A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
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  1. #1
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    Florida State

    Default The Long Road to Recovery

    OK Gents, I know this is the day we celebrate the first year anniversary at BGO, but it is an anniversary of my own as well. It was this day 10 years ago I took my last drink!

    There are a few of you who know me well enough to know I don't drink and some who know I am a recovering alcoholic. Some of you may even remember this story since I posted it over at ES a couple years back under my former pseudonym, bschurm.

    Regardless, when I posted this on ES I placed myself in a position to help a few young men who were at the point in their life where they wanted some help, one who is still sober today and a wonderful example of a changed young man! There were also a few men who were in recovery who shared their stories with me and we developed friendships.

    So I am going to post this here in hopes that my story will help another alcoholic if needed, another fellow who may be struggling with issues of their own but mostly to let you guys know a little more about me.

    By February of 2000 my drinking had gotten so out of control, my fiancé asked me to leave. We were to marry in October of that year. Not realizing the gravity of what she was asking, I agreed. My goal was to disappear for a while, sober up and come galloping back on my white horse to recapture her heart, her knight in shining armor. OK, look guys, I was in the throws of my alcoholism, my thinking was a little distorted. Give me a break.

    I was living in St. Louis Missouri at the time. I told her, my family and friends I was headed back to South Florida where I had gotten sober previously when she and I met. My struggles with alcoholism led me to Florida a few years prior where I had seen a friend get well. I had been struggling with alcoholism since I was a teenager. Instead of heading to South Florida where I had already developed a support group, I headed west, ending up in Tijuana Mexico.

    See my plan was to go to LA where I had heard about another friend who had gotten well, recovered. Instead of telling this friend I was on my way, I decided to try to surprise him. To be honest, I was afraid he would not want me to come out since everybody at this point in my life had distanced themselves. Of course, when I arrived in LA, I had no idea where he was, I only had a number from looking him up online. Excited to see my friend, I made the call only to discover it was the wrong guy. When I searched his name online, I even used his middle initial, wrong guy! So there I was in LA with limited resources and knowing no one!

    So, not knowing just what to do since I had not thought that far ahead and since I did NOT like LA, I decided to scoot down to San Diego to check on another friend. It is hard to believe that I could dislike LA so much yet a short drive south it could be such a beautiful place to be. Anyway, I ended up not finding that friend either. At this point I began to get a little concerned since I didn't have much money and I was driving my truck.

    Here's one of the many amusing anecdotes along this journey. While in San Diego, I decide to drive over to Tijuana to simply say I had been there. I was there long enough to realize, I probably didn't belong there in that state of mind so I decided to get back across the border. So I arrive at the border and I am being questioned by the border patrol agent who found it a little odd that someone with a Maryland License plate would drive across country and decide to visit Tijuana. Of course, I am oblivious to her tactics wondering, why does she think that is wierd? Many people travel the country in their pickup trucks with bags of clothes in the back of the truck which were placed in trash bags because I did not have a cap on the back and didn't want them to get wet. Ha! It never even dawned on me that I would be questioned, but I had 2 trash bags full of clothes in the back of the truck. HAHA! She let me go. It could have been 2 bags full of marijuana for all she knew.

    To this point, my trip had taken me from St. Louis to New Mexico, to the Grand Canyon, to Vegas, LA, San Diego and eventually into Tijuana. I was heading back to LA again. Running low on money and incapable of finding my friends, I decided to cut back across the country. I left LA and felt I needed to see the Grand Canyon again. As miserable as I was, the lowest point in my life, I had never felt closer to God as I did when I stood on the rim of that Canyon! I then headed up to Four Corners and on to Denver. From there I was going to get onto 70 east, a straight shot to St. Louis where I could go back to my ex and sweep her off her feet. UGH! What was I thinking!?!?!?! I showed up on the door step of our former home. She was aghast! Turns out, the night before she had a nightmare that I had returned to murder her and here I was on her door the next day. Needless to say I was not welcome.

    The following day, I decided the best place for me to be was back in Florida where my support group was. 2 days later I was there. The reality of my hopeless situation had sunk in. My judgement was so clouded by booze, I thought she would welcome me back after a few weeks away. I was sadly mistaken and that reality began to sink in. I lost my wife! So, I moped around in Florida while my friends tried to console me. I could stand only about a week of this. I needed a drink and there was nothing anyone could do or say to help me at this point. A drink was all I wanted! I could not sit still! So I sold my truck and bought a cheap car so I could get back to the DC area where I could go ask mommy if I could stay with her. I knew she could not say no.

    So, I spent the next month doing everything I could to drink myself to death. I had reached my Leaving Las Vegas moment. I am not sure how close to death I had gotten, but I was definitely out of it for a month, most of the time going around in a black out. It was about this time that I was able to speak to my friend from LA, you know the one I went to see out there in the first place. Not sure I wanted to get help, but he offered it anyway. He told me that if I could make it out to Vancouver, British Columbia, he had a friend who could help me. So I sold my car and bought a one-way bus ticket to Bellingham, WA where they would meet me and take me to the place where I was to get some help. Sound sketchy to you guys? It wasn't, but I didn't care if it was. I just wanted something that would alleviate the pain and the alcohol was not doing the trick like it once did.

