Garrett, with 16 days since his last drink, shares his story
[ 9:15 ] Paul Introduces Garrett. I’ve had stretches of sobriety, I had 14 months, and I’ve had 3 years. I live in Southern California, in Santa Clarita. I work in outside sales, which is a non-structured job perfect for an alcoholic with hangovers. I’m 43, married, like going to Dodger Games. I have 2 kids, 1 in high school, and one in junior high.
[10:45] Paul– What was the impotence behind you quitting alcohol for 3 years, and then for 14 months?
Garrett- The hangovers for me are the body’s way of saying you’ve put a bunch of poison willingly in your body, and this is the result of it. I would be laid out for a full day. Thinking in the moment there is no possible way this could happen again. The feeling in my stomach, I can’t move, or get out of the bed until 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening. One of those times I stopped for 3 years, didn’t go to any program. I lost weight, and started drinking again without any reason. I would romanticize drinking, and once I got the buzz, there was no way I could stop now. I would have to drink to continue with only a short window of feeling good. The cost of that was being completely laid out the entire next day.
[13:35] Paul– What was it like when you first drank after 3 years? Do you remember the first night? Did you pick up right where you left off?
Garrett– No, not really. It was a gradual thing, a slow buildup. My elevator is kind of chaotic; it’s like the elevator at the tower of terror at Disney world. At that point it was gradual. I would wait for people to go to sleep, get a six-pack, and when that was gone, drunk drive to the liquor store and buy some more. I would start with a bottle of wine, then I would go back to the store for tall boys. I don’t know how many I would buy, but I would wake out, the room would start completely shaking, I would close my eyes, and that would be it.
[15:45] Paul- Garrett you mentioned a word earlier that I would like to explore- Fascinating. You would tell yourself I’m only having a couple, but then just game on. Can you tell me more about that fascinating part for you?
Garrett- It was complete and total amnesia every single time. Forgetting the hangovers. The amount of times I would lose not doing the things I wanted to do because I would be hung-over. Because I’m not a bum in the street, I didn’t feel I was a true alcoholic.
[19:30] Paul- Was there a rock bottom moment 16 days ago? How come you quit drinking?
Garrett- It wasn’t a single rock bottom. I have season tickets for the Dodgers. If there was ever a sport made for sitting and drinking beer it is baseball. The beer vendor at the stadium recognized me; I would have to go different vendors because I was embarrassed. The drunk driving home from the games, then going to bars, then drunk driving home again. I dented the garage with my car, and realized with a moment of clarity that this sh#t has got to stop.
[22: 01] Paul– Before I hit the record button you mentioned you felt like you were ping ponging back and forth between: Am I an alcoholic? Do I have a drinking problem? Tell us more about that.
Garrett- It was a stretch of a few days where I would just continually have a few days (of sobriety), and then I would be like “I’m not” because I would have a few days and that proves it. The hangover goes away and I would think I’m not (an alcoholic) again.
[ 24:00] Paul– Is it harder this time around, do you remember?
Garrett– This time I’ve got 16 days. I’m trying to arm myself with some resources. I’m in a Pink Cloud at the moment. History does repeat itself, and I have a plan to address what I know is going to start coming down the road. The key thing is accountability. I never had accountability with another person. I think if I were not anonymous, I wouldn’t have taken that first drink on the New Port Harbor cruise after 14 months of sobriety.
[27:57] Paul– You mentioned you had a bad experience with AA, tell me more about that.
Garrett– I was raised Christian evangelical, about 10 years ago I broke with that, and I am an atheist now. I saw a lot of the judgment, dogma and there was trust that was broken in AA. That combined with the God thing I’m still wrestling with. I need to focus on the positive. I’m ready to explore going back to AA, maybe a different meeting time.
[30:14] Paul– With 16 days of sobriety, what have you learned most about yourself?
Garrett– This time around is more of a sense of inner peace. What I’m realizing now is that I don’t have to keep living the way I was living. There’s no reason I have to pick up a drink again. My life does not have to be how it’s been. I’m choosing not to drink. When cravings strike, I’ve been setting a timer on my apple watch to allow the 20 minutes to pass.
[34:10] Rapid Fire Round
- What was your worst memory from drinking?
Waking up and having to tell my wife that I was too hung-over to go down to my mom’s house for Easter. Then spending the entire day in a state of despair.
- Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? Back in college when I just got too hung-over and missed a final. That was the first “oh-shit” moment.
- What’s your plan in sobriety moving forward? Accountability. Reaching out and talking to other alcoholics, and seeking ways to help each other.
- What’s your favorite resource in recovery? Podcasts, Recovery Elevator, and the big book on my kindle.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? You don’t ever have to drink again if you don’t want to.
- What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? If you were thinking about getting sober… I would say: Do it, you’ll never feel better.
- You might be an alcoholic if: Every night after you down many many bottles of beer, that you put those bottles of beer in a trash bag, put them in your trunk, and then the next morning drive them to a dumpster so that your wife doesn’t find out that there were all these empty bottles of beer in the trash can.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code Elevator for your first month free
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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”