Closing Time

It was my cousin’s baptism. I was 13. We celebrated at my uncle’s place. There was a great deal of alcohol, and drugs. My mother thought it would be funny if I joined the festivities by handing me my very own screwdriver. She poured .5 oz of vodka, half a liter of orange juice in a glass, followed by a Salute, and a drink up little man! I was drinking the big people’s drink, and in a few minutes, I thought, I was going to act funny like the big people drinking big people’s drinks. It didn’t happen, I was not acting funny—I was still acting like a kid. And like the 13-year old kid that I was, I rebelled…by pouring .5 oz of orange juice and half a liter of vodka in my glass, and laughed myself silly like the big people did, into a drunken stupor where I stole the keys of my father’s Plymouth Gran Fury Sedan, and drove into a snow bank, barely avoiding a head-on collision with an oncoming car. Later on that night, I was hospitalized for acute alcohol poisoning. Your son is allergic to vodka, sir, said the doctor. Your son has a very high concentration of alcohol in him, sir. Your son shouldn’t be drinking at his age, sir. This was all peachy and stuff, what the doctor said—I was 13, weakened and wired on medical equipment, my father’s scowling eyes conveying their disappointment, with the mother of all hangovers—and yet, I couldn’t wait to get drunk again.

For many years, today is my last beer honey was my mantra, my ticket to one more night of debauchery, the ace up my sleeve, my get out of jail free card, [insert idiom of your choice]. Not only was I lying to my partners, I was literally convincing myself: today was going to be my last beer. My mantra was even more convincing after a gram of cocaine—drinking and snorting was for losers, I was not an alcoholic, I could stop anytime, go to the gym as of tomorrow, be a good boyfriend, start my own business, marry Monica Bellucci… Who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of her life with a charming drug addict, and a cute one for that matter, one that looks like Robert Downey Jr? Trust me, honey, tomorrow we’ll eat healthy. Pass me the broccoli, and the Heineken, please. If you are in need of help, please visit the Minnesota directory of alcohol rehab centers.

King of Clowns

Came a day where one last beer didn’t pack the punch it once did. And girlfriend #1-2-3-4 and my now beautiful wife threatened to leave: I’m leaving, your drinking is out of control, and if you can’t see it, I won’t be part of it. This was when I took out the big guns: Honey, I’m done with drinking… during weekdays. From now on, I will only drink on Fridays. And Saturdays. Perhaps even on Sundays. But not during the week, unless it’s a Wednesday, just to break the week in two, or if I have a hard day at work, and I need to unwind with a few beers on a Tuesday night. But honey, I’m done with drinking. Girlfriend #1-2-3-4 all showed a look of disbelief, and sadness. And I couldn’t care less—I was an addict, and no one would stand between me and my allergic reactions to vodka.

Summer of 2010. My wife. Paraphrasing: Eric, I love you, it’s visceral. But I cannot be part of this. I’m sorry. There was no lie that was going to get me out of this one. Insert cliché: my life was one big lie, a marketing tag line with the sole purpose of getting me closer to another beer. 2 for 1 slogans were even better. Insert fact: facing 20 years of addiction was not going to be achieved through the bottom of a beer bottle. On the 24th of June, I got shitfaced for the last time. For my wife, my kids, and my life. 873 days sober.

Le Clown, clear-headed. Insert new catchphrase:

The Most Interesting Man in the World

157 replies

      • My pleasure! I owe you gratitude too. After all, if it wasn’t for you getting FP, I wouldn’t have formed my own nation and declared myself Head of State. ;) … More importantly, I hope your story helps others!!!!

  1. Le Clown you make people laugh, you make people cry. There is indeed no greater motivator than family to induce change. Congrats on 873 days to the most interesting man in the world.

  2. And that’s why you’re the most awesome man in Canada – not in the world, because I’m still here, but you got Canada, man. Be proud of yourself!

    Seriously though, I can really relate to this story. I started smoking at 11, drinking at 12 and smoking weed at 13. I experimented with all types of drugs thru ages 15-17 and caught myself being an established drug-dealer at age 20.

