoyed drinking with me. I hate to say, but I didn’t hang out with most of them outside of the bar. Somewhere, somehow, I started getting depressed, and this lead to more drinking. I didn’t know whether I wanted to be around anymore. I didn’t believe in anything either. How could all of this happen to me? Who would let all of this awful stuff just happen? I was angry. I took it out on the people that I loved the most. I guess in the back of my mind I was thinking “well, they love me, so they have to forgive me”. Pretty sick way of thinking. I apologized so many times the words “I’m sorry” began to not have anymore meaning to them.
1000 Days Ago
About one thousand days ago I went off the deep end, one last time. I hung out with a friend and her new boyfriend for the day. I was nervous. I drank, heavily. We bar hopped between about three or four different places. I consumed copious amounts of all manner of alcohol. It didn’t matter. As long as I was loose, everything would be alright. I believe that I decided to “drink” my lunch also, while they both ate wonderful looking sandwiches. (I can still remember that part.) We parted ways for a little while and planned on catching back up with each other later on.
I’m sure they both took a little break, but not me. I was ready-set-go. I went on down to the beer garden and got myself a pitcher, or two. I hooked up with a couple of long-lost buddies and shared in the fun. About the time the sun went down is about the time I start forgetting things. I sat with a group of people that I might not normally sit with, and spoke about things that I will never know. I waited, what seemed like forever (this is what it felt like at the time. I now see how ridiculous this is.), and finally met back up with my crew. When I saw them I said something about “Oh, I was getting ready to leave”, in what I imagine as the rudest possible way. I sat down and spoke for a few minutes and got the attention of an old family friend. For some reason I didn’t want to listen to what this guys was saying to me, or anyone else, so I flashed him the “bird” multiple times. I can’t imagine what the words were like coming out of my mouth, and I’d rather not. I was told that I was embarrassing to the people around me. I fully believe this. I have to believe it; I can’t remember enough to offer any sort of argument. While my friend was away I told her boyfriend goodbye and headed on my way.
I’m not sure how I made it home, seeing that I was completely smashed, and trying to drive with tears rolling down my face. This is what it had come to. I had a choice, save myself or loose everything (and everybody). It took me about a week to decide that I was worth saving, with a little help** from some different friends.
I’m still not sure if all the damage has been repaired or not. All that I know is I’m happy, and have been for a thousand days now. I didn’t quite give it all up the next day, but I did about a week later on August 20, 2011. About two weeks later, on September 2, 2011 I had my last smoke.
I did this through faith, love, hope and believing. I started going to Church and meeting new people that were living a kind of lifestyle that closely fit what I needed to do.
All that aside, the important thing you all should know is that I quite for ME. I didn’t do it for anyone or anything. After I realized that I didn’t want to be that person anymore, it became very easy for me to turn my back on that old life. I once apologized for “being over” booze. I will never do that again. There is no need to apologize for doing the right thing, or having the right reactions. I’m very lucky to not only NOT drink or smoke anymore, but to also NOT WANT to drink or smoke anymore.
I want to thank all of my family and friends for all the support. I also want to thank anyone that wasn’t supportive. Either way, I’ve been made stronger. Today is now, and will forever be, my best day!
*Featured Image Credit: http://epilepsyu.com
**If you think you may have a problem please do not hesitate to ask someone for help. I am here for anyone who needs to talk. There is plenty of #rawrLove to go around.
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