I didn’t know what happened.

I woke up early. Way earlier than usual. There had to be something very wrong…

There is no way I would wake up at the crack of dawn after a night out because back then, a night out meant a drink or two or five which meant sleeping in until nine or eleven or one.

I love to drink. I love the smell of it, the taste of it, the elegance of holding a glass of Dom Perignon and feeling so grown up.

Once I started drinking seriously, I only wanted the best stuff. The best wine. The best champagne. The best scotch. The best vodka. I thought it made me look smarter or more sophisticated or something special. It didn’t of course. But I didn’t know that then. It just burned a hole in the wallet of every man I dated. (Sorry guys!)

My first drink was at my senior class party held down a dirt road that dead ended on the rocky shore of Lake Superior.

Everyone was drinking. Everyone except me. As usual, I was sipping on my Orange Crush soda.

After hello’s all the way around, Tammy popped open the trunk and pulled out a bottle of Lime Vodka and a can of 7Up and started to mix up her bright green drink in a clear plastic Tupperware cup. She asked me if I wanted one.

I told myself I wouldn’t drink in high school but this was our senior party. Classes were over. It was time to see what all the fuss was about.

Tammy assured me it was sweet and would taste just like soda. She was right. It was so delicious I practically gulped the whole thing down.

That night started my habit of a drink or two or ten after a hard day and I had so many hard days.

But that morning, when I woke up earlier than usual, I wasn’t in my own bed, but on a floor. A dirty floor. A scummy floor really.

Imagine the dirtest floor you can imagine. Good. Now times that by ten. That was the state the floor was in.

How do I know? I woke up with my face plastered to it and the dirt had transferred from the floor to my cheek, forehead and nose. It was disgusting.

It took me a minute to snap myself awake and figure out where I was. And where I found myself was not good. Not good at all.

I woke up in the managers office of the bar I worked at, the Concourse 7 in St Paul, Minnesota. It was the size of a bathroom with piles of papers stacked up everywhere. And it was something like five in the morning. The bar wouldn’t open until mid-morning. No one was in the bar but me. And I was locked in.

My mind started racing…what happened, how did I get here, would I be fired?

My head throbbed, my clothes were all disheveled but on (that was good) and I was scheduled to work the morning shift (that was not good.)

I racked my brain to remember what happened and then it hit me. I was having a shot contest and guess who lost?

That morning, when the manager came in he informed me that I had downed 16 strawberry shots in less than 30 minutes.

I was lucky to be alive.

After all the things I have done to avoid caring, avoid being rejected, avoid being abandoned, (oh I could go on because I have tried to avoid just about everything), I AM lucky to be alive.

When I wanted to change my life, when I wanted to get better, when I wanted to be proud instead of ashamed of my past, I had to let go.

I had to let go that I drank too much. And yes, one night I drank so much that I had to be carried into the managers office and put down on the floor. I had to let go of that too.

This is just one story in a litany of tales from my past. I had to learn to let go of ALL the embarrassing, humiliating situations I put myself in if I was going to get on with my life. If I was going to change it.

You must be willing to let go before you can even think about forgiving.

And you must let go if you want to receive more good in your life. It’s the only way to receive. You can’t receive more if you are stuffed to the gills with guilt and shame and blame.