    When I met the woman that I now call my wife I quit smoking weed, which was a step in the right direction. Beer and cigarettes were still my bests friends, though. I have no idea, why, but my wife helped me thru all of it.

    Now, no cigarettes, no weed, just a beer on birthdays and holidays. Never get drunk, though.

    This is an awesome post and one more ‘+’ on my: “Le Clown”-list. The only ‘-’ being: “He’s an asshole”. :P

    Tu es une respectable human, Monsieur Le Clown.

    • Daan,
      I tried many times to drink casually, to do it just the weekend, and to drink NOT to get drunk. And I do not have that restraint in me. It’s all or nothing. Congrats on your achievements, my friend.
      Le Clown

      • It took me 7 years of therapy and giant fuck-ups to the point where I am now. I was 100% sober for a year, at which point I thought: I wanna see if I still think it’s special. So at my birthday in april this year, I took a beer with my friends and I noticed I just tasted it. The whole urge to cover up my whole life was gone.

        And thanks. You’re a great clown, man – man, clown. Eh, you get the point.

  3. Well if Le clown can do it I guess there is hope for me yet. I have found out the bitter way that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to be addicted and have it deeply effect your life and the future

  4. From a veteran of several relationships with addicted men I loved and wanted to stay with who couldn’t or wouldn’t do it for themselves, for me or for anyone else, including apparently their children, I thank you from the bottom of my not-so-co-dependent-any-more-thanks-to-therapy-and-AlAnon HEART, for your committment to sobriety and to yourself!

  5. I salute you, sir. Having been married to a man who didn’t get sober until I was long gone from his life (and he, the love of my own), I know the other side. I also know I like that feeling, too, so, I choose not to drink. It’s a tough choice at times, still, the fact remains, I cannot stop at one–therefore, I say, “No, thanks.” when that one is offered.

    Well done. Well done, indeed. And, a hurrah for Tracy!

    • iRuniBreathe,
      “To choose to move beyond something that was such an integral part of you is life-changing.” That resonates. I could skip a meal or two on a daily basis, but I would always have beer in the fridge…
      Le Clown

  6. Thanks for sharing your story and your heart again. This is a powerful story and I commend you for 873 days. I was 17 the first time I got drunk, and it was also at a family party where adults I loved and admired taught me how to take a tequila shot like a real drinker because the wine cooler I started with was for wimps. Like you, I couldn’t wait to get drunk again. And again no matter the consequences, which were numerous over the next decade plus of my life. You and Tracy inspire and raise a lot of questions for me about the difference between addiction and binge drinking through your 20s.

    • Rachelle,
      Thanks for reading, commenting, and just being an all around awesome person and terrific and inspiring writer. The very best part about these posts is the fact that it has caused people to stop and think…that in itself if powerful shit.
      Tracy

    • Rachelle,
      I’ve told you this a few times, but the more I read you, the more I like the woman behind the blogger. Thank you.
      Le Clown

  7. Well done, long may it continue.

    I came off a 19 year old addiction to Valium five years ago. Still off it. Unlikely to ever take again. Feel no need for it – but it’s different from alcoholism in that one can only get Valium on a prescription… much tougher for you, you’ve got to keep going on this on a daily basis for the rest of your life.

    • Val,
      There’s truth to what you say. But the more I get to know the reasons behind the addiction, through therapy, the easier the fight gets. Thank you, Val.
      Le Clown

  8. I can’t even imagine the pain it took to get to the point you’re at now, but I’m so happy you made it through, Eric. You’re a talented person, and I know how easy vice can eat away at talent. I’m happy you can share your art, unfiltered.

  9. Tracy, congratulations on 365, it is a huge achievement and COF, this is riveting and beautiful. I hope some day to celebrate w/my sister… but not yet. The drugs and alcohol may take a lot of people up, but they take a lot more down. It’s an amazing thing for both of you, to put that energy into something els… Congrats and warm fuzzies. (even if that isn’t your thang)

    • Thank you so much for your comments. Those well-manufactured highs come with a serious price tag, attached to which are abysmal lows. We all have our own bottoms, some of us are fortunate enough to realize when we have hit them. I wish the best for your sister, and hope that in her own time she is able to see that there is another happier, healthier and more wildly fulfilling life awaiting her. Warm fuzzies are fucking awesome, too.
      Tracy

  10. It’s odd how this mechanism is the same in so many very different people. I saw somebody die after a life of alcoholism – it’s not pretty; glad you made it, Eric le Clown.

