To Drink or Not to Drink Part Three: The Meeting

During the first month I stopped drinking, the most overwhelming feeling I had was the need to talk.  I’ve got plenty of friends that drink a lot, but I didn’t really feel like any of them were at the same place I was at with it, so I felt cut off; almost as if I had drawn a line in the sand that I couldn’t cross out of respect for them.  The last thing I wanted to do was to come off preachy or like I was better than anybody else just because I had managed to stop drinking for a few weeks.  Hell, everybody that drinks has taken time away from it, so what made my time away any more significant than theirs?  I couldn’t decide either, so I kept quiet, and just wrote about it here, still not talking to the people around me much about it.

After a while I realized that not talking about it might not be healthy and I decided that maybe I need to go to a meeting.  It was the only option I could think of that pretty much guaranteed that everybody in the room would understand what I was going thru. So I made the call.  I described what I was feeling to the lady on the phone and she told me since I was going on my own and had stopped on my own that it would best if I just went to a meeting where I could sit and observe first, just to see if it’s for me or not.  She asked what side of town I lived on, and when I told her, she told me there was actually a meeting going on about 2 miles from my house in about 45 minutes.  I wrote down the address, and thought about it for a few minutes.  Then I decided to go.

The meeting was in a small hall that I’ve driven past tons of time and never paid any attention to, but now that I’ve been there I will never forget it. There was about 30 people in the meeting, each called up one-by-one to talk about what they had been through since the last meeting and their journey.   Most, if not all of them were there because they had to be.  Things had gotten to the point to where it was a condition of their release, court ordered.  Others had just hit rock-bottom.  But everybody in the room was sincere.  Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing prestigeous or “cool” about going to a meeting like that–whether you choose to go on your own or are forced.  It’s extremely humbling.

I can honestly say that I haven’t been that emotionally moved in a long time.  Hearing the stories of people who have suffered real losses because of alcoholism–like time in jail, ruined family relationships, loss of jobs and property–really effected me.  There were about three different points in the meeting where tears were in my eyes, just from listening.  It made me really put my own situation into perspective. Yes, I had stopped on my own, but if I didn’t stop soon I would be headed down the same path that these people had already walked, and that made me really uncomfortable.  Just seeing how some people had very little opportunity in their lives, while I had all this great opportunity in front of me, yet wasn’t taking full advantage of it really fucked me up.

Prior to going to that meeting, my thoughts were “I need to chill out on the alcohol for a while”, but when it was said and done my thoughts were “I don’t need to ever go back to that again”.  For the first time, I just didn’t see anything harmless or fun about the lack of balance I had in my life–do music all day, then drink all night–I only saw a destructive path in front of me.   I left that meeting with a lot of determination, to try to make sobriety a permanent fixture in my life.  Not just do it temporarily because I had a bad taste in my mouth and needed a momentary escape from it.

This week will be my 5th month sober, and I hope to keep it going as long as I can.  A lot of people have asked me how long I want to go.  It’s hard to articulate that.  On the road there were plenty of people who even after I told them I wasn’t drinking were like “just one wont kill you, will it?” and to that my answer would be “it wont kill me, but I’ve got something I need to prove to myself. i need you to understand that if i drink that, i will be failing myself.”  Then they would understand. While it is just a drink for some people, it’s a lot more than that to me.

At any rate, I made it through my first tour without having any alcohol.  So I want to thank everybody that bought me orange juice, soda, or water instead of booze.  The gesture is just as significant to me because it shows support for what I’m trying to do, and it doesn’t make me feel like I can’t kick it just because I’m not drinking.

I also want to thank all the people I met on the road that read this blog and chopped it up with me about it, all the people who checked up on me to make sure I was still on my path, as well as the people who told me they were inspired by what I’m trying to do.

What exactly am I trying to do?

Long story short, I want to be the best artist and person I can possibly be, and I felt like alcohol was getting in the way of that.  I won’t say I’ll never drink again, but right now my focus on being the best artist and person I can be is so strong that I’m having a hard time seeing how those two things can occupy the same space.

Also, thank you for reading this and for your comments, because me having a place to talk about this is very important, even if it is just words on a screen, it means something.

Word is Blog.

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  • Ill poetic

    This is really awesome and very well articulated. Congratulations on everything and Good luck with continuing on.

  • Greg

    Print, I know this is a weird compliment, but you have a very strong mind. Admiration.

  • Surlymayhem

    I’m so happy for you. Congrats on this very important personal achievement.

    “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

    Good luck Al!

  • Knuckles_939

    Big ups, way to stay motivated and dedicated….

