I’m Sean and I’m an alcoholic.
I’m a middle-aged man who was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, but I’ve been living in Youngstown, Ohio for something like 25 years now. My partner of 13 years or so and I have a wonderful 11 year old daughter and live in a very quiet, very modest suburban neighborhood.
I started out as a graphic designer, then creative director at a couple of ad agencies, but ultimately became a computer programmer specializing in database-driven web applications. Impressive, huh? I used to think so until alcohol took over my life. I’ve had mental health issues most of my life — serious depression, wild mood swings — and my medication of choice was booze. Not a good mix as the one feeds the other (and vice-a-versa). But it didn’t really explode until my mother died in ’94 at the ripe old age of 48. I was devastated and immediately shifted to a fifth or more a day of whiskey to numb the pain.
I went from ad agency partner/creative director to a graphic designer position at another agency, then to short order cook at a bar, then a bartender for a couple of years. I sobered up enough and long enough to get back into the ad business and ultimately started my own web development company.
But my drinking got worse. I ended up married and divorced within the same year and went back to bartending for a few years before meeting my partner. I semi-sobered up again and landed a job as a programmer. That lasted a couple of years until I got fired for drinking. I managed to land a similar job at a competitor, but that only lasted a year and ended the same way. After that I did odd handyman jobs and woodworking, but by then my health was a mess and I had to quit doing even that.
I’ve been in and out of inpatient rehab eight times in the past five years. In and out of AA for about twelve. The longest continuous spell of sobriety I was able to rack up was a year. I’m the drunk who drinks until he has to be hospitalized or institutionalized, then sobers up for a week or a month or six months, then goes right back at it for another round. One episode landed me in an alcohol-induced coma for almost a month. I’ve since learned that my liver and pancreas are both toast, my brain scans look like that of an eighty year old Alzheimer’s patient, and I’ve ended up with severe (and I mean severe) psoriasis caused by the booze but can’t be treated because the meds would fry what’s left of my liver.
I’ve also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but again thanks to my liver, they can’t give me the meds that would really help. Let’s just say it hasn’t been much fun trying to find something that will work without killing me. It doesn’t help that when I get frustrated with the whole situation I make a beeline for the liquor store.
In other words, I’m a hot fucking mess.
So I write about it.
I’ve always been a writer — mostly ad copy, brochures and other business-type stuff — but always had a thing for poetry. My favorites were the “Beat” poets and novelists (Ginsberg, Williams, Kerouac) and the not-a-beat-poet-but-often-lumped-in-with-them-poet Charles Bukowski. I like to think I’ve found my own voice and style, but their influences are obviously apparent in my work.
“Whiskey Dreams & Madness” is my first book of poetry and I’m currently working on a second, which will deal primarily with the road to recovery and sobriety. I can’t promise it (or I) will stay on that road — my history of straying almost guarantees some slips — but that’s the plan.