From time to time I like to check in to remind myself of just exactly who I am. I really don't know what comes first, the fact that I'm Caucasian, the fact that I'm a gay man, or the fact that I'm an alcoholic. It's yet one more of those "chicken or egg" dilemmas that continue to keep me in a state of rumination and mental masturbation.
I generally post these thoughts on my Facebook page, but have decided to publish this here on my blog.
I hope some of you can relate.
For those among us
that are addicts and/or alcoholics whom have made the choice get sober, one of
the primary principals that we learn early on in our quest is the need for
honesty. Particularly if you enter into
sobriety through the doors of a Twelve Step program. You are made aware in
short order that nothing less than "rigorous honesty" with ourselves
will suffice if we're to experience any form of rewarding recovery from our
"Rigorous honesty? But, I've always been rigorously honest." I had to have it pointed out to me that there
was a world of difference between being rigorously honest with myself, as
opposed to being brutally honest to my fellows.
While I had difficulty honestly accepting the fact that just one drink
was enough to set me off on a total bender, I certainly had no difficult
telling you that you needed to lose ten pounds and that your boyfriend was
cheating on you. See, that type of brutal honesty with others had nothing to do
with my own Truth and only sufficed to keep me drunk and miserable.
I went to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in December of 1979, I even
chose a gay AA meeting. I was hoping to
meet some cute guys that drank less than I did.
At 22 years of age, I was the youngest person in attendance, and I
didn't really see anybody cute.
Fortunately the meeting ended early enough for me to make it to my
favorite gay bar in time to take advantage of their extended 2-for-1 happy
I had absolutely no denial about being honest with myself regarding the fact
that I was an alcoholic, that was as obvious to me as the fact that it would
behoove you to avoid horizontal stripes.
I had no problem being honest about the fact that I couldn't imagine
living my entire life without a drink, hell, I couldn't even imagine why
anybody would want to. I was even honest about the fact that I had to drink if
I were to face certain situations and circumstances, in fact, most all
situations and circumstances. But, I just couldn't be honest about the fact
that I couldn't have that first drink. Can't somebody teach me how to drink,
but not get drunk?
I fought that battle for years. In time
my honesty became less brutal towards others, but not necessarily more rigorous
with myself. In fact, I just sort of turned that brutality towards myself where
it had in fact been festering all along.
My attacks on others were just a manner of deflecting my own
But, as they say; "time takes time."
Time takes time to work it's healing.
As I became more complicit in my healing rather than my self-destruction,
the entire concept of honesty changed for me.
Though I long ago ceased to consider myself a member of any Twelve Step
fellowship, nor do I attend meetings, I do credit AA with allowing me to
discover a path of rigorous honesty, the 12 Steps and the principles of the
program are a crucial part of my foundation in my personal growth.
Today I frequently encounter alcoholics and addicts whom are choosing a path of
"harm reduction" when it comes to sobriety, where they may allow
themselves the freedom to imbibe in a mood/mind altering substance that was not
their original drug of choice. I do not
judge them, not at all. It is not my place to say that they are not truly
sober. Hell, I've known alcoholics and addicts that haven't indulged in so much
as an aspirin for thirty years, they're quite proud of their abstinence and
telling you to the day and minute how long it's been since their last drink or
drug. Some of them seem sincerely sober, others just seem angry, as though
they're doing battle with the beast. I
also have a number of acquaintances that dealt with the demon of Crystal Meth,
yet today drink socially, and most seem to be handling it well.
I can only speak for myself, and in so doing I must be rigorously honest. I know that for me today, that first drink is
not an option. Nor is that first
cigarette. If I were to dare have one
drink, I have no doubt that it would take me right to the bottom of the bottle,
with a pit stop for a carton of Benson & Hedges Menthols in the process. And if I were to dare pick up a cigarette and
smoke it in a time of stress, I fear the self-loathing for doing so would have
me just cash in my chips and go on a drunken bender. Pot has never been a catalyst for me. Some of
my buddies take a few tokes when we get together to play, but it's easy for me
I suppose I could safely do a line or two of cocaine. But, who the fuck wants
to do cocaine unless you've got a bucketful of booze to swill on and a couple
of days to kill.
No, I know exactly who I am today. Harm
reduction is not an option for me. I may
not attend AA, but I totally accept at the very core of my being that for me
the old AA adage fully applies. "One drink is one too many, and a thousand
are not enough."
I've learned to focus my rigorous honesty where it matters, on myself.
As for you and those horizontal stripes?
Have at it gurl!
p.s. I have not been sober since 1979… I
went on to have a lot of fun for several years, followed by many years of
How long have I now been clean and sober you may ask?
I only think about today.