Apparently slamming a fifth of vodka with 3 Monsters every night is not good for you... This is embarrassing to discuss, but if it helps just one person put down the bottle and/or go get help, it's worth it.
I wouldn't say I'm an alcoholic, just an addict...is that better? I have what doctors call an "addictive personality". That mixed with undiagnosed adult ADHD and anxiety/depression, led to an unfortunate but eye-opening time in my life. I didn't drink alcohol until I was 25, but by 30, I had a lifetime's worth. Go hard or go home I suppose.
I have noticed there are quite a few people with whom I served who are also sobering up, so I thought I'd share a tale. Most of my content is offensive and outlandish, but occasionally I like to be serious and have some real talk. After all, I started Broken Jarhead to share some laughs with fellow vets, hopefully pull them from a depressed funk, and raise awareness for the problems vets quietly face everyday. I hope our content can make the world a little more bearable!
Since getting actual help, like therapy, was "weak", I chose to self-medicate my "sorrows" away with alcohol. At my peak, I drank a fifth of vodka mixed with 3 Monsters every night and drank all day Saturdays and Sundays. When I say drank, I mean pounded - I'd get home at 1600ish and be passed out on the floor by 2000. My wife would have to check my breathing at times and had to keep my 2-year-old from seeing me. Why? Because I was "too much of a man" to get help.
I would quit for a bit and apologize to my wife for my behavior but would slip back into it thinking I could handle my drinking, but I couldn't. I was never suicidal, but
remember thinking one night, this is probably how people actually have the guts to pull the trigger or tie a noose. It was a constant nightmare. I'd wake up hungover and dehydrated and would spend the day feeling guilty about the previous night. That, mixed with the other shit on my mind would help me buy another bottle that night and slam it. Want to go to the Zoo on Saturday with the family? No, I need to find an excuse to stay home and drink. Want to plan something in advance? It had to be based around drinking.
I don't know why my wife stayed with me - I would have left. She's a better person than I am, that's for sure. I left the Marine Corps in 2017 and had tailored my drinking a bit, but not enough. By 2019, I was 32, my wife was pregnant with our daughter, and I was still a piece of shit. Things had to change. I was tired of seeing the despair in my wife's eyes. I was tired of feeling dehydrated and hungover. I was tired of being a letdown. I just wanted to be happy.
My last drink was March 2, 2020 - the day before my wife's birthday. Since I had broken so many promises before, I didn't tell her until her birthday this year - the one-year mark! I signed up for behavioral therapy and told the doc I'm not going to pay him for the next 3 years - I'm not a weak bitch that needs a shoulder to cry on all the time. He smiled and said, "Good". Not what I expected, but I'm glad he saw it my way! I spent 13 weeks with him, twice per week, and...CRIED LIKE A FUCKING BABY almost every time. I don't know where it came from, it just came (that's what she said). Things from my past that I had suppressed for 20 years came up and I was forced to face them, and I BEAT THEM like I was stabbing the tire at MCT with a bayonet.
I had to keep a journal...gaaayyyy. The first week I showed up with nothing written, obviously. He stood up and said, "We're done. I can't help you." That hit a nerve. I said, "What the fuck do you mean you can't help me?" I went into a rant and he sat back down and started writing. "What are you writing!?" I yelled. He answered, "All the stuff you should have. If you show up with an empty journal again, we are done. Now sit down." Touché, Doc...touché. Needless to say, I wrote in the gay ass journal, and it fucking helped, uggghhh... My business partner says the only thing he hates worse than being wrong is when I'm right, and that's how I felt here!
After 13 weeks I felt like I had done a 180 - I felt genuinely happy. I couldn't remember the last time I'd felt this way. I woke up happy, went to bed happy. If my wife shit on my chest, I probably would have smiled! I felt so damn good! Most of all, I felt like such a moron for thinking this was a weak move. I felt genuinely confident - I didn't feel the need to have a confident façade. I was ME - and if anyone didn't like it could fuck off. Getting help is NOT weakness, but STRENGTH. And no, the therapist didn't tell me that. And yes, I know it sounds cliché, FUCK OFF!
It's been a little over a year since I put the bottle down and got help. I still feel good, and I still feel happy. With all my extra sober time and happiness, I created Broken Jarhead, LLC. I'm still working a full-time job which is why I put business in quotes up top, but I'm all in on this and motivated to make it successful. Of course, we have our haters, but I just smile and tell them to fuck off (a common theme with this newfound happiness if you haven't noticed). BJH is mine and I love it. If no one buys anything, I'm still happy and still having fun!
By the way, my wife is still here and doesn't seem disgusted with me anymore! I have a 6-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter, and we do family stuff every weekend! Booze is no longer an excuse. Plenty of people go back, I know. That's the importance of mixing sobriety with therapy and finding true happiness. Thinking about the dopamine boost that alcohol gives me now seems like a step down on the happiness scale. It's not a chore to stay sober, I genuinely don't feel the need or desire to self-medicate.
Call to action: Get help if you need it. Reach out to a friend or me. I'd be more than happy to help you - we are in this together. If you feel suicidal, I challenge you to put down the bottle and make a call - IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO BE HAPPY AND BE YOU.
Shane is the co-owner of Broken Jarhead. Broken Jarhead is here when morale is mandatory. Bringing military apparel and gear made by veterans in the USA. Check out our moral tactical patches, stickers, challenge coins, shirts, hoodies, and more at www.brokenjarhead.com. If it's not made in America, it's NOT Broken Jarhead!