Aging Is Optional Radio
Hello, everybody! On Thursday night, I got to go trick-or-treating with Shannon and Piper. It was amazing. She's five years old and loves Halloween almost as much as her mom does we all dressed up as Olaf from Frozen? It was really cold and Dallas. So we were nice and warm in our costumes. We got lots of attention from the other trick or treaters in the families.
Halloween has always been my wife's favorite holiday. We’ve dressed Up in costumes in Orange County California, Las Vegas, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and now Dallas. We've almost always had a great time.
This is a difficult topic for me to talk about publicly. But I feel that if I can help someone with my story I should do it. That's really what Aging Is Optional Radio is all about.
Exactly 10 years ago this past Halloween our night didn't end so well. It was actually a night that dramatically Change the course of Our Lives.
Shannon had plans for us to go out. She even had multiple costumes picked out. She was going to come home from work, and we were going to dress up and go out. She usually got off of work around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. So I decided to use my free day and go out in Newport Beach and watch the USC versus Oregon football game and then meet her at home after.
What actually happened is I don't really remember all the details, but I know I drove home from Newport Beach in a drunk blackout. I'm pretty sure I stumbled past her as she sat in our living room waiting for me for God knows how long and I probably passed out in our bed.
This wasn't the first time this had happened. It happened many times over the last few months. At some point the next morning November 1st 2009. I came to and walked out into our family room. There was Shannon sitting in her work clothes from the night before she hadn't even gone to bed.
I couldn't say a thing. I was caught it was over. I'll never forget the look of disappointment, even disgust on her face. More than that, I'll never forget what she said to me.
“You obviously love what you're doing more than you do me, and I love you too much to watch you do it. So I'm leaving you.”
As she walked out the door. I thought I would never see her again. But love was the most important word that I had heard. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. She saved my life with those words. I'm convinced that God sent Shannon to save me.
Have you ever been confronted by a spouse or a family member or a friend about your drinking? I was 48 years old at the time and had been drinking for over 32 years. I'm not going to go into all the gory details about my drinking career here, maybe on another episode.
Over our time together, my drinking had gotten progressively worse. I had already ruined one marriage of 16 years to a wonderful woman and a great mom to our two daughters and I was on my way to ruining another one in very short order. This time Shannon and I had been married for only six months and we'd been together for about four years.
If you have ever struggled with any kind of addiction, especially alcohol. I hope my story helps you or someone you love.
I don't know about you, but I can remember my first drink of alcohol, I was about 16 years old and it was at a party at a friend's house. I don't really remember what it tasted like but I do remember how it made me feel it made me feel. Like a part of the group, the cool crowd, you know, the cheerleaders and the athletes. Ever since that time in high school I've been chasing that feeling. Largely unsuccessfully. All through college and my fraternity and after in my professional life. The chase was always on. I have been in professional sales for all of my life and I get paid to entertain clients.
That day when Shannon left me. I knew it was over. She gave me the consequences I needed to ask for help. Everyone is different. In AA we call it hitting bottom. Some people get a DUI or a car crash, some get admitted to the hospital for physical issues, others get arrested or their family or company strongly suggest they get help, or they get fired from the job. Can you relate to any of these examples? I can only speak for what I went through.
I went to my first AA meeting in Irvine California. At first I wanted to do whatever it took to get Shannon to come back to me. I had broken her trust. I had taken away her security. At the time I was really afraid I was going to lose everything! My wife, my job, my family, my car, my home.
Underlying that fear I knew that if I didn't change I was probably going to die. I had taken far too many risks while intoxicated.
I was broken and desperate and willing to do anything to change the way I was feeling. I had no idea what to expect but I was immediately attracted to the people I met in the AA meetings, they seemed happy and they really cared about me. I could relate to their stories and I heard my story and their stories and I'd never heard my story before.
I shared this with Shannon, that I knew I'd hurt her that I needed to change, and that I really felt that I had found the answer. I asked her to give me a chance and she agreed to move back in with me, but she was watching! It turned out that not only did I have a serious problem with alcohol. I didn't know how to do life. My thinking was all messed up. If you ask me how I was doing I'd give you two thumbs up and say I'm great! Enthusiastically! But inside it was a ball of fear and insecurity.
