I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “Why didn’t you get sober after your first DUI?”  These people were not alcoholics mind you; they were normal drinkers who didn’t understand why anyone would get a DUI in the first place, let alone – GASP – a second one! It’s pretty normal to hear people at an AA meeting that have had five, six, seven, DUIs – commonplace really. It’s also pretty normal to hear people that didn’t have any DUIs and they still got sober. I always assumed those people lived in New York City, or had another bottom that didn’t relate to getting a DUI. I’m grateful I didn’t live in NYC, because it was my second DUI that got me sober. I didn’t get sober because I thought I had a problem. I mean, let me explain, I knew I had a problem – I just didn’t give a crap.  I was fine living my life like a 20-year-old tartlet and thought I was totally cool. I was 37 years old and I was so not cool. The State of California seemed to think that my DUI was something that needed to be addressed. So here I was, sitting on my second DUI, and I was a bit of a hot mess and befuddled with how I ended up here. I was still gallivanting around town like a collegiate party girl.  How did this happen? It happened because I let it happen. Feeling very defeated and worn out, my solution was to start drinking box wine at home and not go out anymore.  This was how I was going to live my life now. Not once did I think I should quit drinking.

The first DUI wasn’t that bad really.  It was five years prior and I was back home in suburban Philadelphia visiting family and friends over Christmas. I was out at my local watering hole where everyone knew my name, my own personal “Cheers”. We were doing shots, drinking like it was Senior Week – whooping it up – a normal evening amongst friends. Driving back to my sister’s house I had apparently swerved and hit a couple trash cans on the side of the road. BUSTED! I scurried my butt back to California and had my Dad manage this inconvenience for me as I was living 3,000 miles away and didn’t have time to address this nuisance. I attended 6 alcohol education classes and forged a certificate to say I did 20 hours of Community Service in San Diego. Easy Peasey.   

Fast forward to five years later where that fateful night had me out drinking in downtown Carlsbad.  I chose my apartment in downtown Carlsbad because of the location, as it was close to the downtown bar scene; this way I could drink and walk about town and not worry about driving.  Unfortunately for me that evening it was a balmy 60 degrees and I decided to drive.  Too chilly for this Philly gal.  At 11.30 pm, I pulled hurriedly into the parking lot of Texas Liquor, after just bumping over a central median.  Whew that was close!  Minutes later, sirens and flashing lights screeched in behind me and barricaded my vehicle.  Struck sober, I soon realized this wasn’t going to be the highlight of my weekend.  

Upon instructions from my lawyer, I was given the task of getting a court card signed by attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He commented to me that since it was my second DUI, they could really throw the book at me. Okay sure, I will go to a meeting. But not tonight, I really need to drink.

It took over six weeks for me to finally muster enough courage to walk into that AA meeting. I remember sitting in my car cursing myself to get out and walk into the meeting. How hard could this be? I only went because I wanted the court to show some mercy on me. I had no intention of getting sober. That was never even a thought.  

What I heard at that meeting was Hope. Hope that maybe I could quit drinking.  Hope that maybe I won’t have to keep doing the same stupid shit that I’d been doing for the past 24 years and Hope that maybe there is another way to live. Sober.  

I ran out of that meeting before the closing Serenity prayer ended and went home where I guzzled down two bottles of wine. I drank every day for the next week and during that drunken week I had my moment of clarity. Bam! The green flash of sunset and stark realization came to me; everything bad that had ever happened to me in my life was from drinking and drugging. Everything. I had nothing to show for my life. I was alone, financially and emotionally starved, barely able to make ends meet and living a studio apartment. I didn’t own anything. I had pawned all I could, while going to payday loan places just to hold me until my next paycheck. I also had a recreational cocaine problem, did I mention that?

On that seventh day, I ended up at the Carlsbad Speaker Meeting in Carlsbad where I purchased a Big Book and heard a women share my story. I figured I should give this sobriety thing a shot. I had no other options. I haven’t looked back since and today my life is better than I ever could have imagined. So glad I wasn’t living in NYC that evening. That second DUI saved me, and it got me sober.  

Guest Blogger: Nancy Carr

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