An open letter to anyone who’s ever bought me a drink.

Hey man, that was great, thanks for picking up that round. What a killer time we had.

Unfortunately, after you bailed because you had to be up early the next day, I stayed at the bar and drank with those couple of people we met there. Then, when they left, I drank until the bar closed. Alone. Then I got in the car and drove home – quite obviously something I shouldn’t have done – and when I got home, I checked to see what we had around the house to drink.

I’m embarrassed to admit how many times this little scenario has played out in my lifetime. How many times I’ve woken up in the morning not being able to remember how I got home or who I insulted/offended beforehand. I’ve well exceeded my limit of ‘second chances’ and ‘close calls’. It’s time to stop now. Really, the clock is ticking and at this rate, it’s not a question of ‘if’ my luck will run out, but ‘when’.

Some of you will remember, ’round this time last year, I quit drinking. Well, I did, for 6 months, then had a touch here and there. Started thinking I could do so in moderation, but over the past few months it’s become readily apparent to me that I can’t.

I don’t want it to get weird with us. I know in the past I’ve always felt weird and didn’t know how to act around people when they told me they didn’t drink or had quit. Probably partly in due to the fact that it reminded me that I had a problem myself.

“Oh. Uh. Sorry.” Hides beer behind back. Retreats. Communication tapers off, never to be heard from again.

Honestly, it’s been so long that it’s hard for me to even interact without alcohol. Fact of the matter is, it freaks me right the fuck out to think about going anywhere with a group of people without it. And go to a bar and not order a drink? Forget it. Not happening man.

Some of you I’ve been drinking with so long, it’s second nature. It’s intrinsic. It will be weird no matter what, but it’s gotta happen.

I have to re-learn how to interact with people without it and that’s gonna take me some time. Be patient with me while I straighten my shit out. It will mean less nights out for me – and/or shorter ones, or bouts of moody weirdness, but I’ll get it.

So that’s it boys and girls, it was fun while it lasted. I’m tired of the guilt and the loneliness and the shame. I’m tired of being ‘owned’ by it and living in fear of when the next shoe will drop.

I was talking with Lyn about it and she says to me “It’s a choice, you know. A choice you have to make.”

“It’s a disease, too.” I said.

“Yes. But even people with the disease still have to make the choice.”

So I’ll be making that choice. Now, tomorrow, all the time, for the rest of my time. I realize now the meaning of it. That you’re never really ‘cured’ – that’s where I made my mistake before. From here on out I’m a recovering alcoholic – that’s what it will mean to get up in one piece every day and feel good about myself.

So this Thanksgiving that’s what I’m thankful for – I made it out alive – with my conscience semi-intact – when so many haven’t. My family and friends are still in one piece and I get to move forward with their love and support. I’m lucky to have that.

So next time you see me you don’t be afraid to ask me how it’s going. I’ll probably tell you it’s rough sometimes – but that’s alright, what’s important is that it IS going. It’s a part of who I am now and it will always be.

You don’t have to hide your beer – just buy me a soda.

“It’s not you, it’s me. I think we should just be friends.”

Hi. I’m Kent. I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for 5 days.

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