Trigger This: Tackling One of My Final Fears This Weekend

I go back and forth on the concept of being “recovered.” Since April 1, 2014, I have not had a drink. About 10 days earlier, on March 20, I used porn for the last time. If I’m now at a spot where I don’t feel the pull toward either and can easily stay away, am I recovered? Or will I always be recovering? On Sunday, I’ll be back at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. My last two times there, I could barely stand up. Fenway may be a trigger.

Sports has always been a giant trigger for the alcoholism. I can still taste it in my mouth during football season, and is likely why I have mostly abandoned the sport. Live sports were even worse. It didn’t matter if I was at a minor league baseball game or watching old people play shuffleboard. If there was a beer stand nearby, stopping myself from buying, even at $7 a cup, was impossible.

Baseball has always been my thing. My father has audio tapes of me from 1978 when I was two naming off the Boston Red Sox lineup. It’s cute hearing my two year old voice try to say Carl Yastrzemski. I was not a sports kid, but loved playing catch in the street and pick-up wiffle ball games in the neighborhood. When I 10, in 1986, I discovered not just baseball cards, but the world of investing in them. By osmosis, I learned who just about every player was and while I can’t even tell you the full roster for the Red Sox this year, it’s still my game.

This was an amazing moment of Red Sox great Pedro Martinez returning to Fenway on the park’s 100th Anniversary. I was too drunk to remember taking this photo.

A Trigger I’ve Been Avoiding

I didn’t do crowds the first two years of recovery. I’ve never been a fan, but I just had too much on my mind. We also lost a lot of time to the pandemic, recently. I attended a Cleveland Indians game with my daughter in 2019 and this past summer, I went to a Major League Soccer game with my son. Both trips to stadiums and both successful, but the albatross for a legit trigger has always been Fenway Park.

The last two times I went to Fenway were either the summer of 2012 or 2013. My first trip was early in the year, to the 100th Anniversary of the park. More than 100 former Red Sox greats were there to celebrate. There were the men I named at 2 years old. There were the men who were on the baseball cards when I started collecting in 1986. And there were the ones who finally won their first World Series a few years earlier. I vaguely remember it, but I think I may just being forcing them based on pictures.

The final time was at the end of the season, long after the Red Sox were eliminated from contention. I went with my mother, father and brother. It was sort of reminiscent back to when I was a kid. But there was a rain delay to start the game so we didn’t enter Fenway. I told my parents I’d catch up with them at our seats before the game started. I showed up around the third inning, completely drunk. I’d spent the previous three hours drinking with a guy I met at the bar across the street and lost track of time.

Here’s a recent instagram I recorded. Red Sox clothing is one of the staples of my wardrobe.

The Opportunity to Tackle the Beast

I’ve mentioned elsewhere I know Fenway Park is a trigger, but that I love the Red Sox and that park too much to stay away. There is no explosion of the color green like when you walk up that tunnel into the stadium to find your seats. The grass and outfield wall make it feel like you’re walking into Emerald City. It’s a magic feeling and one I miss.

A few days ago the Red Sox made it into the playoffs for the first time in years. Some tickets came my way. I can’t miss a playoff game. My brother is going with me and thankfully he knows everything about my history. He knows about my fear that this will be a trigger. I feel like I’m in good hands and if I was ever going to battle this trigger, this is as good a time as any.

I firmly believe that recovering addicts have to tackle any trigger that comes their way. Yes, early recovery is different, but as you get your footing, it’s either about trying to reclaim your life, or trying to run away from anything that may make you have a moment of weakness. It’s time for me to reclaim Fenway Park. I want my life back.

Lead photo by Christopher Penler/

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