I guess the first time that I took a drink was when I was around the age of 8. It was just a sip of my father’s beer and a sip of his wine every now and then. As I got older my father gave me a glass wine every now and then with dinner. I thought that was great and liked it a lot. I remember the wine would make me feel good if I drank it real fast.
By the time I was 12 years old, a friend named Michael and I would have slumber parties, we would go to 7-11 and pimp some Boone’s farm wine, usually a bottle each. Michael’s mom would usually be pretty ripped from drinking herself, so our drinking went unnoticed. By 13 years old my wine drinking had increased to two bottles of Boone’s every Friday night as well as Saturdays too. My drinking took off in 8th grade; it was mostly beer and wine.
While in high school, it wasn’t much different as far as drinking. I did find better things to consume that would get me to that wonderful place. Mad dog 20/20 was a favorite. I had found something that would get me to that happy place real fast! Sometimes I would take a bottle of M.D. 20/20, pour it into a beer bong with a shot of Jack Daniels, and I would down it and be buzzed the whole night. Now that was fun to me.
Around my junior year in high school I started racing bicycles and that was a good thing because my drinking started to decrease a bit. I liked to race it was something I was good at other than drinking. I continued to race seriously for the rest of my teens and only drank on occasion. When I hit my early twenties, I was still racing but my drinking was starting to increase once again and my racing started to suffer. In 1984, I got my first D.U.I. and all that I got was a slap on the wrist and a $600.00 fine. Once again I would lay off the booze for a short period and continued to race seriously. But just like before I started drinking again and in 1985 I got my 2nd D.U.I. This time it wasn’t a slap on the wrist it was 40 days at camp snoopy, but I ended up doing 45 days there because the judge forgot to initial a court document. This is when I was introduced to A.A.
I had to attend 10 meetings, go to drinking and driving school (school ten). I went to the ten meetings only to get my court card signed and to meet chicks. All the while my racing had suffered badly to the point that I took a few years off from the circuit. Once again I quit drinking for a few months on my own and didn’t bother to go to more than those ten meetings that the judge had ordered me to complete. Then like the times before I started to drink more and more. In 1986 I found myself getting my third D.U.I. by the same police officer in Huntington Beach that had busted me for my first and second D.U.I. and once again and I wound up in court. This time the judge sentenced me to six months in jail. I ended up spending 98 days at H.B. City Jail as a trustee. This time my license was suspended for three years, I had to go to those A.A. meetings twice a week for one year, I was put on probation for a year, and I had to do that school ten thing for a year.
Once I got out of jail I found a job as a bouncer and a bartender at a nightclub and I actually stayed sober at that job for almost a year and a half. I soon met my wife at that nightclub and married her in 1990. We had a nice little home and a great marriage and things were starting to look up for me. We both had quit our nightclub jobs and find other employment in order to change our lives.
I started racing once again and soon had all my sponsors back, and was on top of the national, regional, district, and state circuit again. Things were going well for me as far as my wife, work, and my racing; I drank very little from 1991 until 1997.
In the later part of 1997, I was on top of the racing world and several #1 plates and something happened, I had a blister on my toe turn gangrene. I went to the hospital to have it taken care of, and ended up spending a year in the hospital trying to save my leg. The gangrene had spread from one toe to the next and the doctors kept amputating toes and parts of my foot to stop the infection. 30 amputations later, I was left with a stump just below the knee. The whole time that I was in the hospital I managed to loose everything that I had worked so hard for. I lost my job, my racing, my house, and my wife. I started to feel that I wasn’t much of a man anymore and drinking was the only way I could shut my head off from thinking about those things.
During the time that I was in the hospital, several of my friends would come to see me, and every time they would smuggle some alcohol in for me. So not only was I getting good meds, but I was mixing them with alcohol. But that wasn’t enough, I even went as far as sneaking out of the hospital at night with a couple of guys who had just lost their legs to amputation and we would head down to the local bar to get drunk. One of the men that I was going to the bar with had one of those electric wheelchairs, so the other guy and I would just hold on to his wheelchair and he would tow us to the bar. Then after we were good and drunk we would sneak back to our rooms and go unnoticed. When I was finally released from the hospital I had nowhere to go except to my parents house to live because I had given the house to my ex-wife. Luckily for me there was a local neighborhood bar right across the street from my parent’s house. I started to frequent that bar every day while I was learning how to walk again. The people in that bar seemed to make me feel good about myself and like a man (so it seemed). Pretty soon I started to work at that bar one shift a week and then two and so on. Pretty soon nights got longer for me and days grew shorter. I actually started to try and race again for about a year and did pretty well getting a no# 9 plate for the state series out of 886 racers in the state. By doing that it gave me a boost of testosterone plus all the drinking helped me to forget about things.
I continued to work in the bar from 1998 until 2001 when the owner decided to sell the place. I ended up moving in with the owner at his apartment and took a job as an inspector inspecting underground fiber optics and safety inspection through Cal. O.S.H.A. I think I did this line of work for about eleven months and made quit a bit of money in the process. I ended up getting laid off and had around thirty thousand dollars in the bank and managed to drink it all up in a matter of months. In early February of 2002, my life fell apart completely. I had no electricity, (except for what I was stealing from my neighbor), no gas, no phone, and when I had come home from the bar one day, I found an eviction notice on my door and the repo man had just shown up to take my new truck. I couldn’t think of anything else to do except to go to the bar I hung out at. When I got to the bar I told the bartender what had happened and she laughed at me and once again she told me about A.A.
She had before mentioned it to me and was wondering if I was interested in it. I told her that I thought that I might need some help and she said, “I’m going to take you somewhere.” At the time, I had no idea where she was going to take me so I said O.K. The next morning she picked me up at my house and took me to Charle Street.
At first I didn’t want to go in and she told me that it was best for me. I stayed my ten days at Charle Street and learned a few things about myself. I learned that I was an alcoholic and that there was a way to improve my life by just taking a few suggestions from another man. I moved into a sobriety home in which I helped build and manage for two years and I learned a lot living with other alcoholics. I learned a lot of patience and tolerance. I learned to live like a man again in a better way. I have a little over six years of sobriety now and my life is much more manageable. I have gotten a family back that I once ignored because of my drinking, I have gotten the chance to go back to college and pursue a career in orthotics and prosthetics. I have a life that I really don’t deserve. The only thing I have to do is continue to stay sober one day at a time and try and help other alcoholics as much as I can.
This life is so much simpler for me than what it used to be like. Drinking to me was a real job. I always had to figure out a way I could make money so I could drink or find some bar were I could run a tab until I could pay them. That’s work; I don’t have to do that anymore. I am very grateful that a “Friend of Bill W.” had taken the time to introduce me to a wonderful fellowship. I am very grateful to Charle Street for giving me a safe place to live for ten days and a good start with my sobriety. I am grateful for the sobriety home for giving me a chance to grow and for that sponsor that put a boot up my ass when I needed it. I am grateful for all the men and women in the program that have given me suggestions time after time, and I am mostly grateful for the higher power in my life I call God, that gives me the opportunity to participate in a wonderful life and the guidance that I so need on a daily basis.
*The names in this story have been changed.