A thousand days of serenity.
A thousand days of reality.
A thousand days of love.
A thousand days of tears.
A thousand days of fears.
A thousand days of courage.
A thousand days to cope.
A thousand days of hope.
A thousand days with God.
A thousand days of God.
A thousand days of serendipity.
A thousand days of sobriety.
A thousand days free.
Today, February 16, 2019 marks the 1,000th day of sobriety for me. And I’m here to explain how I humbly, well, sometimes humbly attained this freedom from self:
Day one, of one-thousand started on May 22, 2016. It was a Sunday, not a bloody Sunday like the song, but close enough. The night before was my last drink and last drug. The Saturday of my last drink happened to be a full flower moon (I don’t know why this matters, I guess for people into full moons and stuff), and I happened to be on some pretty potent mushrooms. I was at a friend’s rooftop bonfire party in Chicago having a great time. There was fancy craft beer flowing out of a pony keg.
Let’s back it up just a few hours…
I had just ended my shift serving at the comedy club where I worked. A few of us had “after work” plans to go to our coworker’s birthday party at her place in Chicago. On the ride from the suburbs, I remember going through my purple crown royal sack of goodies (pot, bowls, ecstasy, cocaine, etc). In the sack, I had discovered a ziplock baggy filled with a cocktail of three types of psychedelic shrooms, equally mixed, weighing about a gram plus. I offered the four other people in the car some shrooms and everyone said, “that’s all you man, good luck with that.” So, I ate the whole bag. We already had a bowl of weed going around. I was already high, so that helped with the shiitake taste. Wait, shiitakes taste good, just trying to be dad joke punny.
Back to the party…
By the time I had arrived to the party I was starting to trip hard, yet mellow. I remember the brilliant night sky filled with that pizza pie of a full moon. It was so bright and somehow enhanced my psycho-activeness. That, along with the several bowls of marijuana smoked, and glasses of beer drank. I was feeling real hippy-love in that very moment. I was telling all my friends there how much I loved them and how much love was pouring out of me. I felt like a firehose of love putting out the fire of negativity. Giving hugs and love to everyone in an arm’s radius.
The party started winding down a couple hours past midnight. There was still about ten of us left at this party. My trip was starting to fade, and my buzz started to dissipate. I had been working on the same pint of beer for over an hour. I think I had smoked another bowl of weed too. I remember staring at the fire pit falling into a dancing flame trance, and that’s when the voices came. I heard the first voice, clear as day, in the likeness of my dad’s voice, “I don’t even recognize you, my own son.”
I had thought to myself, “Maybe the shrooms have not worn off yet. Or, maybe I’m going crazy. Ah, it was nothing.” I had just shrugged it off.
A few minutes had passed…
And that same voice again out of nowhere, clear as day said, “I don’t even recognize you, my own son.” Now, I was really starting to question my own mental state, which was already fragile, but now voices? This time was even clearer from the first. It was as if my father was speaking right into my ear, and I could feel his breath on my cheek. I thought I was still going crazy and had again shook it off.
Another few minutes had passed…
This time there was a voice, but not my dad’s voice. It sounded unlike any voice I have ever heard. Almost familiar, yet, it was loving and divine. He said, “You need help. You need to ask for help. All you have to do is ask.” What? What did this mean to me?
Then, the epiphany happened, I began to realize in this very moment, that my years of drinking, then blackout drinking, and doing drugs had spiraled out of control. I was addicted to anything that filled this hole in my soul. However, the hole had a leak in the bottom. Every time I picked up that drink, or crack pipe, or chased that dragon of crystal meth smoke, or smoked pot, or snorted any drug that I could crush into powder; the hole would fill up. However, it would leak out in a matter of minutes, sometimes hours, and rarely days. A constant void in the middle of this abyss of a soul. Did I even have a soul? Would I be able to climb out of the darkness and into the light again?
And so, I asked a friend nearest me, “Kirsten, I really need to ask you something. And I need an honest answer. Will you be honest with me?”
She said, “Of course Drew.”
I said, “Do I look like I need help? Like, I am sick. Or really skinny, like drug skinny. Like, I need to go to the hospital or something?”
To my expected surprise, Kirsten nodded yes and said, “Yes, Drew. We are all worried about you, we think you are doing too much coke.” I began to weep, not just because she said yes, but because I knew I had more than just a coke problem.
I sadly replied, “It’s not just coke… I’m smoking crack like almost every day and if it’s not crack, I’m snorting powder cocaine. I drink every single day and smoke pot every day. And I don’t know how to stop. I need help. Will you please help me?” Uncontrollable tears streamed down my face, and then Kirsten began to tear up.
She said, “Yes, I will help you. Whatever you need. We will get you help.”
I remember just weeping and weeping, because I had been holding in this dark, dark secret for sometime. I wore a mask in front of my friends, like I was this goofy, funny, clown. Yet, in reality, I was this depressed actor. The few people left at the party started to notice my crying. My friend, Colleen, had come up to me to see what was wrong, then one by one, another friend and another friend. I had told them of my problem and that I really wanted to get the help that I so needed. It was time for me to get honest with myself. To live in whatever solution was coming, and not to dwell in the problem.
Colleen said, “Drew, we are here to help you. And, there happens to be someone here who has been sober for eleven years. His name is Paul. Do you want to talk to Paul?”
I replied, “Yes, please.”
