My Trek Down Stagger Road: Historical Article by Ron MacIntosh

Let me tell you a story about my trek down stagger road. I really don't know where to begin because this is the first time I've written about my problems with alcohol.

Well, I'm 28 years old now and sitting in jail. I did a few bad things while i was on a drunk or a spree. I've been drinking now for about 11 and a half years, and it's funny to think about it now but people use to tell me “Booze, it will catch you up one day”. I guess many of us have heard that before but at the time we were too busy drinking, “having fun” as we used to call it. Some of us knew it would cause harm one day but we all said the same thing- “it won't bother me, I'll be careful”.

In my case, I ignored all the warnings about trouble being on the way and in the end it ran right over me. I've made many mistakes while drinking. I've made many mistakes while drinking. I've hurt the ones I loved; my family, girl friend, true friends. It felt like I was going in a circle, round and round. Getting into trouble here and there. I used to figure it was like a game, get as much so-called fun into you before something happens. I did this for a number of years. Go to a party and see who could drink the most or hustle the most women. I became a pro at strutting the bars and streets.

I've used many people just to keep myself in booze. I stole from friends, stores. I've lied to get booze into me, cheated, sneaked, hid booze. Booze came first for me, before my relationships with family or my girl friend. Believe me, all of this was no easy trip. I was constantly nagging people that cared for me, borrowing money and trying to keep them off my back.

I got myself into the attitude of “I don't care” and what a mistake that was! Things got real bad for me at times. I drank with the dirtiest people on the street; slept anywhere I could hang my hat if I had one. My binges lasted anywhere from several days to several months.

Believe me it's not fun being a drunk on the street. People tend to look down on you, but half the time you don't notice because you're drunk. A friend of mine once said that you could be drunk for weeks on end, then one day you notice that you are dirty, your clothes are torn, you stink from days of not washing. You feel bad for a while, just until that first bottle of wine, then you become Prince Charming again. You don't notice these bad things when you're drinking, which goes for anything I do when under influence.

Anything. It really hurts me now to think of all the bad I've done to my loved ones. I've lost their trust. I said I would never hurt them again, but they just ignored me because I have said this before repeatedly. They still care sure, but not much after that. Now it's up to me to win their feelings back, give them happiness once again. I've been drinking so long now that I don't remember any happy feelings, so the best thing to do is start over. Construct a better life. I've lived the last 11 or 12 years in the fast lane and I know now it's tome to slow down. I don't want to find out if things can get any worse. It's not a nice feeling, sitting in jail. Spending your birthday in one. My Girl friend called to wish me a happy birthday not so long ago and all I could say was “no comment”. A birthday is special, but special that day.

Here in Jail everyone has problems and there's just no way to correct them. Everybody gets on each other's case in some way, arguments star, then fights. There is just not enough counselling up here for people to help themselves. I know you've got to want it before you can see results. Maybe some of us don't want it bad enough and we get stuck in awful situations-like where we are, “segregation”, the jailhouse blues.

I've experienced the blues here many times and it hurts, makes a guy wonder about a lot of things the past, present and future. What's ahead for me? How can I make it better, happier, forever lasting? I admit I've done wrong and now I'm asking for forgiveness. I am sorry for hurting you – my family, my girl friend, my friends. I guess the hardest part is forgiving myself, letting go of the past. The damage has been done, I can't do anything about that now but say “I'm sorry”. Hopefully it will never happen again.

If I do Find that I'm heading down that same road, hopefully I'll stop and ask myself: “Do I want this to happen again?” The pain I've been through almost took my life. All I can Do is use my mistakes, analyzing them, one could say that half the work is done. Now i just have to make things work for the other, better half.

I've been around booze all my life. The village I'm from was full of alcohol. You could say I'm still surrounded by it. I myself soak in it, I've never drowned but was slowly drowning. I took a test one time, I was 24, and the chart said I was a chronic alcoholic. Twenty-four years old and I was chronic. I used to laugh at it before, thought it was one big joke, but really-who got the last laugh? Whenever I drink, a lot of things don't appeal to me, it's my way or no way. I got so bad i was doing these things sober too.

The anger in me never seems to vanish sometimes, and I take it out on people close to me. Mixing the anger with booze only makes for a disaster waiting to happen, sometimes I feel it already happened many times.

I often wonder why I didn't realize this earlier on in my life, but everything has it's reasons. Maybe this is the only way some of us can learn. All through my life I've heard people say “you learn from your mistakes” but I wanted my fun first. But look where that got me, more loneliness in jail, hurt that a person can't see on the outside. Very few people in here think to the fullest about their lives. It's hard in here. Some call it a vacation, but where is the scenery? Others call it a nursery home, a day care centre. I sometimes call it that too. It is just wasted time in your short but long life. Sure we've wasted time out there too but then again we weren't thinking straight about a lot of things we went out and got ourselves tangled up in our web, and it's hard to get out one in. Some of us are at the bottom of the cone of life, and now that we realize it we are trying to get back on top. But still there's another problem we must face. It is bad enough that we are stuck in our own pit, and other people are making it difficult for us-they figure we haven't changed. They are still putting us down for our past mistakes. They say they gave us more than one chance before and we blew it. They can't see serious side of us because of us because of our past mistakes.

