Day three of Sobriety. I’ve been reflecting much the past few days over exactly where my drinking crossed the line. I grew up in an environment where alcohol use and abuse were part of daily living for many years during my youth. And, I always told myself that I would never allow myself to become an alcoholic, even though I did gain a fondness for it at a very early age. I found another outlet in life; Religion; It kept me on the straight and narrow for quite some time, scaring the “hell” out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I did the typical partying thing throughout high school, and my years in the military. But, I would characterize myself during those years as more of a social drinker, at best.
And then, Life began to happen. In my late twenties, my marriage fell apart, and for a brief moment I resorted to alcohol, drinking a little more heavily. But, I soon learned that drinking only made a depressing situation, worse. And, I had a five-year old daughter to take care of, and so losing myself in drink was not an option.
Once again, life happens. A few years passed, and I found myself coming face to face with an issue that I had been struggling with all my life, and that was my sexuality. (I’ll write about that struggle later). Once I came to terms with myself, I began living and experiencing the gay lifestyle. I immersed myself in the culture during those early years. And, it was then that the world of alcohol really opened up. I was enjoying my new-found freedom as a gay man, going out and partying frequently, meeting new people. Just living the life. Yet, even in those days, the alcohol I could live without. It just never had been my thing.
It was also during this time, that I began to really excel in my career. And, it was during this time that I discovered a new love. Her name was Merlot. In all my drinking experience, I had never tried wine. But, once I did, I was in love. It was an innocent pleasure during those days. I mean, what could be wrong with coming home after a long day at the office and having a taste of her luscious fruit? She brought a warmth to me that I had never experienced before, and she had a way of luring me into a nice, restful sleep, after a long, stressful day. This went on for several years, and of course I was consuming more by this time but, I was in love, and life was good.
Once again, life happened. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I was devastated at the time, and so I went home, curled up in bed for a few weeks, just me and Merlot. I was going through all the blame, all the guilt, self-pity, and remorse that I had allowed this to happen, and she was there. I took full responsibility then, as I do now, but, after two weeks, I had enough. I made a decision. I was going to sell all that I had, and move half way across the country, and that I did.
Looking back, I don’t regret the decision, but it was probably not the best I made during that time. But, as they say, hind sight is twenty twenty, and that I didn’t have.
There were so many issues going on at that time. Chronic diagnosis. New surroundings. New home. No job. My plan was to take off a year. To give myself time to get accustomed to all of this change, do a little traveling here and there. And, that worked for a while. Hell, I had worked hard. I deserved a little break from life. Or, so I thought. But, I found that I had so much time on my hands, too much time, and I began once again to spend a lot of quality time with my Merlot. She seemed to always be by side.
And, once again, life happened. I met a wonderful guy and fell in love for what seemed to be like the first time in my life. But, looking back, I think Merlot got a little jealous, and got in the way. It was during this time I truly recognized that I may have a problem, and decided to get help. And, it did help for a short, and I mean a very short while. Heartbreak ensued, and I once again found myself calling on Merlot. I had gone to treatment. I was back in control, or so I thought.
Needless to say, living life with Merlot became a living hell. While once she was an innocent pleasure who brought me rest, and the one thing that I could pick me up when times were rough, she now had me in her sweet grasp and would not let me go. By this time, there had been no such thing as a restful night for quite some time. In fact, I was afraid to sleep at all for fear of not waking up for work, if I woke up at all. And, so I would stay up nights, me and Merlot. Often, when I did make it to work, it was after an all night drinking binge, if I made it to work at all. By this time, I was often missing days, not knowing where they went. I’m grateful today, that I have a job at all.
The cold hard realization hit me. I had crossed the line somewhere along the way. I had totally lost control. I was totally powerless in her presence. It was time. My friend Merlot had to go. And, that has been my reflection as I journey through day three of my sobriety. HB