  11. Congratulations to Tracy for 1 year and Le Clown for 873 days! You are both heroes to the people you touch every day … one day at a time.
    We as a family are right now trying to figure out how to help 2 members through this. One is on his way and has been straight for 3 months the other is still fighting admitting she has a problem. You both are inspirations and give me hope that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel for the people I love.

    • Thank you so much for your comments. As I said above, those well-manufactured highs come with a serious price tag, attached to which are abysmal lows. We all have our own bottoms, some of us are fortunate enough to realize when we have hit them. I wish the best for your family members, and hope that in her own time she is able to see that there is another happier, healthier and more wildly fulfilling life awaiting her. There is light, it’s bright and fucking brilliant.

  12. Le Clown, you know already know how much I admire you for this, and how proud I am of you. But I’m going to tell you again. I respect the hell out of you for facing this head on and for being brave enough to choose sobriety for yourself and your loved ones. Happy 873rd Day, my friend.

  13. Cher M. Le Clown,
    My sweet cousin died of heart failure at age 33 because he couldn’t put an end to his addictions. I’m glad you’re around to tell your tale of woe and continued triumph.
    Merci bien.
    xoxoM

  14. We all get there somehow… or we don’t and we get nowhere. Congrats on day 873… it’s 1,432 for me (I cannot believe I did math this early in the day… only for you, Le Clown, only for you!)

  15. Love this! Well done, LeClown! I’ve been marinating on my own addiction posting (almost 40 years with prescription drugs, almost 2 years clean. Yay Me! lol), for some time now and you’ve inspired me to finish it and get it blogged. Thanks for sharing your story. Love the pic at the end. Utterly awsome, dude. The most interesting man in the world? Very possibly! lol xoxoJulia

    • Julia, if you would like to guest blog and post your story on here I would be happy to have you. This has been an inspiring week and I’d love to keep it going by sharing the stories of others who have suffered and made it through. Let me know if you are interested.
      Thanks,
      Tracy

      • Thanks, Tracy! I will let you know as soon as I finish the piece. I also have a piece called, “Please Mister, Can you Spare Some Change?” it’s about my sister who was an alcoholic and I thought to be one of the bravest people I know. Would you check it out on my blog and let me know what you think? If not, no sweat, I understand. Thanks so much for your kind words and for opening up your wonderful blog to me! I’ll chat with you soon! xoxoJulia

  16. As a daughter of two alcoholics, I applaud your dedication to a life of sobriety. Thanks for writing what I’m sure couldn’t have been a easy post. All the best to you,
    Wendy.

  17. Le Clown,
    My comment magically disappeared and I’m fairly certain it’s your fault. It was an awesome comment, too. Ah, well, I’ll say that you are the most interesting man in the world for sure, interesting covering so many, many things.

    I’m always amazed to hear about the backgrounds of people I admire (like, say, Tracy, not you) and see that they are just as human as I am. I tend to idolize people (not you) and think they’ve got it easy, being popular and loved and all that stuff (clearly not talking about you) and then they post stuff like this and I see that we’re all human (except for you).

    I am kidding here, of course. Le Clown, Eric, whatever, you are Magnificent™ which you know because Alice only insults the ones she loves. I am so proud and happy for you that you gave up the booze, cause truly, you are wacky enough sober. Now if you could help me off of Coca Cola and Ding Dongs. I have no self control.

  18. It’s no small matter for an alcoholic to stay sober. Coincidentally I had a dream I was drinking last night, sneaking behind my mom’s back. In the dream I feared I was on the verge of a black out. I woke up glad to be sober. I’m lucky I never choked on my own vomit the way I was prone to pass out after pills, coke and booze. The last time I passed out was in Central Park, 3am. I’m lucky to be alive. Congratulations Eric. I’m glad as hell that you’re sober.

