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Journeys of faith: I can no longer hide my alcoholism from me
My relationship with God is kind of complicated. You could say that up until 37 days ago it was non-existent.
I grew up in the Episcopal Church, baptized and confirmed. As long as I could remember, the scene was the same on Sunday: my father jarringly waking me and my two younger brothers at 6 am. We would get dressed and go off to The Church of the Redeemer for morning service.
All three of us would be wearing the same uncomfortable pants, unbroken blister-birthed loafers and a button-down shirt buttoned all the way up to the tope with a strangling tie. It was easily the least enjoyable and acrimonious encore to our 7 day week. A week which was already had its fair share of run ins with an alcoholic, disconnected and strict father doing his very best to raise three boys by himself.
I can still smell that place to this day. As we arrived we were already frustrated to have been forced into this situation, but we dared not show any disrespect. To make matters even worse, standing next to us in the pew, our father belted out the morning hymn like Pavoratti at a job interview. Thinking about him stretching out that “Gloria….In Excelsis Deo” so loud and so deep, triggers a visceral response in me 30-plus years later.
After service we would be ushered into the reception room to talk to creepy old people. We then went to Bible study and choir practice for another hour, I became an acolyte,too.
When I look back on this I find myself asking, why on earth were we forced to do this? It was not positive, and nobody ever really explained or gave me a good reason for it. It fueled my anger in an already turbulent and rebellious childhood. I hated every second of it, and the very moment when I was able to break free of this burden, I did. And, I never went back.
I finally had to look myself in the mirror and admit something that I was not willing to own up to before that point. I'm an alcoholic.
Strangely enough, I've always been and continue today to be a very spiritual person. My mother passed away in a car accident when I was 7 years old. She is always with me.
I've been in some really precarious situations throughout my life. I should not be alive today. I truly believe that my mother has watched over me and protected me. Car accidents, fires, falling off cliffs, a coma for 2 weeks when I was 5, drug abuse, I have been at death's door more times than the neighborhood alley cat. Yet, I'm still here.
I’ve always believed that each and every human on this planet has a purpose. That purpose may be one that we seek, but never really find. However, as we are on that path at some point in our lives, if we are fortunate enough, we may experience, evolve and seek something bigger than ourselves and our awareness. Something that can help give clarity to that purpose.
I've not always been appreciative of my own delicate life, because I always thought my mother would look out for me. She looked out for me from above, assuring that I eventually learn to value my path to purpose. I didn't fully understand that, so with her protection I decided to live life to the fullest, give it everything I had, from the heart with true reckless abandon.
In my teens, I began to experiment with drugs and alcohol. This enhanced my life experience, or so I thought. What drugs and alcohol provided me was an escape from my own self. I began to compartmentalize everything, and completely focused on supporting everyone around me.
I found an escape in my career. I worked hard, very hard. I continue to work very hard and as a result I have enjoyed some "success." I work in the arts. I work with some of the most important musicians in the world.
I live in a beautiful town. I have an amazing wife and two incredible sons who are becoming remarkable young adults. I own a nice house, 2 cars, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 4 chickens, a boat, and a riding mower that I mount each weekend to produce lawn lines that say “You’re Welcome.”
I barely made it through school because the expectations for me were so low. You could say where I am now, from where I was then, was a long road. A road paved with problems, but also with many mile markers of success. Looking back, it was actually pretty easy. You could say that I have exceeded all expectations and I am "living the dream."
I’ve worked for some of the most respected booking agencies in the world, and after 10 years of talking about starting my own agency, on Jan. 8, 2020, I launched my own independent company called, Outer/Most. The mission, vision and value of this company represents everything I believe. It is one of the most proud endeavors of my life, and it was received by the industry with positivity and support. We were off to the races. This was going to be the most important launch of a boutique and independent agency in a decade.
We were activated. I was poised to pass yet another mile marker of success on my journey.
Then….COVID-19 happened and offered me another path.
