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Sobering Thoughts
G-Man
post Feb 26 2011, 08:11 AM
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I was going to post this in my blog, thought it would be the best place for it, but there still appears to be a glitch in the blog format that came along with the new year.

I always get excited about milestones. Personal milestones....anniversaries....birthdays. Creative milestones....release of a a first graphic novel....first full size comic....a "Best Of" c.d.....a web comic that is almost two years old that has NEVER missed a week when it comes to being posted.

Those type of things. But I do get wrapped up in those type of things so much that a major milestone has quietly crept up on me over the span of several years and I am just now becoming aware of it and appreciate it a great deal.

This coming May....May 19th to be exact......I will be 10 years sober.

I was raised by two alcoholic parents....and had a very disruptive family life at times. After watching my parents do the things they did...I swore I would never drink.

By the age of 15 I was on the road to becoming a full blown alcoholic and didn't even know and to be quite honest...I could care less. Between the ages of 15-17 I was rarely sober. Skipped a lot of school just to get drunk. It didn't help matters that this destructive behavior was re-enforced by the fact I was playing in several local rock bands at the time and all of us involved were sure we were going to be world famous in a matter of weeks.

So we partied like rock stars. Literally. I remember one show where I woke up in an empty hall that the band I was in at the time played the night before. It was a birthday party for a friend of the band. I found myself lying on a table....my music equipment gone...and I had a black eye.

Apparently the night before the girl I was dating and I had an argument because after the second set of music and my usual amount of mid show liquid enhancement I decided there were better dating options for me in the crowd. Needless to say I no longer had a girl friend the next morning (this happened about once every six days) and yes...she was the person that hit me (and very good apparently) in the eye.

Luckily the rest of the band (including my brother) packed up my stuff when they left but also left me behind to sleep it off and to be woke up by the clean up guy.

This type of stuff went on for another year or so until right after I turned 18 (as luck would have it). I got myself into some legal trouble....while I was drunk. Believe it or not. I had a "few" brushes with the law as a "juvie" but this was the first as an "legal adult" and it was nothing too serious....but serious enough. I ended up with two choices. Six months probation while attending a rehab program.....or six months jail time. Although I thought the rehab program was going to be a joke...I took option A.

Six months later I was no longer drinking. Unfortunately that didn't last. While married to my first wife I started to drink again. I got married young...we're talking 19 here. And I was actually drinking pretty heavy when my first wife and I started to date. A matter of fact I was stone cold drunk the night I met her but I somehow made a lasting impression.

After getting married...and after having a kid a few years later I did try to exist in a world where I could "control" my problem. I did okay. But the two of us lived in the country and we would have loud, all night parties about once a month (two kegs of beer....a stereo system outside and all night volleyball by headlights) and I would ...over indulge and pay the price the next morning. For about five years...and every time there was problems at home...I'd climb into a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I was going through a divorce by the time I was 25....ended up clinically dead for a few minutes June 1994 when I holed myself up in my apartment with a fifth of tequila and a couple of boxes of sleeping pills while going through that divorce. Ironically my soon to be ex-wife saved my life by calling me to talk over a few things and during that "conversation" she realized something was wrong and she hung up to call the paramedics.

That was almost the last mistake I would ever make....but I made it out alive. And I thought I would be sober for the rest of life after that.

Until I started playing music again after the divorce was final. Unfortunately the only place to make money playing music in my town, especially if you insist in playing only material that you write is in bars. This was like sticking my head in a lion's mouth every other week end. I started to slip. Fans would offer to buy me a drink now and then and I did really well in saying no, at first. But there were times when a double shot of Wild Turkey....or two...would slip through the defense.

Sound checks were starting to get stressful and I convinced myself the only way for me not to kill our lead singer during sound check was to have a few beers.

May 19th 2001.....I was staring into a crowd of people in a smoke filled bar. The lead singer and I had gotten into another loud debate about him forgetting the lyrics to another one of the songs I wrote again....during another sound check. I was now messing up the bass line to another song....I was drunk....I had no clue what I was playing but I must have been faking it pretty good. We started the sixth song of the first set....it was called "Behind". I wrote it about the death of my sister who was killed at the age of 16 in a hit and run accident during July 4th weekend back in 1986. The guy that killed her was drunk.....she was drunk as well...leaving a party with some friends. My parents were drunk elsewhere and had no idea where any of us kids were.

The very last time I would ever speak to my sister....I was drunk....and not very nice.

And I was playing a song dedicated to her memory...drunk. For a bar full people who were drinking and going to climb behind the wheel of their car in an hour so to drive home drunk.

