I have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support since first going public about my personal struggle with alcohol. I have also been completely overwhelmed by the response of those who have sent messages asking for help.
Since first discussing my journey to sobriety, I have received over 600 DMs, mostly words of encouragement, but dozens have been from people asking for help. I never expected this size of a response. I said from the beginning if one person was helped, it was worth going public.
I can only speak from my limited experience, which is just over 40 days now, but here are the steps I have taken, and some tips as well that I have received from others. While I am unable to respond to every message because of the magnitude of DMs, I hope this helps someone…
- You can only begin by acknowledging you have a problem. Not everyone who drinks heavily or often is an alcoholic. Being an alcoholic means that I have no control at all over alcohol and that I was enslaved to its power. That can look differently for different people.
For me, I knew that I had a problem because I would lie about drinking and try to cover it up. I would hide bottles and minis around my house and in my garage. I would stop by liquor stores throughout the day and buy minis to hide in my car or coat pockets.
After drinking all of those throughout the day, I would then get home, take a couple more “secret shots” and then try to hide the smell of the liquor by cracking open a beer, drinking more alcohol to hide the previous alcohol. That is what my alcoholism looked like.
After doing this for years, I knew that if I continued that I would die and die young, leaving my sons and wife behind at the expense of my own addiction. Only two people knew about my problem with alcohol, it was not something people knew about because I could hide it.
One of those two people took their own life the day I went public about my alcohol problem. I thought for sure that would send me spiraling back into an abyss of despair and darkness, but it didn’t. I found his death as a means to discover my end, the end of my alcoholism.
The first few days were not easy at all. So that takes me to my next step:
- Sobriety is one day a time. For many in the beginning, including myself, it was one hour or even one minute at a time (and sometimes still is). So how did I overcome the urges to drink?
I set my alarm for one hour. I did not drink during that hour and it was a victory. At the end of the hour, I would take 30 seconds, close my eyes, and reflect on what I had just accomplished. Then, I would set my alarm for another hour, repeating this process for the entire day.
The hours soon became days and I was able to reflect during meditation and prayer on what I had accomplished that day, rediscovering the beauty of the world and life along the way. But I knew that I could not do this alone.
That leads me to my next advice for those who desire to discover sobriety:
- You need a support sytem. This can come in many ways, but for me, it began by being honest with my wife and admitting my problem, the lies about drinking, hiding drinks, and asking for her help.
But I wasn’t just going to stop there either, so under the advice of a couple friends, I began going to meetings. The first time I went, I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what to say, or how to feel, I just knew that I needed to be there.
It was the best choice I’ve made in a long time. Since beginning meetings, I have discovered so much about myself and others, the main thing being that I knew I was not alone. I wasn’t the only drunk, there are millions of alcoholics and now I had a family who understood.
I won’t say publicly which program I am in because there are several available and each one can offer something different, but the one I am in works for me. Being in the rooms with other alcoholics is a spiritual experience that lends support, love, encouragement, and wisdom.
So at this point, I admitted my problem, I confessed to my wife and asked for her support, I began a program of recovery, and I am sharing my story publicly. Why go public? Aren’t alcoholics in recovery supposed to be anonymous? Well, let me discuss the anonymous part…
I will never share anything or the names of a person from my program or meetings. I will not share publicly, which program I am in. This is to protect privacy and the program in the event that I ever relapse. However, I will share my personal story and this is why…
A person shared their story with me & now I’m on my way to recovery. If sharing & being vulnerable in transparency can help just one person, then it was worth putting myself out there & sharing my struggles with the world. It’s important for others to know they are not alone.
So this is why I share. This is why I post updates and provide an intimate view into my personal life. I want you to know that you are not alone and it’s ok to not be ok. While I try to respond to every single message, it’s just not realistic, as I am only one person.
So I hope this helps answer some questions and perhaps either provides you advice that has helped me to begin or at least something to think about if you believe you might have a problem with alcohol like I do. I’m on this journey one day at a time. Do you want to join me?
This is the end of my essay, but not the story… Thank you for your love and support. You are a beautiful group of friends.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This essay is a departure from our usual DemCast offerings, but we asked Travis to share it in the hope that it could provide help or inspiration to anyone who needs it. In these anxious political times, we urge you to take care of yourself and your health.
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