Posted on 2/11/2015 by Daddy Will in gay alcoholism addiction recovery harm reduction sobriety twelve step 12 step

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 addiction.

"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 hour.

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 self-loathing.

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 to resist.

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 drunken desperation.

How long have I now been clean and sober you may ask?

I only think about today.


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