In sobriety, I have managed to put my past behind me and move forward. I have exorcized my demons and learned to use my past as lessons. I live in the present and usually do not visit my past unless it’s for the purpose of helping someone else. Recently I had an experience that caught me extremely off guard. My past visited me and I found it to be uncomfortable for the most part mainly because I didn’t see it coming.
I attended a dear friends wedding recently and there were A LOT of people in attendance that have not seen me since I got sober, people I used to party with and people that were up close and personal with the old me. It was the first time I was surrounded by that many people in my past all at once. I’m not talking about the people who were around me when I crashed and burned, I’m talking about the people that were around me BEFORE that, when I was in the deepest of my addiction. I was almost overwhelmed. They expressed shock when the waitress come over to take my drink order and I ordered Sprite with a handful of cherries rather than a Jack & Coke or a shot. You could tell they weren’t sure how to act as they all stood there with drinks in their hands around me. Yet they couldn’t help but reminisce in abundance and express how they thought of me back then. I was flooded with shock, momentary shame and brief embarrassment over situations I’d either forgotten about or was clueless about due to an obvious blackout. The shock and disbelief was very similar to seeing that video tape of me for the first time. I kept my head up, I smiled and shook my head in disbelief at some of the stories that popped out of the box. I reminded myself as to why I was there and threw myself into the happiness of the occasion.
Upon leaving, I thought about it all with more intent. When I was drinking and people talked to me, I didn’t listen. Even knowing I was a hot mess back then, hearing it all with sober ears is……..I can’t find the words. The experience didn’t put me in a bad place, if anything it gave me more in-site on the extent of what a mess I was, and it all made me feel more grateful that I am no longer that person. It also further confirmed that had I continued the way I was, I’d be dead right now and that I’m here by the Grace of God. If they came out with a pill that would allow me to drink like a normal person, I don’t believe I would take it. I love my life exactly the way it is without alcohol in it at all. Realizing the extent of my disease makes me that much more grateful and determined to stay sober.
It would only take ONE drink to bring me back to that place quick, fast and in a hurry. Just one. Allowing any amount of alcohol to cross my lips would do it. That’s what happens when you’re an alcoholic. I’m not special or exempt in any way. God forbid, I could fall off the wagon tomorrow if I slack on my program and stop doing what needs to be done for my own recovery. To be honest, the person that I used to be and the possibility of becoming that person again scares the hell out of me. Some fears are very healthy and this is one of them. Nothing that I may got through is worth picking up that bottle again. Being around all those people from my past was a reminder that today I have a choice, and I choose to stay sober and continue moving forward.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist