My sober date is Dec. 28, 1986. I don’t know too many people who get sober around the Holidays. It wasn’t pretty. Who works for a boss that knew he was an alcoholic? I didn’t know I was an alcoholic but my boss knew I was. As it turns out, he was in recovery too. One day I came to work late. I worked for a small banking firm in New Hampshire. My boss saw my behaviors and knew I was vulnerable.
A very strange thing happened. He told me a about carrots. He said he had a friend who was addicted to carrots. He said that his friend was going to lose everything because of his addiction to carrots. I pretended that I knew what he was talking about. After this conversation I stopped drinking but couldn’t stop for the long haul. This conversation occurred 3 weeks before my sober date.
Let me start back. I lost a college degree because of my drinking. I used to brag that I could stop anytime. I was lying to myself and to everyone else. Now I know that it is alcoholics who even have the need to say that they can stop anytime. Social drinkers don’t talk like this.
On Dec 27th, 1986 I was with an old girlfriend in my home. I had the awareness and realization that in my hand was a 2nd bottle of wine. The absolute realization came to me that alcoholism runs in my family and that I was probably an alcoholic. That Monday I didn’t go to work and I didn’t call in. My boss kept calling me. He was persistent. I called him back that night and told him I had some problems. He asked if I could make it by 8:00 am the next morning. I did. He asked me if I had been drinking. I told him I hadn’t had a drink for 3 weeks but he wasn’t buying it. He asked me if I wanted help and I told him “I needed help.” My life was in shambles. I couldn’t pay the rent and had no money. I had given up on religion a long time ago.
My boss knew of a program in Newport R.I. and I went. It was called Edgehill. I learned about alcoholism and addiction. I started acknowledging that I was an alcoholic. There was a man who came to the program whose name was Charlie. This was his 3rd go around at treatment and he knew all the AA phrases. Charlie told me some very important things. For some reason, I listened to Charlie. He told me to do 6 things. He said go to AA meetings, don’t drink, get a sponsor, set up an AA meeting by setting up chairs, arrive early, and leave late. I took what he told me to heart. I wanted to be sober. I was determined.
I went home. I had no car insurance because I had no money. I went to a meeting though right away. I walked in a snow storm to get there. There was a guy there who introduced me to everyone. “Hey this is Alan, the new guy.” Everyone was so willing to share their story of hope. I felt welcomed.
I had the keen awareness that I could very easily die and that I could kill someone through my drinking and driving. I was scared and convinced beyond the shadow of doubt that I was an alcoholic. It took a year before this gripping fear would leave me. After a year, I had the thought that maybe I could stay sober.
On a Sunday morning after getting out of rehab, I hitchhiked 7 miles to a meeting. I met a guy named Bill who talked to me about the importance of joining a meeting and sticking with that meeting as my home group. Bill gave me a ride home. I was so determined to stay sober that I went to 3 meetings per day. I didn’t know how to live without drinking so I went to meetings. On that ride home Bill told me to ask for help from everyone so I did.
Bill became my sponsor and we talked several times per day. I’m so grateful for Bill.
I began to go to meetings in Weston, MA. There were people there who knew Bill W and Dr. Bob and so it was exciting. These were the originators of AA.
In February I went back to work at a Hundai car dealership. I heard through the grapevine that they needed help. It was President’s weekend. I sold 27 cars in one day. That weekend I sold 40 cars total. I was financially on my way.
I was told that I may have an urge to drink. One day I had an overwhelming urge to drink. I heard Bill’s voice to ask God’s help for the feelings to pass. I also heard him say “I won’t drink for 5 minutes at a time.” I felt that there was no power that could keep me from drinking. All of my emotions were coming out and it was fucking hell. One minute at a time I made it through this compulsion to drink. Over time, the compulsions to drink lessened up and I became less afraid to face my compulsions.
I knew I had psychological issues so I went to a psychotherapist. I was angry and irritated all the time. I was frustrated and what I felt was so unpleasant. I knew it was time to face the stuff from my background. My father was a raging alcoholic. I became my mother’s surrogate spouse. My father was physically violent to me. It was terrifying. I felt that it was my job to keep him from being out of control. One day when I was younger my mother told me that she wouldn’t leave my dad because of me and my older brother. At this time, I interpreted this as it was my fault that I couldn’t control my father.
My day, my father was so out of control that that I called our family friend to come and try to talk to my dad and he came. I thought for sure he was going to kill someone. His talking to my dad helped a little bit.
ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) was getting started and I went to some of these meetings to help me with my father and my family situation. It was 3 years of being sober when I told my mother that I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. I just didn’t need to engage in the family drama. ACOA and psychotherapy really helped me deal with my family issues.
Other issues was beginning to emerge. I was at my family’s summer house with friends. They were all helping me cut wood. I suddenly had an urge to embrace a male friend who was there to help cut wood. I wanted to be held. I kept these desires to myself. I didn’t really know what was going on but I was beginning to question if I was gay.
I had a wonderful experience with my therapist but I decided to work with a therapist who was gay himself and was helping clients on their spiritual journey.
In 1990, 4 years into my sobriety, my father had a stroke. I went home and took him on a ride in my car. He was so miserable and so weak. Something happened on that drive. I reminded him that I finally did graduate from Harvard. We had a good hearty laugh. Before he got out of the car I felt to thank him for all that he did and kissed him. I felt such a sense of peace. My father died the next day.
Two weeks later I came out of the gym and noticed a church. I was familiar with the Episcopal church so I visited all the Episcopal churches. I decided that St. Peter’s was the right place for me. This step in my journey would have never happened without the foundation of AA.
My new therapist helped me to accept being gay. I had several relationships and I was learning what was best for me. I got my heart broken a few times but I kept trying.
On a bike ride for Aides, I met a man and I felt the sparks fly and the energy around this person felt right. I had a sense of peace and believed this person was significant. We have been together for 23 years. I have been sober for 32 years.
To me, hope comes from the living God even though you don’t know that God is there. God is like the radio tower—always broadcasting. If we tune in, the broadcast is there.
I know now that there is no such thing as controlled drinking. I am not a social drinker and I know that I never can be. Being in service is part of my commitment to sobriety.
I am a Christian gay man who is in recovery. Hope comes from the Lord!