A Life Beyond His Wildest Dreams
April 12, 2019
I’m so excited to be Ammon Foundation’s guest blogger in honor of Alcohol Awareness Month. While the opioid crisis deserves all the attention it is getting, the numbers in regards to alcohol related deaths are staggering. 88,000 deaths last year alone! I’m one of the lucky ones that made it through the other side and now live a life beyond my dreams in recovery.
I’m not from a family with issues relating to alcohol or alcoholism. I don’t actually know anyone in my family history that is an alcoholic. Honestly, I grew up with everything you could need. Normal family, plenty of friends, really an ideal childhood. On the surface everything seemed ok. Nobody knew was what was going on inside of me though.
The first time I got drunk I knew my life had changed forever. In an instant, every ounce of fear, anxiety, and insecurity disappeared. I felt powerful, I felt confident, but most importantly I felt free from everything that had always held me down. I was 13 years old, and for the next 18 years I chased whatever I could find to get that feeling.
I never could have imagined where my life would take me after that night. Drinking and drugs brought me to my knees. What had started as the answer to all of my problems became the thing that almost cost me my life. By the end I was drinking every day. My mornings started with a bottle of vodka just to get “normal” and not get sick. The rest of the day was an exhausting blur. It’s crazy to think about the amount of times I ended up in jail, or an emergency room or woke up not knowing where I was. I’d be blacked out most of the time and was always so scared to try to pick up the pieces the next day and figure out what happened.
A little over 10 years ago the miracle happened. I had no intentions of stopping. I had basically made up my mind that this is the way life was going to be. I was hopeless, scared and exhausted but I couldn’t stop. I don’t know how or why it happened but one morning, September 16, 2008, I looked in the mirror as I was chugging a bottle of vodka and said the three words that I had never had the strength to say – “I need help”
I’ll never forget that feeling. I wish I could bottle it and give it to somebody who is struggling now. It was like an entire lifetime of pain, burden and struggle disappeared in a second; 18 years of fighting, 18 years of embarrassment, 18 years of letting people down was lifted and I knew this was my time to go get help and change my life. I surrendered.
Recovery has given me more than I ever dreamed of. I never could have imagined what this life would be like. I was always so scared to think what life would be like without alcohol. What am I going to do for fun? Will I be able to do the things I used to do? Will I go through life miserable but at least not drinking? To look back at these last 10 years is amazing. I’ve accomplished so much in recovery. I’ve gotten married. I’ve started businesses. I’m a reliable employee. I’ve had amazingly fun times. I’m a father to the most wonderful daughter. Most importantly for me, I’ve gotten my family and loved ones back. I disappointed so many people along the way. For me to be the go-to person for my family now is incredible. I love the fact that I am the reliable, dependable and responsible person in peoples lives.
The crazy thing about being in recovery is that it opens your life up to so many possibilities. I’ll never forget sitting in rehab and saying over and over, “What am I going to do with my life without alcohol?” Finally, my counselor Megan looked at me and said something that really hit home – “Anything you want.” She explained that my entire life revolved around getting drunk or high. My life had become a pathetic waste of time really. For some reason when she said it to me it opened my eyes to the immense opportunity that I had in front of me. I never made plans when I was drinking because I never knew where or would be, how drunk I would be, how hungover I would be etc. I was trapped in this revolving door where every day was the same pathetic struggle. It feels amazing to be free of all that and to actually just live.
I’m grateful every day to be given this second chance at life. I never thought that I would be here to tell my story which is why I choose to Recover Out Loud. The stigma related to substance use disorder is what held me down for many years. I was so scared to ask for help and admit that I was an alcoholic. Nobody talked about it openly back then. I had no idea that there were people just like me who struggled. The stigma had shaped my opinion of what an “alcoholic” was or looked like and I’d be damned if that was me. One of my favorite things to see is the look on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m in recovery. The classic line: “You don’t look like an alcoholic” never gets old. THAT is why I tell my story. We are making great strides in fighting this stigma but there is so much more that we can do. I share openly so that those that are struggling can see what is possible but also so that “normal” people can see that this disease can affect anybody. I almost destroyed a perfectly good life and I am lucky to still be here. If you knew what was possible in recovery it would make stopping just a little easier. I’m living proof that recovery works and I hope just one person reads this and feels compelled to make a change. There is an amazing life waiting for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Michinard is a Business Development Manager for Ammon Labs and a person in long-term recovery. He is a champion for those that are struggling with alcoholism and addiction and authors a blog The Alcoholic Next Door which hopes to change the stigma associated with the disease so that more people will feel empowered to ask for help.
The Ammon Foundation Scholarship provides life skills workshops to individuals in early recovery, and also assists people in addiction recovery for at least 6 months to complete their GED/High School Equivalency, Various Training Programs, Vocational Education, or a 2- or 4- year degree, in any area. To read more and determine if you are eligible, as well as to apply, please visit our website.