There is always that one moment that changes everything. Some call it a lightbulb moment, some a moment of truth, or a moment of clarity. Whatever you want to call it, it is fierce and usually unexpected. It comes down to a realization about yourself, your choices, maybe even your future, and it is hard to deny and impossible to ignore.
I learned a frightening truth one day in an act of sheer desperation and fear. I was at work doing my usual thing, tending bar, entertaining my regulars, serving their drinks and dinners and making everyone happy. My hands were shaking uncontrollably, my head was pounding and I was sweating like crazy. I had stayed up drinking all night and my hangover was a force to be reckoned with. I drank everyday, a lot, so my hangover was more a severe withdrawal after not having a drink for some hours. As I cruised up and down the bar, making jokes, clearing plates, flashing a smile at everyone individually, I felt like I wouldn’t survive another moment.
At the end of the bar was a huge cooler full of keg beer and all the alcohol that has to be kept cold. I went in the door to look for something, making sure it closed all the way behind me. If the door stayed open even a little bit then everyone would be able to see me. I stood for a moment almost contemplating the sadness in what I was doing, then I grabbed a bottle. As I lifted it to my mouth I thought about what a failure I was, what a fraud I was to all of these people that cared about me and believed in me. When the rim of the bottle hit my lips it was so perfectly cold and comforting. I felt the liquid go all the way down my throat, my chest, and into my stomach and I felt like my life had been saved. It was like alcohol was a blessing and it instantly killed the pain, removed the anxiety, and refreshed me like I was brand new again. I put the bottle back on the shelf, then grabbed it quickly for another swig, just in case the first one wasn’t going to be enough. Then I went back out the door to face the crowd, a whole new person. In that moment I knew, for real, I am an alcoholic.