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When the party's over


Publisher Bryan Hallman - BERLIN GREEN
  • Berlin Green
  • Publisher Bryan Hallman

Editor’s note: Bryan has never kept his recovery secret. He has watched his staff pass cans around the office. He bought us a round when he dropped by to congratulate us at the bar for getting another paper out and he listens without judgment to our drunken tales and hangover lamentations. He even offered us his pool for this issue’s cover story. While we at Oklahoma Gazette are no strangers to playing as hard as we work, we are also proud of him for his fortitude in re-establishing this newspaper without losing his sobriety and the courage to share his story here.

I’m not going to preach about not drinking or shame anyone for enjoying beer, wine or liquor, but as a recovering alcoholic and the publisher of the Oklahoma Gazette, I thought it was important to share the possible destruction that alcohol can cause.

I tell my story of recovery and the battle I had breaking the bonds of alcohol so that if you or someone you love is still suffering, maybe my story will give you hope that there is happiness on the other side of addiction.

The last two years of my life have been picking up and trying to fix the prior five years of being an alcoholic. I can remember being able to have a beer or a cocktail and moving on without over- indulging or wrecking my body with mass consumption. I can also remember the day that part of my life stopped. It was a hard process of getting real with myself, accepting what I had done and trying to mend relationships I had destroyed.

The thing that most people forget about recovery is that the wake of destruction, hurt and pain you leave behind is as difficult to clean up as getting yourself sober. See, I was one of those people that wanted all the praise for all the hard work I was putting into getting sober but never truly realized the people I drug through this were in need of recovery themselves.

I’ve lost so much from my past to alcohol, like a marriage to an amazing woman that was my “it girl.” I lost children, both step- and mine from my first marriage. I’ve lost friendships, jobs, homes, and cars. The list goes on. I lost these things not just because of my drinking, but because being an alcoholic made a liar out of me. You see, as an alcoholic I thought it was out of line for others to hold me accountable to words and deeds, but in reality, I was not holding myself to my own words and deeds. “I’m sorry” means absolutely nothing if your actions don’t match.

I know everyone that is still struggling has heard horror stories from others in recovery. I’m here to tell you that they are all true. In my case, I crashed into a parked car, but the falling down, blacking out, DUIs, financial struggles and poor health are just a few things many of us have in common. Despite that, the entire time I was drinking, I never thought it was a problem. Showing up to work hungover and smelling like booze never crossed my mind as a bad thing. In my mind, I was saying, “At least I’m here.” I thought I was a working alcoholic and doing a really good job but my performance was, in a word, dismal. I was fired, but if I’m being honest, I would have fired my ass long before that. I was given every opportunity to get help but I was too deep in the hole to ever think about it seriously. I used my past successes to land a job out of town. This was a horrible decision. But I was making horrible decisions daily. Hell, I was making them hourly.

Sixty-five days later, I was asked to leave. I had let alcohol ruin another job I loved. At this point I was living in a rocky marriage (by my doing) and fighting to stay sober. By 2019, it was clear to everyone but me that I needed help. When your drinking buddies tell you, “Dude, you’re out of control,” then you know you’re in a bad place. I did 29 days at a local treatment center. I was pissed off and not buying into it. I did and said what others wanted to hear. I wanted out. When I got out, I was full of hope and optimism about my future, but 60 days later I was drinking more than before.

Another three-week stint in rehab was going to do the trick. Bullshit. I went at it again even harder and, by that fall, I needed help more desperately than before. In September 2019, I reached out to Joe Pellow of Pellow Outreach, and he accepted me into their program.

After many failed attempts to get sober, I have remained so for nearly two years. Programs may not be for everyone, but once you’ve let your relationship with alcohol ruin your relationships with your support systems, outreach gave me the security, ac- countability and direction I couldn’t find elsewhere.

As a 54-year-old man, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s hard to quit drinking. It’s hard to stay sober, and it’s hard to bare my soul and secrets to the world. But if this helps save one person’s life, marriage or family, it’s worth it.

If you need help:

Alcoholics Anonymous
Oklahoma City – 405-524-1100
Tulsa – 918-627-2224

American Addiction Centers | 888-997-6780

Pellow Outreach | 405-209-0227

Al-Anon (help for spouses and family members) | 888-425-2666

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