Sunday, December 2, 2012

The beginning of the end (Part II)

Just in case you did not read the first part of this series, these posts are about my end days in active alcoholism. I decided to finally write about this and walk through my fears of letting all of our readers know about this as I continually see alcoholism and addiction take it's toll on activist communities.

Christmas Eve I decided to drive to Midlothian, VA and go to a party held by old family friends. Midlothian is just west of Richmond, not too far of a drive from Norfolk.

The week prior had been full of activity as the largest naval base in the world filled up for the holidays. Many people were arriving on ships coming home for the holiday, including several friends of mine.

One was a guy I had met in treatment back in '84. We had stayed in touch even though he had stayed sober and I had not (I actually went and got drunk the night I got out of treatment). Matt was coming back from a short deployment and I decided to go meet his ship.

Seeing him for the first time since treatment was a shock for me. He had stayed sober, and looked the part. His huge grin and strong hug greeted me. His eyes were clear. He looked so, so healthy. I was blown away.

We were able to set a time to grab a bite to eat. As I nervously drank my pitcher of beer he caught me up on the past year since leaving rehab. I could not believe the change in him. What was clearly obvious was that he was happy. As he talked with me he constantly smiled. He was truly happy without alcohol.

Back to Christmas Eve. I spent a couple hours with family friends and enjoyed the wide variety of drinking options. As typical, I was soon drunk. There was a lot of drinking going on and I was right in the middle of it. I then decided it was time to go, and I climbed into my Chevy Citation to head back to Norfolk.

I woke up to a tapping on the window. The car window. I was cold. A nice looking guy was looking into my car. It took me a second to realize that he was a police officer. I rolled down my window. He immediately stepped back due to the stench coming out of my car. I had passed out, at some time had thrown up, had urinated on myself and for some reason he didn't like the smell.

As luck would have it I was parked in a bank parking lot. I had to move. I apologized. I didn't recognize where I was. Richmond? No, the handsome officer said. I was in Madison Heights, way WEST of Richmond, like more than an hour. I had the left the party to drive 1 1/2 hours EAST to get back to Norfolk. I have no idea how I ended up in Madison Heights and I had no memory of anything after the party.

The officer told me about a YMCA where I could wash up and mentioned a local meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. As if, I thought.

I went to a gas station, washed up, grabbed a bottle of Boones Farm wine (my favorite) and started the drive back to Norfolk.

I felt sick. I felt like I wanted to die. A few more hits of the wine and I would be OK. Once back in Norfolk I would be fine.

Thank you for reading. I am truly grateful. This is not a part of my life that I have shared with most people but I wanted to in my desire to talk about alcoholism in our communities. Every alcoholics' story is different and each alcoholic reaches a point in which they cannot stop drinking no matter what.  More to come.


  1. Wow you are so brave to share this. It is amazing you are alive to write it. But every post is a cliffhanger! I look forward to the rest of your story.

  2. Hi Caroline. Thank you so much. One more to come! I really appreciate you reading!

  3. I'm in tears Dan. As an ACoA, it's enlightening to see and understand the otherside. Thank you for putting your heart out there, it's healing for everyone who reads it.

  4. Demelza! Thank you so much for reading! I am really grateful!

  5. So proud of you... for staying sober AND for sharing your story. It is hard to open yourself up like that, I know. You are amazing!


  6. I'm grateful that you are here to tell your story Dan. If one person decides to choose a different way to live as a result of reading this, then you've made a HUGE difference. It's so nice to have a simple, manageable life compared to the chaos I use to live with. xoxoox