Home > Uncategorized > Half measures have availed us nothing.

Half measures have availed us nothing.

One year ago, the chaos ended. Well, sort of.

It took a few days for it to settle in. Truth be told, this can be considered the anniversary date only in that I had my last drink, but it took four days for me to get enough of the stuff out of my system to get out of my bed and actively seek a solution to my problem. Part of the reason it took as long as it did in the days following was the shame of the realization that I’d let it get to the point it had reached, but a big part of it was also the fact that I’d once again physically damaged myself – not quite to the point of near death, but close enough where I didn’t like it.

Some weeks earlier I’d been laid off, shockingly due to the lack of a department’s budget and NOT because I was an unreliable drunk (which I most definitely was). It wasn’t the first time that I’d drank myself to the point of experiencing severe withdrawal that made me wholly unable to function for days on end. But it was slightly more severe than the other instances, and more importantly at that point in my life I had crashed through the previously established bottom.

The vast majority of people – some of which admittedly very well may be sitting in the rooms – simply need to practice moderation and can function with an occasional bottle or glass. For this reason, alcoholism is something that most people can’t wrap their heads around. It’s a state of mind that they can’t accept as a “disease” (the jury’s still out on that one) or even as something that can’t be controlled.

One common statement I hear from other alcoholics is that the first step – admitting that they are powerless over alcohol and as a result their lives had become unmanageable – is the most difficult. In a sense, I guess they’re right, because I was basically forced into the rooms a little less than five years ago and made it to two meetings before deciding that I didn’t need it. See, I wasn’t one of those old drunks that had broken their families and their potential with years of abuse (alcohol and otherwise). I was a lot younger and naive then. I truly believed that I could control it by using my own willpower and by talking my way through it, which is how I had accomplished everything else up until that point.

Two years later, I was forced to forgo the continuation of my education. At the time, there was nothing I could do and it was all a matter of financials. The reality of the situation is that it was a situation that had built up over years that was entirely avoidable, if only I could have torn myself away from the self-destructive behavior long enough to take care of what I needed to take care of.

Unfortunately, what’s passed has already passed. I can’t hop in a DeLorean/Tardis (please choose the pop culture reference that most pleases you) and change the behaviors and incidents that cost me friends, relationships, my education, and a healthy state of mind. I function today mostly because I don’t obsess over what I’ve already done wrong, or on the problems that persist due to my lapse in judgment. I focus on the answer. And shock of shocks, the problems are slowly but surely being resolved.

Less than two years after I had decided my life as I had envisioned it had come to an end, I woke up in a makeshift bed in the emergency ward of Samaritan Hospital. It was approximately 6:00am, and I was conscious long enough to notice there were things attached to me and equipment that was monitoring…something. I also heard a voice of a passing acquaintance discussing my situation. He was basically told I’d be fine, I just might need to stay there a while longer while they monitor my progress. Being as out of it as I was, so much of the conversation I overheard was incoherent, though I do remember the words “he’s a good kid, he just–” before I trailed off for another hour.

As a quick aside to those that are curious: I never found out who that was.

When I woke up the second time, I’d had enough. I don’t mean that in the sense of “I’d realized things needed to change,” just that I didn’t care too much for the materials that had been attached to my arm to monitor my heart rate and blood pressure. Not being monitored, I removed them, which was a minor feat since it was simply sticky pads (forgive my ignorance of medical terminology). By the time the nurse had arrived, I was already fully dressed and preparing to leave. At first they were refusing to discharge me, but I was able even in my belligerence to talk them into letting me go home. The argument I presented – aggressively at first, then calmly – was that despite being there and suffering from severe alcohol poisoning, at that point I had full control of my faculties and there wasn’t anything they could do to hold me against my will.

I either had them with that argument, or at that point they’d wanted to get rid of me. The latter is probably more likely, since they even stopped arguing at one point that I had to have somebody pick me up according to the hospital’s procedures and allowed me to call a cab. I told them I literally didn’t have anybody that could possibly pick me up (not true). Finding me in the state they found me, it’s possible they actually believed me because at the time I looked the part.

Then there was the three to four days in bed, which is all a blur now. I was given literature, the kind of pamphlets they dispense when somebody’s admitted to the hospital for the sort of thing I was admitted for, but I threw them out in the scant few minutes I spent upright at the house before I collapsed onto my bed. It was during those short periods where I’d lie awake thinking when it hit me that something had gone horribly wrong. Or worse, that there wasn’t anything I could do about it. After a few days, I went into the rooms and kept going back

It wasn’t the written word but rather the spoken word that had convinced me that I’d made the right decision. Hearing the stories, the experiences, the trials and tribulations made me realize that I had a lot more in common with the old broken down drunks than I did several years prior, and they weren’t all old anymore.

Going back to the first step (admitting), I now don’t see it as being as difficult as others do. Sure, it took me a few years, but I’m no longer at the point where there’s any question that I’m just not wired (for whatever reason – if it makes you feel better to call it a lack of self-control then have at it) to drink casually. The way I look at it now, I had every reason not to fall down the path I fell down. I sure as Hell had plenty of examples of the damage caused by alcoholism – most directly with my father – to know at a very early age that I could succumb to it and that I had to be careful.

And yet, I still did. Thing is, I’m not nearly as crazy as I put on. I’m not the sort of person who if told not to put his hand in the fire will reach forward fully aware of the consequences. I was never one of those kids who just had to stick his fingers in the electrical socket to find out why it shouldn’t be done. Those who know me best will attest to the fact that I’m anything but powerless or stupid – except when it comes to alcohol.

The only regret I have is that to this day, there are people I care for that can’t, won’t, and don’t accept the decision I’ve made. I just want them to know that I don’t blame them.

I’m not entirely happy, but I’m much happier. Things in my life aren’t always fantastic, but they’re consistently better than stable. I’m not where I want to be, but I am where I need to be.

In short, I’m alive. For the time being.

Good night…

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  1. June 21, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    <3 Kevin Marshall is a fantastic human being. You know we're all proud of you.

  2. June 24, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    I haven’t checked this thing in a while or else I would have commented sooner. I agree with Maeve all the way !

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