Then, the party became a true divine intervention…
Paul, was a younger man, about ten years younger than me, but he said, “Why don’t we bring this inside everyone?” So, one by one, everyone started leaving the rooftop to go in the house. They sat me at the kitchen table, with my last beer in hand. I remember seeing everyone dump their beers down the sink, and then come over to form a semicircle around me. I said, “Guys, wait, this is not about me. This is Julie’s birthday party, and I don’t want this party becoming about me.”
My friend, Meranda, said, “Drew, you asked for help, and now this is about you. We love you and want to help you.” Did I just manifest my own intervention? All I did was listen to the last voice in my head just an hour ago by asking for help. And now this.
A rush of fear came over me, well, I guess I was already living in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the days ahead, and fear of what I had done to myself and loved ones in the past. Paul, sitting next to me, started to tell me his story about his struggles with addiction, since he was a teenager. I remember listening intently trying to take whatever I could from his story to help me with mine. Then, it hit me, I heard the words, “acceptance” and “honesty.” Those two words, were the words that I needed to hear. Paul got sober when he was 16 years old. And had remained that way for eleven years.
Then, Meranda said, “Drew, is this something you really want? I know a lot of people say things when they are on drugs or drunk. You could just be saying this because you are messed up right now.” In my heart, I knew she was right. If I was going to make a decision about changing my life forever, I had to do it sober.
Paul agreed and said, “So, I already called the hospital to see how to get you in detox. And they said to just drop you off at the emergency room and they will transfer you over. I am going to ask you to not make that decision now. Drew, Julie is blowing up her air mattress, and all your friends are sleeping over. We are putting you to bed, and when you wake up in the morning and decide you want to be honest with yourself. Then, your friends will drop you off. But the decision has to be all yours when you wake up sober. I will be praying that you say yes.” Paul, gave me a hug, left the party, and I went to bed.
About 6 hours had passed…
I seemed to be the first one to wake in the morning. I looked around the living room and everyone was asleep. As I laid awake staring at the white ceiling, I asked myself many questions: did last night really happen? Did an agnostic like me really hear the voice of God or whatever it was? Did an intervention manifest from listening to that very voice in my head? Do I want to go to the hospital to detox? Do I really want to get sober?
Was yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes to every single question. For once in my life, I made a decision to be honest with myself. I wanted to stop being selfish, to quiet my ego, and get the help I needed. I had to accept the fact that I was an alcoholic, and that my life had become unmanageable. As my friends started to wake, they asked, “You doing this?”
I nervously replied, “Yes.” They, without hesitation, got ready and said that they would take me to the hospital and even go in with me during intake.
Five of us piled in my friend, Amy’s car. She drove us towards the beginning of my journey. This would be the beginning of this sober journey. As I sat in the backseat on the driver’s side, I thought to myself, “what am I getting myself into? What’s going to happen? Is God real? What do I have to do?”
We arrived at the hospital 30 minutes later, Amy parked. Each one of the friends in that car, got out and walked with me to those emergency room doors. The doors opened automatically, and my friends continued to walk in the waiting room with me. Kirsten, Amy, Mahdi, and Meranda walked me in that door and sat in the room as the hospital processed me in. I am so, so grateful for these friends, who I am still friends with today. They helped lessen the fear inside of me.
When the nurses took me in, I hugged everyone that brought me, thanked them and said that I’d see them in about a month. My plan was to go through detox and then find a rehabilitation facility to get the full help that I needed.
As I laid scared in that hospital gurney, I knew that this was just the beginning. A beginning to a life of sacrifices, steps, and working hard to maintain sobriety. How I was going to get to today, is going to come in upcoming chapters of this blog.
Fast forward to…
Today, I have 1,000 days of sobriety. An accomplishment, I would not be able to attain without first, my God. Yes! I now believe in God. Too many coincidences have happened for me not to believe. Living a spiritual, not religious life was the simple solution to being able to get through each day for me. Sobriety today was also achieved by working my recovery program (AA) with my amazing sponsor, Tim O. I continue to work the same program and have even sponsored others. Following the suggestions of others’ success stories in AA, and from my sponsor, has helped me become happy, joyous, and free today. I came to the realization that I don’t have to go through this journey alone.
Most importantly, I have worked life, and this new design for living, one day at a time. I have stayed teachable, open-minded, and willing to go to any length to achieve, serve, and inspire. I went from having an entitled attitude, to having gratitude. Gratitude in every blessing that happens to me. Grateful for my friends, family, and the AA fellowship that have supported me through this journey.
By God’s Grace alone today, within this 1,000 days, I have been truly blessed with not only sobriety, but I have been given another chance at life:
After eight years of not driving, I now have my driver’s license again; which I got in June, 2018. I became a triathlete; competing in 4 triathlons and a half marathon in 2018, getting a 3rd place medal in my age group in the Schaumburg sprint triathlon. I got my dream job of flying the friendly skies as a flight attendant; flying for a major U.S. airline. Inspiration had to take the place of my aspiration. Today, is better than it was yesterday.
Thank you all for taking the time to read Chapter 1 – Getting To Day 1 of A Thousand Days. I will try to remain consistent in posting future chapters. What I hope to do is inspire others giving them hope through my experience and through the strength that God has given me. If any of you need help or know someone that needs the help struggling with addiction, please reach out to me or a local recovery group. I am grateful for you. God bless you all.
Coming up in March 2019… “Chapter 2 – The Three Dreams”
If you have any questions about addiction or need help or just want to talk, please fill out the form below, hit SUBMIT, and I or someone in recovery will promptly reply:
3 thoughts on “A Thousand Days – Chapter 1 – Getting to Day 1”
Keep up the good work.
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Wow man, takes me right back to my last night out. Got me feeling so grateful for sobriety! ODAAT brother.
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