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Hi, my name is Luke and I am a Bar-tender, a Sober Bar-Tender to be exact.....Six nights a week I walk the tight rope of sobriety when I punch in at work and begin to pour drinks, twist off beer caps, and hear wild tales of my Co-workers previous nights debauchery. Day after day I test my will-power in the most absurd place of all to pursue one's recovery-----THE BAR!
Such a life of self restraint has not always been a part of my song and dance. Up until a little over a year ago my life was ruled by my two best friends----Alcohol and Drugs. They were my constant companion, what i thought was my source of happiness and escape from the miserable life I had created for myself. The chase to get just a little bit higher or a bit more drunk was never ending. Addiction is progressive and I was quite aggressive in my pursuit of progression towards Rock Bottom. Along the way I lost a girl whom I adored and loved, countless jobs, friends, money, self-respect and confidence. Worst of all my toxic relationship with substances stole the person I was supposed to be, people thought I could be, and who deep down I wanted to be!
Turning back the clock to this past January is necessary to fully appreciate the beautiful place in my life i'm at now. I would love to say that the New Year brought in some kind of life changing Resolution----but that is definitely not the case. The start of 2017 actually was the beginning of a 3 day $1000 sleepless bender that would culminate in the loss of yet another job and $0 to my name. I borrowed just enough money to get gas to drive back to Greensboro to reluctantly inform my family of how life had once again kicked me right in the face, you know, the whole "woe is me" sob story. It was awkward and embarrassing to see my family for a couple of reasons: 1. I had not seen them in over a year(didn't even come home for christmas) 2. I was flat broke and jobless, and in no shape to be hired. 3. I looked awful, exactly how one might expect a drug addict to look. Despite all this, they took me in, told me they were thrilled I was still alive, that they loved me, and would do whatever it took to help me turn things around.
Upon my return home, and without money, a job, or a reliable car, I had very few options to do anything other than think and reflect. I thought a lot about how far I had fallen, how much talent I was wasting, how much laughter and love i had to give others, the hurt I had caused my family/friends. Eventually my thoughts and reflections began to take shape into a plan of action centered around one question: What Do I Want My Life To Be Like? I made myself a list of everything my "ideal" life would include. I started imagining everyday how great it was going to be once this life began to take shape. It didn't really concern me the exact route I was going to take, I just figured that if I eliminated all of the things that didn't contribute to this magical life I had in my head, then the rest would begin to take care of itself!!!
To begin this terrific new life journey I had envisioned for myself, I had to stay sober and I had to find a JOB....but where? Doing what? It certainly was not an option to remain in the Service Industry Business right? No way could I remain sober while serving drinks! So, I set about applying at Call Centers, Grocery Stores, Cell-Phone companies, I even put in an application at Sheetz. I didn't even land an interview at any of these places----I began to panic. It was becoming more and more apparent to me that I was going to have to find a job back behind the Bar in an industry where all of my demons seemed to circle around me like a swarm of bees.
Somehow I managed to land a job at a very nice place, whose Owners and Management seemed oblivious of my previous self destructive employment History. As the day approached for my first shift, I knew I had to come up with some kind of gameplan to avoid the pit-falls of working in a restaurant/bar-tending. First off, I decided that I would not run from or hide my sobriety, that it was best to be open about it with all of my co-workers. With a touch of self deprecation and tons of humor I managed to let everyone at my job know that I would not be partaking in any festivities with them. Some looked at me as if i had just told them "that i no longer need water to live", many others were quite supportive and understanding from the beginning.
Next, was the issue of straw testing mixed drinks I had made-----I wrestled quite a bit with this one. Eventually i came to the conclusion that I would simply have someone else test the drinks out for me. Kind of embarassing to have to do this, but better safe than sorry ya know? This decision went hand in hand with the one I made about sampling Craft Beers for "taste" which was that I would not be doing it. My standard line when a guest asks me what one of the plethora of different beers tastes like is "here, let me get you a sample". Although I wish I could just tell them to fucking "Google it".
After a few nights back behind the Bar in my new sober world I began to have what can be best described as the "Holy shit, tonight is stressful, I can't wait to get off work and get obliterated" feeling. If you have waited tables or tended bar, you know exactly the feeling I am talking about--------all hell is breaking loose, you just got double sat, tickets won't stop shooting out of the printer, babies are crying, your hostess is in tears, the crazy lady on line 2 wants you to give her a sermon on all of your gluten free options, someone is yelling/waiving their hands at you from the other side of the Bar whilst calling you "Boy" or "Bar-keep".......We have all been there and it is a nightmare. Every time these situations happen, that terrible voice in my head tells me that i should call an old dealer and get high when I get off work, that you deserve a temporary reprieve from all the chaos surrounding you. I kept wondering when this addict voice inside my brain would go away while I was working???
Since regaining the best version of myself, i've realized that this addict voice does not ever go away while i'm working or in my day to day life. The difference now is that the unreasonable voice of instant gratification that plays in my head is quickly followed by a more calm, clear-headed, and reasonable voice that tells me I don't need a temporary reprieve from anything, that what I really need/deserve is a permanent chance at Happiness. Sooooo, I think about making my Mom proud, I think about my family, I think about friends I have lost, and I think about friends I still have------I think about what I WANT from Life for both myself and those I care deeply about. I don't make the call, I don't get HIGH, and every day my life gets just a little bit better. The best cocktail i've ever made is the one i currently pour myself each morning when I wake up. The main ingredient in this drink involves a Healthy Over-Pour of Embracing Change.-----Cheers to a better life friends!!!!
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