I want everything to be pretend. I want everything to be shiny. I want things to be plastic. I don’t want things to be messy. Or genuine or uncomfortable or awkward. So god only knows how I’ve been able to get sober. After all,the whole process of recovery is a series of shit-eating humbling events where you have to ask a billion times over, “I need help.” Somehow, thankfully, my circumstances were terrible enough to have those words fall out of my mouth. What I didn’t know was that I would have to continue to get honest if I wanted my life to stay fabulous.
I lived in plastic for years. Hiding out in the worlds of nightclubs and restaurants with other misfits who weren’t to keen on this whole real world idea either afforded me the luxury to play make-believe for as long as I wanted. My partying (which as a verb I think is hysterical, by the way. Like it implies I made party an action and turned every moment into a party. Uh yeah. Let’s go with that.) had a specific goal of erasing currently reality. For the better part of two decades(!!!!) I achieved that goal. I know. I’m really proud. Therefore when I got sober this idea of “getting honest” felt impossible. I’d bullshitted, lied and avoided for most of my adulthood. It was what I knew and how I operated. Thus this new practice in sobriety of being honest and telling people I wasn’t okay, instead of acting like everything was all sunshine and roses, was foreign to say the least. After seven years of sobriety, I still slip into a robotic refrain of “I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.”
I bring all of this up because last night I had the opportunity to share my story at a meeting. As usual, I had over thought it in my brain, planned out a bunch of jokes and also went to the trouble to plan out what the reactions to this speech I had yet to give would be. Yup. Totally sane behavior. The thing is when I finally got up there and opened my mouth all of my genius ideas and all of my witty banter just dissolved. What came out instead was the truth. That thing I had hid from for 20 years. That thing I thought I’d never be able to embrace. That thing turned out to be what saved me last night. Just like it did seven years ago. And thankfully, the truth can be really funny. Embracing reality is something I have to remind myself to do. La La Land is my default location so being real and present for work, my health, my marriage, my family still doesn’t always come automatically these days. But I know now that even if it sucks and it’s uncomfortable being truthful is always the way to go, even if it isn’t glamourous.
So this great inspirational talk that I had over-planned turned into a truthful, hilarious sharing between people who all suffer from the same thing. I’m sort of at my best when I’m just chatting with friends and once I let go of my crazy ideas that’s exactly how it felt. Dark stuff, sad stuff, funny stuff. All of the stuff came out and it felt like an exhale. And a complete honor too. The fact that anyone would ask me to talk about getting sober still boggles my mind. Each time someone asks me to speak, I think, “Wait. Me? Are you sure?” But last night several people came up and said they could relate and thanked me for telling my truth. Incredible. Listen, my sincere hope when I got sober in 2009 was maybe I could stop being a mess for a little while and then I could maybe drink again like normal people. That never happened. What did happen was something tangible. Something beautiful. Something hilarious. And something real.