This time has made me realize that the hardest challenge in life is finding myself.
My life, purposefully overloaded with distractions and noise, just went silent. A forced sabbatical just presented itself, I had no idea what to do. The music industry, and as a booking agent of 20-plus years in a humans-gathering-together business just went dark. And it looks like it will continue to be that way for a very long time.
So one Friday in the middle of it all, I poured myself a cocktail for Friday. As I sat there nursing my drink, reality started to sink in. I started to realize that my new business venture was in jeopardy.
How was I going to pay my mortgage? How am I going to make payroll? Do I keep everyone on health insurance? What am I going to do?
Well, it was Friday and I only really drink alcohol on the weekends. I'm one of those guys who works 70-plus hours a week. Something I've done for years. But, when the weekend comes around, I literally “deserve” a drink. I’ve always felt that rewarding myself with an adult beverage was warranted.
I’ve provided a really nice life for my family. I’ve exceeded any and all expectations anyone had for me. But one drink leads to another drink that leads to another and things end up the exact same way.
I yell at my kids for something, anything. My youngest son for missing a couple of Spanish assignments. My wife for not appreciating this life I've provided for her and the kids. My eldest son for not working hard enough or getting enough exercise.
I then pass out on the couch. And then I begin my apology tour on Saturday mornings with apologies and breakfast for all. It always ends the exact same way. But the difference now is I have no control on our future and fear I won’t be able to provide anymore. My self-worth was in jeopardy.
A recent Saturday morning was different. I sat there on the couch wracked with a wave of shame, sadness and guilt. I don't know what rock-bottom is, but something was not right. I started sobbing. That was it, I'm exhausted, I have nowhere to turn, I have nowhere to hide.
I finally had to look myself in the mirror and admit something that I was not willing to own up to before that point.
I'm an alcoholic.
I have a lot of alcoholics in my family, so thankfully my family support network rolled in like the trauma unit. I had a Big Book dropped off on my front porch within an hour, a sponsor meeting set up for Monday.
Any alcoholic will tell you it doesn’t matter what day you're on, because today is really the only one that counts. I'm on day 37.
I learned very quickly that IF you really want to relieve yourself of this disease, you need to commit and surrender to the steps. You need to treat and heal your Body, your Mind and your Spirit. You need to find a willingness and a vulnerability like never before on these three essential elements of being. I understand the first two, and I know what I need to do, but the third? My Spirit? Faith?
AA has a stigma of being cultish, of being some Christian reformist society. That's not true at all. That's contempt prior to investigation. Nowhere in the Big Book or anywhere is there a denominational mention of any kind.
I know I need to lean on God if I'm going to win this battle. I haven’t connected with Him in years. And if I'm honest with myself, I've never really connected with him. But, one thing that is crystal clear to me is that I cannot go down this path alone. I cannot make it without a Higher Power.
So I've decided to Let Go and Let God.
After I made that personal declaration, I read something that truly resonated with me.
I was outside, praying for willingness, when I raised my eyes and saw a huge bird rising in the sky. I watched it suddenly give itself up to the powerful air currents of the mountains. Swept along, swooping and soaring, the bird did things seemingly impossible for mortal birds to do. It was an inspiring example of a fellow creature "letting go" to a power greater than itself. I realized that if the bird "took back his will" and tried to fly with less trust, on its power alone, it would spoil its apparent free flight. That insight granted me the willingness to pray the Seventh Step prayer. - AA Reflection.
I have never felt this free in all my life. This international crisis has offered me a time of true self-reflection. There was no place for me to hide anymore. All of my usual distractions were gone – work, sports, concerts. Like most of us, I am in the scariest, most uncertain moment in my whole life.
However, I haven’t ever felt this overwhelming sense of inspired optimism about today and the future.
If I'm honest I haven't actually found God today, but I’ve not been prepared or ready to find God until today. This is my first chapter, this is the first day of the rest of my life. This is my awakening.
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