SEVEN YEARS SOBER
Today I would like to share my story of hope. I want you to know that if I was able to turn my life around, so can you.
My name is Jose De La Roca and today, April 15, I’m celebrating seven years of sobriety.
I’m not here to tell you that alcohol is bad and you should stop drinking; we are all different and my relationship with alcohol is different from everyone else’s. My sobriety story is to show that you are not alone and we all can change for the greater good no matter what we are going through.
On April 15th, 2014, I woke up super hungover thanks to drinking a whole bottle of whiskey, alone in my room, all by myself. On that day I decided to quit drinking. And guess what? I did. I quit drinking just like that.
People always get surprised when I tell them that one day I just decided to stop drinking. The truth is that it was a two-year process, but April 15th was the day I decided to change my life around, and today I will share with you the real reason why I quit drinking that day!
Seven years ago, I was obese, broke, in huge debt. I was ruining relationships, living in a small room with a hole in the wall. I was an alcoholic mess with no future and on the brink of self-destruction. Every time I look back, I see how lucky I was to have survived and had the chance of changing my life around. I recently spoke with a great friend of mine that also turned his life around and we both agree that we survived the bad times for a reason and that April 15th I discovered my reason.
My relationship with alcohol started in my teens, and for many years it was fun. On some occasions, it even helped me to succeed at work. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to my past and didn’t realize that I might have the addiction gene.
My dad and mom struggled with alcohol, one more than the other, and I should have known better than to not mess with it, but I was young and having the time of my life. It took a while for alcohol and my mental health issues to take a toll on me. I know that mental health can be a taboo topic for some people, but realizing that I suffered from mental health problems helped me get better and ultimately change my life around.
I know now that I was suffering from depression, self destruction, anxiety, and panic attacks. I was an immigrant for eleven years. My dad was not around much, and my childhood was not the best. Some of those traumas had effects on me. They probably still do.
I still remember the first time I had a panic attack. Wow! Panic attacks are no joke, and I would not wish those on anyone. During my early twenties, I was part of the number-one syndicated morning show in the U.S.A. and I was under a lot of stress. My partying didn’t help either. I was young, working nonstop and still enjoying life.
When all the stress, partying and anxiety kicked in, it resulted in an ugly panic attack that I could not control. At first I didn’t know what it was until a friend of mine shared with me that she also suffered from them and explained to me what a panic attack was. I did some research. I was able to identify the problem, and started with the solution, but I didn’t stop drinking. Realizing I had metal health issues helped me start my recovery.
Another thing that helped me quit drinking was my change of attitude towards my parents. I remember blaming them for everything, I had grudges towards them about the way they raised me or not raised me at all. It was a hard thing to swallow, but one day, I realized that my problems were self-inflicted and that my parents never were the issue. It was me.
Once I realized that my parents were not giving me drinks, making me drink, or causing me problems, I started to take ownership of my problems and I started owning my own mistakes. That was one of the catalysts for my sobriety.
I made plenty of mistakes during my last drinking years. If you met me from 2011 to 2013, I apologize; you met the worst of me. I promise that I have learned and I have changed for good. There were so many events that helped me realize I had a drinking problem, but my thirtieth birthday made me realize I had to start changing immediately.
Turning thirty was a big event for me, and I wanted to celebrate with all my friends and family, so I decided to throw a big party at Dave and Busters, so I could be with all my friends and family with no age restrictions. It was going to be an amazing day full of fun. I reserved a section with a pool table and my girlfriend and I showed up early to start my amazing thirtieth birthday party. NO-ONE else showed up ….
No one wanted to be there, not my family, not my friends, no one. Hours, minutes passed by and no one showed up. The whole section was empty, just my girlfriend and I in a section for thirty people with a pool table. After waiting for hours, I decided to leave and on the ride home, I realized that something was wrong and that something was me.
Heck, I wouldn’t want to be with me either. I was a drunken mess. Bless my girlfriend, she’s still with me as I write this and we have a beautiful family together. She was there for the bad and she is with me for the good and bright future ahead of us. I love you!
So, I went from great, fun early twenties to lonely bad late twenties and at thirty years old, no one wanted to be around me. I was on a path of destruction, but after my thirtieth birthday, I started the process of change.
So, I stopped blaming my parents for my failures. I realized I had metal health problems that I needed to work on and I knew that alcohol was making everything worse.
So what did I do?
I started to change. I forgave my dad for not being there for me. I forgave my mom for her issues that brought me pain. I started to work on my anxiety and most importantly, I started to love myself.
I think that loving myself was the most important change I made. I was a self-destructive person because I didn’t love myself and I thought I was worthless. Once I started to love myself and believe in me, change started.
Quitting was not easy. I tried many times and failed miserably, but I was making progress. During this process one thing happened; I got a call for an incredible opportunity. A radio station called me for an interview and after two interviews, I got the job. This job would pay well and gave me a great opportunity I could not mess up. They saw my potential and my great work at other radio stations, so they gave me a small opportunity and I started to shine.
I started in February and unfortunately I was not sober yet. One Sunday morning I fell asleep at work because I was hungover from the night before and I almost made a huge mistake, but my replacement showed up early and saved me. He reported me to my boss. They brought me in, I owned up to my mistake and I promised that it would never happen and it never did. One month later I quit drinking for good.
Before I tell you the real reason I quit drinking that April 15th, I want to say that yes, I made tons of mistakes, I ruined jobs, relationships, and I’m lucky to be alive, but I’m not a bad person.
I came to the U.S.A. for a better future legally, waited eleven years to become a resident because I didn’t want to cut corners and I wanted to do it the right way, I helped raise two beautiful kids, and I worked very very hard. One time I worked a whole year and a half without a day off. We all have issues and we deal with problems in a different way, but we can all be good and change for a better future.
April 15th is a very special day in my life, but it is also close to someone’s birthday. Someone I love very much has a birthday close to April 15th, and he was getting older, and I realized that at some point he would notice the piece of shit I was becoming. I didn’t want to be my dad and give that little person a bad example. I knew his birthday was coming up and I wanted to be a great example for him. So that April 15th, 2014, I decided to be a great example for a little person who I loved with all my heart, and I quit drinking .....
Eight months later, after I quit drinking, I had my own apartment, a great job, better relationships with my loved ones and my girlfriend was pregnant with our son. I’m not done yet. I want to be better. I want to give my son everything he deserves, and I won't stop until we have a great future together.
Every day since that day, I choose to be better. I choose not to drink and ruin my life because I want to be an example for my loved ones and for them only.
This short, bald, crazy, Guatemalan was able to love himself and change his life for good, and I want you to know that you can as well. Don’t ever give up because there are loved ones that need you and you need you as well. Love yourself because you are better and can do better.
Jose De La Roca