Scott PDX and His Experience Strength and Hope

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This was provided by one of our listeners, Scott PDX

I wanted to share my first step with you. Pretty easy instructions from my sponsor, Matt–a kind and glorious soul with over 25 years of sobriety. He told me do a bunch of reading and then write an essay on Step One.

Truth be told, I was not dragged to the fellowship kicking and screaming. At 37 years of age, death was upon me. I was broken and no longer ashamed to ask for help. So, I jumped headlong into the process. This has all come pretty easy for me. I was making a lousy God. I needed a new strategy. This will work if you GIVE UP your will to fix yourself. Our plans for ourselves SUCK. Let your Higher Power work through the community around you. Melt into these rooms. You will evolve.

Step One:
“We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
And so our scholarly journey begins—the written account of my disease, my allergy—my obsession.
Admitting powerlessness is not in my nature. In fact, accepting weakness is not in any of our natures. It is as if its mere acknowledgement forever exposes the lightly-furred underbelly of our being. In my youth, my feelings were not recognized by my parents. I endured horrible depression and sadness at the hands of miscommunication and our inherent inability to connect. I was not raised by cold and calculated hands—more the unsure arms of a shaky public figure. Those cold hands could have shown purpose and intent. I knew not what my purpose was… and only the intent that I would become just as successful and show-worthy as my father’s friends’ children.

However, I was unfocused and undersized. I had to keep my defenses up to dodge bullies, teachers and coaches. Looking around, I found myself on sports teams and in school clubs that did not seem to value my attendance. I was looked over, frequently, and possibly underestimated. These factors caused me to embody a self-conscious inadequacy. I tried to navigate life unseen—for as long as possible.

As I entered adulthood, my resume became littered with numerous fledgling failures. I was kicked out of several schools for my failure to perform. I held jobs for only months at a time. None of the females I met seemed to find any interest in me—as I was absolutely terrified of them.

When I met Jennifer, things began to change. She was the living embodiment of so many personal characteristics that I admired. She attributed it all to her four-year tour in the U.S Marine Corps. My destiny was revealed. No more would I be this down-trodden pussy pushover that went unnoticed by the world. I was going to take my fate into my own hands and enter adulthood in a way that no one could deny. Achieving the title “Marine” would become my “yellow sun” and no Kryptonite could stop me.

Up until this time I had consumed irresponsibly. I had smoked some and hallucinated on other such drugs. Alcohol and drug use was fun. It was something we all did. My eight years in the service found me drinking whenever humanly possible. Our events contained components that glorified alcohol consumption. Its numbing effects were such that I could drown out the still-present self-hatred and depression in my life.

I had never considered that my post-military alcohol usage was chronic or problematic. I just drank. We all drank. A lot. After all—if I could be killed, it would have happened already, right? In 2006, the year of my discharge, I became a contractor… a civilian with a regular job that reflected the job skills that I acquired while I was in the Corps. I lived in Key West and I was consumed with becoming a regular at every bar that I liked. I became known as quite a party boy. I wanted to live the island life. I played in bands and attended events. However, when the drinking was done, I was expected to attend my job—coherently. This is where I could start seeing the problem with my lifestyle. My health quickly began to fade. My feet began to swell and hurt. I could feel my physiology failing me. I would catch every cold and become laid out by any hangover. I became emotionally unstable. During fits of intoxication I would call people back home and cry. It was pathetic. I was starting to spiral out of control, but no one would really put their foot down to stop me. I would come in late to work. I didn’t want to be there, I couldn’t. I could sense that the way I lived wasn’t normal… but I wasn’t a normal guy, right? I was a tough Marine, riddled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the host of problems that it carried. The drinking seemed to keep my mind off of my mind. It also seemed to pull me deeper and deeper into degeneration.

Our move to Augusta, GA in 2008 was a life-saving act of God. It took me out of the fire. However, the frying pan I was standing in was heated by the hatred of my new job. A recent doctor visit slammed me with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. This was bad. How did a bad-ass Marine become a fatted pig of a man? I was bloated with calories… and by my allergy to alcohol. Clearly this was a good reason to stop drinking. Diabetes was not a joke—it had taken the life of a 30-year-old friend just a year prior. I was heart-broken by the idea that I should not drink anymore. How can you ask a man to ignore his caregiver? Alcohol was my maid, my mother, my lover and my best friend. It was an instant vacation. Where would I be without my escape?

