I never saw what happened, coming for me. I did not raise my hand and volunteer for this.
I was not called on the phone and asked, nor was I sent a letter in the mail.
There was no ad in the newspaper for this, nor did a neighbor knock on my door and ask me to ‘join’ the club.
It is something that took my father’s life and I never, ever, imagined, that one day, it would creep into mine.
My second date of sobriety is 9/29/97. My first is 10/28/96.
I never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams imagined I would be 21 years sober.
I’ve been to Pacific Hills (PacHills) three times in my life. Twice for recovery, and once, in 2002 as a sober alumnus to pick up a 5-year coin from Mike B.
Mike was special. He was my case manager and when I returned to PacHills the second time, I specifically ask for him. When I walked back in, our eyes met, and he said, “You didn’t get it do you”. No Mike, I didn’t get it. But I do now, and we both knew this time was going to be just a little bit different. Mike was a magnet of unexplainable. When he looked at you, that face just oozed compassion, love, and truth. Mike was the reason I returned to PacHills for my second round at getting sober. I hate to have to do something over again because I messed it up the first time. And if I had to do it over, it had to be where it was supposed to be done right the first time.
Don’t get me wrong, please. EVERYONE from Toni, Bruce, Wavy Davey, Pastor Rick, Vern, all at PacHills had an impact on me getting sober. But Mike? Mike was my magnet. As I look back, the entire environment was my magnet. From walking down to the San Clemente pier where I would lay on the beach, ear buds in, listening to Sade and praying that the sun would suck the alcohol poison from within me, to riding in the ‘druggy buggy’ to a meeting, to the dinners on the second floor, and the coining’s. I couldn’t tell you who my roommates were. I wasn’t there to remember them. I was there to get my life back and I had a vengeance toward alcoholism. I was determined to crawl out of the hell I allowed myself to venture into. It was there that I learned that I was allergic to alcohol, gee, there’s a novel fact. And it was there that I learned that, saying no to booze was not going to kill me. And it was there that I said goodbye for the second time to Vodka, my drug of choice. By the time I quit drinking, I was consuming 750ml of Kamchatka Vodka a day, straight, mixed, did not matter. And, by all accounts, I should be dust, 6’ under right now.
Active alcoholism for me was a place I never knew could exist. It’s dark and lonely. It’s full of lies, deceit, stealing, abandonment, and fear. All areas I was never part of until I crossed over that invisible line. It’s an area that consumed my father and when I finally realized what I had become, I wanted out.