August 3rd, Four Years Later

  • We'll see what happens but I'm feeling good about it.

We'll see what happens but I'm feeling good about it.

I started drinking again. No, it wasn’t an impulsive action. No, I wasn’t peer pressured. Yes, the implications were fully considered. Yes, I know this will shock a lot of people.

I’m writing this to help you walk the path with me, to fully convey my thoughts and feelings that wrap around this topic. What I’m not doing is writing this to justify anything to anybody.

A good portion of the first draft felt like I was writing to try and convince people, either myself or others. I’m not, that’s not what this is about. I don’t need to convince anyone that what I’m doing is walking my own path, that my decisions are mine.

Back in high school I had a problem. Well, I had a lot of problems. I had a problem with (dis)obeying my parents, with breaking the law, with not following rules. I had a problem with who I thought I was and who I thought I wanted to become. I had image and self-confidence issues. I could keep going but I’ll stop if you can understand that I was pretty much a normal high school kid trying to figure himself out, dealing with problems, and answering difficult questions. The difference for me was that I didn’t deal with my problems with any degree of reason. Instead I approached them immaturely, selfishly, and without too much thought. I ran away from a lot of my problems and that only created more problems.

My parents did their best to give me a sound foundation but at some point I started pulling out foundational blocks, playing Jenga with my life.

At the time I didn’t understand that I was playing a dangerous game by slowly destroying my foundation to my tower. I didn’t see that at the rate at which I was pulling out the pieces, the tower would eventually fall, scattering my life across the floor. Recollecting those pieces would be no easy task. Thankfully, my self-destructive game was forcefully stopped.

I am glad I went to rehab, I really am. It stopped a path I was walking, redirected my approach to life, and sent me in the right direction. It forced me to stop the Jenga game, to step back and inspect the game from a far enough distance that I couldn’t pull out any more blocks. Then, in the subsequent years, what I learned helped guide me down a path of reconstructing the damage.

3 years 11 months later I love my life. A lot of the holes that were created in the disastrous game have been filled in, yielding a building exponentially stronger than in high school, with a solid foundation to grow even taller and more powerful.

Some parts of my tower are still rough but I embrace the idea that I am growing everyday and working on my weaknesses. I have come a long way since August 2nd, 2008 and I don’t plan on going back to being anywhere close to where I was. I do plan on going much, much further forward, strengthening the foundation / tower to create an empire.

That game I played in high school was a dangerous one and I don’t want to play anymore.

When I started drinking again, I quickly realized I now possess a key part of responsible drinking that I didn’t have in high school: I can stop drinking when I want to. During my excursions into the nightlife of Pamplona, I realized that I could stop drinking. As in, “I’m drunk or getting too drunk, no more, Zoom” and I would stop for awhile, sober up, then slow my pace. Every night I stayed up until the early hours of the morning and went home fairly sober. The point: I wasn’t drinking until I passed out like I used to in high school. Back then, I never stopped drinking, never being able to accurately determine what stage of drunk I was. Once I started drinking, it was over: I was getting hammered and who knows what would happen. That’s why so many nights ended with such crazy stories.

Maybe it was because that’s how I learned to drink. The sign of a good drinker was to drink as much as possible. We were always talking about how many beers we drank, how many shots we took, or how drunk we got. I didn’t learn responsible drinking from my parents so I had to learn from my elders, the guys on the lacrosse team, the upper classmen, or different party role models.

Regardless, something changed and that disgusting model I followed in high school is no longer a model for how I want to live, in any way.

Not being able to drink taught me many things. The lessons I learned being sober at a bar night after night are in the double digits, if you can even attach a numerical value. I was able to observe, completely sober, how people acted when they were drunk, how I didn’t want to act, and what type of drinking I enjoyed. I pushed myself to work on weaknesses, to improve on strengths, and to have a fun time, probably more fun than many of the people who were drinking. I can’t say enough about the lessons I learned during these experiences.

(The idea that an addiction never stops, that it progresses even when one isn’t drinking, was / is heavily on my mind. If this is true, this fact will show itself very quickly. I know, intellectually, all there is to know about addiction and how it presents itself and the symptoms: I spent damn near 3 months studying it 8 hours a day. I also know that addiction has nothing to do with intelligence or emotion or self-control. It’s more powerful than all of it. But somehow, knowing all this, I’m not worried about my choice.)

Today, August 3rd, would have been 4 years. I haven’t told anyone that I started again. I didn’t see it as a big deal. It was a choice, and I continue making the choice as I monitor my actions, and so far, it’s been an interesting run. I don’t want to worry anybody or put extra stress on anyone with this choice.. but I know it will. I want this weight to be on me, to be my decision, yet, I know that even though I can ask, sadly I will not solely bear this decision, that due to past history in this area that others will be drawn in. I ask anyway:

Please observe from the sideline and don’t try to play a part in this game. Let the game evolve, to see what happens, with my number 8 jersey as the sole participant.

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