    So there I was, with a strange woman sitting before the Canadian Border Patrol agents as they questioned me relentlessly. Little did I know I would not be wlecomed into that backward country! I had been arrested 13 years prior at the age of 18 on a violent offense, a simple battery, so I was denied admission into Canada. LOL! Are you kidding me? I was forced to sit on the border in a trailer with some dude who was drunk the whole time for 3 days while they tried to figure a way to get me across the border into Canada! Haha! Eventually I made it across. I was an illegal alien in Canada. LOL! Anyway, this was a community home where they nursed wayward drunks like myself back to health a lot like they did back in the 30's and 40's. The only problem was they didn't seem to like an arrogant, self-centered, whining American who cared little about the people who were trying to help him. I couldn't stand them! So after a couple of weeks of this I decided to leave. I made my way back across the country, eventually making my way back to Florida.

    When I got back to Florida, sometime in May, I was unable sit still! I wanted to drink so bad, but like I mentioned previously, the booze had begun to stop working. I was no longer able to blot out my existence with a drinkor rather many drinks! But that didn't stop me from trying. I left Florida again because I knew I could go back to Mommy again. So I headed back to the DC area unsure what to do but drink. It was here that I began to see the bottom crashing up before me.

    On a hot June day in the DC area, I was suffering from a terrible hangover. I was driving down the road with my Grandmother, the most Christian (shown through her actions) person I have ever known. I was desperate and scared, lonely and angry! I looked at her and asked her, "Gramma, why is God doing this to me?" She looked at me with the same look of scorn she gave me when I was a boy who had gotten caught with my hand in the cookie jar and said, "Brian, God is not doing this to you! You are doing this to yourself!" That statement hit me like a ton of bricks! It was the eye opener I needed. Of course I was not done yet, but a seed had been planted. I was the problem! It was not everyone around me who would not simply act as I wanted them to. I know that sounds like a simple process to many of you, but to an alcoholic in his cups, it was a revelation.

    So with my sound judgement (Heavy Sarcasm), I called my friend in LA who told me to go back to Vancouver. So I did. Haha! It was more of the same, nearly 2 weeks of hearing them belittle me every day. I left long before they could be of any help to me. I began my travel back across this country, this time able to see the end was near, one way or another. I found myself back in St. Louis, MO where I stood at the turning point. I could go to Florida where I had a support group who was waiting for me, or I could return to MD where I would likely die.

    My choice was Maryland because I knew that in Maryland I could at least stay with Mommy for one night which was exactly what she said when she saw me. As soon as I stepped foot in MD I knew I had to do something or I was going to die there. For the first time in recent memory, I really wanted to live. See, I thought I was hopeless. I was of the hopeless variety I had heard about for years, a real alcohilc who could not stop drinking on his own, who must have help from a power greater than himself! I spent the night in my mother's house and the next day I did something I had never done before. I showed up on my father's doorstep knocking on his door. Let me tell you something about my father. He had gotten sober 20 years prior after a terrible battle with his own demons and was a very private man. He did not invite people to his house and I, being a good drunk like he used to be, was certainly not welcome.

    Anyway, he looked at me and asked, "What do you want me to do?" He had stopped taking my phone calls the day after I left my fiancé. He had had enough of me.. On a side note, I left my fiancé in financial ruin when I walked out on February 13. Well, after she and I finally spoke when I had been sober for 5 years, she told me my father sent her $6,000 a few weeks after I left to help her get out of the debt I left her.

    So there I stood at my father's door step asking for help. I simply asked him to get me back to Florida. I did not ask for money like I normally did. I simply asked him for help to get me back to Florida. I was ready and I needed his help to get down there. With some reservations, he agreed to buy me a bus ticket to West Palm Beach. He also gave me some cash. It was this cash that I used to go on my last bender which started on July 14, 2000. My bus ticket was for 12 noon the following day.

    At around 9:30 the following morning on July 15, 2000, I took my last drink. I downed a half a bottle of Listerine, went to my mother's couch and passed out!

    I came to around 11ish only to realize that I would never make it to the Bus Station in DC on time for the noon bus. I called and had them switch my ticket to the 6pm bus. I made it to that one and was on my way back to Florida. The whole time I was unable to sit still. I was coming apart at the seams! I wanted a drink so bad! If nothing else, I wanted to find a fellow traveler who had a little of the green buddy substance that I substituted for booze. I had been doing this for much of the trip back and forth across the country in lieu of booze since I had begun to get scared to drink on the bus for fear of getting kicked off. At this point, I knew if I drank I would likely be kicked off the bus and not make it to Florida. It took everything I had to not take a drink.

