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Fourteen Years

Reverend Holliday/J.S. WebsterJan 20, 2022, 7:40:57 PM

14 Years of Sobriety

Today I wanted to share my anniversary with you. This day marks my 14th year sober from alcoholism. God gave me this gift of sobriety 14 years ago. Since that day I have maintained sobriety.

14 years ago, I was a raging alcoholic. I did not start that way, but by the time I quit in 2008, I had become only a morbid reflection of myself - an inhuman monster. I was a violent and mean drunk, and a hateful and bitter man. I was consuming 1750 ml bottles every two days. I drank Ancient Age bourbon (bourbon was my weakness) - 90-proof. I could not stop drinking. 

All alcoholics start drinking and continue drinking for the wrong reasons. We will make every excuse to keep drinking even when our lives are completely out of control. We hide our alcohol because of an inner shame and no one can tell us to stop because that is something we must decide for ourselves. 

Hiding Alcohol

I faced death multiple times in the age of my alcoholism. I have had a shotgun pointed at my face, a handgun barrel shoved into my mouth, two knives pressed against my throat from two entirely avoidable situations, and two of my 'friends' attempted to murder me in my own home. One night I walked into traffic on a highway because I was so drunk. 

Alcohol was my demon and I even wrote poems justifying my addiction. Here's one I dug up recently from my years of alcohol abuse. I apologize for the language, but I won't censor my past. This poem is a raw reflection.

Waking Up

No one seems to get it,

No one will ever understand,

I’m just a freaking devil,

Another virus strand,

I need not your pity,

My finger raised to scorn,

I’m just a pathetic beast,

Wishing I hadn’t been born,

I’ve been sitting here thinking,

With a sober and clear mind,

Why did I start drinking?

Knowing what I’d find,

Can you imagine waking,

Bent like a gay sex fiend?

My butt’s been overtaken,

And they didn’t use Vaseline,

They’ve used every sort of device,

To give me a living hell,

My job, my boss, them bitches,

Maybe it’s just as well,

Or waking up cold and alone,

Within a love that does not exist?

Believe me it’s cruel and exposed,

Like cuts upon each wrist,

Why is it that every time,

I fall one head too deep?

My heart, my soul, my dreams,

Are left alone I’m here to weep?

I try to justify these tears,

As I open that bottle of joy,

Pleasure and pain, I’m dead inside,

But I’m still her fucking toy,

Every time I’ve raised my cups,

Every toxic drop I’ve consumed,

Have been dedicated to them, 

And that’s why I feel doomed,

I know that I am screwed,

I’m doomed for waking up,

I should have stayed down below,

Drunk within my cup.

by J.S. Webster (2007)

This was written the year before God got me sober. It was also written at the lowest part of my alcoholism. Near the end you would not recognize me. That guy has been dead for 14 years.

That fateful night - that is how I refer to it. It was a night that God warned me not to go party with a group of friends. This was a night I will never forget because alcoholism once again almost ended my life.



God spoke to me, "Don't go." He warned me that there would be trouble, but I did not listen. When I got to the bar and sat down with my friends, I looked up and sitting twenty-feet away were the two guys that attempted to murder me in my home. They had a look in their eyes that they planned to finish the job. I will never forget their eyes. You may know that look. 

I should have gotten up and left, or just told my friends, "Let's go somewhere else." I did not. Instead, this alcoholic ordered five drinks. I figured that if I was going to die, then I did not want to be sober. I shot down those drinks in quick succession and I blacked out. I do not remember anything after that moment.

I woke up a few hours later. I was alive and sleeping on a friend's couch. I started to weep. 

I was done. God had saved my life (AGAIN) and proved to me that in spite of my debauchery and lunacy, that he had never stopped watching over me. He was the one consistency in my broken, messy, and insane world. That night I gave my alcoholism to God and he took it from me.

I quit hundreds of times before that fateful night. It never stuck. Yet today I write this in a sober state of mind and I have not consumed a single drop of alcohol since that day. What has kept me sober for 14 years? One thing.

We only need one good reason not to drink and not to succumb to the strings that the demon pulls every time life throws us curve balls or tragedy strikes and threatens our resolve. Everyone has a reason to quit drinking, but is it enough to keep you on the sober path? That one thing for me is that I do not want to die. That one thing was a memory of that fateful night. A reminder that alcoholism leads to death and I wanted to live!!

Pretty good reason, right? It really is that simple, but goes a bit deeper. Alcohol was leading me to death. I knew it then and I know it now. Now when temptation calls, I am faithfully reminded of that fateful night. I will never go back. 

