“Hi, I’m Brad and I’m an alcoholic. I’m also an addict. Today, I’ve completed two years of sobriety. Two years since I checked out of rehab. I don’t count the period that I was in there because I had no other option but to remain sober. But after that last day in rehab? That’s all me. Most of you here have heard my story. But for those who don’t, my rock-bottom, my breaking point, was the day I almost killed my wife.
It’s funny, you know? I was high and drunk at the time. I didn’t even realize what I had done till the next night. And yet, that memory is crystal clear. I remember watching the bottle sail through the air and hit the wall. I remember the crashing sound it made when it struck the wall and shattered into a million pieces. And I remember my wife’s face as she realized what I’d done. The sound of the bottle breaking was nothing compared to the sound of her heart shattering. The look of fear that crossed her face? That’s something I’m never ever going to forget. And the worst part is that I didn’t even realize that I’d almost killed my wife, the mother of my child, two doors away from my son. It wasn’t until the next night that I woke from my drug induced sleep. That’s the first time I looked at myself and realized that the habit I’d adopted was a genuine problem. And that’s the time I realized that it was time for me to leave to fix myself.
I never thought that I was capable of doing something like that. I thought I had it all under control. It wasn’t a problem! I could stop if I wanted. But I didn’t want to. That’s what I’d told everyone who had tried, and failed, to talk some sense into me. And there were so many of them. So many people who had loved me and had tried desperately to help me. To get me out of the situation that I’d got myself into. But I never wanted to get out. I loved the high. The artificial euphoria.
It took almost killing my wife to make me realize how bad my addiction actually was. To get me to admit to myself that it was actually an addiction. And what was even worse? My wife ducked as soon as she realized what I was about to do. That’s what saved her. But what if it was my son? He wouldn’t have been fast enough. He was so little. It would definitely have killed him.
I’d like to tell myself that I wouldn’t have done it. Not to my son, my own flesh and blood. But I hadn’t even thought that I was capable to doing it to my wife. Of course, I could blame all on the alcohol, the cocaine. But I’m the one that decided to do drugs, to drink that day. So everything that happened after that, that’s all on me.
I did what I knew I had to do that night. I packed up my bags and left. I drove straight to rehab and got myself checked in. And I stayed. After I was done with rehab, I got an apartment in the city. I knew that I couldn’t go home. I was still an addict and my sobriety was still precarious. I couldn’t go back until I was sure that I wouldn’t slip up, that I wouldn’t hurt them again. So I started attending NA and AA meetings. I put myself through the 12-step program. It’s been two years since the day I left rehab. But I’m still stuck on step 9. Making amends. How do I make amends for what I did? Nothing I could ever say or do would make up for what I’ve done.
It’s my son’s birthday tomorrow. I haven’t met him since the day I left. I’ve been too scared to. I have spoken to my wife a few times. Amazingly, after all I did, she still has faith in our relationship. She wants us to try and fix it. But my son? He doesn’t want to meet me. He only remembers the man I was when I was strung out on drugs. The man who’d scream at his mother, who’d shout and yell and throw things around. That’s all he remembers. And he wants nothing to do with that man. I don’t blame him. I want nothing to do with that man either.
I’m going to go to my old house tomorrow. I’m going to see my son again. Not during his birthday party, but after it. I want him to enjoy his party without worrying about what that man is going to do to ruin it. But after that party, I’m going to meet him. For the first time in two years.
I’m worried that I’ve made an unforgivable mistake. I know that I have. And maybe my son won’t want anything to do with me even after he sees that I’m not that man any more. Maybe he won’t be able to see past that man.
Or maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to see me, the new me. The one who has admitted his mistakes, who’s worked to try and fix them. I’ve tried really hard to get my life together again. To get a job, to earn some money and be able to support my family. But, most importantly, to stay sober.
I’m never not going to be an addict. Drugs and alcohol still call to me. Some nights I come very close to throwing it all away and losing myself in that cold world of snow. But I know if I do that, I’m going to turn into that man again.
That man is always going to be a part of me. But hopefully, that man is only going to be a part of my past and not my present or my future. For my family, I’m going to make sure that I never allow myself to turn into that man again.
Anyway, thank you for letting me share and for taking the time to listen to me. I hope that my story lets you all know that you're not alone, that life may seem bad right now but so long as you work hard to fix your mistakes, it'll get better. You may not be able always be able to do so, but all you can do is try.