We’re All Looking For The Answer

Today’s post is a bit of a topic combo if there is such a thing. What’s on my mind? Elements of a February 2019 post called No More For The Road and the March 2019 post I Survived Catholic School.

Don’t worry. I won’t repeat what’s in them. You can read them for yourself. But here’s the thing: my upcoming novella Whizzers had some of its genesis in what I discuss in those posts.

The Anonymity Thing

I started writing the book nearly 20 years ago, I think. And it’s safe to say I struggled mightily with the idea of discussing my recovery from alcoholism in any sort of public manner, much less in a deeply personal, semi-autobiographical work of fiction. As time marches on, though, I realize it can’t hurt me to talk about it – as long as I maintain a few personal boundaries.

So here they are:

  • I’m not a therapist or recovery professional, so I can’t advise anyone on their journey.
  • I’m not going to say I am, or ever have been, in a 12-step group of any sort. That’s implied by the character in the book, who’s a fictionalized version of me. It’s fiction, not a memoir or tell-all.
  • The autobiographical aspects are strong, but the names have not been changed to protect the innocent. I’ve got a few historical figures in there, and the usual disclaimers apply. The names of my real-life antagonists never appear.

I think that’s about it. Anyone who has a problem with what I’ve written, feel free to contact me directly. I might respond – but if I do, I won’t argue.

Catholic School + Bullying = No More For The Road?

On the combo of topics, I want to write about one thing. This was a big question for the first two or three years of my three decades of sobriety.

“Why did you drink?”

I really, really wanted to know exactly why I drank. Was it an inherited gene? Was it because of some deep dark secret I didn’t even recall, some precognitive abuse?

Alcoholics almost always want to find things to make them feel better. As I wrote in the No More For The Road post, I felt horribly hypersensitive as a young guy – never more so than when I was newly sober. It was awful, and I hated every second of it. Consequently, I wanted to know any and all root causes for this awful disease that almost took me out. I read the spiritual books and pamphlets, the scientific books, the not-so-scientific books. I owned a hardcover copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a.k.a. the DSM. At one point in my life, if you asked me what my hobbies were, I’d have said, “Mental health.”

So Why DID You drink?

Why indeed? I found the answer after reading and therapy and inventorying, and plenty of other work. And I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t satisfying to learn. It didn’t matter why I became an alcoholic. What matters is what I do about it. In my case, there was certainly a loaded genetic gun. But beyond that, I could point to plenty of incidents of abuse – including, but not limited to, the apocalyptic bullying I endured in seventh grade – and any one of those could easily have done the job. In other words, if you had my background, you’d drink, too.

Now, I know that’s not true for everyone. Plenty of people endure horrible abuse and go on to overcompensate their way into tremendous success, all in an effort to heal their deep psychological wound. I did a bit of that, but in the meantime, I was too steeped in getting baked to get into Harvard.

Could I have had that kind of success if I never took a drink or a drug? Probably. The evidence from early childhood through junior high is strong. My standardized test scores were off the charts. But the abuse broke me. And it took a good ten to twelve years of substance abuse before I found a solution. Only then could I start putting the pieces together, and become whole again.

What about you? Does your story have something in common with mine? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Mike Sahno
Mike Sahno
Born in Bristol, CT, Michael J. Sahno began writing stories at an early age. He obtained a Master of Arts in English from Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY at the age of 24, going on to become a full-time professional writer in 2001. Since founding Sahno Publishing in 2015, he has gone on to achieve national and international recognition, gaining over 18,000 followers on Twitter and publishing and selling three novels both in the U.S. and abroad. Sahno has ghostwritten books for entrepreneurs in the U.S., and continues to electrify audiences with his story and his natural gift for entertaining while informing.


  1. I really appreciate your honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to share parts of your life story in ways that spoke to me, Mike. Even though we have different experiences, we share being bullied in common. Mine persisted into adulthood and included other types of traumas and challenges, which at times felt unrelenting. We all find ways to cope and then, hopefully, to heal and transcend, to learn, grow, and evolve ourselves. I do believe how we respond to life challenges becomes the new story we get to write from a richer perspective, which you clearly are doing. I’m inspired by the work you’ve done, the questions you’ve been brave enough to ask and the behaviors you’ve altered because you chose to do so. Thank you for sharing this article. Thank you for your courage.

    • Thanks so much, Laura. I really feel like this is the work I was meant to do. I’ve always felt that way about my fiction, but this new novel is more personal than the others by far. In fact, it’s possible THAT’S why it’s the best thing I’ve ever done! Anyway, thanks for your kind words.

  2. Hello Mike, interesting read for sure. I had to switch back n forth a little to understand the connection in mentioning the Catholic School, even reading the “I Survived Catholic School article. I am curious if you have left that behind, your Catholic Faith that is. On another hand, I wish to commend you for sobriety as so many try but fail. Currently, I am writing a book on “Miracles of Child”, in which I talk in depth of the alcoholism of my mother, the beatings, neglect, but because of my faith and my spiritual connection at a young age, which I had no idea what Catholicism was all about, God was there. I knew my mother was not a bad person. In between being drunk and sober, it was like Dr. Hyde and Dr. Jekel. I knew she was sick.
    She died at the age of 42, I forgave her for everything, and God gave me the grace to understand her demons as well as my fathers. I am very grateful for my Catholic Faith and will agree that attending a Catholic school in the past had its demons as well. I like where I am today because of what has been shown to me through God’s grace and would not trade the Eucharist for anything because of what it represents. Thank you for your article and will look to read the books.

    • Hi Lynn. Thanks very much for your comments, and a special thank you for reading the linked article! I try to be a spiritual person, but have not participated actively in organized religion for many years. Since my 20s, I’ve gotten more into Eastern thought. In fact, my wife is a Buddhist! I have a spiritual program, but religion is not a part of it. Anyway, thanks again.

      • Thank you for your reply Mike, and I think in my response I did not mention religion, however, if I did, you would be included as religion is a belief in or worship of a superhuman controlling power, personal God or gods. Buddhist have a recognizing spirit that must be respected as well, a religion in itself of Eastern teaching. I have met many and there is a peacefulness within. I am with Mother Teresa’s Lay Missionary of Charities, and as such learned much from her in all that she taught her order and that is to respect all faiths. Its the person in need we give great thought to, nothing else. God Bless you and yours and your continued writings.

    • Thanks so much, Marcia. I’m no guru, but if I can help people avoid making the same mistakes I made, I’m happy to do it. And, as you say, I did let go of the “why.” It’s just not that important. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful reply.

  3. Mike, many amongst us are looking for THE answer. None of us knows if we will find it or in some cases what the question we most need an answer to. Before I go any further I want to tell you how human as well as touching your article was not to mention I felt it was riveting to read. In my life, I have not endured any struggle with alcohol or drugs, gambling, etc. but there have been and continue to be other issues pertaining to certain behaviors. By virtue of your story, you are now an inspirational figure. Thank you for writing as well as sharing your magnificent article with the public.

    • Thanks very much, Joel. I guess my point was that I was always looking for a spiritual answer…I just looked in spirits! It’s been 30+ years now since I found a spiritual solution to my problem, and the reasons I drank aren’t really all that important. What’s become most important is offering some kind of support to those who need it. Again, thank you for your kind comments.

      • Mike, by virtue of your article you are giving those that need it valuable support as well as being a source of inspiration. The support you are offering now overshadows your past problems with drinking. The past can never be changed but you are taking your negative past and turning it into something positive. I applaud yourself along with your efforts for wanting to help others.







"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it."