The days when I could say “I’ll just have one” and mean it are long gone. They were gone about five years after I started drinking. I don’t know if I’m a victim of genetics, bad luck, circumstance or my own stupidity, but I seemed destined to be affected by alcoholism. I grew up around it. My father was an alcoholic, my two uncles were alcoholics and although she was never diagnosed, my sister was an alcoholic. When you grow up in it, you don’t really think there’s anything wrong, unless something really bad happens, which it rarely did. When bad things did happen, alcohol was usually involved, but I never put two and two together until it was too late.
I realized about twenty years too late that I inherited the family disease and was following identically in my father’s footsteps. I’d been twice-divorced and was obsessed with two things: alcohol and my law career. Eventually one began to eat into the other. Can you guess which overshadowed which? I started taking on less and less clients and eventually just decided to take an indefinite hiatus. Looking back on it, I wasn’t giving my clients my best at all towards the end and I’m ashamed of that. I’d always loved practicing law and when I realized that my career was compromised, it scared me to death.
Broken and defeated, I entered an inpatient alcohol recovery program. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t think I was young enough to heal and start over. I soon learned that recovery wasn’t about age; it was about motivation, spirit and your willingness to accept help. It’s also about the program that you choose to do this important work. I was lucky enough to be able to heal in an environment where my needs came before my mistakes. I was treated wonderfully by my doctors and the staff and felt like I was on vacation for part of the time I was there. They really knew how to blend luxury and treatment.
The only other thing I can say about the last three years of my life is they’ve been the best I’ve had since before I started drinking. I’m more effective at work, I don’t live in the dark anymore and withdrawal is a thing of the past. Please let me stress that no matter how old you are, you still have time to live the rest of your life on your terms, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.