“Then you can drink yourself to death”

"I pray every night. And my first sentence in almost 32 years is: thank god that i don’t have to drink anymore." The man who says this is the well-known kissing children’s book author thomas mac pfeifer. The 74-year-old also followed the fate of former professional cyclist jan ullrich, who is currently receiving help at the betty ford addiction clinic in bad bruckenau, in the saale newspaper. "I’m not jan ullrich, but if you want to talk to me about my illness, I’m willing to do that.", he wrote to the saale newspaper. He speaks with great frankness about the time that almost cost him his life.

Keeping the level

Mac pfeifer, as everyone calls him, has lived in bad kissingen for seven years. There he writes children’s books, the eleventh in the meantime. One was even translated into 45 languages. Formerly he lived the hectic everyday life of a chief reporter at the berlin "BZ, a tabloid. He had already been on the bottle for a long time. His everyday life: to reach the level so that he could live – or what he thought was his life as an alcoholic.

"It increases imperceptibly", he remembers the early years of his drinking career. In a society that tolerates alcohol, or even more fatally, where the teetotaler falls off the wagon, the path to the daily sip was short. "And then you realize that something is going wrong here. You start not to drink on the weekends. Or during the week you don’t, so you beg off to friday. It’s one big rip-off."

Hundreds of times self-deprived

Hundreds of times, he says, he withdrew himself, each time a martyrdom, only, it did not last long. When his wife was pregnant with their son, he vowed not to touch a drop for nine months.

"And I made it. Until my son was born." After the birth, he went home, opened the refrigerator and downed two bottles of champagne. "When my wife saw me the next day with glassy eyes, everything was clear to her."

Three piccolo in the morning

In order to keep the level, he went to the kiosk in the morning, after taking the child to kindergarten, to get three piccolos. And when he was working early shift at another newspaper, the cartoonist had at 9.30 o’clock breakfast: a bottle of vodka for everyone. It was empty a short time later.

In his apartment: at least 20 alcohol stashes. "I was never aggressive, but alcohol made me love to offend people." That he really had a big problem, only a few noticed it. "He can hold his liquor and is funny", hefted it.

"Fighting is not an option

His wife had long since grown tired of the eternal vows, the unkept promises. "But you can’t stop drinking for someone else. This will only work when you surrender, when you finally understand that you have nothing to oppose the search. If you understood that the search will always be stronger than you. Fighting doesn’t work, because fighting always means winning and losing."

His wife finally put the gun on his chest: when the son was old enough to notice that the father was drinking, she would draw consequences. "And then you can drink yourself to death." That was the one sentence that finally made him change his life.

In the suff on the asphalt

Finally he capitulates. He could no longer work. He could no longer lead a normal life. The day mac pfeifer realized he couldn’t go on, he fell onto the asphalt in the suff in the morning before work. He got a cab "I love to get drunk and take me to a clinic". He stayed there for a week and with the help of medication the withdrawal was bearable. "Afterwards, the journey continued to the jewish hospital in berlin, where a six-week course of therapy followed." He had complete trust in the clinic. "The chief physician is a dry alcoholic, as are many nurses."

His editor-in-chief was a support for him. "He told me to come back when I was healthy", the relief that the boss accepted the addiction as a disease, made it easier. And also that his wife believed in him. "She later told me that she always believed in me: once you seek medical help, you won’t fall back again." Even today, he is still touched by the rough trust that his wife had in a person suffering from addiction.

Leave the first glass

It has been almost 32 years since mac pfeifer internalized an important sentence: "i leave the first glass standing." "Even if i would allow the egg lizard on the ice – two days later i would be there again, because my brain would signal me: ahhh! There it is again", this supposedly great feeling.

With the help of alcoholics anonymous and the realization that he could now lead a happy, addiction-free and self-determined life, mac pfeifer has been clean for almost 32 years. He takes part in fates like that of jan ullrich. "Jan ullrich needs people around him who know what it’s all about when they talk about alcohol. I would wish for him to join alcoholics anonymous somewhere in new zealand, where nobody knows him."

There, at some point, he was able to say the sentence that was difficult for him to say, but which marked the beginning of his new life: "my name is jan, and I am an alcoholic, formulated mac pfeifer.I still say this sentence today: "I am a mac, and I am and will remain an alcoholic for the rest of my life. Because you can never cure this disease – only stop it."

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