Happy, Joyous, and Free

On February 29th, 2004 I gave up alcohol. The world in general, and the people around me especially, are far better off because of that decision. I don’t often talk about my sobriety. I N Shore library pic 2allude to it. I support others who post stories of their own journeys and I cleverly (or so I thought) dedicated my first novel to Bill and Bob, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. But, here, online, in the world where I make my living I don’t mention it very much.

I was interviewed by a reporter from the Globe and Mail newspaper a few years back. The Globe and Mail is a big deal. It’s Canada’s second largest newspaper and it’s a national paper. They were doing a feature on my self-publishing journey and wanted to dedicate a whole page in their weekend edition to my story. It was a proud moment. The reporter interviewed me by phone and Skype and email too. She asked lots of questions as she attempted to find the right angle for her piece. A few days before her deadline, she left a message on my phone saying that she needed to talk to me right away. In her message she said that something wasn’t making sense. “You hit your forties and made all these changes, wrote a book, sold a ton of copies, hit #1 on Amazon but something must have precipitated it. People don’t just do that. Something must have happened.”

The gig was up. I guess I could have evaded it but I didn’t. So, I told the incredibly intuitive reporter a little bit of my story. I explained that six weeks before my fortieth birthday my life became a country music song (and I never have enjoyed country music). The girl left, I was losing my house, and I was going to a job every day that I didn’t enjoy. Oh, and the girl left her cat behind, and I did not like cats. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. My life had been playing the same tune over and over for years. The participants changed but there were two constants each time a personal tragedy happened – me and alcohol. I wish I could say that I just decided to stop but it’s not as simple as that. I got help, lots of help. I told the reporter my tale but I also told her that I didn’t want to dwell on it in the article. I didn’t want to be a poster-boy for recovering alcoholics. I wanted readers to find my work based on its merit and not because they wanted to see what an alkie, like me could do once he dried out.

She handled it delicately. She slid into her description that I “turned forty, went through a divorce, quit drinking and decided to write a book…” I was quite happy with her prose. There were a few readers and authors who contacted me afterward and told me the story of their journey from the dark side. And, from time to time someone recognizes the dedication in my first book and sends me a nice message. I’ve been very happy with the private camaraderie and reflection that I’ve shared with these few special souls. In 2014 it was ten years though, and in the interest of perhaps helping someone who’s struggling to get sober I thought I’d poke my head out into the world for a moment and mention how good it feels to have made it here.

Any mayhem or hurt that happened in my life was caused by me. I have no illusions that it was not. I am prone to a deadly disease but there were opportunities that I can see now where I might have come in out of the rain and tried things differently. I didn’t and I got here when it was my turn to get here. If I could bottle the feeling that I have now and show you, the person who may be doing what I was doing ten years ago, how it feels you’d contact me and ask me how to get here. I know you would. You’d do it because what I have now is a life – a full-on, twenty-four hours in a day life. And, before I made the change I did not. I had a hazy existence fuelled by Crown Royal and self-made promises. Hope was just over the next hilltop and every day was about surviving until the next.

One of the things that people often say to me when I do share my story with them is that they don’t drink very much. My reaction is disappointment and I tell them that if they don’t have a problem then they should enjoy alcohol. I’m not anti-alcohol. I’m only anti-alcohol for me.

MTL Cake picPart of the happy ending to my personal story is that I got to love the cat. In fact, if you’re interested you can scroll down after clicking this link to Wendy Isn’t Coming Home, and read the story about my relationship with him. The girl who left moved on and started a happy new life for herself, and I was fortunate enough to find the freckle-faced girl that I’m still with today. She and I have a personal philosophy that we try and live by. We attempt to have fun every day. Neither of us believes in waiting for good things to happen. We aren’t waiting for lottery winnings or time off from work or a day when we’re going to feel better. We try to have fun and laugh every day no matter what’s happening. Last year, at ten years sober I turned fifty and the freckle-faced girl is in the same age range (he says carefully), but you’d never know it. If you listened to us from afar or read a transcript of our silly conversations you’d swear we were ten year old children. I’m so thankful that I got here and I intend to enjoy as much of it as I can. And, if you’d like to know more just ask me. I’d be glad to tell you what I did to reach this place. Now I shall retire back to my cave and not mention this again unless I make it for another ten years. Then, I might talk about it once more. Maybe.

Happy New Year and blessings to you all for 2015!

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This Post Has 35 Comments

  1. Martin, I had no idea. But i do know people who struggle with this issue. I know that honesty about yourself is one of the primary things that lead to sobriety. No more fooling anyone – especially yourself. The same can be applied to so many personal problems, not just addiction to alcohol.

    Kudos to you for recognizing and dealing with this. May you and the freckle-faced girl have many more years together laughing and having fun. You’ve earned them.

    Thank you for sharing. As I am an admirer this makes you less distant and more real.

