I am a huge fan of the show “Intervention” on A&E. It’s not that I like watching other people’s misery — I hate that part, actually — it’s just that it’s a weekly reminder of just how wrong things can go for you if you make certain poor choices in your life. And if you have children, “Intervention” is the world’s best instructional program about the multitude of different ways you can screw up your kids for life with behavior that spirals them into addiction later in life. You name it: physical abuse, neglect, absence, infidelity, emotional/verbal abuse, divorce, estrangement, death of a friend/family member — all of this stuff can rocket a kid into a life-consuming addiction later in life.
Pleasant thought, eh? Not at all, and my wife can’t stomach the show at all. But the misery and sadness is exactly why I watch it — to keep myself in check. Anyone who reads this blog with even semi-regularity knows that I am a father first and everything else comes second, and if watching some gut-ripper stories on shows like A&E give me regular encouragement to center my own life and doings around the well-being of my children, then so be it.
Tonight’s episode was especially resonant for me, though, because I saw a lot of myself in the subject, whose name was Lawrence. He was an entrepreneur who started a successful business in his twenties (just like me). He was a big weightlifting/workout guy in his 20s (just like me). He’s now 34 (just like me), and his vice was booze, just like mine was. I’m not going to spend a bunch of time and detail going into specifics (not because I’m shy, but because this post would never end), but suffice it to say that I was not a social drinker. I didn’t drink every day, and I didn’t do eye-openers or get the shakes, but I could only drink alcohol one way, and that was full-throttle. If I wasn’t going to end up blasted drunk at the end of the night, then I didn’t want to bother with one sip. That’s how it is with some people. Most folks who drink can have a beer or two and call it a night (or a mixer, or a lunch, or whatever) and head on out to the rest of their day.
Not me. The moment of the day that I started drinking was the end of anything else that was going to happen in that day for me, other than drinking. And I would keep drinking until I passed out — there was never a point of, “well, I think I’ve had enough for the night.” That point was whenever I lost consciousness.
Anyway…I quit drinking on August 22, 2003 when I was 29, and I haven’t had a drop since, which thankfully leaves me out of the running for an appearance on “Intervention” or anything similar. However (WARNING, SPOILER ALERT), watching tonight’s episode about Lawrence certainly opened my eyes to what may have happened to me had I kept boozing. Lawrence was my age exactly, but already had advanced cirrhosis of the liver (Oh, and not to mention testicular cancer thrown in for good measure. Jeez. When it rains it pours.). But Lawrence never quit, kept on boozing hardcore, and you know what? He died in February at age 34 from esophageal bleeding, which apparently is a symptom of cirrhosis.
Damn — he drank himself to death at 34. I’m 34. Would I have ended up doing the same thing? I have a lovely wife and two beautiful children that I would’ve left behind, not to mention all the other family, friends and employees who depend on me. It’s a sobering thought (ugh, no pun intended, but that is indeed the right word).
See what I mean? This is why I watch “Intervention.”