Diary of an Alcoholic: Part 1

Photo of an empty bottle laying on the beach.

Photo by Scott Van Hoy on Unsplash

To all my customers who haven’t seen me lately, I haven’t disappeared. I am transforming my life in ways I never imagined I would.  

May 1, 2009, is the day my life changed. Yogi Berra once said, “When you see a fork in the road take it.” I guess I found the fork and had to make some tough decisions. No more lying, deceiving and pretending to be fine, while hurting many people who loved me and feeling guilty and ashamed.  

You see, the day before, I got in a fight with another Street Sense vendor. Even though I knew what my fate would be, which was a suspension, I felt relieved. I had wanted to retire but circumstances and the economy couldn’t let me retire. So I held on longer than I needed to sell my newspapers. I had everything vendors could wish for, I had popularity, an audience and a steady clientele.  

But in spite of my smile and personality, which appeared to be O.K., underneath the surface I was near suicide. I would go to Rock Creek Park with a rope and some pills thinking about killing myself. I thought I was a loser, destined to be alone, with no one. I hated my life, and my job. Just taking a shower or brushing my teeth took enormous amounts of energy. I was in a major depression, and nothing worked. I tried healthy foods, which led me to beer, and I exercised with a couple of shots.  

Alcohol was my solution, not my problem. I didn’t equate alcohol with my joblessness or my not having any real friends or love life, or not being invited to any social events. I never blamed my drinking for missing paydays or opportunities.  

I blamed other people for my failure. And the only relief I had was my friend Velikoff vodka, or some marijuana. They kept me company when I was lonely. They made me witty even if I was cruel, which I enjoyed by inflicting my venom because I was lonely and miserable. I never realized how ugly and unpleasant I became. I needed that feeling of being buzzed or that high to psych myself to sell newspapers. I hated being rejected so I thought that by drinking myself drunk I would be more likeable.  

Until one of my regular customers, who had a high regard for me, told me I smelled like vodka. I felt embarrassed but that didn’t stop me from picking up a six-pack after a day’s work. I felt I had earned it – I had a stressful day, so why not indulge myself with some alcohol? But I was never happy, and instead downright depressed because I was liquored up, sleeping on trains and park benches with nothing but the clothes on my back. My blackouts were frequent and I never knew how I blacked out.  

What was even worse was I didn’t know how to quit. I would quit for a day or two, I would get the shakes, my heart would cramp up and I would get chest pains. I would get very testy and agitated, and I felt like death was around the corner. I wasn’t healthy, and after a couple days I would start drinking again, even more. I had low self-esteem and hated the way I looked, and I didn’t care if I smelled like urine or didn’t bathe. I thought I was on a collision to hell because this world was hell to me.  

God was never in my life because all I ever knew was hurt and pain and rejection. The people who tried to befriend me usually fit the profile, too. So I didn’t know how to be intimate with anyone.  

Eventually my fight got me suspended from Street Sense with a threat of termination. I didn’t really care – I was going to see my family, party and trick with some prostitutes till the storm cleared. So I did what I normally do: I picked up some cheap beer.  

[Read More: Diary of an Alcoholic: Part 2]

Then I went to Dupont Circle and tried to drink myself to death, because it was going to be my birthday and I didn’t want to see my 42nd birthday. I was a loser, and had never amounted to much, so I cried to God to kill me.  

I saw a guy who I had seen at the Street Sense Writer’s Group. I started bitching to him and he said the liquor was coming out of my pores. He asked me, “Ever tried Alcoholics Anonymous?” My first thought was, “f——- frauds.” But I was bored and I didn’t want to serve my suspension drunk all the time. Plus I had started to hate alcohol and the way it made me feel. I hated blacking out in the middle of the Trinidad neighborhood of George Washington hospital. I wanted to be sober but all kinds of thoughts went through me, like “How do I deal with life sober? How do I not let people irritate me?”  

What happened next will be revealed in future articles. 

Issues |Addiction

information about New Signature, a Washington DC tech solutions and consulting firm


email updates

We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.