In sobriety, I have learned that life is a beautiful mess. It's filled with trouble, but every moment is worth living sober and free from addiction. I don't need it to fill in the gaps, numb the pain, or forget the past. I have learned how to love life. Life is worth living and it is worth viewing through sober lenses.

My sobriety is due to Christ. I honor God for my sobriety and God will always get the credit for these anniversaries. He is the one I accredit for every second I have lived sober and every breath I take is a gift.

Relapse Can Happen

While the temptations and triggers to relapse never end, it does get easier to manage life's troubles and resist the beast. Do not get arrogant in your sobriety because that pull is still there. After over a decade of sobriety and even dedicating your life to helping other alcoholics, you can still fall. I almost fell this past year.

There are moments in life and situations that can occur that will shatter our realities. Monumental incidents that change our perceptions and knock us off balance. These things drive us towards uncaging the beast and giving into temptation. It is in those times you must always return to the source of your sobriety, embrace accountability, and focus on that one thing that keeps you sober. Or you will fall. 

I had one of those moments this year. I almost relapsed because I am not superman. I usually fight off those pulls when they come, but this occasion splintered my reality and unleashed decades of repressed memories. These repressed memories flooded me all at once - like a tsunami of darkness and it almost swept me away.


I apologize for being cryptic, but the wounds are still fresh. If it were not for my loving godly wife and God's strength, I would have relapsed. I would have taken 13+ years sobriety and flushed them. 

It must have been a horrible experience? Yes, it was. I was betrayed by someone that I loved and respected. This betrayal was a catalyst. I had been repressing memories, emotions, and thoughts for years, so it was time to make a stand and face these issues. 

This was a betrayal of trust that unraveled decades of abuse that I had repressed. Repressed - I subconsciously buried these things. "Repression is a defense mechanism in which people push difficult or unacceptable thoughts out of conscious awareness." 

The kicker is that I used to drink in those times. That was the main reason I drank. I drank to numb the pain and bury my memories and problems - the things I did not repress. My antics during alcohol consumption only caused more troubles, so that would drive me to drink more. That was a never-ending insanity cycle. 

Gratefully, I did not relapse. My wife, who is also my greatest advocate and accountability partner, helped me through that time. I am no longer repressing these memories or holding grudges. I have decided that the best way to move forward is by confronting those memories and learning to forgive. 

Bitterness drove me to drink, so forgiveness must be a part of this process. Forgiven, but not repressed, numbed, or forgotten. I am moving forward and not dwelling on the past. I see things as they are now. What I believed I lost was a lie. I have lost nothing. I gained so much more from forgiving and facing these tragic memories. 

A Catalyst Towards Growth

With the flood of repressed memories came vivid clarity and that clarity has driven me towards growth. Alcohol stunted my growth. God helped me turn this very tragic situation into a strength and a triumph. 

No matter what it is that triggers you to drink, you really need to face those things and come to terms that life is really hard. Life is filled with disappointments, failures, and trouble, but it is also filled with beauty, joyousness, and wonder. Life is hard, but worth living sober.

Whatever you are struggling with or memories you are repressing cannot be removed or overcome through drinking alcohol. Things you bury can be unearthed when you least expect it and no amount of alcohol consumption will heal a broken relationship or replace a loved one or solve your problems. Alcoholism also churns out new problems and you will never move beyond that hopeless cycle by drinking more alcohol. 

I am available to listen if you need someone to keep you accountable or simply vent. I understand the struggle and I am gracious listener, but I am also a hard-hitting accountability partner. We are on this journey together. I am not better than you, but I have been on this road a long time. I am available to listen and help. 

- J.S. Webster

PS I wanted to end this blog on a positive note and a poetic one. I wrote this next poem at the start of my sobriety. Enjoy!

The Worms and the Casket
by J.S. Webster (2/24/08)

I can't handle this anymore,
The worms are breaking through,
Sealed inside this casket,
Chest and toes my only view,
Blackness thick as molasses,
No light shines within my pain,
I'm choking as dirt seeps through,
Cannot move it's all in vain,
But His glory then surrounds me,
I can sense Him breaking through,
Bringing light into my darkness,
Healing the pain I once knew,
His hand reaches in to take mine,
He grasps tight to pull me free,
Wood and dirt fall to each side,
As He comes to rescue me,
As He pulls me up to His side,
His loving stare falls upon me,
"I've come to give you rest,"
"Come and rest upon My knee,"
As all of my pain subsides,
Tears of joy stream down my face,
I fall to my knees and worship,
My Lord and saving Grace,
It's hard to explain this wonder,
My loving Jesus so divine,
My Friend, my God, my Comforter,
His Name I praise on high.