From the March 2008 magazine.

A Bead on Recovery

Enjoying life sober

In early November 2005, nearly six months sober, I sat in my first men's Big Book study in the small Mojave Desert community of Yucca Valley, California. I shared my nervousness at returning home to the Allegheny Highlands of Virginia to deer hunt at Thanksgiving, sober for the first time in twenty-eight years.

I'd been hunting the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia since I was twelve years old, and although I watched my father, uncles, cousins, and older friends get drunk, night after night and year after year, I didn't join in the drinking until I was eighteen. Once I did, Daddy complained that I didn't know how to drink. He claimed that the important thing was to "maintain," which I seldom did. In my early twenties, my nickname was "Ed-the-Dead," because I liked to inconveniently black out in public places, like bars and strangers' houses. Unable to hold my head up, I remained stubbornly capable of uttering negative, monosyllabic responses to questions like, "Shouldn't you go home? Now?"

-- Ed L.

Wrightwood, California

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