My disease stole my family, career and almost my life. I can remember the first time I tried alcohol, I was 13 or 14 years old. Back in the day, my father used to fly first class and come home with little bottles of liquor. The day of my eighth grade dance, I drank vodka from an airline bottle kept in my father's liquor closet. I drank two of those bottles and headed to my eighth grade dance. For a shy kid that didn't talk with many people, I suddenly had a outgoing personality, talked and danced with girls. Many girls were out of my league (or so I thought). That night, from the positive experience at the dance, started a cycle that lasted until July 28, 1980. On that night, I drove my father's 1969 Camaro into the stone wall entrance of ironically a high end alcohol rehab named Four Winds in Crossriver, NY. This is where Elizabeth Taylor went and suddenly I had arrived. The crash was so loud at 3 am that it woke the care taker of the rehab. Also, luckily, two state policeman were headed the other way just prior to me hitting that stone wall. The state police and care taker saved my life that night. Within minutes, an ambulance took me to Northern Westchester Hospital. I was in a Coma for nine days and the hospital 30 days. I spent the rest of the summer of 1980 in physical and emotional recovery. The internal head trauma put me in a coma and I suffered damage to the 3rd optic nerve of my right eye. The doctors told me then that if I didn't drink or drug, exercise more and eat well going forward that my eye may get slightly better but any improvement would cease after one year. For the next year, I followed the doctor's orders and saw improvement. In addition, I went to many mental health professionals to evaluate if my brain had healed so that I could go back to college.
My struggle to not drink and drug had begun. A year to the date of the accident, my doctor said my eye wasn't going to get any better. I went out and drank again and continued to do so for the next seven years. On July 28, 1987, my doctor recommended I go to an AA meeting. I went to my first AA meeting in a church basement in Manhattan. I heard people talking and laughing, a far cry from what I heard in a while. Being I was in a money center during the day as a commercial mortgage banker and an avid drug user at night. I recall very little from that first meeting except that all of it was positive. I received a meeting book and started going to meetings on a regular basis for the next 3 years. In 1990, I began going to less meetings as life had taken off and become much better. I got married, has a succesful career however began to struggle in and out of the ruins of alcohol's consequences. I kept going back to the rooms of AA when things got bad, however I realize now that I never really grasped the 12 steps and always thought my situation was different. 16 years later, two healthy children, a divorce, losing jobs, business relationships, all my net worth, investments, and my health was deteriorating, my girlfriend of 6 years left me. I was alone in our house, overwhelmed by debt and losing my sanity. After a 4 day run of drinking and drugging and all alone, I told myself I had enough. Enough loss, enough stress, and enough drama for one lifetime. I reached out and called an AA old timer I had met in Florida. He welcomed me into his home where I slept on his couch for the next 3 days. He dragged me to AA meetings during every waking moment. Just like they say in AA, I finally decided to change everything. I got a sponsor, I read from the AA book everyday, I went to meetings everyday, I called other alcoholics everyday but most importantly asked God every morning to remove the obsession to want to drink and drug.
These changes generated immediate results and the obsession to want to drink and drug daily was lifted. The next 3 years, and the ensuing financial crisis was not good for me personally or professionally. However the struggles of those 3 years made me stronger. Today with 9 and 1/2 years of continuous sobriety and counting, my life is 1,000 times better. I remarried, have a relationship with my children, a home, my business is thriving and I do service work with Freedom House. Over the past 10 years I have been on the board of Freedom House, President for 3 of those years. Working with the residents of Freedom House keeps my memory green. Keeping it green, attending meetings and praying every day has allowed me to enjoy life to its fullest everyday.
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