Sobriety in the Public Eye
Getting and staying sober while you’re in the public eye can be very stressful. I chose not to maintain my own anonymity because I made my disease very public, therefore I wanted to share my journey in sobriety in the hopes that others can see that alcoholism is not choosy about who it affects, and as hard as it may seem at times, recovery is NOT impossible. The stressful part of being in the public eye in sobriety is because there’s always a deep down fear of disappointing people. It’s hard for them to understand that we are still “regular” people and just like anyone else who suffers from addiction. I could fall off the wagon just as quickly as anyone else. I’m human. That’s not to say that it will happen, but it could. In recovery, anyone can relapse. We’re not and we’ll never be “cured” Our addictions don’t just go away the longer we stay sober or clean. It’s something that is ALWAYS there with us waiting for us to slip. I’ve met people in my own recovery that had been sober for 10, 15 or 20 years of sobriety and they suddenly “slip” as crazy as that may sound. It doesn’t matter how many times a person slips, what matters is how many times they come back in. I have had many, many people tell me that I’ve been an inspiration to them within their own recovery and although I am honored to be able to help others, my own sobriety is something that I have to work on every single day for the rest of my life and if I don’t, I’ll be right back where I was. I may “seem” larger than life on stage, but in the real world, I’m nothing than a normal, every day human being who happens to suffer from a very real and dangerous addiction. My own addiction is in remission and it can blind side me at any time.
My fear of letting others down sometimes overwhelms me just as much as maintaining my own sobriety. I have been blessed to be able to maintain it for almost four years now, but it hasn’t been easy or automatic. Anyone can get sober just as easily as anyone can fall of the proverbial wagon Working with others helps me to remember where I was, and where I never want to go back to. The words “I got this” are very dangerous for me as well as anyone who suffers from addiction. Falling off the wagon for me, would mean I’d gotten complacent, and cocky within my own sobriety. It’s important that I maintain a sense of determination, humility and faith. Without that, I’m a goner.
I’m verbalizing this because it’s important for people to realize that although they may view me one way, I’m a human being who is capable of making mistakes. I’m not omitted from the realities of addiction just because I’m in the public eye. For lack of a better word, I’m not “special” I plan on doing whatever it takes to maintain my sobriety, I have no intentions on going back to the way things were. That is the only promise I am able to make to all those who have stuck by me and supported me over the years. It’s the ONLY promise that I can make to those who may look up to me and feel I may have inspired them. It’s very important for people to realize that I’m no different than anyone else who suffers from addiction.
There are not enough words in the English Language that will enable me to thank everyone who has saw me through my dark days and continue to remain a part of my life today. To all those who may still be suffering, it can be done, don’t give up. If you want to talk, feel free to hit me up any time.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist