Arts & Entertainment
My Journey To Sobriety
Originally printed 10/31/2013 (Issue 2144 - Between The Lines News)
My journey to a happy satisfying sober life has been slow, but I am now doing things I never expected. I found the man I never expected to find and would not if were still drinking. I live alcohol free. One meaningful, rewarding day at a time.
I'm happily sober today. I was not always so. My name is Ray, and I'm an alcoholic. I'm sharing this admission in the hope that doing so may encourage anyone struggling with alcoholic issues to get help. Help is there. Thankfully I found it in time. It's made all the difference in my life.
So often but not always, people that need sobriety are born to alcoholic parents. I was. Both of my parents were alcoholics who, fortunately, attended AA meetings and stayed meaningfully sober until their respective - and respectable - deaths not too long ago.
It was mainly with my mother that I found, as a kid growing up, that I could never do anything right in her opinion. She nagged me. My father expressed little interest in what I was doing. I also did not relate well to my kindergarten schoolmates.
Early on I was primed by very low self-esteem to eventually in latter years turn to alcohol to bolster my self-acceptance.
The first few times I drank alcohol it loosened up my feeling of being "different" and let me mingle with people more easily. My onset drinking happened at age 18. During my third or fourth bout of partying down I drank way, way too much and so, worried at my behavior, stopped for about the next six years.
When I realized I was gay I went to the local gay bar and resumed my drinking patterns. Back when I first came out it seemed like the only place gay people were to be found was in the crowded bars. Grindr wasn't even imagined.
I handled my alcohol consumption and socializing fine for awhile before problems started to happen. Not every time; but often enough. One winter drunk I swerved on the road during a bad snowfall and up into a snow bank. Another time I went out of town to party and make out. I rented a motel room and got quite drunk. Confused, upon returning with a bar companion for a night of it, we both got nude. Somehow, I got locked out. Stark naked. The police were called. It was embarrassing for all concerned.
Other things that should have told me I had a problem included starting to drink early in the morning and continuing throughout the day. Expensive too! Some bar-recruited guests walked off with my brand-new television. (I was involved with four or five of us getting a promotion, so we threw a party and I came out loudly to everyone that I was gay. All vanished in the morning.)
All such incidents only made me change my drinking routines, like what I drank or when I drank it. I did not say maybe I shouldn't drink. I didn't say that's it! No more alcohol! I hit bottom when I finally had a DUI, drinking under the influence arrest. I suffered the shakes while in the jail and that made me finally - thank God - realize I should not drink. There just might not be a next time for me.
I soon found Metropolitan Community Church. I was living in Dayton, Ohio at the time and started attending regularly. (I currently attend MCC-Detroit in Ferndale.) I think of myself as always being a Christian, but did not have a personal relationship with my Higher Power, as shared in the Alcoholic Anonymous 12 Step Program.
This was a little over 30 years ago, but I did not attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly. I stayed sober for 5 years but did not have the needed help behind me so I did not mature in my spiritual life sufficiently. I relapsed for one day and realized I needed both MCC and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis.
Everyday has not been easy in the last 25 years of my sobriety. My dad died when I had 11 years of sobriety, and I decided to move back to Michigan from Ohio at that point because my mother had trouble with arthritis. My journey to a happy satisfying sober life has been slow, but I am now doing things I never expected. I found the man I never expected to find and would not if were still drinking. I live alcohol free. One meaningful, rewarding day at a time.
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