Greg’s Story ~ “It Wasn’t Just MY Struggle”

This story was written by Greg, my super hot and super sober husband 😉  Tomorrow he will celebrate 365 consecutive days of not picking up a drink.  It’s a day I never thought I would see come.  I don’t think it’s a day he thought he would ever see come either.  Greg’s story is very real.  It was not written and shared for anyone to judge.  It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire.  Although you may identify greatly with his struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Greg in his situations.  Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge him.  It’s not.  And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.  Today, it is only okay to support.  It’s okay to sympathize or empathize.  It’s okay to encourage.  Thank you, Greg, for sharing your story ❤

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“Hi, my name is Greg and I am an alcoholic, but not a writer, so I am going to tell my story as best I can.  It might seem jumpy from one subject to another, but I’ll try and keep it in line.

There are some addicts that can probably pinpoint a time in their lives where or why they started to abuse.  I am not one of them.  There isn’t a specific part of my life or something that happened that made my drinking spiral out of control: it just did.  I moved to America in 1988 from a completely different culture and way of life.  To me, life at age 8 seemed very simple and just.  I came from Poland, and to a lot of people in my new country it seemed that we were all just farmers, drinkers and weird dressers.  Well, that was kinda true back then…and I’m sure to some it still seems true today. In our culture, the men made the money and worked the long, hard hours (and that was reason enough to drink every night) while the women took care of the house and the kids.  My mother was never much of a drinker, but my father drank enough for both of them.  In fact, just this past December we lost my father due to liver failure and other complications from his drinking.

Since I came here when I was only 8 years old I grew up mostly in the American culture, but my family was pretty much set in their way of life, especially the men who were drinkers.  I went to a Catholic elementary school but then had to attend public high school.  It was a bit of a change going from one to the other.  When I got to high school I didn’t have many friends because they had all gone on to the Catholic high school.  We were poor immigrants and couldn’t afford the tuition.  I had to try and fit in as best I could and to do so I partied and drank with every crowd I hung out with.  Even though I tried a few drugs, I never got into them.  Alcohol was what would become my addiction.  I hung out with my older brothers and their friends a lot, so I had access to booze very easily.  Pretty quickly I became the popular kid because I could get alcohol for me and my friends with just a simple phone call.  I also lived with my brothers unsupervised on the top floor of our apartment house while my parents lived downstairs, so my place quickly became the party house.  If you lived on the west side of Grand Rapids, there is  a good chance you partied at my house more than once!

As much as I tried (or didn’t try) I didn’t graduate from high school, but I set a quick goal for myself and received my G.E.D. within a couple months of dropping out.  I went to work in the restaurant industry, because that’s all I knew how to do. (Is it a coincidence that a lot of bars offer “Industry Nite” for people who work in restaurants to get tanked after work??)  Every place I worked at I moved up in rank pretty quickly.  I guess I had a knack for it, and with that came more responsibility and stress.   To calm the stress, I drank.

I guess I started drinking because it was so accessible for me, especially when I was old enough to buy.  I could drink at work because I could function drunk.  Somewhere along the line I became a little depressed and felt my life was going nowhere, and the booze numbed that feeling pretty well.  Even though I had a great wife and a gorgeous daughter, I felt as if this is who I was and that I didn’t do anything “great” in my life.  Before I knew it, I would drink all day and all night.  For me, the greatest accomplishment was that I could drink two fifths of gin in a day and no one would notice because I was still functional.  If my wife wouldn’t have found me on the couch covered in sweat that cold February morning , I don’t know if I would still be here today.  And if my withdrawals hadn’t been as severe as they were, I would probably STILL be drinking today.

