From the December 2019 magazine.

Up From Coal Country

Quarterback, student, military dropout, bellhop. He kept digging his way to the bottle

My journey in sobriety began three months before my 25th birthday when I entered rehab in 1981. However, the seed for my recovery was planted more than a year prior. I came to on Christmas morning 1979 and went downstairs, where my mother asked me what I had done with the AA card a cousin gave me the night before. I had no clue what she was talking about. I snuck back to my bedroom and went through my wallet and found a card from the Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania group of AA. This certainly was not my first blackout, nor would it be my last, but I had started on the road to recovery without knowing it. 

My first drunk occurred at age 10. I grew up in a small coal-mining town in central Pennsylvania where life was hard and drinking was part of the culture. From that first encounter with the magic elixir contained in my parents’ liquor cabinet, I felt a warm glow inside that filled a void in me. I had felt unloved, unappreciated and greatly misunderstood. I’m not quite sure where the chip that I carried around on my shoulder came from, but it was there for as long as I can remember.

-- Ed M.

Bloomsburg, Pa.

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