  19. Nothing could raise you higher in my already impossibly high estimation of you, Eric. I am glad you chose life, your family, clarity.. all of it. I am glad that your sobriety brought you to a place where you could blog and take over the world.

  20. Eric,
    I thank you from the bottom of my healing heart for opening yourself up and sharing this. I never knew there were so many people, such as ourselves, who suffered so long and so deeply in the throws of a progressive disease. We are many and varied.
    As you know, I have the utmost respect for you, your story touches and inspires me as I am sure it does many others. You are a shining example of courage and you have taken your life back because of it.
    Here’s to many, many more days my friend.
    Love,
    Tracy
    (you will notice the lack of a certain f-word throughout this entire post.)

  21. Very inspiring, as many do not realize that to give up an addiction is giving up a comforting part of oneself, even when it’s ironically creating havoc. Well played. I’m now convinced of your right to trademark your tres magnificence, LeClown! ;)

    • This is so true of so many destructive behaviors… they have a comforting element to them that is hard for most people (not in the throws of them) to see… and especially hard for the people struggling to make sense of.

  22. L’Eric,

    gratz on 873 days sober.
    It’s really a great deal to be willing to accept that one has a problem at a point and do their best and really manage to solve things for them and their loved ones.
    Needn’t say you made me cry once. Count this in, and there are already two times. This time tough, it was the happiness screaming, there were the thoughts that people can indeed change, since the hardest change is letting go an addiction and moving on.
    Thank you very much for this!

  23. It’s such a treacherous thing. Before you know it, you cannot live without it.
    Scary. Well done, all those days of soberness! Especially when drinking seems to be so normal these days. You go out, you drink. Logic. You must be tough to say no.

    • NBI,
      Addiction creeps up slowly indeed. First, you think you’re having fun with your friends, then… You don’t remember your friends, but you make sure you’re having fun with 12 bottles of beer…
      Le Clown

  24. Okay, Eric/Le Clown, that was one hell of powerful piece. I have bipolar disorder, was in and out of hospitals for years. Fortunately, never had an addiction issue–though some of my siblings have. Things are remarkably better these days–no hospitalizations for 10 years–marginally symptom-free. Your story is incredibly moving. Thanks for sharing it. Truly, thank you!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • Kathryn,
      I don’t know if I have introduced you yet to my wife, but i think you would enjoy her writings here and here. And I’d like to propose something to you. Expect an email soon…
      Le CLown

  25. Eric,
    Congratulations on 873 days! Congrats to Tracy for a year! I admire you both. Watching my brother struggle with meth addiction, I don’t take anything for granted in this world. Thank you for choosing sobriety and for sharing your story. It allows me to know two wonderful people. Big hugs.
    Amy

    • Amy,
      (I like calling you Amy sometimes)… Thank you. I am working on a new strategy right now as far as reading others’ blogs, and you will see me more. I’ve told you this a few times, but I think I came out with a way that is feasible… Finally.
      Le Clown
      PS: And thank you.

      • Eric,
        Oh not to worry, my friend. I have a hard enough time myself and don’t have nearly the fan base you have. I never take it personally. Of course, I love it when you stop by. And, I’m truly happy you’ve found a new path in life where you can be you and have loving people around you.
        Amy

    • Vyvacious,
      On my way to some country music! Thank you for your kind words, and those other great things you’ve done on ACOF….
      Le Clown

        • Vyvacious,
          Nothing wrong with good ol’country… I do enjoy some myself, but more in the “indie” realm of music… Wilco being probably the more famous of the bunch.
          Le Clown

          • My truly country songs, I don’t even know the names of because I’m so engrossed in it when I hear it on Pandora that I completely forget to check what the song name was. Haha.

            And wow, that is a bit more “indie” country. It was very easy listening.

