31 Men

For the past several months I have been asking God for help. I rarely ever ask for help specifically for myself, if ever. Any prayers have been directed toward to needs of others. I started to come to the realization that I needed help and I was unable to get help on my own. I am not an overly religious man, and I had considered going to AA knowing that it focused around God. I had considered counseling. But I have been unemployed for several months, and figured I needed to get my employment issue squared away before addressing anything else. I still prayed. I prayed to quit drinking so I would be able to be a better father to my daughter.

My self worth has been fading for a while. Nothing I've done was ever good enough for myself. I do realize complacency is a dangerous thing, but that wasn't my problem. My problem was alcohol. I was not a daily drinker. I didn't even necessarily need to get drunk every time. But each drink was a key. A key that lead to another drink. It was another liquid pat on the back that made me slowly drop my guard, and made me more vulnerable to my own monster. I have always known I had a problem, and people who loved me were possibly aware, but not aware of the magnitude of my depression and problems. Some had mentioned it out of concern, and once out of anger.

I have been in trouble several times due to alcohol. I am not an angry person and would never wish pain on anyone, even those whom I feel have done me wrong. My intent on drinking is never to punish myself or others. When I drink...I just want to be isolated, with my own thoughts, and more importantly away from my own problems. And it worked. I would forget the things I've done, the people I've hurt, and the disappointment I had in myself...until the next day. It would always come back.

I am going to skip the events that lead me up to my awakening. I am just going to start in the worst place I've been at and work my way through. I am sitting in a holding cell at county prison. I have two thin blankets, some paperwork, a 3 inch toothbrush and some toothpaste. I arrived to the cell with 2 other gentlemen. One was very remorseful and frustrated about his situation, the other very animated about the lack of accountability, and how much he hated the police. I had kept my mouth shut and tried to work the anxiety of what I had done. I was still trying to remember.

As we arrived to the cell filled with all the inmates I just wanted to go to a corner and figure things out. I needed to let things settle in more, because while I was in a cell with 30 other men, I knew I was going to be alone with my thoughts for a while. I knew there were 30 men because throughout the day I counted them over and over. 31 of us on a list. All in the position we were in because of the decisions we've made.

I somewhat followed Chris, the remorseful fellow that, while had a history of trouble, was very upset about his situation. He also kept an eye on me and asked how I was doing while at the original holding cell. We both ended up with a group of younger guys that were playing cards. The four of us played Spades for four hours! It felt like forever but it was a great distraction. I spent the next 24 hours in that cell. It was the longest day of my life. I slept maybe an hour. Throughout the entire time the room was taunted by two gang bangers and a couple of followers. I still think everyone was on high alert for something to happen to them. I did a good job keeping to myself, but I recall hearing someone say the word "snitch" when the playing cards were confiscated. I don't think it was directed toward me, but I was nervous to say the least. Cuz I ain't no snitch!!

I was released due by my amazing family. The fact is, I was debating pleading guilty, serving a long time, and taking my medicine. I hated myself. I know I'm neither a bad person nor a bad father. No one will ever convince me otherwise. I am just thankful that my family still believed in me when the person that was supposed to believe in me gave up...ME! I got home, had a meal, and slept for 12 hours. I awoke the next day to a visit from my aunt...then one of my biggest nightmares. My problem was about to be brought into the public.

I was already motivated to change my life. I wanted to help people with the same problem I had. I was very thankful no one was hurt but I was still very ashamed and embarrassed. I didn't want my friends and family to know about what happened. I was finally honest with myself and my family but I didn't want the public to know about my problems. It was out there. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

I was completely lost. Thoughts of suicide had raced through my head. I couldn't do that to my family...but I didn't want to be alive. I was humiliated, sick, and just thought to myself, "what the hell have I done with my life, to my family and my soul?" I had a visit with a lawyer who suggested AA. The thought had crossed my mind while in county, and I knew I needed help, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle facing people when my face was on the TV yesterday morning. I needed to go, regardless. If not for my family, my daughter, my friends or my morale...then at least for myself and my soul.

I was five minutes early for the meeting but I was still the last person there. Everyone already seemed in place, and I was starting to feel out of place. People noticed me...they must have recognized me from the news. I was thinking of turning around and walking out. I couldn't though. I needed to get fixed! So I walked passed the glares. I was in a foreign country. I was the new kid in school. But this feeling was different than the prison walk for obvious reasons. I was still scared. I sat down at the table with the least amount of people.

I exchanged an uncomfortable smile for another. I sat and gazed around the room catching others gazing at me. I sat at the table with the least amount of people. I started 1 of three and ended 1 of five when the meeting leader began talking. I was still very nervous but still focused in on what the man was saying. I don't recall his name, nor would I share it if I did. There came a part where they asked if anyone was there for their first time. I had gone to AA in the past but only twice court ordered and once because of guilt after a drunken bender in which I don't recall. This was different. It was my time. "Is anyone here for the first time that would like to identify themselves?" I raised my hand. Here it goes. Everyone will get the confirmation of who I am and remember me from the TV.

