Risking it All

Hello – my name is Martin and I am an alcoholic. I come from a fairly large family of six kids. Our home life was not what I would call normal. Dad was an addict alcoholic and my mom was controlling, over responsible and somewhat a religious fanatic. I discovered alcohol and drugs at the age of twelve; around the time of my parents divorced. Alcohol and drugs fixed me, made me feel like what I thought everyone else felt, confident sure and happy. It also became a connection with my dad, I took care of him and he became my drinking and using buddy. He initiated me into a life of crime; taught me how to avoid responsibilities and lead the double life of an alcoholic. I kept taking bigger risks in my life either while intoxicated or to get drunk. I hoped I could just somehow get it together, manage my life but it never happened. I tried to stop drinking and using when I was sixteen; things got very bad with me and my dad but even after getting away from him I couldn’t stop. I thought there was no way I could live without drinking. I though joining the Navy, getting married and getting the right job would make my life better but as usual I kept drinking and using. I loved the affect of alcohol but it was always a roll of the dice what would happen when I started drinking. Sometimes I would make it home, sometimes I would end up in jail, sometimes I would drink and drive with my four year old son in the car. The end finally came when I found myself at work; hung over to the point of still being drunk, working on an airplane and realizing I could be responsible for causing someone to crash their airplane, I could have killed my four year old son driving drunk, I could have ended up in prison because of drugs and alcohol. When I realized all of these things, I was completely gripped by terror and anxiety, seeing that I was out of control and unable to stop. Looking back now I know that day at work was the most important day of my life. I finally gave up and sincerely and honestly asked for help. I was willing to do whatever it took. That day I left work before anyone could see me. On my way home I prayed, because I knew there was nothing I could do. I didn’t know what to do but I did know I could not fix my life; I could not stop drinking on my own. When I got home I called my boss and told him honestly about my drinking and that I had to stop working on aircraft and get some help before someone gets hurt. He helped me get in touch with a treatment facility where I dried out for the last time. In treatment I struggling with the decision to enter long term treatment and leaving my son for up to 18 months. I shocked when asked to leave the short term detox program and to wait for an open bed in the long term program. I was two weeks sober, no job, no money and no idea what I was going to do but I still wanted to stay sober more than anything. Before I left detox my councilor told me to find A.A. and go to a meeting every day which I did as soon as I got home. Every day, I called the treatment facility to see if a bed opened up and spoke to my counselor and every day she said, “still no bed”, then she asked if I went to a meeting. I went to an A.A. meeting every day, got a sponsor and started reading the A.A. book. This was my only focus each day, go to a meeting, call about an open bed in treatment and call my sponsor. To my amazement I went thirty days doing this and stayed sober. When my counselor at the treatment center asked how many day I had sober, I told her 45; then she said why don’t you just keep doing what you’re doing and forget about treatment. So I have, for 26 years, not a meeting every day now, but at least a few a week. When I first started in A.A. they said to take it one day at a time because staying clean and sober for just one day is all we can do, yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not here yet. I also did what my sponsor suggested and we worked the steps. I learned about the disease of alcoholism and the solution to all my problems, dependence and reliance on a power greater than myself. My life is better than anything I could have imagined when I first came to A.A. I married an amazing sober women, raised my son, finished college and most days I fear nothing or no one. I live and work in The Netherlands and am more comfortably then I could have imagined. All these things I owe to A.A. But most of all it’s the inner peace and connection I have with myself and my higher power that keeps me sober and sustains me one day at a time.