            I either like really heartfelt deep country songs or weird, funky songs like this one :P (http://youtu.be/V0O0nzkESTI)

  26. Eric,
    Ending years of self-medication and the perpetual evasion of actually feeling anything too real is huge. That you took it on and made it to the other side is indicative of your strength. It’s a beautiful thing that the essential parts of you that were there all along, but buried under all the substance abuse now get top billing. So glad you are where you are now, and you are who you are now.
    Amy

    • Amy,
      Who’s this Eric guy you are referring too? Oh, you mean that lucky [gorgeous] schmuck who can call you a [freakin' awesome] friend? Amy, much love, my friend. This made me teary. I’ll get you back. No I won’t.
      Le Clown

  27. Thank you for sharing. The more we, as addicts, open up about the realities of this disease, the more we help others like us and their loved ones. Keep it up!!

    • Rusha,
      I agree… albeit being a not so easy task, as admitting you’re on financial distress, etc… But to open up, and accept who you are through your experiences can help others. Well said.
      Le Clown

    • Robin,
      When you think of it, it’s not that foreign. I have friends who are from the South of Italy who will give very small glasses of wine to their kids. It might have not been the wisest move from my mom, as all kids were left unsupervised, but I really screwed myself over with this one…
      Le Clown

    • Prosey Rosey,
      Thank you, and admittedly, each time I read your moniker I think of Parker Posey. Yes, I am that easily distracted.
      Le Clown

      • I just realized I left out the word “never”! You never cease to amaze me! I haven’t blogged about it…yet…but I haven’t drank in 6 months – longest amount of time without it in a decade. So reading stories like yours is inspiring to hear. Thanks again!

    • Lyssa,
      Thank you. Reading all of these comments is as powerful as 20 shots of tequila, minus the “where the fuck am I” moment of stupor.
      Le Clown

  28. You make sober sexy, baby. Here’s to another 873 days of love, friendship, and strength. I love you, and I am grateful for you.
    (and thanks, Tracy, for letting his story live here)

    • Sara,
      I have no witty comeback… My magnificent™ sarcasm is attacked by feelings of love and respect for you. It’s very gooey mushy loevy dovey… Some might vomit just a little reading this.
      Le Clown

  29. There is so much depth behind that clown nose! I appreciate hearing your story. I grew up in an alcoholic home and have come to both adore and loath the father at the center of things. It says a lot that you did this for your family and for your life – it says a lot about what you value. I will always wish my pop had been able to see that in his own life. Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on your sobriety – it is a gif to you and yours every day.

  30. I’m currently watching a work buddy of mine drown himself. Twelve beers a night. Every night. What a powerful gene. It’s hard to watch someone die by their own hand, but even harder to to watch the family. I’m not going to congratulate you because I know better. So I’ll just say: continue to win, every day.

  31. I applaud you my friend! I know it is hard to stop one addiction, not to mention several. I don’t drink, but have had several alcoholics in my life. There is one thing about them all, if they do not want change it won’t come. I was addicted to cigarettes for many years (not a serious addiction some might say) but I have been without for 5 years now. I never was into drugs, even to dull the pain of my past life for I believed it was a easy way out. No addiction has an easy way out. Stay strong my friend! For yourself and your family. For as we all know an addiction does not affect just one person. Big hugs to you and yours!

    • Jackie,
      Kudos on the cigarettes one, not an easy addiction to overcome. You did say something quite accurate: “if they do not want change it won’t come”. The change, or desire to change, must come from you, even if you want to change for your family, or loved one, it must be because you want it, first and foremost.
      Thank you.
      Le Clown

  32. Congratulations to you and to Tracy. Thanks for the courage to share your story. I’ve only been following your blog for a short time but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that your wife is amazing too.

  33. When we share our experiences and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we exhibit great strength and courage. I admire you both for sharing your lives. We might all be different, yet we are all the same.

  34. As someone who kicked a drug and alcohol addiction, I really appreciate this post. I remember the exact time when I became an addict, and I remember the exact moment I decided I didn’t want that for myself anymore.

    You fought the hard fight, and won. For that, you have my forever respect.

    • Jen,
      I didn’t know this about you, and here I thought I knew everything about you up to the colour of your underwear. You’re good people, I am proud of you, and of your incredible post this week.
      Le Clown

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