I open first my left eye, then my right one. It's a struggle to bring the room into focus. Oh God not again! My head is pounding, my eyes are blurred. Slowly, I then come to the realization that it was another night of hard drinking. God, when will it ever stop. The room is empty except for the crumpled sheets that lay at my feet. The sweat soaked sheets smell musty. The early morning sunlight cuts the room and bed in half. Struggling out of bed and to my feet, I call out to my wife, but she is not there. Steadying myself on the wall, I creep down the hall to see if my children are up yet. Their cluttered room is silent, empty. She finally did it, left me, taking the kids with her. She said she would do it thousands of times before. I turn to walk back to my room when I catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, the family portrait that hangs in the hallway. Look at us all smiling, me holding our son and my wife holding our daughter. Didn't we take that picture at Walmart last year? Oh if only I could return to that happy day, erase the last few drunken years, come back, I promise I would give anything, I promise. I swear. I will stop all this madness. I promise, please come back, I promise.
Fast forward, 25 years, clean and sober, a different man than in those dark years. Someone, a friend I think, asked me jokingly at a neighbor's bar-be-que "what do you want to be when you grow up ". I had been asked that question as far back as I could remember. For the first time in my life I finally knew what I wanted to be when I "grew up". I wanted to be a substance abuse and addiction therapist.
It has now been 33 years since that horrific morning of drunken agony, still clean and sober. I have been blessed with 2 grandchildren. My family loves me, more importantly they respect and trust me.
With all my personal experience in addiction therapy I know that I am more than capable of helping people who suffer from alcoholism and drug addition because I have been there. I have not just walked a mile but a lifetime in their shoes. I know exactly what they mean when they cry out in anguish and pain "please help me; I can't stop hurting myself and my family".