Perspective: Out Of The Darkness

Sep 30, 2020

I tried and failed to get sober many times. I’d get through a couple of days, sometimes a week, and then the stigma would get to me. I couldn’t bear the thought of never having another drop of alcohol. Of being cast as an outsider. Of being judged as deeply flawed and damaged.

Elise and Anna with their dad, Christopher Heimerman

So I kept drinking in the shadows. No one knew I was getting drunk day after day. I was like a ninja with my drinking, hiding it from my wife, my kids, from everyone, all while my life was teetering on the edge of collapse.

I had to check into treatment to get on the right path. By working my finely tuned program, I'm closing in on 500 days of sobriety. But I long for a day when fewer will need to go through rehab to get clean and stay clean. To get there, we as a society need to have an honest conversation about addiction and mental illness.

People still get eerily quiet when I bring up my sobriety. I’m on rock-solid ground today, so the uncomfortable silence isn't a trigger. A year ago, it would have been a different story. I probably would have decided “Yep, I’m a lost cause,” and driven straight to the liquor store.

September is National Recovery Month, so from society’s perspective, it’s a little more OK for me to talk about all this. But an open and honest conversation needs to be ongoing.

If you’re affected by addiction and mental illness, there’s a good chance no one will know -- unless you speak up.

I’m Christopher Heimerman, and that’s my perspective.