A Personal Milestone: Jeremy Celebrates One Year (and Counting) of Sobriety
Drinking on occasion, perhaps weekends or special occasions is perfectly fine, so long as you have a safe mode of transportation. It's when you drink like I used to that you need to do a reality check and take a good hard look at where you are in your life. But it's really hard to do that when you're always seeing three of everything.
Sure, my wife and family told me to ease up, but I didn't listen. You'd think that three bouts with pancreatitis would have slowed me down, right? Wrong. I just got better and better at hiding that I was an alcoholic from my wife, my family... and myself. What finally got me to stop and reevaluate myself? It all happened one year ago today.
I was hosting karaoke like I do every Friday and Saturday. This particular Friday, I had a mini-reunion with my old high school TV news classmates. Not only had I been drinking all afternoon leading up to it, I then drank like a fish as I always did while I hosted. I'd just gotten so used to doing it drunk that I was able to pull it off, much like everything else in my life. I was never an abusive or destructive drunk. But I turned into someone I didn't like. Sneaking around all the time, lying about drinking. I hated who I was, so much that I just drank more.
My wife had been texting me throughout the night that she wasn't feeling good, so I called her while I was closing out the karaoke room. She said that she wanted to go to the emergency room as soon as I got home. With her still on the phone, I took off down Dort Highway to get to her. Where the speed limit goes from 45 to 55, I went from 55 to 70. I didn't realize that I passed a cop, and when the speed limit went up and I took off, he thought I was trying to get away.
Long story short, I ended up at the police station where I called my wife and told her I wouldn't be home anytime soon, then I broke down into tears. At that moment I felt like a failure as a husband. Sobbing all the way to the Genesee County Jail, I was then strip searched upon arrival, at which point I sobered up instantly. Then I was put into an orange jumpsuit, they snapped a mugshot, and threw me in the tank.
Over the next few hours I got sick to my stomach thinking about my wife in agony with no one to help her. They kept taking people out, and I was hoping desperately that my name would be called. But there was nothing but disappointment every time that huge metal door slammed shut with an echo that made my spine tremble.
As the day went by, I watch the clock pass 3:00pm when I realized I was missing my radio airshift. Then the clock passed 6:00pm when the wedding reception I was supposed to be hosting started. I knew I had hit rock bottom. But what I was physically experiencing on that horrible day, who I was in the tank with, what they were saying about me, how terrified I was to be in there; all of that was at the far, far back of my mind. I had much deeper concerns circling over and over in my head. I thought for sure my radio career was over, that I would never DJ a wedding again, and more importantly that I had put my marriage in jeopardy.
When I finally got out of jail at close to 2:00am the following morning, just about 24 hours after I was racing home to my sick wife, I walked out of the building to see the beauty of Downtown Flint lit up in the still of that night. I looked around, took a deep breath and broke down and cried. Not with joy because I was out of jail, but with anger and disappointment in myself for the situation I put myself and my wife in. While in the tank, I had used my one phone call to contact my sister, so I knew my wife was in the ER, but I wasn't sure which one. I had no idea how I was going to get to her, get home or even what to do next. I called my sister, and she updated me where my wife was, where my kids were, and sent my brother-in-law to pick me up.
When I got dropped off at our dark, empty house, I immediately grabbed my wife's keys and went to visit her. When I saw her hooked up to all of the monitors and IVs, it broke my heart. I kept thinking that had I gotten to her sooner, she wouldn't have gotten so bad.
Had she not been in the hospital, I'm sure she would have killed me. But had she not been sick, I wouldn't have been speeding home to her and would probably still be drinking right now instead of writing this article.
Since all of this happened, I have grown and learned a lot as a person, husband and father. My wife and I are closer and happier than we've ever been. My boss at the DJ company didn't fire me. In fact, he did a lot to help me get connected with a good lawyer who was able to prevent a worst case scenario.
I went to several classes where I learned some tragic truths, and paid a lot in fines and legal fees. But my license wasn't suspended, just put on probation for three months so I was able to keep my busy work schedule, including here at the station. My co-workers and managers are some of the most incredible and supportive people I have ever had the joy of working with. George, Clay, Maggie, Chris, Aaron and Zoe, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Aside from two sips over the past year, the last time I had a drink was just before I was pulled over on the morning on July 17, 2014. The first was when I was given an ibuprofen for a headache and my friend offered his beer, then realized that I had quit drinking and immediately apologized. Just to be funny, I popped the pill, grabbed his beer, and took just a sip to get the pill down. Shocking everyone, I said, "Ugh! That tastes like s#!t!"
Proud of myself for not wanting more during the ibuprofen incident, when I was asked to take part in a beer tasting video for the radio station website, I didn't think it would be an issue. But although it was just a sip, I got that warm feeling that started to surge through my body and in the back of my mind I heard, "It's okay! Just one more sip!"
When the camera stopped rolling, I left the room and said to myself, "Never again. That was WAY too close. I can't risk going back. I can't risk becoming that person again. I can be fun and entertaining without alcohol! I don't need it! Hell, I don't WANT it!"
Despite all that, after careful consideration, I decided not to quit working at the bars. I host My Trivia Live twice a week, Tuesdays at The Point in Grand Blanc, and Thursdays at The Fireplace on Lake Fenton. I also host karaoke Fridays and Saturdays at The Point. Not only is the money good, but I have really come to love the people. I can do what I am good at without being drunk. I'm not going to lie, I have a lot more fun, and I am much more satisfied with my ability to entertain now that I'm not drinking
all the time at all. In fact, with my cheesy wit and love of making people laugh, a nickname I've come up with for myself is 'The EntertaiNerd'! If you have fun listening to my show on the air, by all means join us for trivia or karaoke one night. You'll definitely see my cheesy side in full force!
My wife and I will celebrate our 10-year anniversary next month. Even though we can't really afford it, I am taking her on a cruise anyway. She's earned it. This woman has put up so much, some really, really bad times over the last ten years, and I am very lucky that she has stuck with me. I guess she must really love me!
The most ironic thing out of all of this is that as I celebrate my one year of sobriety, I am in a rental car. Why? A deer decided to launch an attack on my brand new car. Yeah, I know, I can't have nice things. The night after I hit the deer, I was pulled over because I had only one headlight. The officer didn't recognize initially, but I knew him instantly. He asked a few questions, but what finally triggered his memory was when he asked, "Have you had anything to drink tonight?" to which I replied, "No, officer! I haven't had a drink since I saw you last!"
So, on behalf of recovering alcoholics everywhere, thank you to all of those who have been there to support, encourage and love us. On behalf on those of us who had to watch us hit rock bottom before we came back to the real world, thank you for your acceptance, understanding and for not giving up on us.
And to my beautiful wife Erika, I've given you so many reasons and opportunities to leave me, and I'm still shocked that you're still around. You married one person and saw me become someone else. But you know that I was in there somewhere and you waited. I am a much better man than I was when we met because of you and because of your faith in me. You are my rock, you are my strength. I don't know how I would be where I am without you. Thank you for believing in me!