My Fourteenth Birthday


Today I turned fourteen. December 8, 2003 was my first day clean and sober.

It may surprise some people to hear that after I got sober my life got worse. I lost all my friends (barfly’s actually.) I wound up homeless, which never happened while I was drinking. My life was in ruins as I watched others who got sober at the time moving forward. It was six months after getting sober when I spent ten days in a psych ward. I didn’t understand what was wrong. I didn’t understand because I didn’t know I had bipolar disorder.

I reached a point that I knew something was wrong mentally, though I didn’t know what. I tried to go the county mental health clinic, but was turned away because I was “too high functioning.” Yes, I was living on the streets dragging my duffle bag around all day, and standing in the food lines at churches. Yes, I had all that going on, yet I was too high functioning.

Despite how terrible it felt, it’s my sobriety that saved me. Without being sober, I would not have sought the help I needed, I would not have kept going back to one county clinic after another, I would not have begun demanding the help I needed…and finally got.

I shouldn’t be here today. I used to look at the homeless lying under park benches and envied them. I could tell they had completely given up and were just waiting to die. But one day I realized that’s not what I wanted. My therapist told me he couldn’t help me if my brain was friend every time I walked through his door. In his words, he told me, “Get the fuck out of my office and go to an A.A. meeting.” He then pulled out a directory and a bus guide. The directory told him where the next AA meeting was, and he gave me the bus guide so I knew how to get there.

That evening was the first time I stepped into a meeting. The speaker had a very strong accent so I couldn’t understand a word she said, but I sat there and cried. My face was soaked. Even though I couldn’t understand her, I knew it was exactly where I belonged.

Miracles do happen.

Where you can find an A.A. meeting near you.

  9 comments for “My Fourteenth Birthday

  1. Anonymous
    March 31, 2018 at 18:23

    I love AA! If I go to meetings, sponsor other men and stay in service to others, I get to enjoy the gift of bipolar. If I don’t do these simple things, then I’m at risk for the disorder dimension. They told me it was a simple program. They showed me that it was a simple program. Then, through pain and suffering, I came to learn that it is a simple program. I did not know that it would one day apply to this other life long problem that I had.

  2. Iggy
    December 15, 2017 at 12:09

    I’m a bit behind, but please accept my belated congratulations! While I have not been there myself, I can understand that the first step is the hardest, and every day is a struggle. Good for you for staying strong and sticking with sobriety.

    • Bradley
      December 16, 2017 at 00:34

      Thank you, Iggy. That first step is the hardest. It’s accepting that willpower is not the answer. Every day can be a struggle, especially for th9se knew to the program. Fortunately after 14 years it’s not such a big deal, but I have to be vigilant and don’t become complacent in my sobriety.

  3. December 9, 2017 at 09:46


    • Bradley
      December 10, 2017 at 03:13

      Thank you

  4. December 9, 2017 at 04:26

    You should be proud! I know I am!

    • Bradley
      December 10, 2017 at 03:12

      I’m supposed to be humble, but I am proud of myself. Thank you.

  5. December 9, 2017 at 03:45

    Congratulations! That’s a great accomplishment. It has definitely been a major factor in helping you change your life for the better. I’m happy for you and proud of you.

    • Bradley
      December 10, 2017 at 03:12

      Thank you, Journey. It has changed for the better and I’m grateful for that.

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