It’s a Long, Long Road
Let me first start by saying I have never before in my life relinquished any of the following information to anyone except my wife. This is tough for me, but as I read that word “passion” above, it has driven me to inspire and help others. I pray that this can help anyone out there who is desperate.
As the youngest of five, I had three older brothers and one older sister. My dad was a city cop who worked the midnight shift. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s it wasn’t abnormal for him to come home from work at 8:30 am and have a few drinks. He was without a doubt an alcoholic. As a six year old growing up, this was normal because I never knew it any other way. It wasn’t long after I turned eight years old that I would see my older brothers become alcoholics. I can remember horrible images of my brother and dad fighting each other. In the end, I remember the marked police car pulling up in front of the house and taking my brother away. I guess my dad was right—my brother needed help.
Over the years, I can remember being awakened in the middle of the night to family violence: brother vs. brother, brother vs. dad, etc. To be honest, I never really had much of a relationship with any of my brothers. The one closest in age was six years older than me. When I turned 21 years old, it was clear as day that two of my brothers were addicted to drugs and my oldest brother was an alcoholic. My mother did everything she could. Up to this day, some refer to my mother as a saint, the type that wouldn’t deny anyone anything and would give her last cent to someone if she thought they needed it. At this point, my dad was still on midnight shifts.
To make this a little shorter, I’m now in my late 30s as a police officer. All three of my brothers are deceased. Two of them died from drugs, and the other died in a hospital bed from pure alcoholism. With two kids and a wife, he drank up until he was pushed through that hospital door. I knew by the look in his eyes in that hospital room and so did he that he wasn’t coming out alive. In two of these deaths, it was me who had to go home and tell my mother and father. The second time I went home to tell them, they could tell by the look on my face when I opened the door. Let me tell you something, life sure can suck. It can, I know.
That was when I started drinking. You know the story and the secrets. I’m not going to get into that. It was out of control. Going to work and seeing some sad things never helped me. It was years of this. After a nasty break up and years of more drinking, I met my wife. She is the one who has helped me, believed in me and stood outside the bedroom listening and watching over me on days when I didn’t want to see anyone. Two years after we got married, it was a hot summer night when I walked in the door and she told me she was pregant with our first child. I remember laying awake all that night thinking, “I can’t be a drunk and a father at the same time.”
When I finally made some calls on my own and took the first step, it truly led to the scariest few months of my life. I was seeing a doctor. Trying to get sober and going to work was the toughest thing. Also, I was going to social events—talk about panic and social anxiety. It took a long time to breathe a sigh of relief. What a hole I dug myself into. My advice to anyone seeking help is: Find a friend. A friend who you know will be there and believe in you. Take some time off. If I had to do it again, I would take more time off. I know people are afraid of being exposed at work as “a problem employee.” I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a little help sometime in their lives.
Looking back, I know a few guys who threw their hands up and just asked for help from their employers. I admire them, and I think they have inspired more people than they will ever know. To see them sober today is a great thing. What keeps me sober today? My wife, my three kids and my mother. You’re not alone. Give it all you have and please understand one thing if anything: You are going to stumble. Get up and try it again. Remember, you are learning to live again. Godspeed.