There were times in my drinking days when I felt lost and alone; like a frightened little boy wanting to be home and safe again. However, one time in particular stands out more than all the others.
I was 24 years old and joined the Army to support my wife and kids, and after only three days of being away, I became very homesick. I missed my family much more than I thought I would, and although I could send letters, I was told phone calls wouldn’t be permitted right away. This added to the sadness and fearfulness I was experiencing, but after finally being able to talk to my wife and daughter, who was almost 4 at the time and 3 years older than our son, those feelings remained and I’d cry everyday.
One of the times I cried happened while mopping the floor of the mess hall after the song in the video began playing through ceiling speakers installed for various purposes. It’s called “Joanna” by Kool & The Gang and was released as a single just two months before I started my basic training in February of 1984. The song made me think about my wife, and hearing it at that moment not only made me cry, but added to why this lost little boy memory stands out above the rest.
I had hoped that after I got out of the Army, I could put my drinking behind me and finally be a better husband and father. But in a very short time the urge to drink returned, and even though I loved my family, drinking would once again almost always come first.
It’s been 27 years since I first cried to this song, and I still sometimes do, but for a different reason. When I hear it now, the memories it brings back makes me feel grateful for who I am today. I no longer need alcohol to cope with my fears and I’m happy being sober.
Speaking of being happy. Look at how happy all the people in the video are at this concert held in Budapest in 1996. I mention this because that was the year I finally stopped drinking for good and started being a better husband and father.
Since then, I’ve had days when I was sad or afraid and the little boy in me surfaced a few times. But never once did I feel lost and alone. I simply felt safe in the knowledge that I could be all right and find my way home on my own.