One of the social greetings I get when I go to a party is, “So what do you want to drink?” I usually reply, “Coke.” To which the person asks if want Crown in it. “No,” I answer, “just a Coke. I don’t drink.”

And I am proud of it. Don’t get me wrong, I drank like it was going out of style for 11 years, but circumstances happened and I decided that I want to live a better life and that doesn’t include alcohol or drugs.

It was not always that way. A year and a half ago, I couldn’t get out of bed without my bottle. I couldn’t brush my teeth, because my hands were shaking so bad from the poison in my body. I couldn’t look people in the eye, nor did I have a family, home, car or any of the things that we, as a society take for granted. I was hopeless, helpless and completely addicted.

From a promising football star on the gridiron in 1996 to a junkie, alcoholic without anything in life in 2004.

During the course of my adventures, I was shot at twice, stabbed six times, visited the ER more than the doctors and was in a coma three times. It is a miracle and by the grace of a loving and all powerful God that I am alive and sober today.

As long as I had the dope or the drink, yeah people wanted to hang out with me. Once that was gone, I was alone.

I asked for help September 29, 2004, and that was the last day I have had to live like that. I prayed that night. Sure I had prayed before, but I prayed for selfish things. This time I begged God for help, and help came to me.

I was checked into a treatment center and emerged three months later a changed man. I attended AA, and continue to 6-7 days a week. The people that reached out and picked me up out of the gutter don’t know what they did for me. I was reborn.

Today very few people knew the old guy, the guy they used to call San Diego. Today people know the sober one, the one that tries to be of maximum service to God and the people about me. It has not been an easy road, even in sobriety. Six months in the program, my spiritual mentor died. But I pressed on. Life is always going to be unpredictable, but the one thing my sponsor told me very early into my recovery was that no matter how bad life gets it is never worth it to pick up a drink.

I sponsor six people from my home group these days, and it is the greatest gift I could have. Sure, they drive me up the wall the same way I drove my sponsor up the wall, but it is in giving that I am receiving. They always thank me and I thank them back. Because if I wasn’t trying to help them, I wouldn’t be helping myself.

Think about it. When someone needs your help desperately and you are in the midst of doing everything you can for them. Your problems suddenly become secondary.

That’s what I do when I have a bad day, I listen to other people who are having a bad day as well. I try to help them and without fail my day gets better.

I haven’t been to a club or bar in over a year, and I don’t miss it a bit. People tell me I need to go to meet girls. Sure, if I am looking for a girl that is going to base a relationship around the bottle. If I want to have a grown-up relationship I can go to a church service, an AA meeting or just be at the Daily Sun, there are plenty of beautiful women there!

Things I thought were important a year ago — are not anymore. I used to think that money, a beautiful girl on my arm, a fast car and power made a man. Now I know the truth. A man of faith has courage, a circle of good friends are like a real family. And doing the next right thing, not the popular thing, makes all the difference in the world.

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AJ Narasimhan is a Daily Sun staff writer. His column appears Mondays and Fridays. He may be contacted via e-mail at ajn@corsicanadailysun.com.

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