At today’s gay Hollywood meeting, we heard from a youngish handsome mixed-race speaker. He grew up with an alcoholic father who would come home late at night, sometimes quietly, and sometimes very loudly. His parents would argue in the kitchen as dishes crashed in the background. Where were you? Who were you with? The screaming would continue until the wee hours of the morning.
His father was physically abusive even when not drunk, and took any excuse to hurt the wife and children. Among his oft-repeated lines: “Wipe that smile off your face”, and at the sight of weakness: “I’ll give you something to cry about”. Because the child was not allowed to show his true feelings, he was forced to lie, and this trait stayed with him into his adulthood. With the help of a sponsor he relearned how to tell the truth about how he was really feeling. This took time.
Our good speaker was a periodic drinker, and for this reason did not at first identify himself as an alcoholic. He was able to control his drinking (in part because of his career), and thought you had to drink continually to be an alcoholic, and so he had no interest in meetings. Generally he was sober, but he would start to drink at the point in the relationship when he would grow tired with his partner, such as his boyfriend or wife (with whom he may or may not have an adult child – this was unclear – though he seemed too young for this to be the case). At this point he would get drunk and explore other options. However, he did not consider his drinking to be a problem. It was under control — or so he thought.
Then one day he went out with his friend to a restaurant and they had a “Mexican coffee” which he did not realize had alcohol in it. Something about the alcohol made him lose control and he kept drinking the coffees until there was none left. He went back to his boyfriend’s place and actually the boyfriend, who had never seen him drunk, kinda liked him that way — playful. Oops, not a good sign for a friend of an alcoholic. A few weeks later he went to a party a few blocks from his home where he had drugs that brought on a panic attack. Unable to drive home, he called someone from the rooms, a number he had memorized for some reason, and that person talked him down and got him home and the next day they met at a meeting. He was finally officially an alcoholic — his life had become unmanageable and he needed to make some changes — plus it was a good opportunity to move on from the last boyfriend.
His ex-wife’s family is also full of alcoholics. It runs in the family. But there is hope. His 20-something niece recently got out of rehab and asked for money to buy a computer. At first he was skeptical. But when she explained that her sponsor recommended it so that she could find meetings online, he was relieved. There is hope for this family after all!
Bill Wilson, the found of AA and the author of the Big Book, would be proud of this man. Before starting AA, Bill W used alcohol to keep his wife at a distance so that he could prowl for women. After creating AA, he discovered that he could blame his past indiscretions on the alcohol, since he had no control when drunk. Also, because it was a disease, his wife was responsible for taking care of him when he got home drunk. She had made the sacred vows: “In sickness and in health”.
So kids, the lesson is this: If you get tired of your boyfriend or girlfriend, but don’t want to seem like the “bad guy”, just get good and drunk and go for a walk ’round the bars. If they complain or suggest you have a problem with alcohol, just tell them that they’re paranoid and that you can control your drinking thank-you-very-much. Often just the insinuation is enough to get them to break up with you on their own, but if not, you can always start going to meetings and discover that he/she was actually toxic for you the whole time, as you can see clearly with your new-found sobriety.