A continuation of Dennis’ story. I got out of the Army and moved back to North Carolina. I thought my family would be happy to see me but instead my wife loaded up the car, the kids and moved to Greensborough, NC. I got in our other car and followed her, she moved in and I moved in.
My wife got a job the first week, but I was still looking. I would apply for one job a day and if I didn’t get it then I’d stop by the liquor store.
We lived like that for two years before I finally found a job working for a local prison. It was a pre-sentencing, processing and diagnostic unit more commonly called a psychiatric ward. There were people inside that prison that were so sick they didn’t know what they did to get there?
I came in drunk on first shift so they put me on second shift and I got to work all right by 2:00 pm but, I had problems getting home after my shift ended at 10:00. No self-respecting drunk goes home at 10:00pm at night.
Eventually, I got promoted to third shift and I liked that better because I never fit into society anyway and I liked being by myself. And when I worked all night and drank all day it maximized my time, but my behavior became unpredictable and I started having hallucinations. I was seeing bugs and other crawly creatures on the baseboards and all around me. By then my eyesight was pretty good because I was seeing things nobody else saw. Other times I’d see little bubbles floating in the air and whenever I looked at them and noticed nobody else was seeing them; I quit looking at them too.
The inmates started complaining about me and filed petitions and grievances against me because they said I was keeping them awake at night chasing rats and bubbles they couldn’t see? I was invited home for Thanksgiving dinner but, now I know it was a “What are we going to do with Dennis dinner?” My father had died earlier, but my sisters, wife and mother were extremely concerned and they wanted me to do something about my drinking. There was a new minister at our home church and they wanted me to talk with him. I promptly started arguing with them and ended up coming out of my second recognizable blackout.
That night I had a brief moment of clarity and recalled hearing about my wife’s uncle Dan. We called him Big Dan. He was the town drunk until he got sober by a strange thing called Alcoholics Anonymous. We didn’t know anything about A.A. except that Dan got sober, had a driver’s license and a full time job. Dan worked in the mental health industry, in a university town and was living a new life at Chapel Hill, NC.
I decided that when I got back home I was going to call Dan but I started thinking again after I got home and I got another brilliant idea from nowhere and knew something nobody else did. I was going to quit on my own, I could do it all by myself and I didn’t need anybody else to help me stop drinking alcohol. God must already have been working in my life because Dan called me and then he stopped by. I was certain I’d already lost my wife, kids and everything else, but I tried being nice to Big Dan. I said, “Big Dan, come on in and make yourself at home.” He did. He came on in, took off his shoes, laid down on my couch and went to sleep. And then I wondered, “How am I going to get this big man off my sofa?” I went outside to check my car to see if it was there and on my way back in the house, I looked in Dan’s car and there on his seat was a faded old Big Book and some A.A. pamphlets. One of the pamphlets was about Black Alcoholism. I thought to myself, “Ma,n I didn’t know it had a color?” I went in the house and said to Dan, “Tell me more about this thing called alcoholism.” Dan talked for what seemed like 2 hours and then he said, “Dennis, I can’t help you, but if I dial the A.A. number for you, will you talk to them?” I said, “Big Dan, if you shut up, I’ll talk.” To be continued…
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