    Somewhere in the 30 or so miles between the Florida/Georgia border and Jacksonville, I realized that I was sitting still. I felt a comfort and ease that only booze had been able to deliver for so many years. There was no burning bush or white light experience, just the realization that I never had to drink again! The obsession to drink was lifted and has been since. I was on the tail end of a 22,000 mile trip back and forth across this country three times. I had seen the grandeur of the grand canyon, I had watched the most beautiful shades of color in a sunset over the Arizona Desert, I saw the deepest blue I have ever seen in the waters of Lake Couer d'Alene, Idaho, I saw the place where Evil Knievil attempted to fly a rocket across the Snake River Canyon, saw the sunset over the Pacific, took a boat ride through the Islands off the coast of Vancouver where I saw incredible wildlife, I saw snow capped Rockies in the summer, I saw the boring great plains and I was incapble of enjoying any of it. I am grateful that the memories of those places are still vivid. I may not have enjoyed them at the time, but I can look back and appreciate it all today.

    This journey was a prime example of someone who tries desperately to runaway only to find that every where they run, there they are. I am grateful to say, I have not had a drink in over 10 years. In the early morning hours of July 16, 2000, God removed the terrible obsession to drink and over the past 10 years I finally learned how to live. I am sober today by the grace of God. It was a long, arduous journey, but one I had to take and I would not change any of it if I could. It has helped mold me into the man I am today and I am proud of who I have become.
    Last edited by Elephant; 07-04-11 at 11:47 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Great story. I will pray for continued success.
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  3. #3

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    Marine Corps Virginia

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    Glad you made it brother. I doubt any of us who have not had to go through hell as you did could ever really understand. All I can say is, I'm happy you found the courage, peace, determination, strength to change the course of your life. We're all better for it. And I appreciate that you feel comfortable enough to know you could share it here.
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  4. #4

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    Thanks for sharing, Brian. Only a guy as strong as you could go to a playoff game with a broken arm! You're a rock, dude!
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  5. #5
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    Keep up the good work my friend
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  6. #6
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    Thanks for sharing that Brian. Changing the course of one's life takes real courage. Happy anniversary to you and BGO!
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  7. #7
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    Virginia Tech

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    This journey was a prime example of someone who tries desperately to runaway only to find that every where they run, there they are.
    Words of wisdom, my friend.

    Congratulations and nothing but good thoughts for a fellow traveler who found his way.
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  8. #8
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    Glad you beat back the demons.

    I had my own moment of clarity in the late 80's when, after hanging out with too many alchohlic military friends and co-workers, I found I had pretty much become a lush. That realization was brought on after I ended up on a Candian destroyer because of my drunken dumbassness. A week later I set my arm on fire with rubbing alchohol in a drunken stupor. The next day, with only second degree burns, I realized something had to change

    Aside from a beer here and there, I haven't had a drink since
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    Formerly known as ...............Sarge

  9. #9

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    Congratulations, good job, El.
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  10. #10

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    first..congrats on making it to the other end of the tunnel!

    if you don't my asking...what drove you to excessive drinking in the first place?
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  11. #11
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    Florida State

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    Quote Originally Posted by fansince62 View Post
    first..congrats on making it to the other end of the tunnel!

    if you don't my asking...what drove you to excessive drinking in the first place?
    fan, there are many opinions on this issue. I am a believer in the medical aspect, that it is a disease. I believe there is a genetic disposition within my physiological make up that gets triggered once alcohol is ingested. As long as I don't drink, I don't have the adverse effect.

    Then as my life devolved, I sought escape in the drinking, until it stopped working. It no longer masked the pain and I was faced with the reality of getting sober.
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  12. #12
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    An incredible story, and what a great adventure.

    On another note, you are a fantastic writer. That read very well, and the pace was sharp.
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  13. #13
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    Bump...

    Today marks 11 years. I am so grateful for the Grace that has been given to me! I just wanted to share this with you guys again.
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    James Madison

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    Congratulations Brian. To your continued health and happiness.
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    Virginia

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    Well done my friend. The rest of this life is yours to live and cherish. Hope to meet you sometime soon - we can share a diet coke.
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  16. #16
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    COngrats El. As someone who just celebrated 2 years after super heavy drinking for years, I hope to stay as strong as you have. Good luck on your continued awesomeness
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    Sorry I'm late, but congrats Brian! Hopefully I'll see you at a game this year and I can buy you a coke!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanky Livingston View Post
    Sorry I'm late, but congrats Brian! Hopefully I'll see you at a game this year and I can buy you a coke!
    Look forward to it! I have every intention of being there for the 9/11 game against the Giants.
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    Well ladies and gentlemen, here were are at another milestone...this weekend we celebrate the birth of this great site and on this day I celebrate 12 years of sobriety.

    This anniversary is particularly special with the birth of my first child and my first year married.

    I am truly blessed and am very excited to share it with you all!
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

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    This thread just gets better and better.
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