by Officer Leo Petrilli
Let me preface this missive, by categorically averring that this is not meant to be used as an excuse, but more of an explanation. At a very young age, I quit swimming in the ‘ocean we all share’ – that is life.
I chose to drink my feelings away. As a child, I was born into a strict European family, first generation in North America. My parents were indeed from the ‘OLD COUNTRY’. My mother had some issues of her own to be sure, and I bore the brunt of a lot of them. My abuse was multi-faceted – verbal, physical and especially emotional. Fortunately, I was never exposed to any sexual malfeasance; from my parents, or anyone else. However, my self-worth was erased. When I was in grade 3, I discovered my dad’s homemade wine and I had my answer. I didn’t start out as a blackout drinker. But I became one by the time I got to high school; and I had money in my pocket. Inside, I was hollow, angry and empty. Good or bad, I didn’t want to feel anything.
Suddenly, I was eighteen, and living on my own, and no-one knew anything about my being a drunk. Except me and God, and I didn’t care. It was so easy to be ‘gone away’. I was out of control, and without a care in the world.
Detox, the hospital, and finally a rehabilitation facility became the order of the day. My higher power had a plan for me, and fate smiled. When I was on program (for 90 days), my group leader was just amazing in helping me get “back on track”. Those three words – “back on track”, they are just a cliché – were foreign to me. But they fit. One time in group, he asked me if I loved my ex-wife. I answered immediately, without emotion and whatever honesty that I had in me, with one word – NO. My ex had found my booze stash four different times. I chose alcohol over her and my children.
I had been a blackout drinker for a very long time. And I was able to hide it. At work, people talked, but there was nothing substantial. After my divorce, when my children stayed with me, I would drive my kids to school (still drunk from the night before) a thousand times without being caught.
One year, I was fired from a job, got divorced, had a heart attack, and then a car accident – ALL of it related to my booze. After the accident, I lost 37 days of my life. It had been a roll-over, and I, along with the vehicle, ended up in a ditch. My seatbelt had saved my life, and I was just hanging there. There was some trauma to my brain that resulted in a loss of memory, and when I became lucid, reality was evil once again. When I awoke, my right leg and hip were in a partial body cast. They were held in place, immobile, with a rigged up sling in that hospital bed. I had to go to the bathroom while I was there, in a bedpan. It was de-humanizing for me, but bless those ladies, they allowed me to keep what dignity I had left. NURSES ROCK !!!
The doctors said I wouldn’t be able to walk on my own for at least a year. I couldn’t even sit up by myself in bed without keeling over, as I began my therapy. I healed, physically. Inside, I was still a wreck. I then began to really lose what little control of my life that I supposedly had.
Fast forward to the last two years of my drinking. I would inhale a forty ounce bottle of vodka every 8 hours and pass out. Three times a day, my “RUSSIAN FRIEND” never failed me. Like clockwork; [Remember] – a broken clock is still right twice a day.
This idiocy and mania caught up with me and, of course, I ended up in the hospital. AGAIN ! I was in the same hospital, some twelve years later for the same reasons. However, there was NO blood, and I lied saying it was a heart issue and that I had fainted. Did I mention, that I am a very ‘ skilled liar’ ? NO blood, therefore no toxicology report. Three months later, that would change.
The date was September 17th, 2011. I awoke in that hospital. AGAIN ! The night before, I had gotten up off of my couch to go to the bathroom, and fell straight onto my face. I was so drunk, I didn’t even put my hands out to break the fall. I came down like a tree, and there was physical damage to my face. There was a gash near my eye, and I couldn’t see. My brother drove me to the hospital. This time my blood was drawn, and after reading the toxicology reports, I was caught. My blood alcohol, approximately 9 or 10 hours after I had passed out, was 5.3 % – whatever that means. Two very popular musicians who had died as a result of their alcoholism, merit comparison in this discussion. I won’t mention their names, but I will mention their numbers. One had died, and his blood alcohol level was 4.2%. The other had also died, his was 5.8%. And I was between them, some nine hours after my episode – who knows what I was the night before.
From the hospital, I went to detox: there were thirteen guys in my intake group. I was the only alcoholic, everyone else was on the needle, the pipe, the straw or ingesting their coping mechanisms however they could. To this day, I still attend both Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly.
WE ARE A MESS.
I watched a police show a little while ago, and an officer was questioning a lady regarding a murder. He arrested her, and during the interview, she was adamant about her innocence. The law man said, “I know you did it, I have your blood on the scene”. The suspect said three words – I’m a CUTTER…
The cop had no idea what she was talking about, and the girl lifted up a pant leg. She was bleeding on his carpet. I’m a CUTTER…
I THINK THAT WE ALCOHOLICS/ADDICTS ARE ALL CUTTERS –
WE JUST DO IT DIFFERENTLY.
When I had to tell my children that I was a drunk, I destroyed them. I still hate myself for doing that to them. Today, my reliability and honesty are giving them back some solace in their lives. I can never put back what I took away from them. I can only show them by my actions that I am a different person. My disease is in remission, the reality is that it will never go away.
About the Author: My name is LEO, and I have been a LEO [Law Enforcement Officer] for 34 years. I was an alcoholic, long before I had my badge. I am currently enrolled in college, seeking accreditation in addictions counseling. I am a 56 year old father of two wonderful people who have allowed me back into their lives. And for that I am so very grateful. I thank my higher power, and those around me, for their understanding of what I was, and. what I am trying to be. You may contact Leo through his email firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-564-3085
You have to believe it, if you wanna receive it.