When I was young, I never thought I would grow up to be an alcoholic. It wasn’t even in the top ten of a list of things I wanted to be. I know shortly after my family moved to Wyoming from San Francisco, circa my sixth birthday, I had big dreams of becoming a bull rider. There was something magical about mounting an angry, one ton animal and riding it for eight seconds. Maybe it was my innate “Control” issues percolating, waiting for their day to shine later in life. Living on a farm and following around my cousin Dennis and Uncle Marvin at an early age planted, pun intended, the desire to be a farmer deep in the rows of my mind. See, I was always one with the earth. I felt right at home standing at the end of a giant field, humbled by Mother Earth’s awesomeness. Then I went through the phase of pursuing the usual boyish childhood dreams of wanting to be a baseball player, basketball star, ninja, runaway, owner of the world and someone who just fit in. There was also the peripheral “question-my-manhood” career choices of hair stylist and fashion designer. If I was to pick one thing I wanted to be when I grow up now, it would definitely be Poet Laureate of the United States. Read one of my latest poems here. Shameless Plug.
Today is a joyous occasion for a random blog post about sobriety that contains tons of grammatical erors <---- on purpose, and a bunch of non-sequitors. Four years ago, on January 29th, 2010 I gave up drinking once and for all.
The other day I was thinking about the idea of the "Nine Lives" theory. You know the idea that cats have nine lives, nine near death misses, nine brushes with death. I am almost positive that the notion of having nine lives applies to a lot of people I know who have been on the edge of the cavern of an ugly alcoholic death and then somehow found sobriety, narrowly avoiding a plunge to the bottom.
I do so much contemplating and talking about existential life possibilities, spiritual awakenings and how to move toward a higher level of self-awareness, that today I am going to get totally low brow. My sobriety birthday is the most important day of my life. If God hadn't stepped in and pushed the "don’t drink" button in my brain, then who knows where I would be or if I would even be alive today. I know the day I did decide to stop drinking, the morning of January 29th, 2010, I drove down the freeway looking for a wall to crash into; in hopes of ending it once and for all. Luckily for me, one of the many thoughts racing through my mind was, “what if I crash and don’t die, and get stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.” Oh no! Fuck that, I thought. Somehow, during those fleeting moments of desperation I remembered that the Berkeley Fellowship was a place where I could go to get some help. Later that evening, I sat in a 12-step meeting and the rest was history.
Instead of continuing down memory lane with the story about my early sobriety, which you can read about here, I am going to give you shorten versions of what I believe to be my closest encounters with death while I was drinking. I am really going to try to condense a few of the longer stories and remember, don’t be the grammar police.
1. Out with people at a bar, lots of tequila shots, I disappear (typical Tony M.O. when I was drunk), me barely standing at bar, falling down, end up on bench out in front of bar, ambulance shows up after someone thinks I am dead or near death, paramedics thumping on my chest with his knuckle to try to get a response, people I am with come out and sign a waiver to take me home- telling paramedics that Tony will be fine in the morning, go home to friend’s house, fast forward to morning, I have crawled out window of apartment, after throwing up in bed, and made my way to the veranda of the apartment building where I come to with no shirt on, some lady is screaming at me from a balcony telling me I can’t sleep on the guest waiting bench, I tell her to shut up, then I walk back to try and find the apartment where I was staying, all the doors look the same kind of like the hallway in the Shining, knock on some doors and run, and see if anyone I know opens up the door, do that several times, finally my friends open the door and let me in, asked me if I remember anything, I say no, then tell them I am hungry and proceed to eat a piece of pizza, while they tell me about my night.
2.Drove out to Isla Vista in Santa Barbara, drove home with my buddy, highly intoxicated, don’t remember driving home.
3.Went to party in Isla Vista in Santa Barbara, woke up on a couch on someone’s porch, they saw me and waved. (If you think you are alcoholic, you might stay away from Santa Barbara).
4. Was out with a buddy, and we went back to this girl’s house he was talking to, I proceeded to get really drunk and belligerent, almost ripping off her fence gate, she was throwing bricks at us, I took off again, and my friend found me under a car down the street hiding, then we proceeded to drive down the off ramp the wrong way onto the highway, we did make it home safe.
5.In New Orleans during Mardi Gras, with friends at a bar, got in a fight with my friend, we were punching each other, I got dragged out the back and tossed into the alley by the bouncers, proceeded to run to Harrah’s Casino and play Black Jack and win, met up with group in the morning, sat out in front of McDonald’s in designer clothes begging for money just to see what it would be like to beg for money.
If those were my five closest encounters with death, then I have about four more to go until my plug is pulled. The above mentions do not include when I was deathly ill last year from food poisoning or close calls on the freeway. They also don’t account for any near misses I might have had with a serial killer, who by some act of something, decided to kill someone else instead of me.
When I mean close calls with death, I am talking about drunk out of my fucking mind running around in places I had no reason to be in a state of complete alcoholic black out episodes. Kids, do not try these things ever! If you have done anything like the above, you might be an alcoholic. If you think these are normal occurrences, please email me and we can talk about why they are not typical of a normal drinker. Blackouts are not normal, people! I only learned that in recovery. I was always a blackout drinker.
Anyway, I have no words of spirituality to offer today. I am just so fucking grateful to be alive right NOW. I am sure besides the five episodes above; there are many more that I cannot remember. Thinking about it now, there were definitely a lot more driving-while-intoxicated stories and a few instances when I was pretty far gone in Mexico. That is not a place to be fucking around. Tequila!
I am not glamorizing drinking by any means. People will do what they like, when they want to. No one can change anyone else or make them do anything they don’t want to do, including going to recovery. Look at Lindsay Lohan and now Justin Beiber.
The stories above were shared for two reasons, one to show you that if you have a drinking problem and decide to get sober, miracles can happen. The man I am now is a far cry from the man I was before. A lost soul trapped in the cesspool of a lack of spirituality and self-awareness, riddled with the physical illness of alcoholism. There is a solution, and I was lucky enough not only to find it, but to want it! If you are fighting an addiction you can recover. Please reach out for help. May the force be with you! Namaste.
P.S. I made four sack lunches to hand out to people on my way to and from work this morning in honor of this birthday. The first one I handed out was to a 71 year-old guy, who was walking down the street with a cup of coffee. I told him why I was handing out the lunches and he started to tell me his story about recovery, or lack there of. I think he even joked, maybe it wasn’t a joke to him, that he will get back to recovery when he hits his bottom. He proceeded to tell me how he never received a one-year chip when he was in the rooms, so I reached in my car and gave him a “Welcome” chip and told him to not be gone to long. He told me that I made his day so much better. Made me feel good too.
If you enjoyed this at all, or not, please sign up with your email address for further updates.