Can you relate to that feeling at all? I can't tell you the relief I felt when I first said the words,
“my name is Mark and I'm an alcoholic”
It was terrifying and liberating all at the same time. My new friends suggested a few simple things for me to do and they promised that if I did them my life would get better. They said one day at a time, no matter what. just don't drink. I kept hearing that I needed to get a sponsor and that he would take me through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't know how to get a sponsor. I'd gotten to know some of the men in the meetings and I that I'd been attending.
One night, I shared that I thought I was doing the things that they suggested. Reading the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was going to meetings. I was listening and I was connecting to the stories. I was sharing in the meetings.
I didn't know how to go about getting a sponsor. So I said I was thinking about putting an ad on Craigslist. The group burst out in laughter, but I was serious! By the end of the meeting I had three phone numbers in my hand and one of those men, Billy, lovingly walked me through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
At about 2 years sober Shannon and I decided to move closer to her family in the midwest where she grew up. We lived in Southern California since we met. We both love Chicago and it was our favorite City. We wanted to get rid of our cars and downsize and live in the middle of the city and enjoy everything it had to offer.
I was really worried if I could leave the place where I got sober and if I could stay sober in the place I moved to. I talked to my sponsor about that fear. He said “all you have to do buddy, is
get in AA! Do all the things you've done here. No matter what, don't drink! Go to 4 to 5 AA meetings a week, meet the people in the meetings, get their phone numbers, share what's going on with you and get involved. And oh by the way, find a sponsor to work with and work with others.
I followed his advice and my Chicago AA experience couldn't have been better. I grew a tremendous amount in the four years in Chicago and develop some amazing friendships. I applied the same advice when we moved back to Los Angeles and I got into AA and I grew as a husband, father, worker and a friend. Now that we're living in Texas. Guess what I've done? The same thing, and I've continued to grow.
Over the last Ten years, these three thousand six hundred and fifty plus days of sobriety, I've experienced many ups and downs. From the birth of Piper, to getting let go from my job a couple of times. I lost everything in a failed business venture and I've learned a lot about myself in the process. I've had the loving support of my wife and family throughout but most of all with the help of my higher power, great sponsorship, and the fellowship I've been able to build a spiritual foundation that allows me to grow and to walk through Life On Life's terms. I try not to get too high or too low. I can be present for my family, my friends and my company I work for.
I have no idea what the future holds for me. All I know is that I'm grateful for my experience, the AA program of recovery, for my Higher Power and for the example of those I look up to and who show me how to walk through life with grace and dignity.
Does any of my story sound familiar to you? Have you felt the same way as I did at times? Have you ever wanted to quit but we're afraid to ask for help? Have you had consequences, however large or small, because of your drinking?
If you have, you can find AA resources in your local community and through an online search. Just Google “AA meetings near me”.
I hope my story has helped you in some way. I'll continue to share it. That's what this podcast is all about. And most of all I truly appreciate your support. I really do.
Thanks again for joining me on Aging Is Optional Radio. I hope you found some value in this episode. That’s really my goal. You can find the podcast on iTunes and I’d really appreciate it if you would subscribe and give it a rating and I love receiving comments!
You can also find it in the Google Play Store, on TuneIn Radio, on Stitcher, The Podcast App, PocketCasts, CastBox, Deezer and Pippa. And I’ll be adding more channels in the future including YouTube. I’m also excited to announce that you’ll be able to find us on SubscribeStar where you can support the podcast.
If you like what you hear please be sure to share the podcast with your friends and on social media. You can also reach me directly at [email protected] if you have any questions or want to suggest any topics. Until next time, Thanks, everybody!
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Here's the real mystery. How do adults like us, who maybe haven't taken the best care of ourselves throughout the years, but want to live long and healthy lives, how do we make changes to our lifestyle that will have a direct impact on our longevity so we can participate and enjoy our lives for much longer than we ever imagined?
That's the burning question, and this podcast will give you the answers.
My name is Mark Lindheimer, and welcome to Aging Is Optional Radio.
[This section is from the podcast author. PodMust is not responsible for its content.]
Here’s the real mystery. How do adults like us, who maybe haven’t taken the best care of ourselves throughout the years, but want to live long and healthy lives, how do we make changes to our lifestyle that will have a direct impact on our longevity so we can participate and enjoy our lives for much longer than we ever imagined? That’s the burning question, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Mark Lindheimer, and welcome to Aging Is Optional Radio.
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