Once I got out of the hospital I stayed sober for about two months.  Even with rehab and substance abuse counseling that whole time I started to slowly drink again.  I was looking for a miracle to just brain wash me out of this damn disease.  I thought that non-alcoholic beer would be okay, and I started to drink some of those.  Before I had even realized it, I was drinking regular beers followed by shots and mixed drinks.  I would leave my counseling session and go straight to the liquor store on my way to work and get six single shooters for “at work” and a half pint for the ride there.  When I could, I would sneak away and take the shots during the lunch hour to help hold me over until I could get a break from work and head back to the liquor store to restock.    One day, a friend of mine that is in the AA program asked me if I wanted to go to a meeting someday.  He never pressured me, and I knew no one at the meetings would judge me because they had all heard it before.  It was a goal I set for myself just to see if I could do it, and trust me when I say that my life almost immediately changed for the better.  Now, I don’t know if I’m working this program the right way or not, because I haven’t gotten through the 12 Steps yet, but what I DO know is that I haven’t picked up a drink today and I don’t plan on doing so tomorrow, but I can’t always plan tomorrow so for TODAY I will not drink.

This last part I write with a big smile on my face and a tear in my eye because on May 22nd, 2013 I will celebrate one year sober.  I look back on my struggle and realize that it wasn’t just MY struggle, but also a struggle for my friends and especially my family.  The support I have received from so many old friends and a lot of great new friends is overwhelming.  The years wasted with my wife, daughter and family I will never be able to pay back…but today it is with a heart full of joy that I get to say THANK YOU to all that have been there every step of the way.”

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31 thoughts on “Greg’s Story ~ “It Wasn’t Just MY Struggle”

  1. Linnaea says:

    Wonderfully written Greg! Brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are all very proud of you

  2. kdebie says:

    Yay!!!! Congratulations!!!

  3. Jen maxim says:

    Greg, we are so proud of you!! You are an amazing person! We love you!!! Jen & momma karamol

  4. musicmamma says:

    Greg, I’m honored to read your story. Who says you’re not a writer??? There are no words to express how proud I am for you & Liz. Big hugs and lotza love. One day at a time.
    Love & Light,
    Cyn

  5. Beckie says:

    I am so proud of you Greg! Congratulations on one year sober!!!! Xxooo

  6. Trish Wilbon ( Duba) says:

    I have tears in my eyes reading this. I love hearing about how you are doing. Great job Greg, keep it up! Prayers will continue and give Liz a hug:-)

  7. Romana Thompson says:

    Wow. Be proud. Be happy. U are awesome never give up. Keep God with u. He will be there. Life only gets better for u from now on. My daughter son in law had their three babies taken becuz they tested dirty for meth. They r now one and a half yrs free. Pat urself on the bac each day u wake yp sober. U can do it. For u. May Gid bless u and ur family. Im proud of u. Loved ur srory. Ur stronger than u think

  8. Kate says:

    Greg, you are an AMAZING man!! You overcame what a lot of other people think is impossible, and I commend you for that!! You are so strong, and always will be!! Love you little Polish Wonder!!

  9. Marcia says:

    Not a writer huh? That was so good Greg. I am so proud of you. You rock!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Nikole Szczepanski says:

    Congrats Greg! That is a big accomplishment! I am so proud of you. Keep up the good work!

  11. Reblogged this on Adventures of NinjaMama and commented:
    This is one amazing family. Love love love.

  12. It takes a very big man to admit that there is a problem, and it takes a huge man to write it out for strangers to read, and maybe help someone else.
    Congratulations! You have absolutely made something great of your life. You took control of if it. What else is greater success??

  13. Edy says:

    Grzes, I am so proud of you! Love you to the moon and back! Big hugs and kisses for Liz and Leksi! Keep up the good work!

  14. timmy@triangledesign.com says:

    Greg: Congratulations on your tenacity and self discipline. I am VERY proud of you and honored to have you as a son-in-law. You have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are able to take care of both Elizabeth & Leksi in the most proficient and respectable way imaginable. Strong leaders result in wonderful families. You are lucky and fortunate to have them both. I hope I am around a long time to see them grow old and successful. It is comforting to know that when I am no longer on earth, both my daughter and granddaughter will be in the most capable hands possible. I love you all! Timmy, Dad & Papa

    _____

  15. Denise says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Celebrate yourself and your choices today. We’ve never met, but I am proud of you.

