by Trent Rosser
This week is my birthday. No, not the day I was born birthday, but the day that I learned to live without alcohol. As most of you know, I am a recovering alcoholic. It was eight years ago that I checked into a rehabilitation center to stop drinking. I tried to stop on my own, but that only lasted about 3 months before I was out and drunk again. Here is the deal. Everyone handles alcohol in a different way. As for myself, I would not go to work and if I did make it to work I reeked of beer and could not function due to being hung over. I would not even go in or even call in. I mean, really? Go to work when there is still beer in the fridge. So needless to say, if I had a job that lasted over 8 months, it was a miracle. Now I had been drinking since I was a teenager. Going out on the weekends, and drinking with all my buddies. It was as natural as waking up in the morning. Of course on the weekdays we would be sober; after all, we were still in school and had to go home to our parents at an early time. So it was a weekend thing that we did.
The first time I received a D.W.I.; I had just joined the navy. I was about 23 years old and I do not know what I was thinking. Let me rephrase this. I hate the cold, I am not much of a swimmer and I follow in my family footsteps and join the Navy. I joined in the middle of Sept and was in the Delayed Entry Program (D.E.P.s). At this time the Navy had only 1 boot camp, Great Lakes Navel Station in Illinois. So I was supposed to ship off to Great Lakes and report for boot camp on December 4…. Ok, cold lake water in the middle of December…. Again, what was I thinking?? So, in the last part of October, some of my buddies and I were out celebrating, I had just dropped the last friend off at his house and was headed home when I was pulled over. TADA! My first D.W.I. this is something that I am not proud of, but I should have told the judge what was going on. Instead, I received probation and my military career was over before it even started. This was back in 1996.
I kept drinking during my probation. I lost my son during this time and it was one of the ways I dealt with my grief. It was also during this time that I realized that the whole world is out to get me and to make sure that I do not succeed in anything that I do. I hated everyone and had the personality of a dead fish. Even after probation, I would disappear for days and sometimes weeks at a time. I would be holed up in a rundown hotel drinking away every dime that I had.
Years go by and I am still drinking heavily and just barely getting by. I have very little friends and no one really wants to be around me. Mainly because they could not trust me, and/or was tired of my negative attitude. I ended up homeless in Austin and here in Amarillo. It was not fun; it was not what I wanted to do. Growing up here in town and then being homeless and working for the Salvation Army as a bell ringer. I ran into many people that I did wrong or was ashamed of them seeing me like I was. Still drinking, I crawled out of that era in my life and was working again. Can ya guess what I did when I received a little bit of money? Yep, I went out drinking again. It did not take long for me to be back in the same situation that I had been in before. I received another D.W.I. This time it was very serious. They all were serious, but this time they were talking jail time. Judge John Board sentenced me to what they call 10 and 10. I receive 10 years on probation and if I mess up I will start the entire time over again with 10 years in prison. Yep, very serious.
Now, here is where I would talk about my lawyer backstabbing me, or the court system was not fair to the indigents. But I am not going to do that. I might not agree with everything that goes on in the courts but I was drunk that night and every night that I received a D.W.I. I have NO ONE to blame but myself. No one force me to drink, and no one forced me to drive. I could have hurt myself, and I could have hurt someone else very easily. I actually consider myself lucky that I did not hurt anyone. I realized then that I really do have a problem and I joined a 12 step program. Did you know that they have numbers for the steps so you can follow? It is real easy, start with 1 and go from there. Guess what, I couldn’t do it. I did not like some of the steps so I did them in the order that I wanted to do them. It did not work out and I was back out drinking again with my old crowd and hiding in old hotel rooms.
I went back to my probation officer and did something that saved my life. I asked for help. I knew that they could send me to prison, but I was willing to take that chance as long as I got help. I could not do it on my own. So about a week later I walked into a rehab in Tulia, TX. I expected to stay there for 90 days, but 8 months later is when I walked out. During the last 8 years, my life has changed drastically. Not only do I have a relationship with my family again, but believe it or not, they actually like who I am now. They actually trust me also. I even had a chance to talk to Judge Board and I did not miss the chance to tell him how I really feel. I thanked him for saving my life. I have even found a woman who thinks I am funny, and some days she thinks that I am the sexiest man alive. That’s usually the days that she is having trouble seeing or I do my best Matthew McConaughey impression. Either way, she loves me for who I am flaws and all. There is no reason for me to drink any longer. I even got her to marry me!
A few months ago, I was asked about my past. I, of course, make a joke, but it did not go over very well. They were too serious and took it wrong. I told them that the man that walked into the probation dept all those years ago is dead. That man no longer exists. I am no longer that lying and swindling jerk. So this week is a special week for me. I am clean, I am sober and a happy person now. I do not need alcohol in my life. I am having a lot more fun without it. So maybe it is my birthday, it is the day that I learned to live again.
(Side note) If you, or someone you know, thinks you might have an issue with alcohol or drugs, please seek help. It could save your life, or even a life of someone you may know.