The shells were loaded; the shotgun was racked and ready to go. As I sat on the edge of my bed ready to squeeze the trigger, as cliché as this sounds, my life flashed before my eyes.
I never knew I had a disease. My earliest memories of my father were of him and I embarking on his daily routine. The day would start with coffee and a few cigarettes. We’d then walk to the local Cigar Store, and he’d give me a handful of quarters to play the video game machines, while he played half a dozen or so scratch off tickets and bought a few packs of cigarettes to get through the day.
We’d then walk around town, stopping at several local bars and taverns.
At every stop I was treated like royalty!
“There’s Eddie’s boy Pete! Get him a coke and whatever else he wants!”
“Boy you’re getting big! You’re going to be a bruiser!”
“Here’s a few dollars Petey! Get whatever you want!”
I had arrived!
Father Figures Shaped Me
It was the coolest thing to be a part of the crowd and treated like one of the guys! Dad would collect money from some of the patrons at each bar and then we would go to Off Track Betting and place the numbers on horses.
Sometimes, my older brother and I would have to go in and collect the money for Dad, so people didn’t know he had won. Others times, we just went home and mom and him would fight over something called Rent and how he’d blown it all on bets, booze, and cigs. Mom and Dad divorced when I was about 7 years old. They constantly fought.
When the divorce was finalized, weekends I would hang with my dad. To help my mom being she worked full time, I spent a lot of time at Grandma and Grandpas house.
Hanging with grandpa was great.
We’d go into his workshop and he’d pull out a bottle of Thunderbird and say “Don’t tell your Mimi, she’ll skin us both alive.” Then we’d pretend to fix something, go for a ride on the tractor, or shoot the BB gun.
Time with both my father figures was awesome, albeit different experiences with each, but equally awesome. For the next several years I would constantly be searching for the father figure I had in my dad and grandpa.
Pain and Loss
I had turned about 8 I think, can’t remember exactly. But, I distinctly remember my mom coming home late from work one evening. I had been at the babysitter’s house playing Zelda to quell my worries and anxieties as to why mom wasn’t home yet. She finally arrived! Something was off, her makeup was runny, eyes red, and her face sad.
She took me to my room, got on her knees and told me my grandfather had passed. My stomach instantly sank, my heart hurt, and tears flowed. I got physically sick.
I had never felt that kind of pain before.
I was numb and I was bound and determined to never feel that kind of pain again. I like to think of that day as the day I had activated my until then, dormant disease.
Mom, remarried. He wasn’t my dad, he was a prick. He’d beat me and mom. He was actually a manic depressive who didn’t have a hold on his emotions or how to convey them. Mom and him got divorced very quickly. Around that same time my stays with my biological father were becoming far and few in between.
When I’d hang with him on weekends, he’d have an oxygen tank to lug around. His pace was slower than usual. Sometimes, I’d have to call 911 because he was having issues breathing. It finally got to the point where my weekend visits turned into hourly visits at a nursing home. Dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
At 8 years old, I didn’t really know what it meant. I just knew he was sick, but thought he’d be fine. He wasn’t. I went to his funeral, and tried my damnedest not to cry. I am not sure I did. I tucked the pain way down deep and wouldn’t dare let it resurface. Both father figures, gone, within a year.
The Anger & Fighting Begins
Fast forward a few months, mom had bought the trailer park we once lived in. She owned it! She bought a house to place in the park and that’s where we lived! Just me and my mom! Our relationship wasn’t necessarily great. I was mean, indignant, violent, and volatile. I had trouble in school, not of the learning variety.
Mom was constantly at the school and going to bat for me, even when she knew I was totally in the wrong! I was always fighting with kids or administration, constantly disrupting class. In 3rd grade I had been expelled. (Although, my behaviors would still get me suspended every year from 3rd grade up to and including 12th.)
That was my way of releasing; I hadn’t found drugs or alcohol yet.
Whenever pain or anger or any emotion that I didn’t know how to deal with crept up, acting out was my solution. I loved it.
Along Come Drugs & Alcohol
Mom remarried again, this guy wasn’t my dad and he too was a prick. But I grew to love him. At their wedding, I got sloppy drunk and had to be helped to bed to sleep it off. Mom and him divorced after finding out he was selling drugs in the trailer park, cheating, and using drugs.
I was still very closely attached to him, mom knew I needed and wanted a father figure. Under the terms that he got help, she would still keep him in our lives. He seemed to be doing well, until we got a call from the Pittsburgh Police Dept. to come identify his body. He was gunned down and left in a ditch over a presumed bad drug deal.
Another father figure gone.
When I was about middle school aged, I was introduced to pot, cigs, and booze by neighbors in the trailer park. They were in their mid 40’s. I had free reign of cigarettes, booze, and pot.
I was only about 10 maybe 11 at the time but was treated like an adult. I could smoke and drink as much as I wanted, provided I let them do to me as they wanted.
The feeling that drugs and booze gave me was like none other, I had arrived! I loved the feeling the drugs and booze gave me so much, I let them molest me just so I could continue to use.
