I learned early in sobriety that I had crossed a couple of invisible lines as the disease of alcoholism progressed in me. I crossed the first line a few months after my 18th birthday when I went from "liking to drink" to "wanting to drink" I paid wine-os to buy booze for me and I wouldn't go out with a girl unless she liked to drink. A few years later, once I became established in my career, I drank almost every night -- after work cocktails, wines with dinner and at all social events. I rarely drank during business hours, but drinks before and with lunch on weekends, holidays. vacations were part of the "good life" to me.
This stage lasted about 15 years. Although I picked up a couple of drunk driving arrests (out of 100s of times driving drunk), not too many "bad" things happened. My career was successful, so I almost totally ignored these "minor" hiccups. Little did I know that alcoholism had me in it's grip and was subtly taking me down, separating me from everything of real value in life.
In the mid 80's I crossed the next invisible line. I went from "liking to drink" to "needing to drink." Outwardly I still looked good. My job and bank account continued to grow, but somehow it wasn't enough. I felt increasingly frustrated, empty and stressed-out. My drinking ratcheted up.
I wasn't happy but I didn't know what to do except find the next "thing" to fill the hole: new cars, fancy vacations, investments helped for a while but not for long. One of those "things" turned out to be a woman who like to drink too. We married three months after we met. Once the honeymoon ended six months later, all the old feelings returned. Only now they were made worse by the fact that my "solution" didn't work. I blamed her and we split up.
It would be five mostly painful years that I am just now beginning to remember before I walked into my first meeting in 1994 at the age of 47. I didn't know it at the time, but I crossed another invisible line when I walked into that first meeting -- the line that separates "wanting to die" with "wanting to live."
Remembering what it was like and what happened helps to keep it green for me.