Good morning. It’s Saturday and I got up at my usual 5:50 AM to brew a cup, run through my morning gratitude list and blog. I have learned that I am definitely a morning person and my desire to bloviate peaks while still in my robe. But, on the Spartan front, there is not much to report today. Sparta, my feminized pet name for my new project, sits in Fresno awaiting work on tail-lights and brakes. My most excellent friend, Dwight (a man who moves large loads for a living with his commodities/trucking enterprise), is determined that I not make the kind of mistake described in my previous blog. So he has parked Sparta temporarily in a metal salvage yard in Fresno. He joked that, with aluminum prices at $.40 per pound, I have already broken even. Funny guy, that Dwight.
So while she sits, I will write a bit about recovery. I did mention earlier that this blog will address directly and tangentially my sobriety. For those of you that have no interest in that topic, take the day off. For those that do, I am sorry that it’s taken me this long to get around to the topic.
I am not an alcoholic. I am a man whose adult life has been characterized by way too much drinking, who often substituted intoxication for genuine human connection, who ignored mounting consequences (some of them threatening to my life and freedom) and who has witnessed a progression of physical symptoms commonly associated with the affliction of alcoholism. But, I am not an alcoholic. AA purists will cry “Heresy !”. Yes, you have a point and, to be sure, I did answer in the affirmative all 20 questions on the standard “Are YOU and Alcoholic” questionnaire that some of you have answered in private and lost sleep over. But, I am not an alcoholic. Ahhh, “methinks though doth protest too much”. There. I have said it. I will not say “I am not an alcoholic” again in this blog. Nor will I say “I am an alcoholic”. Bear with me but this tiresome exercise in semantics serves a purpose for me. You see, in the last 15 years I have attended thousands of AA meetings. In almost every one I raised my hand on one or more occasions to speak and announced, “I am Tom and I am an…”. This self-identification as an alcoholic, repeated over and over again, for me, is no longer helpful or productive. Early on it was necessary for me to admit my alcoholism and quash the denial that so often prevents us from dealing with the problem. But after years of drifting in and out of the program of AA, with more relapses than I care to remember, I can honestly say that, while AA has served its purpose, it no longer suits me. It did not fail me, nor did I fail AA. I have simply chosen a new path.
My path does not renounce AA. There are many things about it that I admire, respect and utilize in my daily life. I sincerely believe that Bill Wilson was one of the greatest and most influential men of the 20th Century. The AA concepts of taking ownership of one’s shit and making amends, of finding comfort and strength in the company of similarly-afflicted people, of embracing a power greater than oneself and of helping and being of service to others are powerful tools in a satisfying and lasting recovery. I get that. I am as transparent as possible now. I hide nothing (this blog is evidence of my tendency to overshare). I try to own my stuff and keep my side of the street clean. I manage a spiritual sober house and try to be of use to my fellow residents and I have a God, not that I understand (I am just not that evolved) but that I experience each and every day and in so many ways. But I will not say “I am an…” because that is a label that I no longer need to self-identify with. I believe to label oneself is to diminish oneself. It no longer frees me, it limits me. I am Tom and I am a father, a brother, a son, a friend, a chef, an erstwhile dipsomaniac, a skilled amateur creator of beauty, a gardener, a talented writer, and so much else. I am nothing and I am everything.