Now that I’ve stopped drinking for a number of years and am recovering well from years of alcohol abuse, I can’t help having some regrets. Oh sure, it’s standard for those you trust enough to talk to about these things to say you should just move forward, get on with your life and enjoy what you have now. See, that would be wonderful except for the fact I’m human and I still have some memory.
Try as I might I just can’t seem to shake the feeling of loss when I try and remember certain events or periods of my life when I was drinking excessively. Dates and times, events attended and people I met. Exciting times in my life that are just gone; I can’t seem to recall what took place and when.
I figured it out that approximately 10 years of my life are fractured where I only remember bits and pieces of time. I was still drinking before and after that ten years but at least I have recall of things that happened in my life during those years prior and post hard drinking.
I hear stories of suffering alcoholics who just don’t want to quit or tried to quit and failed repeatedly. Whatever reasons they give for NOT quitting I wish, I even implore them to quit so they don’t have to suffer remorse for Lost Time.
Heavy drinking can mean you lose your job, your family, copious amounts of money, your home; all tough things to lose but it’s the time. The years you will never get back generally prime years of your life. These are prime years for earning money, establishing a career, starting a family, sharing a life with a loved one. You’ll be there and you will put in the hours and experience but it will be such a destructive time in your life and on those around you. What a dreadful waste.
At the time you may think everything is fine and things are going your way. Suddenly your drinking gets worse and you can’t control it and it begins controlling you. Now the trouble starts. Lost job, lost health, lost ambition, lost love; you begin to actually start accepting these losses. You’ll chalk it up to bad luck, really lousy karma, someone else’s fault. Personal responsibility is not in your vocabulary.
Now let’s say you are one of the lucky ones and when you hit bottom you get it and understand it. You just can’t take it anymore and you acquire treatment. Good for you! You’ve given yourself a second chance at life and you intend to make it worth all the effort you put into recovery. Your health returns, you start a new career, you may even win your family back or start a new one and perhaps you have at least salvaged the respect of your first family. See the pattern here? This is why its called recovery and not recovered, healed or cured.
You can get back on your feet and start living again and it’s a fantastic feeling of rejuvenation. This is an accomplishment that should be gratifying and humbling at the same time. You can earn back most of what you lost throughout your drinking but never the Lost Time. An 80 year life span has become 65 or 70. It’s just numbers until late on a quiet evening you realize another birthday has passed, a new season is starting and you still have so much to achieve and not as much time as you thought.
I once asked my doctor who was treating my physical ills after I quit drinking just what kind of long term damage I had done to myself and what it meant to my longevity – he ignored my question and quickly changed the subject. I realize now why he did that. Telling me that would not have been helpful but being a reasonably intelligent chap I can add two and two together. Because of my willful, damaging behavior I’ve in all likelihood shortened my life. I could live to be 90 but the odds are against it.
Yes you can bet I want to drag every poor drunken soul, every self indulgent excessive drinker and every denial prone alcoholic by the collar to a detox center. I want to sit them down and give them the straight dope on what it means to be in recovery from alcoholism. I’ll tell them how great their life can be without booze and I’ll tell them to be grateful for their second chance at life. The most important thing I’ll tell them is the sooner they receive treatment the lesser the amount of Lost Time they will have to lament over.
To set up an appointment with Michael Pearlman, M.D., Call 1 (866) 285-3400 toll-free or (617) 620-2230,