At the end of 2006, I stopped drinking after having thoroughly embarrassed myself and my wife in front of all of her family. Again. My drunken rages had become a largely nightly event. With this one, I knew I had to stop drinking. I staked our marriage on staying away from booze, and my drinking came skidding to an uneasy halt.
I thought it was a simple matter of will; failure would be a incontrovertible sign of weakness. I would push through the struggles.
Until I didn't. A little over a month later, the smallest slight, cultivated for days, gave me all the excuse I needed to start drinking again. It wasn't long before the raging spectacles became routine once again, and my wife invited me to find a new place to live.
Even before I was asked to leave, I verged on despair. I knew that I had lost my wife, and I could hardly imagine the damage I had visited upon my kids. I hated myself, and I felt such shame about my drinking. Naturally, my reaction was to anesthetize myself with more booze. During the day, I tried to find some handle to help me break the cycle, but I couldn't see one. I believed that my only choices were in-patient rehab, AA, or to keep drinking. None of these choices had any appeal. I leveled with a friend of mine who had dealt with similar issues, and she put me in touch with a young Catholic man who had overcome his addiction. I confided in a few others, but I still found virtually nothing to lean on.
Having nowhere else to go, I turned to prayer. I asked friends to pray that I might find a way. I prayed for reassurance that I would be loved once I admitted that I had failed, that I was weak, that I couldn't quit on my own. Having reached the edge, I needed desperately to know that there was something waiting for me when I landed.
I remained on the edge, waiting and drinking, for about a month. One morning, my friend called to tell me about a news story about AA meetings in my area that had been taken over by a cult. Needless to say, my interest was piqued, and I immediately found the story online. The story had a lurid storyline, and I had no clue how the bizarre story might help--until I saw a sidebar story containing an interview with an area counselor.
I have virtually no memory of what he said; I didn't read it closely. Instead, I looked for information about his employer, Kolmac Clinic. What I found was a clinic that specialized in outpatient detox and rehab. I called the clinic immediately and set an appointment for an evaluation.
Getting to the clinic wasn't such a big step. Answering the interview questions honestly was bigger; I had never admitted to anyone how much I was really drinking. At the end of the evaluation, I was confronted with a question that absolutely terrified me: "We can get you in here tonight. What do you say?"
I went to a nearby park where it occurred to me that I had had my last drink. Stunned, I walked to a nearby chapel and prayed for help, for strength. Then, I went back to the clinic where I sat down and introduced myself to the strangers around me, "I'm Don, and I'm an alcoholic."