Stepping out of the usual haikus and short poems, I wanted to get something out into the world. I was recently given advice I am not going to take. It was given with the best of intentions and with a giving heart, but it was inherently wrong for someone like me.
You see, I am a recovering alcoholic. People don’t want to hear that. Mostly because they think “Oh, there must be something wrong with him”, or my favorite, “I knew he was stressed out so it’s no wonder someone like him would get in too deep”. In other words, I’m not as good or as strong as other people.
Neither is the case. I became an alcoholic in the same way people learn to drive. One little step at a time until the car is running, and you are moving in it towards your destination.
I, too, with all the risks of being a teacher of special needs kids with severe disabilities, and with the pandemic, felt pressure to be sure; but my alcoholism didn’t come from that. It came from years and years of feeling like a car had run over me and then continually backed up and ran me over again. And again. And again.
First, there was an abusive marriage. Then there was a planned, but abandoned attempt at suicide; Then, there came a brief season of peace but it quickly and irrevocably was marred by the death of my parents and huge financial issues that just now have started to resolve themselves. However, these things were only the accelerator and the gear shift. The steering wheel itself was the illusion that I was not a decent son, friend, husband, or man.
This illusion can blind you, especially if you see yourself in a certain light. I chose to drink, at first, because it felt not just good, but GREAT. I loved being altered and the rosy feeling of just being loose and funny and relaxed. The problem was, I wanted to get to more and more and MORE levels of this feeling and then I would find myself on the floor, busted open or beat up from falling into something and no memory of how it happened.
My son told me he didn’t want to be in the same room with me because it hurt him to see me like that. I kept going. I began to turn against my second wife and, instead of being the funny and silly drunk who everybody love, I started to become dark and ugly. I kept going. I began to withdraw from everyone into a cocoon of Friday night and weekend drunken blackouts. And kept going.
It was after the shame of waking up one morning to the sad and hurt visage of my wife and not remembering what I said or did to create that face, that I said enough. I would no longer hurt her. She was, and is, the light of my life. I would never hurt her or anyone else ,or myself again.
27 years of drinking had done it’s damage but now I had begun to damage other people; especially those I love.
So…I got help. I did steps and books and groups and tried to find my way. I will always struggle and crave. I will feel the pull of that drink I want just like an amputee feels the limb they have lost. I realize that. Each day is hard but I’m getting there.
And, Dear Reader, here is where the title of my story comes into play:
Part of what I felt, and so did my support family, is the need to let the world know I have a problem so that I can be free of it’s grasp and the fear that drives it. I began to tell the people around me what I was going through and what I was trying to do and, for the most part, all were kind and understanding. However, I began to hear the words “Don’t Tell Everybody”…a great deal. This upset me because I was trying to exorcise a demon that had held me in it’s grip for years, drove me to near suicide, and almost beat me to death. If I was going to heal my affliction but also could help just one person besides myself, I was GOING to tell everybody. Again, I was told “Don’t tell everybody–they won’t want to hear that…be careful”
I was truly hurt by those words. It was like hearing, “Don’t wash your dirty underwear in public” or “You should be ashamed, keep it to yourself”. I realized that I was being told that people didn’t want to hear it; that some people I called friends or had respect for just didn’t want to hear it or wished I would shut up. That’s cool–I get it. But, my issue was, and is, that only by being honest and unafraid to admit something and throw it out there for the world to see can you truly be free from it. I’m just not into hiding things anymore. That’s how this all started to begin with. I’m done with that.
So, entire world, that being said–I am an alcoholic. I will always be an alcoholic. I will always be in recovery. Judge me or don’t. Like me or don’t. Accept me or don’t….It’s your choice. I’ve officially told EVERYONE now.
Do or think what you wish of me from now on. I’m free.