  • printmatic

    thanks for the support

  • Kevinrnlds042

    One love man! i know exactly where you are coming from.. i have been a fan for a long time but now more than ever i know the struggles that we come to face with alcholism. i have been sober for a little over three years and know that as stupid as it may sound one day at time really works for me and that i need to continue to do the next right thing. So keep your head up and congrats. Just know you will always have brothers from all over willing enough to listen and be there if you want it!

  • printmatic

    congrats on 3 years sober! that's a very serious achievement man. I hope I can one day say that. If i manage to make it a year w/o it i would be really proud of myself. but yeah man, one day at a time. that's by far the healthiest way i've heard people talk about it, and a concept that i never really grasped until i heard it said in that meeting. thanks for the reply and for the support

  • Proud of you. It's real inspiring to here where you are. Knowing you a little better then th average fan I know how difficult this journey has been and how much it means to you to still be on the straight and narrow. Whether you know it or not in the process of you changing your life and being so open about it your changing someone else. Its a beautiful thing to whitness.

    Love you like a bro


  • printmatic

    thanks my dude!

  • Amber

    It shows a lot of character and willpower on your part to be doing this. Especially on your own. Hang in there, it will if not already all pay off. Although I've just met you(via internet needless to say) I am proud that you could step up and smother this fire so to speak before it got out of control. Congratulations on your 5 months!

  • Cgarchar

    You (along w. everyone else in this city) know damn well i know what ur going thru and where ur coming from. Congratulations! I know of a few real good meetings, real good people. I dont really know exactly how hard your struggling , but you always got a friend in me homie. Ever need to talk bout anything , you know how to get ahold of me. It all gets so much better from here on…..

  • bjg

    Congrats Print (and Kevinrnlds042 too). Fantastic post about your journey and how you've changed. I like how you put it about proving to yourself, and “Just seeing how some people had very little opportunity in their lives, while I had all this great opportunity in front of me, yet wasn’t taking full advantage of it really fucked me up.” Those definitely hit home.

  • Dwight2685

    Keep it up man, I feel ya. It seems like when I go all week and then party on the weekends it's like I keep starting over.

  • I definitely understand where you are with this. When I went sugar-free last year, people kept “testing” my resolve. Mostly because they didn't really understand it. It wasn't for them to understand though. I was doing it for me. I have filled with sugar since my six month journey and I kind of long to go back to being the cleaner me.

    At some point, it is about what makes you happy. Sweets make me happy, but ODing on them does not. I imagine the same for you and alcohol. I like imbibing myself, but when you're cleaner internally, it's a lot easier to drink a little and enjoy that one good beer or scotch. It is not often that you will find me drinking crappy alcohol. I don't see the point in it.

    My next journey will be working on the balance of staying fairly free of things that act like sugar in the body, but being comfortable having a bit of the sweet stuff on special occasions.

    Stay strong, my friend. I'm sure you are learning a lot about yourself and others in your current journey. I look forward to the wisdom you will share from your experience.

  • printmatic

    weekends were/are always the hardest for me too. i always get that feeling that i need to reward myself for whatever i've achieved through the week on the weekend. i think it's just something we're subconsciously taught and have to deal with

  • Great post man. Most people (artist or not) dont have the balls to post stuff like this. Props to you print. HUGE PROPS.

  • printmatic

    Thanks Donn!

  • printmatic

    Thanks GAM!!

  • Micah

    I went to your show in Grand Rapids and you straight up killed it. I didn't know you decided to go sober and I think that's extremely legit. My mom quit drinking cold turkey about 8 or 9 years ago now and it's amazing how much of a difference you can see. I hope everything continues to go well for you. You're definitely an inspiration to a lot of people. And, as a random sidenote, The Who EP is sick! Haha. Great post, Blueprint. It's nice to know some people aren't afraid to lay it all out on the table.

  • Meeks

    Proud of u man, if u think this will make u an even better artist, ( & it will ) I can't wait 2 c what the future holds. 3 D's discipline, determination & detication

  • Sam

    I come from a family tree of alcoholism and I've learned a lot through their experiences in recovery. I've been straight-edge all my life (I'm 25) and am currently helping a dear friend who, like yourself and those you met at AA, is in the early stages of treatment. I wish you the best in your journey and I can only imagine the things you will accomplish without anything “getting in the way” of your creativity. Keep focused!

  • Pam

    Glad to know you saw a place in your life that ya wanted to change and just went for it.If i have’nt told you lately, i really admire so many things about ya lil bro-thanks for the inspiration on yet another day.:-).

  • Jordan Sanders

    good to hear you’ve made it this far, how are things going now? I realize this is a year later, but progress is progress.

    I saw you at the family sign tour in richmond, va. last year, you rocked it. hopefully trying to see you again!