Timothy Knox doesn't even remember the very worst of his drunken stupors, but he remembers enough.
Like being taken to the emergency room with suspected alcohol poisoning, and the nurses and doctors asking him, “Weren't you here two nights ago?”
In a deep clear voice, 32-year-old Tim recalls not eating, and not being able to eat for days, the shakes, not being able to stop throwing up. And those nights in the emergency room, when they would draw blood once an hour – because the alcohol content had to be down to a certain percent before they would call his counselor at Center for Life Resources.
He hated it, hated the needle pricks, the waking up not knowing where he was or how he got there. There were five arrests for public intoxication in just a few months time.
“I actually hit rock bottom several times,” he said. “But then I'd always find another bottom.”
Sober since May, and loving life and the new-found calm and control, Tim said he knows now that all along there were people willing to help, but, he also knows he's a stubborn guy and he had to figure it out on his own.
Was there one thing that made him want to get sober? Not really, but yes, to a degree.
“I got sick and tired of it all,” Tim said. “I didn't want to be a drunk any more.”
With that resolve, all the things people had told him trying to help him suddenly became his tools for recovery. All the times he'd tried, and fallen back to his drunkenness, became the foundation for his recovery path this time.
“To change the outcome, you gotta change the process,” Tim said, seated on a couch at the sobriety house on Coggin Avenue where he's lived since May.
“I realized I couldn't take care of anyone else. I needed to take care of me and I had to change the people, places and things I was around.”
In his five-month tenure at the sobriety house, Tim's seen several housemates come and go, some clean and sober and doing well in their recovery process, some not ready – yet.
But Tim likes being the guy able to hold out a hand and say, “You want help, I'll help, if you're ready.”
He'll tell any kid, any time, “Don't do what I did.”
“I love letting them know what I've been through, just to scare them straight, so to speak,” he said.
“Honestly, though, I'm good right now. I'm not wishing for a drink. It's nice to look in the mirror and not be disgusted. It's nice not to make excuses and it's nice not to plan my day around alcohol,” he said.
“It's nice to wake up and remember what you did last night and know you don't have to be ashamed – but that you had a good time. Life's too short not to remember.”
Things are at a good place. Tim's boss at Main Street Car Wash never gave up on him, partly because Tim never lied – when he was too drunk or hungover to come to work, he admitted as much. When Tim started to get sober, he asked for another chance and his boss gave him one more.
Thankful for the job, and the chance, Tim hasn't missed a single day of work.
“I got a place to live, a great bike, a job I love,” he said. “It's such a blessing. I've missed a lot and I have a lot of catching up to do.”