No one made me stop… and so I kept on drinking. I tested the waters with moderation, but that was boring and ineffective. I could not moderate. Moderation showed a lack of commitment. I was not a moderate man. I live in a world of extremes. Moderation would not instill the endurance to stay awake on the front lines for two days without sleep. Moderation did not get the girl and moderation could not repel the pain around me.

With no impending catastrophes… I kept drinking. I stopped taking my medication–a death sentence. I mean, I can’t be any different than the hundreds of millions that have died from this in the past. I just hadn’t hit bottom yet.

Then I got really drunk and wrecked my car in a snowstorm. That was the snow’s fault and not my own, right? The cop that rescued me could not, or would not acknowledge that I was extremely impaired. I got away again.
After Thanksgiving week of 2012, I was finally struck with an acute case of Pancreatitis. It was a hospital stay that was grueling. My blood sugar and cholesterol were so bad that I almost died. I was not allowed food for a week. I felt like I had been shot in the stomach with a revolver. During my recovery in my hospital bed, I had a roommate that was on dialysis due to extreme alcohol use. He reeked. He was a lousy human being to share a room with and I wished that he’d just die or leave. He was a living example of just how bad it could be.

With a week out of work, I had nothing to worry about other than reformatting my life. I had my wife bring me a small kettlebell to work out with in my hospital room. I would walk laps around the recovery ward. My enemy was my blood sugar. I would not lie in bed and let it rise and fall. I would drive it from my body. I would beat Diabetes, starting now. Drinking brought me here, and from here I would fight. I listened to a song called “Destroy Everything” by Hatebreed, continuously. The anthem called for me to “obliterate what makes me weak” and “rebuild and start again.” The doctors had finally put their foots down, collectively: “NO MORE ALCOHOL, EVER.” That’s it. The bar was set. That was the extreme finality of it all. My maid, mother, friend and lover, Alcohol, was to be summarily executed like deposed dictator.
I was released from the hospital on the eighth day with the stomach the size of a walnut, a broken pancreas and the heart of a lion. I returned to work, deftly dodging the inevitable questions of why I was gone. After all, I wasn’t going to just tell them:

“I am an alcoholic, whose inability to manage and moderate his life has caused me to over-indulge and compromise the integrity of everything around me.”

Yeah, that shit wasn’t happening. I couldn’t lie, though. I was a diabetic… and I wasn’t taking my medication. That was the reason I told them. Admitting to alcoholism was out of the question, despite its obvious truth. My colleagues continued to goad me with drinks, trips to the bar and six-packs. I found ways to turn them down but on the inside I was crawwwwwwllling. My temper was villainous. I could not control my thinking patterns. I could not be close to anyone. On the 25th day of my promise to live an alcohol-free life, I gave in and drank two beers. Sadly, they were just as delicious as I’d remembered them. The tingle in my throat and stomach was familiar. My face became flush and my body became relaxed. I was home again. I was hoping that I would experience a crippling guilt but it did not come. Dedicated to making this a positive event, I began putting rules on my drinking. I would only drink a certain amount at a certain time. Those rules began to flex. Within a matter of weeks, I was drinking WHILE driving, throwing beer cans out of the window like a derelict, and hiding alcohol in my car. The truth was blinding.

“I am an alcoholic, whose inability to manage and moderate his life has caused me to over-indulge and compromise the integrity of everything around me.”

Even as certain death stares me in the face, I continued to drink. I would enjoy smaller amounts—because becoming too intoxicated would reveal the truth to my wife. I would not stop though. The small amounts were too much to ignore. I was proposed the idea that I needed to go to meetings. I needed AA. Against everything I had hoped was true about myself, I agreed and went to that first meeting. I felt that I had been beaten. Life had beaten me. I loved life and I love my wife more than I love being right, though. I can push past the stigma of 12-step programs and just give in. Apparently they have a better track record than I do. I have to trust something besides myself. I have to learn to let go of the things I wish to control, bind my hands and feet, and throw myself defenselessly into recovery.

Scott PDX


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