SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - 44 Years Sober, An Alcoholic Life, 'Embalmed, Remove From The Hospital'

By Bob Weaver

Forty-four years ago I woke up drunk under a couch with vomit over myself, crawling out and banging my head on the sofa, confused why I was there.

After a time, I realized I had been looking for my stashed vodka bottle, needing another drink.

It was clear to me during those early morning hours about my situation.

Climbing the steps to a back porch, I sat quietly watching the sun come up.

In the morning light of a new day, the denial and delusion that allowed me to continue drinking seemed to vanish and I saw myself as I really was, an alcoholic who could not stay sober.

It was a rare moment of clarity, after many attempts and numerous promises to get sober.

Still struggling to run a business and be part of a family, those moments of clarity that morning allowed me to take an important step - to admit to myself that I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable.

I accepted that I could not stay sober by my own devices with my thinking, attitudes and beliefs.

I began to quit blaming people, places and events for my drinking. Alcoholism and addiction drives itself.

It was unbelievable how many years had gone by before I could utter the words, "Will you help me?"

Those words were heard by two people in my community I feared knowing about my drinking problem, a clergyman and a banker.

"We are alcoholics too, and we want you to know there is a way out," they said.

I always wanted to be a "good boy" and I owed the banker a lot of money.

These two men were the first power outside of myself that began to lift me from my fear, resetment, guilt and self-pity, the start of a wonderful journey toward living a sober life.

I learned that addiction is a disease of the body and mind and that recovery for many people requires coming to believe in a higher power.

The recovering clergyman said, "Bob, you will have to decide whether you are the highest power or authority in this world or if there is a power greater than yourself that makes this universe glow."

Surely, I could not be the highest authority.

Not the first time being in a hospital for drinking, I was taken to Kingwood, where one of my longtime friends said I clung to my vodka bottle, cowering behind the chairs in the lobby and trying to down a last drink.

It was my last drink, one day at a time.

This morning I was looking though some books and papers from that hospital "visit" those years ago.

Among the collection, a toe-tag saying "Embalmed-remove from hospital," attached to my toe by an addictions counselor, recognizing that I was a funeral director at the time.

Beside treatment, I spent a few weeks at the Cenacle Retreat House in Charleston with the encouragement and support of three gracious nuns.

As a sober alcoholic, I returned to that hospital as a counselor and later was the director of that treatment center that went on to help over 12,000 alcoholics and drug addicted people, and later started Touchstones Treatment Center in Martins Ferry, Ohio.

I continued to work in the treatment field for over twenty years and conducted small retreats in the mountains of West Virginia for recovering people.

Many of the counselors who experienced my alcoholic behavior elected me President of the West Virginia Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

It is important to me every day to affirm my belief in powerful miracles about life, death and resurrection.

One of my early supporters passionately looked into my face on one of my darkest days and said, "Feelings are not facts. If you work a recovery program and stay sober, I promise good things will happen to you."

"You will know a new freedom and a new happiness...You will not regret the past nor wish to close the door on it...You will lose interest in selfish things," an Alcoholic Anonymous member said.

He was right.

I am the result of hundreds of people who reached out to me, many by their life example.

Further, in my lifetime, I have been blessed by working with people of all races, creeds, religions, and beliefs.

This day, I thank the God of my understanding for what has happened to me, the miracle of recovery.