Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too many to mention. I don’t know if it’s because I just loved it so much growing up or because the subject-matter kind of speaks to me directly, but I’ve always associated that song “My Way” with my alcohol addiction. I listened to the Sinatra version the most because-well let’s face it-who doesn’t love Frank? Growing up I was a great admirer of his: his clothes, his take-no-prisoners attitude, his persona and I especially loved how cool he looked holding a drink. I had front-row seats to see him in the 80s and remember thinking: “Here’s a guy who has really lived.”
As juvenile as it was, I tried to sort of play that part over the years. I made plenty of money, lived life on my own terms and took on all comers, no matter how mean they were. Alcoholism became a product of my uncompromising lifestyle. Nobody could tell me that I had a drinking problem: not my wife, not my kids, not my lawyer, my bartender or my accountant. Every time the subject was brought up, I just got loud with them and told them that they didn’t know what they were talking about. For years, it was the perfect way to avoid the problem: make everyone scared of my reaction so they would never bring up what I knew to be true in my own head.
I drank heavily for about ten years and it caused a lot of pain to a lot of people, including myself and my family. I was a fraction of the husband and father I could have been and, while I never laid a hand on my family, I was never there for the important things–there are many different forms of abuse and I count neglect and infidelity among them. In the end, my family forgave me, but I’ve had a hell of a time forgiving myself. I tried a few different types of rehab over the years, but nothing ever really seemed to work.
When I was 45, I entered luxury alcohol treatment and it was the best the decision I could have made. You don’t really understand how big of a difference it makes until you’re there. I was treated like a person and taken care of my entire time there. Even when I was the most resistant to treatment, the staff was courteous, respectful and committed to seeing me get better. I honestly didn’t even know a place like this existed. Luxury alcohol treatment gave the push I needed to start being a better man, and I can’t thank them enough for this or for my three consecutive years of sobriety.
So, while it’s true that I have done most things in my life my way, I had a great deal of help in treatment and from my friends and family. All jokes aside, this isn’t something you can do entirely your way. You have to trust that when you’re neck-deep in alcoholism, the people who care about you know what you need more than you do.