I woke up yesterday morning with a fire burning in my belly. The night before, I had spent the evening occasionally having to make excuses about why I wasn’t having a cocktail or why I wasn’t headed to the bar with everyone after my friend’s performance. Why? Why am I doing this? I already know that I’m no longer ashamed of this disease. Alcoholism afflicts so many people and I just happen to be one of them. So if I’m not ashamed, why does my behavior still say that I am? By remaining silent, I am telling everyone around me that having this disease is something to be embarrassed by and ashamed of. Also, it just makes daily life extremely difficult to navigate. I got sober to STOP the hiding. It just seems entirely incongruous with what I’m trying to do. I’m ready to have fun, go places, and be a part of things without having to explain myself. If everyone just knew that I don’t drink anymore, it would alleviate so much stress and planning… and plotting… and scheming. Sound familiar, fellow addicts? While I know everyone has to do this on their own terms and in their own time, I felt as if I was continuing to engage in addict behavior by keeping this secret any longer. And the secret was no longer being kept to protect my sobriety. It was being kept to avoid the temporary discomfort of being suddenly exposed. I decided I was ready to face that discomfort head on.
SO. In a blinding and glorious light, I penned a letter to EVERYONE I know. I posted it on Facebook, I sent it by email. And it was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I feel like I am flying. And the outpouring of support has been incredible. I never realized how much the pressures of secrecy weighed until I shook it all off.
I have to be honest. I was initially terrified. I felt as if I had taken off all of my clothes and went running through The Olive Garden naked. I expected people might throw endless breadsticks and salad pieces but instead, they all paused, gave me the once over, and said, “DAAAMMMMN, SON. YOUR ASS IS LOOKING TIGHT!” And I realized that I am surrounded by love and people who care and are willing to help. But the funny thing about help is that you have to ASK for it. And be willing to be truthful.
Here is what I said:
Hi friends, family, and colleagues! I felt a certain responsibility to make sure you knew what was going on with me because I care about you, appreciate you, and value your opinion of me.
This is a very weird way to do this but I thought logistically it makes the most sense and I’ll supplement this with personal messages and calls where necessary. Let me preface this by saying that THIS IS GOOD NEWS. As far as I am concerned, it is. And I know these kinds of posts can make people uncomfortable. That’s not my goal! This is my ripping off the band aid.
So guess what!? I’m sober! Again. I’ve recommitted myself to recovery and am in a program doing work to abstain from alcohol and reclaim my life. I have been 100% sober for a little over 3 months now.
I know this is going to cause some confusion for quite a few of you, some relief for a handful of you, and a lot of you will just be like, “Ok, cool. Whatever.” But I need to do this because my world has sort of fractured and compartmentalized itself over the past 5-6 years and while I am generally in a good place now, I just need to make sure everyone is on the same page who cares to know.
After being in long term recovery, I started drinking again to varying degrees of excess. There have been dry spells, heavy drinking spells, and many attempts at moderation. I’m telling you because accountability is something that’s very important to me. And if I care about you, I feel it’s disrespectful for me to keep it from you. Also, I wanted you to know why I’m drinking so much seltzer and lime when I’m out with you somewhere. While saying, “I’m trying to be healthy!” is not a lie, it’s a little more intense than that.
Some of you knew about my past problem and maybe assumed I was still not drinking. Some of you knew that I relapsed and will be relieved by this message. And some of you had no idea because you met me when I was already back in the thick of it. But maybe you raised an eyebrow or two at how things were going down.
You guys, look. I was never private about getting sober before. And that really helped me remain accountable. I thought maybe the work I did before was enough to keep me clean but it wasn’t. I stopped doing the work I needed to do. But I got back. And like last time, I am once again making myself accountable. This is a disease. I believe that with my whole being. And remaining silent is basically telling myself and everyone else that this is something to be ashamed of. And it’s not.
Also, I know addiction is very hard for people to wrap their brains around if they’ve never been addicted to a substance. No one willingly goes back to the darkness of this disease. It’s too miserable of a place to go voluntarily and oftentimes ends in death. It has nothing to do with willpower, smart choices, or strength of character. I hope you all know that. I thought I could control it. I couldn’t. Now I’m ready to get better.
That all being said, I’m in a program, have lots of support through various in person and online groups, and am actually so thrilled to be incorporating my continued recovery back into my life once more. I forgot how good this feels.
I won’t bore you any longer. Time to be happy, get more theatre made, and be a big boy. I’m open to questions one on one if you have them. More than happy to chat. Thanks for listening!
So. That’s that. I’m no longer hiding from anyone at all. And it feels fucking amazing. That being said, I’d like to introduce myself to you. You all have blown me away with your support and I never expected that this blog would become such an integral part of my recovery. I love you all and wish you nothing but years of peace and joy!
Hi! My name is John. And I’m a fucking alcoholic! Now you can stop emailing me and calling me 6 Year Hangover. Because that shit was starting to get really creeeeepy.