A Confession of Sorts

Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Single MaltIn October of 1993, I was at another AA meeting and celebrating my eighth birthday clean and sober. I remember standing up there thinking to myself two things. The first was, 'If I feel this way on my eighth birthday, I am just going to start drinking' and the second was, 'What am I going to say?'.

Here's the confession. I lied. I lied every time I shared my story. I didn't even have a good drunkalogue, because I had never had a problem with drinking. I didn't realize the reason for my discomfort at the time. I still needed a place to belong, and the fellowship was (and still is) a great place to belong.

I resolved to work harder. I got a new sponsor that night and set out to really work the steps. Which I did and things got a little better. I had also started working harder in therapy, working through longstanding issues that had nothing to do with my perceived alcoholism. I continued getting treatment of my bipolar disorder. My life was getting better.

In spite of all that, I had a growing feeling that I didn't belong in AA. No matter how much service work I did, I felt more and more like an imposter and if you found out the truth, you would shun me. When I picked up my twelve year chip, it would be the last chip that I picked up. I stopped going to AA meetings or keeping in touch with many of my AA friends.

By the time twenty years clean and sober rolled around, I didn't really even notice the date or the accomplishment. It was then I made another decision. My wife was taking me to Italy for our twenty fifth anniversary. I was going to drink in Italy. I figured, in the worst case, that if I was a drunk, I would be off and running. I knew were to go if I needed to sober up.

So I drank. I sampled the wines of northeastern Italy and enjoyed myself. Nothing happened. I came home and everything went back to normal. I started having the occasional beer. I started collecting wine and scotch which I would sample every once and awhile. Still nothing happened. It occurred to me, maybe I wasn't an alcoholic.

Over the last four years, I have reflected on my AA experience as well as my bipolar experience. Could I have become the person I am today if I hadn't stayed sober for those twenty years? Would I have been able to deal with my mental health issues? Had the twelve steps helped me a reach a place where I could be absolutely honest in therapy? Had the fellowship given me a reason to show up when I didn't want to? Absolutely, on all counts.

How do I know I am not an alcoholic or drug addict? The simple answer is, I don't know. I do know I don't get drunk nor do I binge drink. I have more than one half full bottle of scotch in my house and beer goes bad in my fridge. I will go weeks with without drinking anything alcoholic. Most importantly, drinking hasn't made my life unmanageable. I suppose if it does, I know where to go.

Cross Posted @ Sad, Manic & Awake


  1. Don't forget the Growler of sour crap I brewed last year - it's sealed & is full of alcohol.

  2. BT -- It's probably Beer Vinegar by now...


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