"Hello, my name is Nathan. I have been to AA before...a loooong time ago. This is my first time seriously trying." (Whew) And before I could finish my sigh, "Hi Nathan!" It was loud. It was overwhelming. It was unexpected. It felt like everyone said hello. It felt amazing. I started to tear up. Not too long after that an older gentleman sat right next to me. He patted me on the back as we finished listening to the speech. Once the meeting leader was completed the table leader, the man who patted me on the back, began to speak. He mentioned how thankful he was to be there and told his story but turned to me and emphasized that I was "the most important person there." He touched my shoulder and he, as well as the whole table recognized I was tearing up. I still wasn't sure if anyone recognized me, but I started to feel accepted. I started to let down my guard. I noticed a list being passed around the room. A sign in sheet. I didn't think that noting attendance was necessary but I wanted to sign it so they knew I was here. I wanted to be a part of this. The stories continued around the table. Some were heartbreaking and some were moderate. The common theme was that everyone introduced them as an alcoholic. There was no fear. There was no shame. They weren't hiding. My face was already out. I had nowhere to hide myself...it was my turn.

Before I spoke I noticed the list come to the table. I reached for it but the table leader took it and passed it to another table. I shrugged it off. I'd eventually sign in, but I had to make sure I did.

"Hello, my name is Nathan........and for the first time out loud...I am saying...I am an alcoholic." I pride myself on being a good speaker, but my eyes were down. There was still plenty of shame. I think everyone saw it, but I still felt it. It was heavy. I began to tell my story. Unfortunately, I am unable to go into detail. I can say that I did not have one smooth sentence. I initially asked if anyone recognized me from the TV. Everyone was confused by the answer...could it be that they didn't know me? There is the list in the distance. I tried to keep my eye on it, but first things first, it was time to focus. I sputtered and mumbled. The shame of drinking, not remembering and putting myself, others, and more importantly the thing I love most in the world. I told my story. I told my history. I cried everything I could cry. I put everything out there. I didn't care about shame anymore. I needed to talk....and I was accepted. Everyone saw my tears, heard my terrible story, and still accepted me. It was an amazing feeling. It was so liberating. I felt like I could beat anything.

When I was done the table leader started to sum up what I said as well as why it was so important to be there. He kept emphasizing that I was the most important person there. I didn't fee I was better than anyone else but I sure did feel good better. When he was done the list finally came back to the table. I reached for the pen, but the table leader took it out of my hand. He said, "no, this is for you," and he handed me the list. He said that it was an introduction packet to AA. He also said that it would help me along the way and to keep attending and everything would be alright. I started to cry again. I thought that the gesture was far too good for what I deserved. I went from complete fear of people thinking I was scum to complete acceptance. I was accepted. Despite all my faults, all my mistakes, all my lies, and denial...I was accepted. I haven't felt this good in a long time. I had a mountain to climb, but at least I wasn't the only one who had to climb it.

I went to my aunt's house afterward. I still had tears in my eyes, but it wasn't of shame anymore. I grabbed the packet, and started to open it. The packet was covered with the names of the men and their phone numbers from the meeting. They had offered to help whenever I needed it, and said I should call when I was down. Halfway through opening I had noticed something. Something...I am not sure what...made me count the numbers on the packet. I got up to ten and I thought to myself...this is weird...22...there isn't any way...30!? There are 30 names on the packet. The same amount that was in the cell with me January 1st, 2013. I thought to myself...there is no such thing as coincidence. It became clear. I have a choice. I have an option. We all have a choice of which group of 31 men we want to be a part of. Do you want to be the man that is on the list...or the man that puts their name on a list? Which group of 31 are you?

I am going to put my name on that list.
N8586 N8586
31-35, M
2 Responses Jan 15, 2013

Amazing story, of course we all have amazing stories and we are all miracles. I came to AA on May 7,2009 My wife made me go. I hated it and I didnt want to be there. I knew that it would not work for me, yet here I am, clean, sober,in recovery and pretty happy over 3 years later. I kept coming back to meetings and did not pick up a drink or a drug between meetings. I got a sponsor, joined a group, and became active in my group. I have held almost every job that I could from greeter to coffee maker to secretary and I am currently the treasurer of our group.

I live just south of Boston where AA is strong. I still go to 10 or so meetings a week as I am disabled and cannot work. I speak and I listen. I have a cell phone full of numbers so when I am feeling the urge to drink or drug, I have many friend that I can call who understand me and will help me. I actually havent had the urge to drink or drug in almost a year

After a year and a half, I started the process of formally working the AA 12 Steps of Recovery. it took me about a year and a half to complete them, but I did,

You will learn that while AA is about god, it is not a religious program but a spiritual program. Today, I have a spiritual relationship with my higher power, the god of my understanding

I wish that we could speak in person so I could tell you my story...my experience, strength and hope, but I am sure that there are many people who will tell you theirs. The main thing that I can tell you is that I was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and I was certain that AA would not work for me, but I put in a lot of hard work, and this program does work if you work it. I was told to expect anything in my first year and that is what I got, despair, hope, hopelessness, strength, hopelessness, hope,discouragement, wisdom hope.and strength Dont worry about god right now, just make sure that you dont drink, no matter what and keep coming to meetings and dont give up, wait for the miracle to happen. if it happened for me, it can happen for anyone,

Congratulations, my friend....

Congratulations to you! Helping others has made me feel better about myself, and I want you to know that your words are very encouraging and helpful to me. Thank you!

In order to keep what I have, i must give it away. Thank you, my friend. Your gratitude makes me feel better than I ever imagined I could

Very interesting story. However I would have liked to know how you ended up in jail.
Sounds like something you might read in thefix.com. Good luck with your recovery mate!

I made a bad decision. The story will eventually be told with more detail. Needless to say, it was stupid, and reckless...but it wasn't me. Long story short, I drove when I shouldn't have, but to me it is extremely scary. I'm not afraid to tell it, but it is more than just getting into a car when I shouldn't have.

I will check that site out, too. Thank you.

Well, as a recovering addict, I recommend the site for insight into the addicted mindset if anything.