Something here was seriously broken.

I left the band less than a week later....but still wanted to play music. I would focus only on recording after that...only playing live twice since that date....and staying sober during both shows.

I came to the realization for me at least that my drinking problem was my way to escape the things in my life that I did not care for. I decided to channel that need to escape into more positive outlets.

I started collecting comics again, and yes I did just trade one addiction fueled escape for another. I started writing and drawing my own comics.... with all that energy I would have channeled incorrectly elsewhere....so that explains why I'm so "driven".....and I'm been driving down this road for almost ten years now.

I like this road much better than the one I was traveling on for so long....and there's a mile marker up ahead.

10 years sober.

I think I'll keep driving down this road and see where I end up.

This post has been edited by G-Man: Feb 26 2011, 08:54 AM


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"Reality is only for those who lack imagination" don't know who first said that....but it works for me!
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ChadStrohl
post Feb 26 2011, 10:12 AM
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What a story. Almost everything you laid out there was where I "could" have gone. I was never a drinker in High School but the minute I turned 21 I lived in the bar every weekend. I'm not sure I had a Sunday for ten years as every one of them was spent nursing a hangover from the night before.

I too play(ed) in a band, but the good thing is I have zero talent for playing drunk. That didn't stop the after party though. My worst stage memory was when I did get hammered before the gig. I couldn't even remember how to make a C chord and I forgot the lyrics to a song I could recite backwards any other time. The gig fell apart after three songs and I thought it would be the last time I ever played. I was crushed. When I did get a chance to play again, I decided I was going to leave my soul on that stage because, from now on, every gig is the last gig.

I'll still throw down one or two to calm the nerves, but the me that couldn't stop seems to be a memory. Stephen King has a disturbing story where his therapist asked him how many beers he would have a day. He replied, "All of them." That used to be me. If there were 6, I'd drink 6. If there were 18, I'd drink 18.

And like you Bill, I was in a relationship that promoted this. When I stopped drinking and partying is when the weaknesses became evident and within a handful of years we were done. I have two wonderful daughters to show for it, but very little else.

Fast forward a while and I might have a few two or three times a year. I get no cravings (though if I go too heavy I do still feel the DT's). What really woke me up was when I found a chart outlining the Jellinik's phases and realized I had many of those benchmarks - and the scariest part of all was once you get to those phases, you can't go back.

Like you, I am also obsessive/compulsive and thanks to Lainey, I have steered that toward writing and drawing. I'm sure this makes her crazy at times, but at least it's productive.

So Congratulations to Ten years and on your new "addiction". A character very dear to my heart is told not to dwell on the past because every second is a chance to make a new decision. Here's to a lifetime of seconds, and the good decisions that follow.



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Crazz
post Feb 26 2011, 11:45 AM
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That's a fantastic milestone Bill. I know its hard to overcome those things, so keep up the good work and take it a day at a time like you are. smile.gif


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spearcarrier
post Feb 26 2011, 12:01 PM
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I never know what to say about milestones like that. While I was reading your story, I literally breathed, "Wow" outloud and kept going. It's wonderful to know there are people out there with strong spirits that can overcome such a difficult adversity. I hope you make it another 100 years!


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Crazz
post Feb 26 2011, 12:18 PM
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QUOTE (spearcarrier @ Feb 26 2011, 12:01 PM) *
I never know what to say about milestones like that. While I was reading your story, I literally breathed, "Wow" outloud and kept going. It's wonderful to know there are people out there with strong spirits that can overcome such a difficult adversity. I hope you make it another 100 years!

He is only going to live another month Spear, he is being killed off in his podcast.


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G-Man
post Feb 26 2011, 12:29 PM
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Thank all of you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.....as far as getting killed off in my podcast.....I have a terrible feeling it's not even a month away sad.gif



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Ron Fortier
post Feb 26 2011, 01:05 PM
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Okay, so my eyes just got wet....but I'm man enough to admit it. Bill, I've encountered few truly creative souls in my life, people who radiate a positive energy that flows out and makes everyone around them better and happier. You are one of those. I had no idea of your horrible past and in reading it, realized how close we all came to losing you. But God is so wonderful and gracious, that you "woke up" to the real joys of life is nothing short of a miracle and my respect for you has grown, something difficult to believe, as I already think of you as a real brother.
Congrads on this amazing benchmark. You keep on trucking, G-Man, play your creative melody like the Pied Piper of soul and believe me, the rest of us will continue to follow.
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