“I Found Solace with a Four-Legged Friend.” -Jay Keefe



During my last few years of drinking, I had alienated everyone in my life.

I stopped hanging out with my friends because they knew I was out of control.  I distanced myself from my family because I knew they’d catch on to how bad I had become.

My wife asked me to leave the house too.

Whether my friends and family were judging my behavior at that time, I don’t know.  But I felt they were.  And I felt unbelievably alone.

Then, after I got sober, an enormous amount of shame, guilt and remorse set in and I couldn’t even look people in the eye.  I knew I had a lot of work to do.

But through it all, through the drinking and the blackouts, and a drunken car ride home where I almost killed my entire family, my two golden retrievers, Elle and Grace, were unconditionally by my side every step of the way.  And they were with me as I took my first tentative steps in recovery, horrified, fragile and confused.

One night, about a year into my sobriety, my ex-wife called and told me that Grace was sick and that they were on their way to the vet.

I told her I’d meet her there.

When I got to the vet my ex told me Grace was in the pre-op room.  She was heavily sedated because they were going to operate but I wanted to see her anyway.

As soon as I walked into the room, I started crying.

My little Gracie, with her eyes drooping from the drugs, and looking completely confused, got up from where she was and stumbled over to me, trying to wag her tail and pulling her IV contraception behind her in the process.

I have never seen, heard, or read about such an act of loyalty in my life.

Not even fucking close.

And that’s when I lost it.

I sat down right there in the middle of the room and cried harder than I ever have, as Grace crawled into my lap and rested her tired head on my knee.

All the pain I had felt, and never let go of, for my entire life, came to the surface and I let it all go.

I let go of the confusion I felt when my dad told me he and mom were getting divorced.  I let go of the anger I felt when I walked into a hospital room and saw my sister, my blood, crippled from the waist down.  I let go of the guilt I felt during the relationship with my ex-wife, of all the hurt I had caused her and the kids.  I let go of the anguish I felt every time I put the bottle to my lips, knowing it was wrong and knowing I was killing myself, but not having any idea how to stop.  I let go of the pride and ego that had been holding me back for as long as I can remember.  I let go of the fear that this unbelievably sweet and loyal fur baby in my arms wasn’t going to be with us forever and hoped and prayed that we had given her a great life, because she deserved it.  She and Elle both deserved it.

But most importantly, I let go of the grief I was feeling over the loss of alcohol.

I knew I would never be able to drink again in safety and it scared the hell out of me.

Alcohol had been my best friend for all of my adult life and I was so afraid to let it go.

But I knew I had to.

So I did.

I let it go as I sat on that cold concrete floor, cradling Grace, and sobbing like a child.

I couldn’t stop.

I held that sweet puppy in my arms and I cried.

I was finally ready to let go of the insane grip alcohol had on me for decades.

I knew I would never be able to conquer alcohol.

But I could surrender to it.  I knew I could do that much.

So I did.

I waved the white flag and let it all go.




Jay Keefe,  Staff Writer at The Addictions Academy

National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

Published Author of “And Drink I Did”

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