Friday, May 27, 2011


Whether that's true or not (probably is) that's what I admitted to, to a roomful of strangers last night. It wasn't an AA meeting, but rather one of my thrice weekly DUI classes I am mandated to go to.

Over the many meeting/classes I have attended, I have seen when the "facilitator" single out one particular person, not to pick on them, but to use as an example/cautionary tale, and I actually prayed I would not be that one person. Last night, I was.

GOD, I almost cried. Here's how these classes go; there are a room full of people in various stages of treatment, most for DUI, some for heroin, some for domestic violence, etc. For whatever reason I was chosen to go into even more detail about my situation, the incredible amount of alcohol I had in my system when I crashed a car...and how most "normal" people would have been in a coma or needed to get their stomach pumped (I received no such treatment at the hospital, and in fact the fucking shackles were never removed from my feet and hands).

So...this guy concluded, rightfully so I think, that my tolerance is so fucking high, genetic or otherwise, that I could drink as much as did and still think I could drive. Then he asked me point blank:

Facilitator: "Do you consider yourself dependent on alcohol?"
Me: "Um, well, I mean"
Facilitator: "Do you consider yourself an alcoholic?"
Me: [Dramatic pregnant pause]: "..........Yes?"

Jesus Fucking Christ. Saying that out loud, was many times harder to admit out loud, to myself and to a roomful of people, than coming out. And coming out was SO fucking hard. And the two issues go hand in hand.

I choked up, but managed to keep it together for another hour and 15 minutes that would seemingly NEVER FUCKING END. And this guy kept using me as an example, over and over, I slouched and my hand kept making the "put a goddamn cigarette in me" face. I chewed gum like it was my job and slouched.

It was fucking AWFUL.

But. Like coming out, it was also liberating in a way. I went home and watched the Bulls lose, had a few beers, and cried like a baby, alone. But you know what? I got up this morning, ate breakfast, showered, went to the gym, rode around on my shitty bike and went back for another class; here I am. Emotionally exhausted, alone, scared with sore abs from doing hundreds of crunches.

I know what I have to do, and I don't resent anyone reminding me of it, but fucking I resent anyone telling me what I need to do. Sure, there are people with much worse problems than mine, but guess, what? Personal problems are just that. Unique and cannot be accurately nor fairly compared or contrasted with anyone else's.

According to the regimen, I will live with this problem for the rest of my life. It will ALWAYS be a struggle. And that alone is a thought process I am still trying to process. You can't undo 15+ years of substance abuse in 3 months, no matter what the court system says. I plead patience from those that love me, and empathy from those that don't know me (well).

Not to end this on a sad note...but that "facilitator" informed, and the 15 other strangers in the room, that my DUI situation was a suicide attempt. And, I don't agree, but I don't...disagree either. Fucking therapy is like that. Maybe it was. Or might as well have been. Regardless, I do not want to fucking DIE.


Brian said...

Good luck. After following your blog for awhile, you seem to be an individual of strength and character. I hope you succeed and persevere.

Mind Of Mine said...

Woah! Heavy stuff!

bigmikesinphilly said...

i've been in the same room with the same people on a few different occasions, and my heart goes out to you man. Just be careful to not ignore what you FEEL; what your heart says. These facilitators, especially when backed by a roomful of nodding strangers, can lead you to believe things about yourself that might not necessarily be true. Just don't ignore your inner-voice brotha.

JUSTIN said...

@Big Mike...finally, someone understands where I am coming from.

These people will make and or break you down into little pieces with no regard to a specific situation.

Devyn said...

I have tremendous empathy for you Justin. Just know you are not alone in this.

C said...

Agreed - you obviously made a stupid decision, but to try to make you accept that it was a "suicide attempt" is pretty psychologically irresponsible.

Anonymous said...


No mental health professional is allowed to make conclusions for you...about your life. Words cannot describe how wrong it was for him to tell the 15 others it was a suicide attempt.

Is this "facilitator" a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a licensed clinical social worker?

Be strong and next class tell him you disagree.
Growth is hard. Hang in there!

Dean Grey said...

I agree the other commenters that no one should put words in your mouth and make conclusions for you.

Hang in there, dear Justin.

You're going through so very much but you're making it through day by day, step by step.

Big (((HUGS))) to you!


Rick said...

A big thing is to remember we're here for you. In the years to come, reach out here or to friends or hotlines when you think you might be about to do something stupid. You can't handle this by yourself. No one can.

I really feel for you. Big HUG.