"Thank you everybody for showing up on such short notice. Today is the day I change." I said holding a glass of water wishing everyone well who had shown up to celebrate my year of sobriety. I was in a car accident that disabled me and luckily I did not kill anyone. I could have though, but for the tree that slowed my momentum. I was out of it and driving so fast and in deep sleep. We had just had a beer or two after my friend who for years had been begging to be promoted at work finally got her wishes. We thought that we were celebrating her accomplishments. Happiness in our terms meant a cool dinner, a well made salad and a drink. We ate and congratulated my friend knowing that this was long in coming. It is a big deal in our industry for a woman to make it and be a somebody because our industry is dominated by men. Luckily for her she did not have to leave our office and move halfway around the world as it customarily was the case with men who got promoted. I do suspect that she had a secret pal who wanted her around long enough until he could summon the courage to ask her out. There had been rumors!
So we left each other at the parking lot unsure if we were well enough to drive alone and be on our own. I drove knowing that not only was I sleepy, I also needed to be at home quicker than I could afford to be. I was sleepy. I was tired. I was happy. I was deranged not having eaten anything but drinks and alcohol. I drove hoping that one day I will park my car in the right address and knock on the right door with my keys.
It was not to be. I crashed head first on a tree which was there for centuries and was on my way to slow my momentum. My head took a hit and I passed out for days. I woke up in a hospital bed with a vague smell of booze. I was clean, I think. I wonder if I was bleeding when they collected me from the ashphalt. Anyway tubes poured life juices in me which were unlike the liquor that sent me there. I was swollen and I was immobile. I had pain in very remote areas of my body.I barely remember who entered my room and for what purpose. I do remember getting a shot. I do remember someone saying something to me with gestures. I was starring in a movie with subtitles. I could beg my mind to remind me what the nurse or the doctors meant but I was just too wasted to know anything. My family waltzed in and out some patted my head as though I was their newly adopted puppy that they marvelled at. I could try to move my neck so that my head could rest on the other side of my cheek. No it was just too painful. Days and weeks of daily attempts at finding a comfortable position to place my head and my cheek were the only achievements that I could legitimately attribute to the drugs that the doctors gave me. First I could think about aiming to move my head to my left. Then my aims would fail because I was in pain if I tried. I then would take a brand new drug and wonder if then I could move my head and once I again I would be able to, just a little bit not too much, and then suddenly the pain would be back again and then I would pass out. Eventually it was clear that surgery would have to be with the bovine knife that would forcefully direct my neck to the left side of my body. Ofcourse it worked eventually. Soon I was out of there. My family and friends each held my hand and told me to see a counselor who would remind me about life without drugs and alcohol. Where was my job at that point? My job was long taken over by someone else who was not at our celebration party. Who went to bed on time. Who did not sing to herself to ease the pain.
The counselor did not seem much impressed with me. She said:"You think that you are an alcoholic? You think so? Did someone tell you that or you just are suspecting that you are one just because you drink too much or you drank too much at the party." She said as she picked up her halfway burnt cigarette. I thought to myself she must know something. She herself was struggling with an addiction. Everyone knows by now that cigarettes are bad for anyone who is susceptible to cancer and who smokes them. I looked up and realized that she infact was trying something new. To be tolererant to those who are certainly known to be failures, rejects of society, those who could not put the bottle down. What was wrong with my health insurance? Did I not deserve a prestine specialist who was judgemental. Whose mere presence was about health and low carbs. If one were to think about it, one usually sees places for AA meetings to be somewhat dingy as if it was a value judgement that those who entered the room at a certain time of day were infact dingy and a waste of time for others who were sane and alchohol free.
"I think that I am an alcoholic. I lost my job. Usually we are told that certain events in life happen to those who are careless in their lives or those who drink. I was at a party and I had an accident. I had to go to court because I damaged property and I was cited by the judge. I am intitiating recovery so that the judge can allow me to rejoin society. I think those factors make me an alcoholic.”I said tyrying so much to move this introduction along.
"Did you have problems with alcohol in the past?" She asked
"I don't think so. But waking up in a hospital bed and having surgery......Those are reasons why I suspect that I might have a problem. Especially when I stood infront of a judge and he looked scared because of my bandages. That does something to someone like me." I said "He was so scared." I repeated.
"Well, I will take your word for it this time. Now let's see what can I do for you. How old did you say you were? I know I should have memorized my notes before meeting with you." she said perusing the papers and looking around for a notebook to write about me, her first encounter of the day!
