June 6 – D-Day for most Americans, anniversary of the launch of the massive assault on the beaches of Normandy that changed the course of World War II.
But June 6 is a personal D-Day for me – an anniversary I mark each year because it means another year of successful standoff with The Beast called alcoholism.
This D-Day marks 12 years of facing The Beast and keeping him at bay. No, it doesn’t mean I’ve beaten The Beast. Nobody ever wins the battle. With luck, faith and a lot of dedication we keep him on the other side of the door knowing – all too well – that he is just waiting for a chance to regain control of my lives.
Twelve years ago today, after more than two decades of hard drinking and denial, I walked into the basement of a church in Arlington, Virginia, and took my first step away from The Beast – steps taken one day at a time for the last 4,383 days.
It hasn’t been easy and it won’t be for the rest of my life. As an alcoholic I’m always just one drink away from destroying all the hard work. Sure, there have been down times, bad times and days when the battle seemed futile. An alcoholic can not drink and still act like one – we call them “dry drunks” and I’ve gone through those periods more times than I can count. I could not have made it without the constant support of a loving wife who stood by me when she had every reason to walk away and not look back.
Amy didn’t abandon me and I try every day to make sure that I don’t turn my back on fellow travelers in the netherworld of The Beast. I may be keeping the monster at bay but I have too many friends who do not and it breaks my heart knowing that I cannot help them until they take the first step of overcoming denial.
Ironically, this June 6 is the sixth day of the sixth month of the year oh-six: 6-6-6 or the time of The Beast (as in the Devil) if you believe the Book of Revelations. Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.
“Can you imagine waking up in the morning without a hangover,” W.C. Fields once said, “and realizing that’s the best you’re going to feel all day?”
Yes, I can. And it feels pretty damn good.