I’ve heard it hinted at in meetings and have seen people struggle with being both gay and an addict or alcoholic. And we’ve even talked about here before a little. But I have often wondered if the two have anything to do with one another. Am I an addict in response to my gayness or was I an alcoholic long before I realized I was gay or vice versa?
I am positive that the exact order of these traits is not really important but still I can’ t help wondering if one made me more predisposed to the other. Now, I am certain that I have a century of alcoholism in my family tree. Does having an alcoholism in my family make me an alcoholic automatically? No but it certainly made it easier to become one. By the way, I’m a freelance writer, playwright and publicist so take my sociological and psychological babblings for a grain of salt. But studies from non-goofballs have linked genetics and alcoholism so let’s just assume I was at the very least at risk for becoming alcoholic before I was born.Now being gay boils down to genetics too, I believe anyway. I feel like I didn’t choose either one and maybe that’s the answer to my question right there.
Right before I had one year of sobriety, I was with my parents in Arizona. My mom asked me if there was anything they could have done as parents that would have made my life easier. It was a legitimate, albite loaded, question considering the year I had- getting sober and finding out I was HIV positive. I had to think about it and had to think about her feelings. Were there times I felt unloved when I was a kid? Sure. Were there situations I wish never happened in my childhood? You bet. But would I change any of that? And my answer to her was “No.” I honestly feel like being an alcoholic and contracting HIV and surviving abusive relationships and facing my demons were just what I had to do. No it hasn’t been a non-stop hilarious party and big chunks of my life could even accurately be described as shitty. But I have to believe it has all been for something. Maybe I’m here to help other gay drunk HIV positive people have a laugh. Maybe I’m here to keep learning and facing demons. I don’t know.
I do know that we all have to work with the “gifts” we have, regardless of what order we got them in. And if I’m really lucky I’ll have a lot of chances to become the best possible gay, HIV positive, recovering alcoholic that I can be.
The movie Annie was seminal in my life for several reasons. First off, it was the launching pad for a game called “orphanage” in which me and my cousins would wait for nice people to adopt us. I’m sure a psychologist could have a blast in analyzing why childhood me from the alcoholic home loved playing that game. Second, it was the movie that briefly inspired me to play the piano. I learned how to play “Tomorrow” which was a nice accompaniment to the only other song I knew how to play, “The Rose.” That’s right, my entire piano act consisted solely of a Bette Midler song and a song from a musical. By the time I played those songs a billion times, I’m sure even our piano was ready to come out of the closet. Lastly, the film made me realize that I need to live somewhere where I could have servants, preferably ones who sang.
I’m thinking about Annie today because much like the curly-headed orphan, I’m thinking about tomorrow. I’m having a hard time being in the now right now and thought if I blogged about it, it would pass faster. It’s not tomorrow specifically but January 2nd that’s heavy on my mind. Unless I get kidnapped by terrorists or crushed by a speeding bus, I will celebrate 3 years of continuous sobriety on January 2nd! This is fantastic especially since year 2 has been a challenge. No one bothered to tell me until I was about six months in, that the second year of sobriety is notoriously tough and commonly referred to as the terrible twos. Thanks for the warning! Even still, I managed to overcome the self-doubt and struggles to say in the program during year two and I’ve stayed sober. My life is amazing right now. I just married the man of my dreams, I work full-time as a writer, and my first play opens in a month from today! My life is mind-blowingly awesome and I have the program and getting sober to thank for all of it. And yet… my alcoholic brain sends me shitty messages like “you don’t deserve any of this” and “you’ll never make it” and of course that number one hit song played on repeat since 1972, “You’re not good enough.”
So I listen to that garbage for about ten seconds, do the things I’ve been told to do that always make me feel better and I breathe and give myself a break. I always get itchy before birthdays and I know that’s what this is. And maybe Annie wasn’t living in the future. Maybe the little orphan was saying it might seem crappy now but there’s always tomorrow. Or as they say in the rooms, “this too shall pass.” Here’s to clearing away the cobwebs and the sorrow, indeed.
PS- I realize these are “quality problems” so thanks for indulging me.