Sober, Happy, & Free
Author: Rick S.
Reprinted From: The Community Health Alliance


I grew up in Chicago, one of six kids. My dad worked three jobs most of my childhood, and my mom dedicated her life to taking care of her family. She had anxiety disorders, and it seemed that she didn't have time to think of herself. I don't remember a whole lot of my childhood except I felt alone and different than the other kids.

After graduating college, I married the girl I met in school and got a job in the business world. Just a pretty standard story. I do, however, remember being very drunk at the wedding. So drunk I went home with my new wife and passed out for many hours. At the time it didn't really seem strange.

In my working life, I got take-out drinks for the daily train ride home. First a few beers for the ride, and then a couple of years later, martinis. I also had the softball leagues and the Christmas parties, Cubs and Bears games, and with them all, more and more drinking.

What I see now without a doubt is that I was beginning to rot inside. All those things I wanted to be when I grew up--a decent man and a church-going family man, were slowly fading into impossibility. I went where alcohol was served and sneaked it in where it wasn't served. I got divorced, remarried, and started all over again. There was a hole inside of me that I couldn't fill. It seemed alcohol would do it for a while, but it kept requiring more and more to fulfill its purpose.

The mornings would bring great anxiety and depression and overwhelming feelings of utter despair and hopelessness. So I did what I had trained myself to do; when I felt bad I drank. Alcohol had became my higher power without my having chosen it so. I wouldn't leave it or keep it far from my thoughts for even a short time.

I drove to work one morning and passed a church sign that I looked at everyday, even though I really didn't want to. It said something like, "God has not moved from you; you are the one who has moved away from Him."

I remember asking God to just leave me alone and let me finish going down this road of destruction. "Please just let me go," I said. But He wouldn't. No Way. He heard my (hidden) plea for help and saw my undeclared surrender.

I hit bottom without ever knowing what that meant. Hadn't I just sat holding my two-month-old son and yelling at my wife to take him because I couldn't stand holding him while he cried? Didn't I just miss my two-year-old daughter's birthday party as I sat in the upstairs bedroom drinking a bottle of whiskey while a whole house full of people asked where I was? The end had come. My wife woke up one night, saw I was incoherent from drinking every ounce of alcohol in the house, and sent me to the hospital.

Rick the college graduate and corporate executive had obtained a new title: Chronic alcoholic. Me? I didn't get a DUI, was never inside a jail, had a nice house, two cars, and a good incentive and retirement plan. Chronic alcoholic? Seemed pretty serious.

In the hospital, I said to my counselor, "Please help me with my problems and then I won't have to drink so much."

My counselor responded, "Rick, you have it completely backward. Quit drinking, and many of your problems will go away."

I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at the hospital. I remember all the negative feelings as I sat at that meeting, sober and scared. Afraid, anxious, shaky, and just bad. What I didn't understand was that this state of being had been produced from a most powerful enemy--alcohol, which had defeated me spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

This was the beginning of a whole new life for me. In a very real and special way to me, and to so many others like me, I was truly born again. Now everything is new. My life in AA is better than it's ever been, even before my first drink. My boy is seven now, and he is the kid I always wanted to be. He's smart, confident, and athletic, and he loves his dad. We hang around together and are building a relationship I could only dream about before I got sober. My little girl hugs me and kisses me and takes such good care of her brother.

I am getting out of life what I always wanted. Not from a stinking bottle, but from a program of Honesty and Love. The hole I was trying to fill with alcohol is now being filled with a spirit and a joy of life. I still struggle with the normal problems of life. But as long as I stay sober, I have a base to work from.

I say this at meetings sometimes, and I'll say it again here in writing: When I was drinking, I was terrified of dying because I knew that I would die a miserable man. But if I die tonight, I will die sober, happy, and free.

Rick S.

Author's Bio: 

Find more great recovery stories at: