In the late summer of 1970, when I was just a young boy, I did something that would end up being one of the most important days of my life – I took my “FIRST DRINK“. I remember it well and refer to it often. What occurred that day, long ago, changed my life and infected the lives of everyone who ever stepped into my path.
My name is Chris and I am a recovered alcoholic and I am also a recovered drug addict.
Now, mind you, when I took that first sip, and then gulp, of “Jack Daniels” whiskey there was now way of me knowing what I had just done. I only thought, when it was happening, that it was pretty cool.
I had been a lonely, hurt and frustrated kid and when I took that drink, the change occurred. Now I was a part of something, I was one of the “cool kids”. As well as taking my “first drink” that day, I also did my “first drug”. I smoked a joint with the other kids I was with.
I knew that what I was doing was wrong and just did not seem to care much about it. The rush of the whiskey along with the BUZZ of the pot we also smoked did the trick. I sat on the banks of the small mountain creek watching the water flow over the rocks, whooshing, and washing around the little waterfalls and swirling into tiny whirlpools. The stream turned out to be one of the symbols of my life. Starting with one drop of clear rain or one flake of clean snow, it begins to flow and gather up with other drops and flake to become a stream, flowing small and easy at first, then growing over time and distance into a raging, violent torrent. A dirty destructive wall of boiling misery.
What started off to be, what I felt to be the answer, ended up becoming a problem that would never be solved, ever…. At first, I felt the release of my burdens, frustrations, and fear. I was not a little boy anymore. I had taken that first step into manhood, or so I thought. As I reflect back on the event I realize that it could not have been any different. I was a drunk just waiting for my first drink, a junkie waiting for my first hit.
That day when I took that first drink did not end with my new friends and I only drinking a little whiskey and smoking a little pot. Nope, it went on and on from the time around lunch through the end of school, and then into the early evening. Being summertime the day would not turn into darkness until late, so we squeezed every bit of light out from it that we could. That is all I know, for I immediately experienced “blackout” from the very start.
It was two more years until one day when I was 13 that I finally had the idea that I might have a problem. I had come to, again from a previous night of uncontrolled drinking and partying. I vividly recall walking to school thinking to myself that my life was over, it would never be different. I had become a fully blown alcoholic kid… physically dependent, I had to drink…I had to use…anything to give me peace…
By the time I was 13, I had made the turn, crossed the line.
The thing I call the “MONSTER” had taken it’s “GRIP… and it would not give release!
The “MONSTER” would tear and shred my life into pieces for another 37 long years. During those 37 years, I would attempt to release the MONSTER’s GRIP. There would be times that it would rest for a short while, but it would always return. It always returned stronger with a greater destructive force than before. It would find new avenues of destruction to ravage. It would feed on hope and relish in dreams. It disguised itself in relationships and the feelings of love and affection….power and prestige.
From those first few hours of peace and happiness would come a relentless dread, a loose rope that would slowly tighten around my neck, strangle and suffocate every breath of effort and resistance. Nightmares and terror would be present just being the next door. I would become the slave, chained to addiction without hope. Wishing to die, moment by moment without the ability to change. Utterly and pitiful, shame with guilt and fear. It would not cease, forever wanting more, more, more…..for eternity!!!!
Then, again, would come the next drink, fix, hit, puff, or line, and give the MONSTER the comfort it so desired. It would be fueled and rage its ugly wrath upon anything and everyone within its realm. A mother’s love, a sister’s care, a father’s concern had no power to stop it. Nothing could ever be placed into the MONSTERS path. It destroyed and decimated all.
In 1939 a book was published about the “MONSTER and its GRIP”. It speaks that the MONSTER is a disease, it’s “GRIP”, an illness. On page 18 of this old book it states:
An illness of this sort–and we have come to believe it an illness–involves those about us in a way no other human sickness can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him and no one is angry or hurt. But not so with the alcoholic illness, for with it there goes annihilation of all the things worth while in life. It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer’s. It bring misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents–anyone can increase the list. Alcoholics Anonymous – page 18
In all the time, up until 2009, I was hopelessly trapped in-between my last drink and my next drink. There were times that I managed to put months, even years between those drinks. Periods of time that would build hopes and dreams of those who cared about me. They would see me climb out from the ditch and start to rebuild my life then watch, helplessly, as I again would fall prey to the next drink.
Many of my friends that I have come to know through the years have perished waiting to take their last drink. I am so very sad. I have heard that each of us while drinking and drugging directly, on average, affect 35-40 people. The number of people we affect indirectly can reach the thousands for some of us. We are not the only ones that die from our illness, innocent people fall victim from the MONSTER. We kill people when we drive drunk or under the influence of drugs, we kill people when we assault them in a drunken rage. We kill people when we break their hearts and destroy their dreams. Some of us wake up in jail and can’t remember the deadly destruction from the night before. It is truly and amazingly insane.
End of Part 1
Thank you for your time today. I am grateful that you would take the time to read this narrative. In the upcoming Part 2 of “THE LAST DRINK – THE LAST DROP” I will be writing about the surrendering process that I encountered which enabled me to experience the transformation of “waiting for my next drink” to “taking my last drink”
Thanks again, your friend in recovery Chris Freeman
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