"I am 40 years old. I am in pain. I think that I will need pain medication too. I might need help with my accident insurance. I don't want my potential employer to find out that I had an alcohol related incident. It will affect my opportunity to be hired or it might even raise my premiums."I said wanting to be honest
"I know what you mean. I am giving you a break here. If I felt that you were a danger to yourself and others I would have tagged you. I cannot over look the fact that you hit a tree insted of a pedastrian or a moving car. That is my concern. Not that your health is at stake. I could care less about your surgery. I care that you might have killed someone who might have grown up to become a doctor or discover a cure for cancer. That is your main problem." she said
"Do you see where I am coming from?" she asked as I became more and more nervous realizing that I was in deep trouble.
"This has never happened before. I was celebrating my good friend's promotion. That's all. I think I was just too tired to drive." I said trying to miminimize the situation.
She got up and walked to the back of her office which was very desolate of anything that showed that a medical professional used the space for curing the ill of health. It was microbes free, with chairs that gave you a sense that maybe you might need to put money on the meter where the chairs stood. It was unlike a place where one would want to spend a lot of time.
She returned with a solution which she asked me to swallow in one gulp. I did. It was like water and had a bizarre taste which I could not place. I felt a chill down my spine as I realized that something bad was about to happen to me and I had no choice but to accept that I was in the wrong. The judge had given me 3 months to fix my problems. He even mentioned that if my health deteriorated I was supposed to return to his courtroom even if I were in a hospital bed or a stretcher! I had to witness to him what I planned to do to turn my life around.
"When next will you be around to not hit a tree this time but a family in an suv with young parents and children?" the judge had asked me when I appeared in his courtroom.
My conscience said to me; well if you put it that way, your honor, I better stop drinking then. I am unsure if I should stop drinking in public or in bars or restaurants or drinking all together.
The me that reasons out wrongdoing told me that in time I will know the right decision. I had seen and heard many strange people advising others not to worry about their problems when the time was right, they would know what to do.
I left feeling sad for myself and in pain. When I got home I slept like a baby. I woke up to a phone call which was in the afternoon of the following day after my appointment. It was my counselor.
"Hi! Is that you? This is Miss Irene your counselor. If it is you,can we talk?" she said and I could imagine her sitting on one of the desperate chairs that lined her office.
"Hi, it is me." I said with a voice which was smaller than I could master, A voice without confidence. A voice that realized that it had done something wrong.
"Okay here is what I wanted to let you know. I and my staff have blocked all incoming calls to all of your phones until you are ready to meet with the judge. You are supposed to meet with me once a day personally or we can talk over the phone. Only my phone can reach yours. You are able to reach emergency numbers in case you need extra help. Is that okay with you?" she said
I was feelling very guilty as it was then. I just said okay.
"Tommorow, show up I will be in my office. You need a second dose of the medication that I gave you when I first met with you. If you have anything to talk about then that would be a good time to ask me questions. So far we are on schedule. I have sent a report to the judge to update him about our progress." she said
"That is fine." I said silently. I was finally owning my mistake which alomost killed me let alone others. I reverted back to my selfish self awarness, the selfish me, who worries about nothing else but me. I almost lost my life, I thought to myself. She was not even a good friend. I solemnly swear to uphold the law. I could stop drinking. I could not count on friendships. I could be cautious with where I go and with whom. I should talk to my counselor until I no longer feel guilty. I should heal.
We went back and forth like that for weeks with my counselor and I could tell that she might have been in the middle of writing her thesis or dissertation and I was her case study. I wondered if her radical therapy was going to give her the results that she was looking for. I by the time I was to meet with the judge, was a new woman. I still had some swelling and wore some bandages which I covered with my vanity and a wig. I looked healthy and filled up. When she reported her findings and what I was able to accomplish the judge looked disgusted and said to me:" That is not a good way to meet somebody. You met me in my courtroom because you almost killed someone. You put others in danger. Don't take this experience lightly. I hope to not have to address you in my courtroom ever again."he said signing a form which was to release me from my counselors jurisdiction.
"Yes, Sir thank you, Sir." I left and walked to my car. I for the first time since my accident had permission to receive phone calls again.
You are hereby invited to a mid afternoon party for ..."
my friends and relatives all showed up with my counselor who wanted to meet them all. She asked to talk to them in private about me and I was not allowed to find out what she talked to them about. When everyone was updated about my ordeal, I was offered an opportunity to address them as a new woman.
"Today is the day that I change..... I appreaciate all of you. I promise you that what happened will never happen again." I said meaning every word of it. I did not have doubts that my life was going to be better. I was nervous about what my counselor had talked to with my friends and relatives about. I silently wondered how my life would be different!