  16. just a friendly reader says:

    congratulations!
    my best friend is about to celebrate 365 days without taking a pain killer.
    im just as proud of you as i am of her.
    XOXO

  17. Erica Snipes says:

    I don’t know you, Greg, but I found you from Katy’s I Want a Dumpster Baby. Sounds like you are awesome, and I really enjoyed reading what you have to say about your experiences. Congratulations on one year sober, congratulations on your beautiful family,and please keep on enjoying your life! Can’t personally relate to being an alcoholic, but I know about reaching and celebrating milestones. Here’s to the next one… 🙂

  18. Gayle Honnold says:

    You’re quite an inspiration! Congratulations 😀 it only gets better from here.

  19. Ginger says:

    one moment at a time…one day at a time…..just keep doing the *next* right thing!

    HUGE congrats on your soberthday!

    Ginger

  20. Mountain Missy says:

    Congratulations on your One Year Soberth Day!! That is a HUGE accomplishment and I’m proud of you. (yes, I’m a complete stranger, but I’m not a stranger to the disease). My husband is nearly 3 months sober this time and AA has been the biggest, best change for us all. I look forward to many more coins and dates ahead to celebrate my husbands accomplishments. Wishing you and your family all the best things in the world!

  21. SoberTina says:

    Congratulations from a fellow drunk that chooses not to drink!

  22. Jilaine says:

    Happy 1 year sober!!! You are truly amazing and such an inspiration to so many people! So proud of you. Enjoy this day and everyday after celebrating all you have overcome!

  23. Lindsay Mostrom says:

    Greg, this is such an amazing story. You not only made the decision to change your life but your families as well. Speaking from a “little girl” perspective of watching her Dad drink to almost death, reading your story and knowing that your daughter will not have to watch that someday brings tears of joy to my eyes. I know we don’t know each other a ton, but I seriously and beyond proud of you! And that wife of yours is your angel! I love knowing that you can help inspire other young men to take charge of their lives and make each day better. Congrats and continue your amazing journey with your head held high!

    Lindsay

  24. Abby says:

    I think there are so many more people out there who can relate to your story, my friend. It might not be alcohol, but addictions know no boundaries or parameters. Your strength is inspiring, and I have no doubt that next year at this time and the next year at this time, etc. you will still be celebrating your sobriety.

    Secrets keep us sick. Being open to compassion and help keep us sane. Congrats and keep on stepping!

  25. Mary Wheeler says:

    Greg, I am so unbelievably happy for you and your family! You are amazing!!

  26. beth says:

    I am so proud of you Greg! I can attest as a girl who grew up not really ever knowing her Dad because he was always passed out, that you’ve made a world of difference in your daughter’s life (and wife’s)
    . Keep focusing on TODAY & know that with God, all things are possible. Lots of love & prayers headed your way!!!
    Beth

  27. Leah Porter says:

    Amazing accomplishment!!! So proud of you Greg!!!!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know you but want to thank you for sharing your story. People do not rejoice enough in positive happenings. It was so refreshing to read some good news. Your story will inspire many.

  29. Angela Johnson says:

    Happy Anniversary, Greg! And many more! The things we try to hide are so often the things that end up controlling us. Powerful story. Thank you for being so brave to share! Will definitely be giving you a huge high five next time I’m in. Very happy for you and your family.

  30. khewitt123 says:

    Greg and Liz… congratulations on so many accounts:
    – for the sobriety
    – for the ongoing support and love you both have for each other
    – for the wonderful future you will have
    – and congratulations for being an inspiration for so many addicts and families of addicts. If you’ve only helped one person by simply talking about it, that’s one less person that has to fully go through what you have gone through! I will be having my husband read this for sure… god bless
    **former Westsider

  31. poetrypretty says:

    Congrats to you!! You are doing great!

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