Annie sits down with James, who’s celebrating six months of sobriety! Way to go! But James didn’t always have much to cheer about! Find out what it finally took to prompt James to seek help for his addiction. Check out how his life has improved in so many ways since being alcohol free and how he and his wife are finally able to be in an adult relationship after 22 years of marriage – thanks to the decision to his quit drinking.
**PLEASE NOTE – This episode may have a few audio glitches that are difficult to hear. Please forgive us. The audio for this episode was edited as best possible.
My First Beer
Sure. I guess the first time I had beer was a sip when I was 10. I believe it was Christmas or Thanksgiving. And my uncle gave me a sip of beer. It was disgusting. Never drank anything after that. When I was 16, a sophomore in high school, I went to a catholic high school so there were a mix of kids from the surrounding towns. And I had some friends from Worcester, where I live now, and had a great idea to grab some beer.
So, I think it was five of us. We all chipped in five, 10 bucks and we got a case of Narragansett. So, that Friday night I went to my buddy Joe’s house and we went into the woods. And I drank six Narragansett’s my first time drinking. I was definitely drunk. My parents were coming to pick me up later that night. And as I was walking to the car my mom said to my dad, “He’s drunk.” And you know, my dad, “No he’s not.” Well I hopped in the car. Sure enough, reeked of booze. Got sick on the car ride home.
The next day, I got up and I didn’t have a hangover. I got up, I was grounded obviously, I had chores to do. And I remember my mom being so mad that I didn’t suffer from a hangover. Didn’t touch alcohol until I was about 19, 20 after that. Substituted alcohol with marijuana.
Alcohol for me, I grew up in a small town, I didn’t know anyone who was 21, or who could buy it. I knew kids who could get marijuana. So, I did that until I was 19. So, when I was 19 I went to a technical school. I do heating and air conditioning for a living. And there were no VOC schools here like we have now. So, there was out in the suburbs of Chicago. So I moved out there for 13 months. Now, the school drug tested. So I stopped marijuana because I didn’t want to get kicked out. I was paying for it. But I had roommates that were 21.
Hiding My Drinking
So, drinking evolved from that. And I came home with quite a drinking issue. I mean, I drank all the time. I was 21 at the time. 21, 22 at the time. When I moved back to Massachusetts I lived with my parents. I was hiding my drinking. My mom, she’s tough, she would go through my room, find my empty beer cans. I had an intervention with my therapist, and my parents, and one of my cousins who was concerned, when I was 22. And, that didn’t do anything.
So, I drank. I kept hiding my drinking. I rarely went out to the bars. I wasn’t a bar fly, I didn’t have a ton of friends. Got it?
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I moved out. My wife, or my fiance at the time, we bought a house in 2005 and we moved out then. She is the one reason my drinking was controlled. I feel if she wasn’t in my life it would have been a complete 180 and I would have been worse off. You know she would, “Oh, you’re drinking again.” And I didn’t want to hear it. So I didn’t drink as much as I would have liked to, or as often as I liked to.
Over the years, my drinking continued. I pulled my wife into it – she drank to tolerate me. I tried AA for a few months. I didn’t have plans of quitting. At that point I really started hiding my drinking. Just at home. The amount of alcohol, hiding it too. Our recycle bin, we were embarrassed towards the end with the amount of wine bottles and beer cans. It’s like,
“Oh, what do the recycle guys think about this household? When there’s no parties being held, it’s just her and I.”
Last summer was, I think, where everything just crested. There were two times where I was drunk. One, I was in the recliner snoring and she couldn’t hear the television. And another time I was looking out the window, but I was so drunk I was swaying. She was afraid that I was going to fall over and hurt myself. When I’d pass out in the recliner, she was always concerned. She didn’t want to leave me there, because she was fearful that I might vomit and choke over night.
Both times she tried to get me into bed, I threatened to hit her. And, I was in a blackout and I don’t remember both of those episodes. I’ve never been in a fight. I’ve never struck anyone out of anger. And here was this one variable in my life that almost gave me all of that in one instance.
No More Hiding My Drinking
So the second time I woke up to a card. I was going to work, and I woke up to an index card. She said, “You almost hit me last night. You’re a mess. I’m scared of you. You need help.” And I responded, because she goes to work after I do, and I said, “I am a mess, you deserve better.” And she wrote before she went to work. So when I came home from work she wrote, “Just let me know what you want to do. Because if I need to leave I’m going to leave.”
Listen to the complete podcast to hear how James goes from hiding his drinking to celebrating six months alcohol free!
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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