Virginia Republican Congressman Thomas Garrett announced on Memorial Day that he is withdrawing as the candidate for re-election of the 5th District.
“I am an alcoholic,” Garrett said in a video shot at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. “This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made, by far.”
It is also an important statement and first step for a man who recognizes he must face and battle the beast of alcoholism.
I understand what Garrett faces. In 1994, I walked into my first meeting of alcoholics anonymous in a church basement in Arlington, VA and said those same words: “I am an alcoholic.”
Two years after that sobering moment, I wrote an Op Ed column declaring the same thing to the public at large.
Next week, on June 6, I will pick up my new chip for 24 years of sobriety.
It’s not easy to admit to one’s self that he or she is an alcoholic. I drank for 35 years before Amy and some good friends arranged an “intervention” that forced me to face my illness.
It was a needed wake-up call and the beginning of a vital new chapter of our lives.
“This isn’t an ending for me, or my values of service to my fellow man, it’s just a new beginning,” Garrett said Monday.
That’s the right attitude, Thomas, and best wishes from a fellow traveler. When you stumble — and, yes, we all do — just know that we are here for you to provide a helping hand, a listening ear and, if needed, a ride home.
But while you are coming forward with your alcoholism, take some time to explain the reports of abuse of staff by you and your wife. While a drinking problem can explain some of it, such behavior probably goes much deeper.
Welcome to a new life — one day at a time.