“My name is Joe and I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.” These are the words said from my heart each meeting I attend. Rising up from some uncomfortable plastic chair in front of people you’ve never met before, my teeth begin to almost chatter but the words leave my mouth every time. I’m sure you’ve heard, “with age comes wisdom”
to be bluntly honest that’s horse crap! It should read, “with age comes mistake’s, it is your choice to learn from them and not live a life of true insanity doing the same things expecting different results.” I’m sure you know and understand if your reading this that with each time we do something we know in our hearts to be wrong or illegal, it emboldens us when we get away with it. This fallible sense of security is a complete facade, and if you choose to continue standing upon that foundation it will crumble! May not be today, tomorrow or a year from now but rest assured the bottom will fall out from under you. This leads me into my story and how I have been positively
affected by the “Save Your Victim” message and the Cordle family.
On a long lonely county road in Ohio the date was December 11th 2000 my uncle was driving home from a night at the bar with friends. It was around 3am and coming in the opposite direction were three young friends, ages of 20, 22, and 18. To my understanding my uncle either blacked out or was reaching for his coffee cup to help him sober up and complete his 40mile drive home. He never made it home……Nor did the three young adults in the small car coming towards him as he drifted left to center and basically driving over top the small car killing all three and sending his van into a pole where it burst into flames. I lost one of the funniest, most caring man that night and three families lost their brother or sister, daughter or son. Four families were broken and lost within pain due to a single choice made by my uncle. The choice to drive drunk costed not only his life but the lives of so many more! He couldn’t even hurt a fly let alone cause harm to a human being, but he did. I’m sure at this point you probably don’t have much remorse for my uncle so I want to give you a little history that might make his mistake clearer, but I shall not excuse his choice as anything but avoidable. Two days prior he was officially served with divorce papers from my Aunt of 20+ years because she was seeing a different man and didn’t want to be tied down anymore.
She was also making sure that my three cousins would be staying with her and he needed to be out of the house in a week. My uncle was never a drinker, but I am living proof that alcoholism is hereditary. And it will find you eventually. I was 16 when that happen and in the same year I had also buried my Grandfather, the father of my uncle and my own father. At 16 I was so tired of losing people I loved! I was done! “NO MORE” I said! I am going to hold tight to what broken family I have left and glue us back together! I was determined, but youthfully naive. My father began to start drinking again after 8 years of sobriety and it seemed to be a domino affect with my family as they all one by one become more and more distant from each other. Being young but strangely intelligent for my age caused an emotional conflict that I decided I wasn’t ready to deal with so I bottled it up for years to come as I allowed myself to be convinced to do pretty much every drug known and drink whenever I wanted. At times late for work, poor performance at work leading to losing several jobs. But I kept it packed in deep inside the darkness where I dare not to go. Ignorant I stayed as needles pierced my body and loads of alcohol were consumed just to live in a fake world free from the darkness I had experienced until……..January 15th 2011 I get a call from my Aunt as she sobbed on the phone and barely got the words out, “Joey, it’s your Dad…..He’s dead.” I simply said,”Thanks, I’ll be on the next flight out” then hung up the phone and held my mother as she wept thinking in my head the words my father once said,”JoJo, you know I won’t always be here right?” “Of course Dad! But I can still hope you will be” I replied laughing it off. “JoJo, I need you to stop joking and listen to me carefully. God forbid if something should happen to me I am relying on you to be strong for your brother and for the family! Strength begets strength my son, and you hold the strength of the world within you, that is why you must stand behind your brother and hold him up.” I took those words to heart and they repeated inside my head as I watched my brother fumbling to organize my father’s service and get his body out of the morgue and to the funeral home for cremation. On the 7th day my oldest brother whom was raised by my father but wasn’t his biological son, sat me down and said, “This has gone on too long, it’s time for you to step in and get Dad’s body out of the morgue and to the funeral home and set up his service! Joe your my baby brother and there is a strength in you that I don’t think you are aware of but I believe you can honor your father and his wishes properly.” So I cowboy’d up and what my brother couldn’t do in seven days I had accomplished in only two hours. I’m sure you know if you have read any book or personal story that there is a climax or pivotal point within the story that has either positively or negatively affected one’s life. That time is now….Myself, brother and aunt were given a personal visit with Dad before he was cremated. With all the strength of the world I walked into the room with my father lifeless on a gurney showing only his face all gray and discolored. I think to myself, “Dad you would have made one handsome mountain man with that big silver and red beard you got going on!” (Joking has always been my way of detouring emotion) As I run my hand through his hair one last time. My brother and aunt embrace each other and I can now feel the strength of the world completely turn into the weight of the world on my shoulders! I’m exposed, I’m going to cry…..I CAN’T!! I must stay strong! So I kiss my father’s head and walk out of the room allowing them the time they needed to say goodbye. Rounding the corner hidden by a door I felt my emotions about to take over me when I remembered my Dad saying to me one time, “Joey, you have to know and understand that these bodies we inhabit are a gift. A gift we must appreciate and take care of so we can enjoy the most time possible with our loved ones. But when I die you won’t see me and I’m not gone. You will only see my vessel, but my spirit will remain alive in your heart and the memories of everything we have been through.” At that very moment I was able to pull myself together and continue to stay strong watching all my family cry as I gave his eulogy, then the gun shots rang out and the flag presented to my brother as he sobbed inconsolable.
The day I laid my father to rest I had been sober from drugs for 3 years and to this day remained sober. But destiny or fate had another hurdle in store for me. That hereditary curse of alcohol snuck up on me like a ghost in the night! It started with drinking every weekend to drinking every weekend and a couple nights a week, next thing I know I am waking up and making a vodka and water every morning…………..this went on….for……..16 months straight! I was drinking a 1.75L of vodka in a day and a half and when I finally decided, “OK Joe time to stop! This poison has killed your uncle and your father, if you continue then I am positive you won’t make it to your 30th birthday!” Screaming this into the mirror as I have just thrown up violently and my heart feels like its going to explode. I begin to feel like the strength of the world has just cracked my skull with a baseball bat and I can barely hold my toothbrush due to my hands shaking uncontrollably, heart beat is getting faster and faster, my face is flush and bright red. I stumble across the street to the liquor store as I begin to realize I am experiencing DT’s from alcohol withdraw. I finally make it back home and fix me a drink then sit on the floor trying not to panic as I suck down my drink in one hand and hold the phone ready to dial 911 if I don’t start to feel better real soon. As my body began to neutralize with the alcohol back in my system reality set in! It hit me hard! “I am an alcoholic and I needed help badly!” I said to myself out loud with tears streaming down my face in pure fear! Screaming out, “GOD PLEASE HELP ME!! I NEED YOU NOW, I AM SO SCARED AND I WANT TO LIVE!”
That very same day I saw Matt’s story, I knew then at that very point I had to reach out to him and his family. I felt in my heart to save myself I needed to help save others, I must stand with the Cordle Family and do everything in my power to change the mindset of Addicts, Alcoholics and Casual Drinkers alike to understand that no matter how much you’ve had to drink, no matter if you’ve made it home safely before. There is no amount of money worth your life or your victim’s! There is support here for you, all you have to do is put your VICTIM before yourself and don’t get behind the wheel. With the help from my recovery counselor, Doctor and the Cordle family I am strong and sober. WHY? Because I want to live! I am a supporter and hardcore believer in SAVEYOURVICTIM and you should never be afraid to get help! No one should ever feel the darkness I went through so reach out if you feel like you have a problem and never forget to NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!