    BTW when does the article run? We subscribe to the Globe so I want to make sure I don’t miss it.

  2. Martin, like Yvonne, I had no inkling. My mother, brother, and first husband were all severely alcoholic, (two of the three died from it) so I am grateful to those of you who have the inner strength and determination to eliminate the dependance from your lives.

    And it was through your story about the cat that I first met you! The writing world is so fortunate to have you in its midst,- such a skilled and gifted writer – and I consider myself so fortunate to count you as one of my friends. May 2015 hold continued success for you and many uncountable hours more of laughter and love between you and the freckle-faced girl!

  3. Martin Crosbie says:

    I’m very glad you read the story of Spock the cat, Dianne, or I may never have met you. I’m fortunate, I received lots of help getting my life on track. Lots. Thanks for sending the positive energy our way. I hope all the same for you and your family this year too, my friend!

  4. Martin, I just have to say that I’m proud of you. My father was a violent alcoholic and he had us literally running for our lives on several occasions. He eventually quit drinking, but the damage was already done. The family had split up and he was brain dead from the ravages of alcohol. Not fun.

    I’m also awed by your success as an author. I am soon to release book #25 and haven’t had anywhere near the success you’ve had, but I enjoy writing. The 4 and 5 star reviews tell me that people do enjoy my stories, so I’ll keep at it.

    Happy New Year and may 2015 be good to you. 🙂

  5. Martin Crosbie says:

    I’m sorry to hear that, Lorraine. That’s tough stuff.
    Congratulations on 25 books, that’s amazing! And, yes, we write for our readers, don’t we.
    Thanks for the good wishes and same back to you and yours. Happy New Year.

  6. Martin, I wouldn’t have guessed either. Thank you for sharing that tidbit! I believe we all have a point where we change and embrace life as it was meant to be embraced. Best wishes to you.
    Peggy Browning

  7. Jane Carroll says:

    Martin,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think there comes a time for all of us to make whatever change it is we need to make…unfortunately many of us miss our time. I’m glad you didn’t…and I’m even more glad that you love the cat and the freckle faced girl. 😉

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      I actually wrote the first draft of this back in March. I’m glad I finally put it out. Thank you for reading it, Tina.

  8. Laurie Boris says:

    Mad respect for you, Martin. Congratulations on ten years (and counting), and the cat and the freckle-faced girl. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it inspires others who are ready to follow.

  9. Paula Bruno says:

    I lived with a borderline alcoholic for 45 years. Toward his end, he stopped drinking — mostly — and when he did he didn’t drink to excess. As we talked about his approaching demise, he said if he could go back and change one thing in his life, he’d stop drinking in his young days. I applaud you and others who manage to pull themselves out of this trap, whether it’s with help or by sheer strength of will to make a better life for yourselves — and your families. And I love the story about the cat! Best wishes to you, your freckle faced girl and Tuxedo if he’s still around! Happy New Year from Texas!

    • Martin Crosbie says:

      I’m sorry you had to go through that Paula but I’m glad you had a bit of a reprieve toward the end.
      Thank you for reading my article and commenting. Happy New Year to you.

  10. Freddie Remza says:

    You know,be proud of yourself as it’s not who you were that counts, but who you are now. Continue success with your writing,

  11. Ken says:

    I started drinking when I was 12 years old, stopped when I was 56. I am so blessed and grateful for the last 5 years of my life without alcohol. What I had lost or was in the process of losing, has been found. Thank you for your story sir.

  12. Loretta Gillespie says:

    Martin, that took guts….at least the first time. I’m really proud of you, and know what a change that must have been. All through my life I’ve had friends and loved ones who had problems with alcohol. It’s dangerous…one never knows when they take that first drink where it will lead…I’ve seen too many people die, slowly and very fast, from using alcohol. Its not worth it…and it causes so much pain for the people who love them…I’m glad that you have someone who made the journey worth the effort! And omg…look what you’ve accomplished … amazing…Bless you…

  13. Martin, thank you for your courage to share. During the Best Sellers Weekend I attended I was impressed by your openness and honesty. I think sometimes going through tough stuff, and surviving, can give a person a depth of understanding how human we all are. I’m so glad we met, and hope our paths will cross often. I’m glad you are taking time to have laughter and fun each day.[my 96 year old aunt gave me similar advice a few months ago…so I suspect it’s part of a recipe for a long and happy life].

    Wishing you a Very Happy New Year!

  14. S'ville Bill says:

    Thank you so much for the book, and sharing your story. My sobriety date is April 21st, 2011. I was nearly 55 years old and thought I was lost forever. Like you, I have a life today I could never have imagined. Thank you my “brother by another mother”. I’ll look forward to the rest of your books, and the continuation of our stories.
    -Bill M.

  15. heather rath says:

    Martin: When you write from the heart, everything falls into place.
    You wrote your column from the heart and so your words will help heal
    those who have been, or are going through, the same uphill journey.
    Well done!

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