What Happens When Things Hit Rock Bottom?

It's been 10 days since I last had an alcoholic beverage. This isn't something completely foreign to me, as I went seven days once in 2010 just to see what would happen. This is, however, the first time I have put a stop to my drinking because it had started to be a detriment to my well-being. I don't have a drinking problem that relates to needing a drink at all times, but rather binging on the three or four nights a week that I did drink. It was like if I was going to start, I was not going to stop until I was teetering between blackout city and cognition. For as long as most of my friends may remember, alcohol has been as synonymous with me as my desire to sleep into the afternoon. I always told myself that I would never drink as a result of grief, as that leads to what I perceived to be a much more severe drinking problem. Over the course of this year, I had violated that rule more times than I can remember.

When it comes down to it, this has probably been the most difficult few months of my life.

10 days ago it culminated with me landing in the hospital. While I don't want to make it seem more dramatic than it is, it was a wake-up call. I've had scary moments in my life, but none where I had ever woken up being strapped to a gurney with a neck brace and emergency personnel telling me not to move. Losing my balance and falling head first into an open car door will do that to you. It gave me a concussion, knocked me out, and left me with seven staples on my shoulder, and the deepest bone bruises I've ever had on my knees and elbows.

That's one of my knees - still bruised after 10 days!
There is not really a way to describe how it feels waking up and thinking you may be paralyzed, other than me crying uncontrollably. While I'm thankful that wasn't the case, that mistake ended up costing me $2700. Which makes me question why I don't spend even more of my time traveling overseas, where life comes with less headaches. On top of all that, they cut my favorite cardigan off my body! I bought that cardigan in Spain!!!! I love that cardigan!!! Like I said, this was the culmination.

Over the past few months, I've gone through a lot of "minor" things that add up. I got my first speeding ticket in over 12 years, a couple of parking tickets, my car got broken into where an iPod my dad gave me was stolen (and my Dad never gives me anything), my side-view mirror got knocked off (which happened the day after my car got broken into), and I haven't gone out on a good date the entire year. A few days ago I came home to a door knob covered in chewing gum, which was actually comical in light of everything else going on in my life.

Among the lingering, much larger issues: I've lived the last several months under a tremendous amount of guilt. I don't think I'll ever get over disappointing and hurting someone who wanted to spend the rest of their life with me. How do people do it? Especially to people you care about who don't deserve that amount of anguish? If I could figure out a way to harbor the entire pain for all involved, I would. But I can't. Instead, I live with that weight every day.

A few weeks ago, I lost my chief web developer for my startup. I flew him out to the U.S., he lived in my house for the last three months, broke bread with my family on several occasions, gave him money every week, took him wherever he wanted to go, shared dreams and aspirations together, and placed no pressures on him. I only now realize the severity of how much he took advantage of me. He convinced me not to hire any other engineers because he said he could build everything out himself. In reality, he built just enough minor things to keep me at bay - with major features "just around" every corner. When he returned to Europe, he left me and the company cold, without a transition. Somehow he found the time to Tweet every day and check-in to places, but claimed he didn't have internet access to answer ONE technical question from my contractor. This was a guy I thought had become my friend. A good friend. I was wrong. David Grill Diaz, you're no friend of mine.

In the past I would've resorted to one of four things to get my mind off things: basketball, working-out, drinking, or sex. And more often than not, all four in constant rotation. All of these I am unable to do now in some form or another. I've had, what I believe to be, tendinitis in my ankle for the last five months which keeps me from being able to run, much less play basketball. I can't work-out, because staples in your shoulder and chest will do that to you. I've even turned down easy sexual encounters after a particularly traumatic experience. The only thing I can control now is my alcohol intake. And I didn't like where that led me and where I was heading. Just like I believe smoking and obesity is for the weak, or for those that lack discipline, I refuse to drink when it's not on my terms. And it had become increasingly not on my terms.

So here I am, going through arguably the most difficult time in my life, without a vice or a familiar escape, with very few single friends left, and almost no friends in Cupertino...  And you know what? I'm not really all that depressed. Things can definitely be a lot worse. I have a friend who's battling cancer. That puts things into perspective. All in all, I feel rather optimistic.

In difficult situations I like to think of Cast Away when Tom Hanks makes it back to civilization and realizes that he's lost Helen Hunt all over again. He tells his friend"And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?"

And that's what I'm going to keep doing. I'm thankful I'm older and able to draw upon the experiences of my past. I've got a new lead developer now. I had a new experience at a bar talking to a girl with no alcohol in my system. I have people that love me. I've got an adorable niece and nephew. And that's enough for me.

To use another quote from one of my beloved movies, right before Jerry Maguire starts writing his mission statement he says, "Breakdown? Breakthrough."

I'm not saying I'm never going to drink again. More than likely I'll start up again next week, but it will be on my terms in a manner that I can control.

BUT... if any more people die in Game of Thrones I am going to straight-up lose it.


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  1. this is a great post! And actually made me feel better about a few things i've been dealing with in my own life. Be patient on the healing part and you'll be able to be active again, wishing you a speedy recovery. And yes, be careful on the drinking front.

  2. Thanks Sara! As you know, one of the best rewards of writing is when you can occasionally help others through your own struggles.


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