I would go over there knowing what they were doing wasn’t right, knowing that I didn’t like how it made me feel, knowing I did not like it, period. But, I loved the booze and pot so much I was willingly to sacrifice those feelings for the feelings the drugs and booze would instantly provide.
This went on for a number of years, until we sold the parked and moved to a suburban area near my high school. I was preparing to go into 9th grade and had found I could get pot and booze elsewhere without subjecting myself.
I no longer needed the neighbors to provide my booze and drugs. My mom remarried again, I was about 12 or 13.
This guy wasn’t my dad, but he wasn’t a prick either. But by this time, my walls were up and I was the prick. I graduated high school, I think they just wanted me out of their district.
My partying didn’t stop, it only increased.
Mom and I’s relationship was terrible and I moved out of the house. I stayed with my aunt until I was able to move back in with my mom.
I had a cushy job as a dietitian assistant, was going to college, and was searching for my very own apartment. I got the apartment, I still had the job, but I had dropped out of college because partying was more fun. Getting arrested was more fun. Fighting was more fun. Selling drugs in the college parking lot was more fun.
I eventually lost my cushy job for telling my boss to go fuck herself. A few months back I started dating a coworker, she had a child. Shit, I was still a child! I picked up another job as a truck driver.
I had cheated the drug screen tests, and was on the road to making good money and having a lot of responsibility. It stroked my 21 years old ego. I had arrived home one evening to be sanctioned to a random drug test. I floundered to get a hold of my fiancé to have her pee for me. I went to the testing facility.
Driving career gone. We were expecting our first child the next month. We had to move out and move to a rural area about a hour from our home. She left her job, I left my area network of dealers and users. We moved in with my mom and step dad.
A week or so after my daughter was born I noticed my back was hurting.
I went to a doctor, got a MRI and some pills. Was told I needed surgery. For the next 2 years I ate pills like candy until I had my surgery. After the surgery I kept complaining my back hurt so I could feed my pill addiction.
I was stealing from my parents, from my fiancé, from my grandmother, basically from anyone who could provide me with what I wanted. The time came when my fiancé had enough of making minimum wage at her new job and wanted to go back to her old job where she was making substantially more.
So we moved back to our old area and stayed with her mom. I used my back aliment as a excuse to not work for several years. We moved from apartment to apartment. I continued to use, she continued to work. I spent her rent money on drugs and booze and whatever I wanted. I took my daughter with me to bars and to dealers. I had turned into my dad.
Throughout the years of debauchery I had made a few attempts at getting clean, but never a decision to stay. I would accrue a year here, a year there. But was always “white knuckling” it until I could safely get high again.
Went to many rehabs and educational programs who always suggested I join a certain fellowship, and that if I try it that it may work. I scoffed. For the next few years I had desperately wanted to get clean and stay clean and get sober. But I just didn’t know how. Drugs, booze, pain, anger, etc. had engulfed me and became my life.
I had finally gotten clean again! And my son was born! I stayed clean for about a year, after being terrified that I was dying…to which the ladies at the ER assured me I wasn’t. After a year or so of being clean, I got that old familiar taste back.
Eventually, the drugs and booze were no longer working to numb the pain and anger. I was no longer able to take drugs and drink booze and be ok with myself.
In fact, it was making me feel worse.
I felt helpless and hopeless, I didn’t know what to do. I had wasted 28 years of my life escaping from myself. And now, I could no longer escape. What had helped me flee before, wasn’t helping at all. I was defeated and deflated.
I sat alone in my bedroom as I often did and grabbed my 20 gauge shotgun. The shells were loaded; the shotgun was racked and ready to go. As I sat on the edge of my bed ready to squeeze the trigger, as cliché as this sounds, my life flashed before my eyes. I broke down to my knees and cried like I had never cried before.
I screamed to God to help me, that I didn’t know what I was doing or how to do anything and I needed him to drive this bus and that I would gladly be the passenger. Next thing I knew, I was in the ER. My primary physician was the on call doctor.
I told him every secret I had ever held on to. I told him I was abusing drugs and booze, that I was manipulating him and others to get drugs.
He just looked at me and calmly said “Yeah, you’re a drug addict”
I said “You know!? Why didn’t you say something or try and help me!?”
He said “Would you have believed me or followed my orders? I had to wait until you were ready.”
That day my life began.
I yet again went to a rehab and successfully completed all stages of it.
I joined that fellowship that had been recommended to me a dozen or so times.
I learned how to live life.
I learned how to live with myself.
I learned about a god of my understanding.
I’ve gained back the trust of my family and kids.
I actually have a job now and have held it for more then a few weeks! I am able to look people in the eye with dignity and respect.
I am a trusted and respected member of my community.
I have attained inner peace contingent on my spiritual condition.
I have a daily reprieve from drugs and booze.
I have accepted the fact that I have a disease called alcoholism.
I love my life.
Binghamton, NY 08/01/16