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Saying Goodbye, or Conversely, Why I do What I do.

August 2017

I wrote about my wife’s cousin passing the other day in a very short, simple post.  Today, we will say goodbye.

To be very clear, she drank herself to death at the age of 44.  

It wasn’t anything other than an over-consumption of alcohol over maybe 25-ish of those 44 years that killed her.  Her death was not pretty.  It was uglier than Leaving Las Vegas.  It was also completely unnecessary.  She could have quit drinking five years ago and been living a healthy life with a few simple choices, an entire tain-load of meetings, and working Twelve Steps.  She could have quit last year and gone on a liver transplant list.

The only thing between her and life was air and opportunity.  And choice.

I left that lifestyle in the rearview mirror when I was just 22 years-old.  I quit drinking when I was just getting good at it, because I saw what was coming.  I knew (or maybe hoped is a better word) I was meant for better than a bloated, yellow death.  Technically, I already had begun developing the telltale yellow hue.

I still get the inevitable “but how do you know you’re an alcoholic” question.  It’s generally followed immediately, and before I can answer the first question, by “how do you know you can’t drink anymore”?

The answer to the second question is simple and easier that the first:  I know I can’t drink successfully because I will always be a two-fisted drinker.  I don’t want to drink, I want drunk.

So that leaves, how do I know I’m an alcoholic, having quit so young?

Here’s the honest answer:  I take it on faith.  I don’t know that I’m not “cured”, that twenty-five years off of booze didn’t fix me…. Except for one little hitch in the giddyup; I don’t want to drink.  I want drunk.  As they say, “once you’re a pickle, you don’t get to go back to being a cucumber.”

I continue going to meetings, working steps, and helping others achieve sobriety because I don’t want anyone to have to watch me bloat up, change colors, have my teeth rot out if my melon, all followed  by a nap I won’t wake up from….  The real question is, “How could being able to drink a beer be worth that risk?”

Someone who isn’t an alcoholic wouldn’t have to ask the question in the first place.  

Saying Goodbye means no more of these moments:

Now, who in their right mind would trade that for a case of beer, and a quick death?


  1. @vapor_sage says:

    Such an authentic and powerful message. After losing many I grew fond of in and out of the rooms, due to this horrendous affliction, I have come to the conclusion that some have to go that way as a message to some that will make their way to join us, “trudging the road to happy destiny”.

  2. curlymamaof2 says:

    I have often pondered whether or not I am a “real” alcoholic. I love how you put it, “I don’t want to drink, I want DRUNK.” YES. Exactly that. Thank you for putting that so succinctly.

  3. saoirsek says:

    Sending love to you all today, feeling grateful.

  4. Sandra says:

    I am so glad that I quit as soon as I was legal aged, too. Two years of drunks was enough. I was more pragmatic though. It’s expensive to drink! Never smoked either (or did any drugs)–dad was a pulmonologist and scared the crap out of us as kids with images of cancers and actual slices of healthy v. Blackened lungs from smoking. That and my favorite HS teacher said she went to Europe on the money she saved in two years when she quit smoking. 🙂

    What a great post and a tribute to what and whom you love.

  5. Ian says:

    Thoughts with you today. Its a testament to you that you know those things are more important than a bottle

  6. joliesattic says:

    Sorry for your wife’s loss.
    It’s funny how observing others can change our mindset. I have no compulsion to drink in excess, but I did smoke for awhile. I watched my step mother die from emphysema and cleaned up the yellowed ceiling and walls of the items around her where she smoked and quickly knew that was not for me. I saw how alcohol had taken my uncles from cirrhosis of the liver at an early age , and suffered the pain of infidelity when my ex-husband drank and strayed (he cleaned up his act and later became Mr. California a few years and a wife or two later when he gave it up) He was proof of the amazing feats one can achieve not tied to a bottle. He also now rides his bike all the time. Kudos to him or anyone who learns and changes. Kudos to you, for sure.

  7. Sue Slaght says:

    So sorry to hear of this tragic loss. Your post is inspiring Jim. Your message clear, honest and powerful. I am not visiting blogs as much these days in an effort to lead a more balanced and healthy life. Know I am always cheering in your corner and shouting bravo to all the efforts you make to help others.

  8. […] Saying Goodbye, or Conversely, Why I do What I do. […]

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