A week ago I had a really interesting yet unexpected conversation. I received a phone call from a long-time acquaintance asking if we could meet for coffee.
When he arrived at my office, he was accompanied by two men I had not met before. I will call my acquaintance David and his two colleagues Peter and Mark. David shared with me some personal information I had not known about him.
I have known David for around five years and so I was somewhat surprised when he told me he is an alcoholic – a recovering alcoholic – and has been sober for the past 12 years will. His two colleagues Brian and Mark were friends who he met in AA and they had asked to accompany him to this meeting.
David had a request. He had a story he wanted told in one of my blogs.
Brian had recently lost a 24-year-old nephew. His nephew had been crossing a street, with the pedestrian light, in a crosswalk, when a drunk driver, with a beer can in one hand and a cell phone in the other had taken his life.
In the ensuing weeks David and Mark had done their best to provide support and comfort for Brian and during one of their many conversations, which tended to focus on the drunk driving crisis in our country, David mentioned my name as a friend who writes a blog and they decided to ask me to tell their story in hopes of spreading their message.
I explained that my readership is really quite small and was therefore concerned it would not have much impact, but they were insistent. Their story was so compelling and Brian’s pain so heart wrenching that I am writing this blog to share with you their request.
Brian served as spokesman. This is their story in his words.
“When my sister called to tell me her son, my nephew, was dead, my brain could not accept what my ears were hearing. I understood what she was telling but I was overcome with a sense of denial. This couldn’t be. Not Paul. There must be some mistake.
“When she told me what happened I felt an almost uncontrollable rage welling up inside and I felt a need to hate and hurt the person responsible.
“My feelings were more focussed on my anger than my loss as I hung up the phone, went online and booked a flight to go to my sister.
“The next morning as I settled in on the plane, still seething, I began to realize that the person responsible for my nephew’s death could easily have been me.
“It had taken a drunk-driving conviction and being fired from a job I loved for me to acknowledge my problem. I had gotten behind the wheel, so drunk I could barely fit the key in the ignition, so many times and only sheer luck had prevented me from killing an innocent person.
“In that moment my anger turned to shame as I realized my own hypocrisy.
“I attended my first AA meeting the very day of my conviction and have now been sober for almost eight years.
“That night I met David and Mark and we have been close friends ever since.
“Mark’s wife had given him the choice of quitting drinking or losing her and the kids. He chose booze and lost his family for two years before confronting his demons and getting sober.
“He has been sober for sixteen years and has rebuilt the most amazing family.
“As we got to know each other we realized that as different as our stories were, we actually all had the same story.
“Long before anyone of us was ready to admit to the world that we had a problem with alcohol, we admitted it to ourselves.
“We knew we had a problem.
“And then we dedicated our energy to denying it.
“We knew that our drinking was out of hand, we couldn’t control it, we were slaves to it, we had to have it and we worked mighty hard to pretend it wasn’t so.
“We joked about our drinking.
“We denied it was a problem after all we were holding down jobs, raising our families and generally doing well.
“We became angry when others dared to suggest we might have a problem.
“We knew what we were doing.
“We could stop any time we chose.
“And each time we offered up those statements or excuses, somewhere deep down inside ourselves, we knew we were lying to ourselves and we just kept on doing it.
“If truth be told, we were terrified. We were afraid to face reality.
“We were ashamed that as grown men we were being controlled by liquid in a bottle.
“We were horrified by what people would think of us.
“We didn’t want to be seen as being weak.
“Our pride was on the line.
“And so we kept drinking, and drinking and drinking.
“And pretending and pretending and pretending.
“And we truly believed we were fooling everyone else.
“And miraculously, via different circuitous routes, we ended up in AA.
“And for the first time in our lives we confronted the truth.
“And realized there is no shame in admitting weakness, there is honour.
“There is no cowardice in seeking help, only courage.
“That to be an adult, one must act like an adult.
“That swallowing one’s pride – actually, false pride – is a billion times easier than living with yourself after your self-indulgent, know-all, inconsiderate actions caused a family, unknown to you, to bury a loved one simply because ‘I am ok to drive.’
“Please, if you are one of the many out there who know you have a problem with alcohol, or any other substance, if you have any desire for true peace within yourself, then please, please, please do the right thing. Swallow your false pride, grow up, be mature, take responsibility, and get sober.
“Regardless of what you may think right now, you will never, ever experience a feeling of strength and power greater than in that moment when you ask for help.
“Please, for your own sake and all those who love you, do the right thing and do it now.”
Till we read again.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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– I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at email@example.com and share your thoughts.
– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.
– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.