“My story begins when I was 23 years old. Divorce and the death of my grandmother, the person who loved me the most, sent me out into the bar scene where I found a friend in alcohol.
My childhood was very sheltered. My mother was overprotective and it caused me to be very sensitive and never have to deal with anything negative. When I reached my 20s, I remained very immature and lived in fear of rejection and not being accepted. When I started hanging out in bars every night I learned that if I drank, I didn’t have to feel things or be responsible for anything. This went hand in hand with my love for playing the guitar. I decided to become a singer/songwriter. I could get paid to drink in bars every night, I thought.
Addiction & The Music Scene
I would start locally. When I got some experience, I would start playing Birmingham, Atlanta, and someone from a record company would surely offer me an amazing contract and make me a superstar before I knew it. When it didn’t happen immediately with barely any effort, I got discouraged and drank more. I found myself drinking instead of doing things I needed to be doing like practicing, promoting, booking, and playing live shows. I took the easy road every time so I could have more time to drink. I often played a show and had to go back the next day and hope my equipment was still there. My shows were sparse and usually started with me being extremely hungover, having many drinking breaks, and ending quickly so I could drink.
I was afraid to get close to anyone, so I drank while I watched my friends fall in love and get their hearts broken and fall in love again all around me. Occasionally a nice girl would become more than friends and I would play it cool and drink until she got tired of my behavior and moved on. I felt broken.
I ran from my feelings, drinking to hide the pain, never letting anyone get close. I vowed never to fall in love again. I received 2 DUIs in my late 20s and decided moving to Las Vegas was the answer. Small-town Alabama didn’t have public transportation. I would take buses and taxis and that would solve everything. While living in Las Vegas I never got in trouble with the law, but I had 3 very bad and very dangerous events that scared me very much.
It was then that I first realized I had a problem. I was searching for myself 2,000 miles away from home and I was falling deeper into addiction. I would continue to drink for years, however, convincing myself that since I had been avoiding trouble with the law and never lost a job due to drinking, I had it under control. After 5 years there, I moved back home to small-town Alabama where the shame of failure and addiction to alcohol drove me to isolation and a life of hiding a bad drinking problem. Moving back after five years with nothing to show for it and my 40s coming on fast was very bad for my self-esteem. You could say I was a ‘functioning’ alcoholic until 2013 when I lost a job for the first time due to alcohol.
My First Breaking Point
My cousin found me on my living room floor, passed out in vomit. He told me he had a friend who worked at a rehab facility and he could probably get me in. I started crying my eyes out and said, ‘Yes please.’ It was great to have someone show me they cared. I went to the local rehab and managed to stay sober for 16 months, but decided to try drinking in moderation, which failed miserably. I didn’t really do anything other than not drink; I just white-knuckled it. Then one day out of the blue I had a drink in my hand. I spent another 4 years battling booze until December 11, 2019 when I received a blackout DUI and woke up in jail in Foley, AL. I didn’t know where I was or what had happened. The last thing I remember, I was drinking in a Hotel in Gulf Shores and then I woke up in jail.
Journey To Sobriety
Instead of calling someone, I sat in jail for 3 days having completely lost the will to live. Eventually, I gathered the strength to get out of jail, find my wrecked car, get home, and begin the long, hard, expensive road to recovery. About $25,000, a year and a half of legal trouble, and 104 AA meetings, all during a pandemic, and this was just the first step. Today, I now have 2.5 years sobriety, a fiancée, a good job, a new car, a home, and a Brand called MP19. MP19 (represents celebrating the small victories in life and in recovery) is where I sell MP19 t-shirts and use all profits (there usually are no profits, I just use my own money) to donate apples, oranges, hoodies, books, detergent, etc., to the local rehab I attended.
I finally realized after having a drinking problem for 20 years that it was time to face those traumatic events and deal with them responsibly. I’m 50 years old now; it’s time to enjoy life and stop running from my emotions. I see a counselor once a month and help anyone I can who comes to me wanting to beat their addiction. I still play music, I love to cook, ride my bikes (BMX and MTB), paint, read, all kinds of things that I could not do and never had the motivation to do when I was drinking. There was a time when all I wanted was a ‘normal’ life. I didn’t think it was possible to break out of the cycle I was trapped in. I took one step at a time. I was determined to work as hard as I needed to, take as many steps as necessary to become the man I wanted to be, and now that man is exactly who I am.
This time around I decided to use every tool at my disposal and put as much energy into sobriety as I did drinking. I got the I Am Sober app, read a ton of quit lit, make lots of sober Instagram friends, and pursue new sober hobbies and activities.
Sobriety has been a long, hard road but it is so worth it! I wish I had gotten serious about recovery years ago. The best thing for people who are new to recovery to do is to have plenty of sober friends to talk to and stay connected to them. Use every tool you can think of to get through the hard days. Once you get about a year of sobriety, life really starts to get manageable. At least it did for me. I continue to notice progress after two and a half years and my old life of drinking and anxiety and trouble becomes more and more of a distant memory. Recovery has not only allowed me to reduce my anxiety but get back my self-esteem and see life with positivity. Today, I can find joy in the little things again. I’m still discovering who I truly am, but I love who I have become.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Max Pez from Gadsden, Alabama. You can follow his journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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