Before I can recap on 2014, I feel it’s important that you get an idea of what the prior years were like in my recovery. The first few years of sobriety is different for everyone. The one thing I think is safe to say is it’s all one big emotional roller coaster. In my own sobriety, it’s gone as follows so far;
1st Year; It was as if I’d been seeing things in black and white my whole life and suddenly my blinders were taken off and BAM! I’m seeing shit in T echo-color! I was like a new baby seeing the whole world for the first time and it was all so amazing. I was also an emotional wreck because I’d been holding my emotions in for twenty-eight years so I would cry at the drop of a hat. Drove me bat shit crazy it did. I dealt with the death of my daughter and other things I spent years trying to avoid and those were even experiences I was grateful for. I really couldn’t focus on anything but my sobriety and was constantly afraid I’d fail
2nd Year; My second year was all about learning to deal with change. Learning to live a sober life and learning to live life on life’s terms. It was about finding out who I was and getting comfortable in my own skin. Putting the tools that I’d been given in recovery to use on a day to day basis. I spent a lot of time in the second year trying to retrain my brain and discover who “me” was. I began teaching recovery at a local rehabilitation center which helped me remember my own addiction. I began to “live” more without worrying about hitting the bottle and began to enjoy myself more. I realized in my second year how very big this world is and how very small I was in it. Talk about a humbling reality check!
3rd Year; Change was still consistent, it was a matter of rolling with the punches. By this time, it’s very easy to get complacent and there were a few times that I did. Thinking things like; “I don’t have to go to so many meetings because I’ve been sober long enough that I don’t need so many, I don’t have to call my sponsor so much etc….” I continued to teach at the rehab and finally got comfortable with it. I got the desire to try to reach those I taught and discovered I had a knack for it. I did what every alcoholic should not do and stressed myself to the hilt trying to get ready for the biggest competition of my career My sense of “Humility” kicked in……BIG TIME! I discovered that my Ego was completely gone. I didn’t know how to take a compliment, I second guessed everything I did. I was still strong in my program and got through all my madness without picking up a drink or even thinking about it. That in itself was a miracle.
4th Year; I do believe this past year has been the one that I’ve changed the most. Actually, “change” isn’t the correct word. I’ve grown so much this year it has even amazed me. I’ve accomplished so very much both professionally and personally.
What used to be important to me isn’t as important any more, I’m learning to balance myself and appreciate the things that most people take for granted. I’ve discovered a lot about myself this past year. The main thing being that I have a strong desire to reach out to others not only with regard to addiction, but regarding to drag. My own performances are slowing taking a back seat and I’ve taken on more of a mentor role. My desire to help newcomers learn the actual craft of male illusion rather than wing it on the stage has been heightened. In my sobriety, I’ve learned that “Humility does NOT mean I think less of myself, it just means I think of myself less. I LOVE to be on the stage and in the spot light, but I don’t feel that it’ something I NEED. Sobriety has given me back my spark for performing and has once again become a challenge but working with newcomers has challenged me even more and I love that. In addition, my being open about my alcoholism and recovery has expanded on so many levels in the hopes that I can reach others. I was given the opportunity by We are 1 Voice to write these blogs in addition to the Pit Stop Radio Show which airs weekly with Vinnie Marconi. They keep me in my own recovery and constantly reminds me of where I was and where I don’t want to go back to ever again. It’s so easy to forget that the longer you are in recovery. The more comfortable we get in life, the easier it is for us to forget. Writing these blogs and doing the radio show helps me stay on the path of Recovery.
I’ve also experienced more loss this year than in my prior years of sobriety. Four to be exact. The most recent one being that of one of my own sponcees who took his own life. Another was the loss of someone who was like my daughter. Her death devastated me to the core. I just spoke to her two days before she died in a horrific car accident. I had to go home for her funeral, and it was the first time I’d been home sober. I was scared, I was emotional but to my surprise, the thought of a drink didn’t even pop into my head once. I actally called my sponsor and said, “If I have ever doubted this program works, I don’t any more.” It didn’t feel like home any more and around almost every corner, there was a place I used to drink or get high. It was truly an awakening for me. I felt completely out of place even around my oldest and dearest friends at times, but drinking was something I ever thought about. I did get the opportunity to go to a meeting with my brother who has been sober for twelve years which I thought was cool as hell.
I recognized my triggers and avoided them, I did the things I was taught and I kept my sobriety tight.
2014 has definitly been the year for actual growth and I can feel myself changing. Not just sober, but changing. My thought process is very different, I deal with things differently and I view things very differently. I have a much better understanding of who “I” am, but I’m not done figuring it out. All I can do is continue to do what I have been, and do it one day at a time
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist