Sobering story

Many of the folks that know me well know that I am sober from January until roughly around St. Patty’s day. But over the course of the past year, I’ve made many new friends who simply don’t get it — mainly because they don’t know the story behind it. So, I decided to put it out there so I don’t have to keep retelling it. (Warning: This isn’t a funny ha-ha kinda story, and it’s not enjoyable for me write.)

About 5-6 years ago, it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I was goofing around on the computer when a buddy, who I’ll call Mitts, called. Basically, he was asking me for help — apparently his wife had thrown him out of the house, and they were getting a divorce. This was all pretty stunning — I had been in their wedding a few years early (even helped set up and tear down the wedding AND reception), and had been recently at their son’s Christening. I didn’t bother to ask for details, because he was obviously not himself. So, I went and picked him up (cars were in her name) and let him stay at my house until his family (who lived in a different state) could come and get him. On the ride home, he confessed that he had been caught cheating on his wife. I called him a dumbass, but told him we’d get him through this.

Now, Mitts and I had worked together for probably about 5 years. We, being roughly the same age and being single guys, often would grab beers together and chase chicks. We were good friends, but we weren’t especially tight — and I think we both liked it that way. We respected each other to the point where we could speak very frankly to each other, but we weren’t in each other’s business, if that makes any sense.

A day later, mom calls. She informs me that one of my best friend’s father had taken his own life. Even though it was about a year after the fact, the news still hit me like a ton of bricks. Granted, I hadn’t seen him in years as I had lost touch with this friend after college … but I had basically grown up at that house and with my friend’s family through junior high and high school. In fact, his mom used to refer to me as “her other son.” I would have still liked to have been there to pay my respects, and to grieve with my friend and his family. But that opportunity was long past.

So, needless to say, I was emotionally rocked. However, instead of dealing with those emotions, I focused on other things — like getting Mitts to his family.

The next day, we work stuff out and I get Mitts to his family. I grieve for my other friend’s dad. I roll into work, emotionally drained.

As I stroll in, another co-worker who was in Mitt’s wedding pulls me aside.

“What are we gonna say about Mitts?”

I looked at him and sternly say, “I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business.” I hate the gossip hounds. Personal lives are personal lives, not gossip topics. Leave it be, you know?

He looks at me, baffled. “Wait a minute. What exactly did he tell you?”

“He said he was caught cheating and she kicked him out.”

“Uh, no, that’s not what happened. Let’s go to the back room.”

During the conversation, he tells me the real reason: Mitt’s wife was going through his computer, and saw a lot of porn files. She noticed that the girls in the pictures/videos kept getting younger and younger. And then she found video files of her daughter (who was 12-13 or so) changing. Apparently, he was secretly videoing her, and uploading the files on to the net to trade for other child porn. When she found this out, she kicked him out of the house. She also had reported him to the police, who were searching for him to arrest him.

So, basically, when he called me, he was on the lam, wanted on child porn charges.

I was floored. I was beyond angry. I felt completely used and dirty that I had helped this person who had completely abused his own stepdaughter’s love and trust. I literally was sick to my stomach with rage. Honestly, if he had magically popped into the room at that second, I don’t know if he would have come out alive.

New Year’s Eve came, and I figured that it was a perfect time for me to get completely shitfaced. And I did.

Now, normally, me shitfaced is a barrel of obnoxious fun. I’ll push boundries, I’ll slap asses, I’ll say just about anything to anyone, but I’m never really completely out of control in a troublesome type of way. Except for this particular night.

This night, I was picking fights. This night, I was not only crossing boundries, I was sacking and looting capitols. This night, rocked off my ass, I hoped into my car and drove home at like 85 mph on Rt. 28.

When I woke up the next morning, the night’s events unfolding in my brain, I knew it was only by the grace of God that I was alive, in one piece and completely unscathed.

I also knew I was in no condition to drink. The rage monkey on my back weighed in at like 10 tons, and I knew that alcohol would only turn it loose.

So, I stopped, cold turkey. I channeled my aggression and anger and hurt into the gym. Literally, I would lift for like 2.5 hours a day, replaying the former friendship that I had with Mitts over and over and over again in my head. Why didn’t I see any signs? Did he do this previously? Even now as I type this, I feel twinges of sadness and pain from that whole thing. But the burning question that sticks in my head to this day: Was there anything I could have done to prevent this?

The truth is, there was no way for me to have known. He had never hinted at such behavior in the time that I had known him. He was well-liked. He had many friends. He was far from a crazy hermit. He was a professional worker, a smart guy and could be counted on to lend a hand. Society portrays these kind of guys as sociopaths who should be relatively easy to see. But the truth is, he would have been one of the last people on Earth I would have expected to be a pedophile.

As for Mitts? Well, later on in the week, he had turned himself in. He pled guilty. He did like 3 years in prison. I was a little baffled by how little time he did, since those were federal charges he faced. But he’s out now, and he’s on Megan’s List.

I’ve had no contact with him since, nor do I have any desire to. That friendship is dead, and it’s never coming back.

As for me, eventually, I tamed that rage monkey. But if there was something good that came out of all of this, it’s that I realized how good it felt to be healthy again. I cut way back on the booze. And since then, I always take January and February out to look back on things, to make myself get healthy and to look forward to what I want to do in the future.

And even though it’s a relatively new tradition, I have to admit, I look forward to every year.


4 Responses to “Sobering story”

  1. January 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Wow….just WOW! Incredible story and incredible dedication….I applaud you!

  2. 2 John
    January 5, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Helluva story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 3 Lightweight
    January 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Wow, that is an incredible story and a great way to reflect on the past but look forward to the future. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. 4 Funkyskull
    January 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I’ve always respected this decision of yours but never knew the reason why. Kudos to you for taking what is an emotionally shit situation and turning it into a positive ritual.

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