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I Almost Choked to Death on My Own Vomit

by Tim R., Longview, Texas


A good friend of mine called me one day and asked me to have lunch with him. About half-way through lunch, he dropped a bomb on me. He informed me that he had recently become aware of the fact that he was an alcoholic, and he asked me to support him in his recovery. 

At first, I just laughed. I said, "You're crazy, man. You're no more an alcoholic than I am." And I meant it, too. I mean, this guy loved to party and all, but I had never seen him when he wasn't able to hold his liquor. In fact, he was the one who always drove us home from the bars.

Nevertheless, I didn't make a big deal out of it. I agreed to go along with his request, figuring it would be short-lived, and we would be back drinking and partying together in no time. That didn't happen, though.    He stayed sober, and I kept on drinking. Within a few months, we were running around with different crowds, and we pretty much quit seeing each other. Then, about a year after he got sober, I ran into him at someone's birthday party. I asked him how things were going, and he said that he was happier than he had ever been in his life. He asked me how things were going for me. I lied and said that I was also very happy.

My friend called me up the next day and asked me to meet him for lunch. I didn't really want to go, but I did. During lunch, he told me some things about himself that I never knew. He told me about how his life really was when he was drinking and using drugs. He also told me what had happened to convince him that he really did have a serious problem. His story surprised me because I had always assumed that everything about his life was good, if not perfect. Come to find out, instead of having a good life, he had just been very adept at putting on a good show so that other people, including me, would think he did. I understood exactly what he was saying because that's what I did a lot of the time.

Then he told me why he had wanted to see me. He said that when we had talked at the party, he knew that I was not telling the truth when I said that I was happy. He said he could tell that I was doing the same thing that he used to do--covering up my true feelings. He said that when he got sober and started going to AA meetings and started getting honest about his life and his feelings, he found true happiness for the first time in his life. Then he told me that if I ever wanted to explore options for getting sober, he would gladly help me do that.

I thanked him and told him that I would think about it. And I did. I thought about it quite a bit. I mean, it's not that my life was out of control or anything, but I was, in fact, having some problems, and I was drinking a hell of a lot, especially on the weekends.

Then one night I got really blasted and woke up in the back seat of my car about 5:00 o'clock in the morning. I had no idea where I was parked except that it was on the side of an unfamiliar country road. I also had no idea how I got there. It really scared me. It wasn't the first time that I had blacked out, but it was the first time that I didn't know where I was when I woke up.

Anyway, a couple of days later, I called my friend and told him what had happened. He again offered to take me to an AA meeting and help me get sober. I again told him that I would think about it.

About a month later, I was at a country-western nightclub with a date. I drank beer after beer after beer. I started feeling sick, like I was going to puke. I didn't want anyone to see me get sick so I walked outside and around to the back of the building, out of sight even to the parking lot. I bent over to puke, and when I did, I lost my balance and fell onto the ground. I remember lying there on my back and thinking that I would get up in just a minute, as soon as my stomach stopped churning. The next thing I knew, I woke up choking, unable to breathe. I rolled over onto my stomach and pushed myself up onto my hands and knees. I still couldn't draw any breath.

I knew instinctively and without a doubt that I was going to die. I even resigned myself to it. When I did that, I relaxed slightly. At that moment, my throat opened enough to jar loose the blockage, and I vomited hard. I gasped for air and took in a small amount, but then I started choking again. This time, though, I was able to cough. I gulped small bits of air between coughs and gags.

Finally, my breathing normalized. I lay on the ground in a daze. I hate to admit it, but one of my first thoughts was to wonder if anyone had observed me and to hope beyond hope that no one had. After a few moments, I sat upright. I was pretty much soaked with vomit from head to toe. It was even in my hair. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 4:00 AM.

I stood up and peered around the corner of the building. It was dark and very quiet. About six or eight cars remained scattered around the parking lot. Mine was not one of them. I walked around to the front of the building. Some of the exterior lights were on, but the doors were locked, and the inside of the building was dark. I realized that I was the only person on the premises.

I found a payphone on the opposite front corner of the building. I called my housemate and begged him to pick me up. Thank God he did. He made me ride home in the back of his pickup truck. I was glad to do it.

I located my car the next afternoon. My date had found the spare key under the floor mat and driven herself home at 1:00 AM. I tried to explain and apologize, but she wouldn't talk to me. I never saw her again.

I called my sober friend the following day. He took me to my first AA meeting that night. I gratefully took a desire chip at that meeting and got an AA sponsor the next. I attended 112 meetings during the next 90 days. My life got better. Then it got a lot better. Gradually, it got very good. As I write this, I am exactly three years and six days sober and straight.

I'm so very grateful for my sobriety. I feel good today. I feel good physically, and I feel good about myself. I have friends that I can honestly say I love, and who I believe love me back. I have no desire to drink alcohol or use drugs. I never even think about it.

What I do think about from time to time is that day my friend took me out to lunch and told me that he was an alcoholic and asked me to support him in his recovery. I had no idea what that meant at the time. I do now, though. He and I see each other a lot. We talk a lot. Our conversations are very different today than they were five years ago, when our strongest bond was our mutual affinity for beer and pot and bars.

Today, instead of just chatter about meaningless crap, my friend and I really talk. We share "our experience, strength, and hope" with each other. In about four months, I will serve as the "best man" at his wedding. For me, that just about says it all. Imagine: Me, a best man.

Like I said, I'm so very grateful for my sobriety.




  Richard Boggs, YCQ

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