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Grapevine : January 2011
and without friends. I was putting myself in dangerous situations while drinking. After a year of struggling at the shore, I was mentally unraveling. I told myself that I was fine and man- aging, but that wasn't the truth. Dis- appointment overwhelmed me. I had failed once more. I began hallucinat- ing from the effects of alcohol. One night after mixing drinking with pills, I decided that I had had enough pain. I climbed out the win- dow onto the roof of my apartment. There I was standing on the edge and feeling hopeless. I jumped. The other tenants found me, and I ended up in a hospital. For four days I remained uncon- scious. I awakened with no memory of what happened. I had no recollec- tion of the emergency reconstructive surgery to my feet. A doctor explained my circum- stances to me. He said I might never walk again. The grim news caused me to suffer a nervous breakdown, and I was transferred to a mental institution. I became violent during admission and was put in restraints. For the next few days, I hallucinated and vomited. I later discovered this was due to the withdrawal from al- cohol. I was confined to a wheelchair with casts up to my knees. This in- sanity was my true bottom. Yet it never occurred to me that alcohol was the problem. The day I graduated from an intensive outpatient program (IOP), I wanted to get drunk. The state of New Jersey had mandated that I go to treatment in order to have my driv- er's license reinstated. When I left, a counselor told me that he thought I would indeed drink again. He might have been right. Even though I had hit bottom, I was still obsessed with drinking. I was scared---really scared. There were no friends, no job, and no money, and I was living at home again with my parents. Drinking again meant accumulating more problems on top of the consequences I had already collected. I was aware that I desperately needed help. I re- alized that I would not stay sober on my own. I attended a beginners' meeting the day after I graduated the IOP. I had thought I would sneak in and out. When the leader asked who had under a year, I raised my hand. The speaker asked me how I was doing. That was the first time I spoke about my alcoholism. After I cried through- out the meeting, a member pulled me aside. "I want to hear you say, 'I'm pow- erless over alcohol.' " His voice echoed in the basement of the church. "I am powerless over alcohol," I said. "Louder," he said. He made me repeat that state- ment until I owned it. I sat with the members who had gathered in the parking lot. While smoking a ciga- Grapevine 29