As I sit here to write my story for the #voicesproject I have 834 days of continuous sobriety from alcohol and drugs. And, I can truly say its been THE BEST 834 days of my entire 48 years. I am the youngest of 7 children and come from a long-line of a alcoholics and addicts. I have 2 older brothers in long-term recovery and I also lost a sister 13 years ago to an opioid overdose. It took me years to finally realize I too was an alcoholic and addict. For most of my life I lived with the secret that I was gay. I knew it very early on in life, but was way too afraid to let anyone know for fear of rejection, fear of being an outcast, fear of truly letting people see the real me. So I drank to numb myself. I took pills to ease the pain. I hid for 46 years.
In those 46 years, I went on to have an accomplished career, I married a woman and had three stunningly beautiful red-haired daughters, I had all that I could possibly want on the outside. But, I was dying on the inside and drinking to become the person I wanted to be. In 2004 I lost my father to cancer on Nov. 30th. On Dec. 16th my sister Elizabeth never woke up next to her 3yo son Sean. She had been taking the liquid morphine being administered to my father during his final days and aspirated in her sleep. One week later her husband Stan was so devastated over his loss, he took a gun to his head. If that was not enough loss, my mother passed away just a few weeks later from complications from emphysema. That grief and loss kicked off a 10 year run for me. I was too afraid to sit in the grief so I drank and drank, and took pill after pill to mask the pain and hide myself from reality. Hide my true self from the world.
Then on August 11, 2015 I became so sick and tired of being sick and tired. I called my wife from a hotel room in NYC where I had been drinking continuously for 24 hours and asked for help.
And my journey began. 48 hours after entering rehab I heard someone say, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” That simple line changed my life. I knew I had to become honest if I was to have any chance at sobriety. That evening, I came out of the closet in front of the entire rehab community. It felt amazing. A huge load lifted. The fog started to dissipate a bit. But I was not ready to let my family know the truth. I couldn’t bear to have them go through more pain. After the end of my 30days in rehab, I went back into the closet and headed home. An hour after my arrival home, all my secrets came out at once. My wife had read my rehab journals I had left easily accessible upon my return.
God DOES do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. I didn’t have to go through the pain of telling her in my own words, but it was all there for her to read. And from that day on, I have continued to walk myself through the resulting pain and anguish. I’ve completely owned my truth. And I have done it without a drink or a drug, a day at a time.
The past 26 months have not been easy. I lost my job, went through a divorce and had numerous financial woes. But I have gotten up each day and faced them all openly, honestly and most importantly without taking a drink or pill.
Life will continue to have its ups and downs. But living a sober life is truly THE BEST LIFE.