Sometimes I think about what drink has taken from myself pride. What is pride, dignity, what the heck does that mean anyway? All I know is what drink has given me: pain, sorrow, loneliness. It took a lot from me, living things like my own blood, brother, aunts, uncles and grandparents. That really hurts, I know I'll never see them again. Can't we see what it has done to us? Sure we can see and most of all feel it too. But again, do we want it bad enough to let it take more of our loved ones, maybe even us-you, me? Let's repair the damage while we still can, it's never too late they say. I believe that. Maybe some of us have the tools, maybe some of us don't. A good man once told me that I have a choice of how I can live, you choose the road you want to take. The road to jealousy, hate, alcohol; or the good road to love, freedom. It is my choice, he said. Many times I ask myself: is it that hard to choose? Hopefully before I walk out of here a changed man, to know that I have grown up. Hopefully the Great Spirit will watch over us and help us make the right choice before it is too late.

There's no privacy in here, none at all. Unless you are in segregation, or the hole. That where I am right now. Boredom sets in, lots of time to think about whatever your mind wants. I guess one has to look, see and listen. Look at where you are at, see what's around and listen to the fullest. Let's think twice before we do wrong; in the long run I'm sure it will pay off to the good. I know now.

This is the first time I've ever written something like this. It has been buzzing around my head for a while now, and hopefully it will do some good for me or someone.

A guy once told me: “What you don't know, you don't know”. A lot of people gave me hints through my life in the fast lane. They told me I'll get hurt bad or something along that road, but I didn't believe them or didn't know. I had to get a taste first. Like playing with fire, You'll get burned. But now I know, cause I got burned. HA HA. It's not funny, I know.

Well I guess it's almost time to shut this down. I know I haven't finished yet, but later on I will hopefully continue this message. I've got a younger brother and hopefully he won't run into the same mistakes I did. I took a lot of things for granted, I guess it's time for me to pay. I hope nobody runs the same road I did. If you do, you are in for a rough trip. I was fooling everybody on the outside, but really I was fooling myself. Don't try to be Somebody you're not. You'll get messed up good' before you realize it you will be caught up in your own lies and mistakes.

Stay away from booze and drugs because it could rob you blind. They'll take things from you, without you noticing before it's too late. I'll never promise anyone that I'll never drink, because I can't make that promise. I just hope for the best when I walk out of this place. I never want to get caught up in a hurting situation like this again. They say a man never cries. That's a lie-because I cry. I cried many nights here because it hurts on the inside. All I have to do is look back at my mistakes and sooner or later the tears flow. It's not nice or healthy to let things build up in you, you should try to get some help before it is too late.

Little by little these things build up in you. Then you say and do things you wouldn't normally do. If I only noticed this before I probably wouldn't be here right now. So what I'm saying is that if you notice the signs, talk to somebody about it. Believe me it's a lot better to talk about it out there than in here.

This is no place for a young man or anybody. It's not nice having the key to freedom put away on you again. They say “you do the crime you do the time” but it's your choice. Think about it.

A guy messed up in the bottle, it's hard for him, people look at you and see a trouble maker. They can't see your heart or true feelings because you're drunk all the time. So they judge you through the bottle. A girl once told me not so long ago that the last drunk I was on, she never saw me in a sober state. She saw me either drunk or hung over. For seven months i was like that, sick with the shakes, DT's they call it. It's no fun walking the streets day after day looking, scamming for booze. I heard this once in an A.A. Meeting. A guy said when you're drinking, to don't go to sleep when you pass out. When you wake up you don't wake up, you come to. That's how it is for me a lot of times when I'm boozing and I'm not proud of it. I think about it this way: I was lucky that I awoke, maybe the next time I will never wake.

I passed out 20 below weather one time, and when I awoke I tell you I was cold, my teeth wouldn't stop chattering, my body shaking. I wonder if I would get another chance like that again. Probably not.

I just want to end this story by saying: don't get caught up into something you'll regret, later on in life. Think twice before you take action, really think. I'm still young yet, I have time to change my life if I want to.

Again I say to my people that I'm sorry for the past. Hopefully I could help out wherever I can, don't bottle things up like I did, because it is not worth the pain or trouble. I'll be a happy man when people come to me and ask for help, then I'll know I am ready to help not only myself but others. I'd like to be an example but still I will feel funny about it. “Why” I ask, why this way-mistakes first, a learning process I guess.

I wrote this story back in the spring of 1989. A lot has happened since then. I've been thinking quite a bit again, collection what I think of as good thoughts. I would like to update this story with what's been happening since spring of last year. Like the picture says, the road narrows when you're heading down the wrong lane. A broken heart and the bottle don't mix. When you're down and out and sitting there under that bottle things can get rough. Seems like we walk on the tightrope of a life when we drink. I'm still trying to get on the recovery road-only i can do that.

I wish you all the best in the new year, decade etc. ~~ By Ron MacIntosh

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