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My Story: Andrew H.

HAPPY PRIDE. Hi, my name is Andrew and I am an alcoholic.

 I am not really certain where, to begin with this. As the communications guy, I have requested several members as well as supporters of our group to make a written contribution, pertaining to the individual experience of being a part of/supporter of the LGBTQ+ community as well as their recovery/AA journey. I have decided to write a brief description of my personal account.

 So I am a cis-gendered gay man. 52 y/o. An alcoholic. An addict. Queer. An atheist. A vegetarian. HIV positive. Mental health issues. An animal rights guy. 

So many labels. A minority within a minority… Social stigma, I’ve got it covered.

 I have been in recovery for in excess of 3 years now. 

So here goes. I am exclusively gay. Meaning that I have never had intimate sexual relations with a member of the opposite gender.  Like almost a 6 on the Kinsey scale. My earliest memories are of feeling a bit different from the norm. I fumbled around my high school years with a basic cognition that men could indeed share a life with a man. However, I will point out that I grew up in Oshawa, Ontario (redneck central). 1980, the year I turned 13, my sexual curiosity was just beginning to peak. The Same year that AIDS was first reported… not ideal to be informed on a regular basis that the”gay plague” was god’s will…to be gay is paramount to death. 

So I reverted fairly deeply into my own closet. For me, the continuous lying, editing in my head everything I said, was exceptionally anxiety-inducing. 

It wasn’t until I was about 30 years of age that I came out to family and friends. Having returned from a brief stint living on the Canadian West coast and finally in a house of my own. The overarching response was ” Phew, it’s about time.” 

So I had 4 somewhat serious relationships within my time. Boyfriend #1, P. and I met online. #2 D. and I met in a bar. #3 A., we met in a gay bathhouse. #4 P. a bar. Am I sensing a theme here? 

BF #4  and I met up initially in a bar, it became very clear almost immediately that there was mutual interest, so after a beer, we simply cut to the chase and decided to move the party to either of our respective homes. Getting logistics out of the way first, we were each around a $10 cab fare from the village. P. then asked me what I had at home, to which my reply was beer, wine, vodka, weed, a couple of hits of “E”
and some coke. We went to my place because he had pretty much the same things except no coke.

 Match made in heaven. Not exactly. 

So we gave up all hard drugs, pretty much at my insistence, as I was approaching 40 years of age. I drank blindly for several years to follow. I know I am an alcoholic.

 So my dry date is Feb 12, 2016. 

My last binge of drinking lasted for several days. I was having auditory hallucinations while detoxing after the last 2 binges. Scary indeed. I still recall the shaking, sweating… but every time I attempted to close my eyes I would hear a radio DJ or a TV announcer. I truly was going insane. At New year’s Eve the end of 2015 I was going out for the night. I actually purchased a ticket for a bar. So I thought, may as well get a large bag of coke, otherwise, there’s simply no chance of my seeing the New Year in. Then at the club, a friend passed me a tablet, which I asked what it was only after I swallowed it. MDMA. Yikes. I was up for a few days. Having spent a couple of years in my futile attempts at achieving sobriety on my own. This was indeed a big wake up call. I saw a therapist in March of 2016. I was literally broken at that point and just stated to her I am suffering from concurrent mental health and addiction issues. Help. Please, what can I do? She suggested that I needed to be around other sober people and that AA may just provide that. My single biggest fear was that I had already made a fresh start with friends when I came out of the closet. Realizing that the majority of those who I considered my friends at this point were truly drinking/using buddies. I didn’t think I had it in me to start all over again with the friendship thing in my late 40s. 

So I got home and googled AA for gay atheists in Toronto. The results were either-or. So I went to an LGBTQ AA meeting that night. Feeling a bit disillusioned by a member sharing something about getting down on their knees and praying… I felt that this would indeed be a poor fit for me. Gratefully there was a kind man there who graciously explained what was going on. He sensed my obvious hesitation and indicated that I may find the Beyond Belief meeting in 2 nights more to my liking. I have truly never looked back. I am navigating making new friends as my sobriety grows. I continue to meet so many incredible people in AA.

My path has not been without its blunders and hiccups. However
I continue to strive to be a better person. The AA steps, which I totally wrote off as cultist propaganda early in my recovery, continue to amaze me. Giving me the resolve to continue my personal quest to be the best, most empathetic person that I can be. 

The group We Are Diversity, came from my very first AA experience. The Google search, not wanting for another suffering individual to possibly experience what I did. Service has been and will continue to be an integral part of my personal recovery.

The true bonus for me is that I found Beyond Belief as a fluke that 1st night. I know for a fact that had this strange sequence of events not transpired that night, I would not be where I am today. I have so much gratitude for those who have gone before me, my friend and prior sponsor Eric T., my current sponsor Barry S. Too many others to name. Thanks for my sobriety. For my life.

One Comment

  1. Elizabeth P-F Elizabeth P-F September 17, 2019

    What an amazing story Andrew! You are incredible. I feel like I knew some of it but the overview of how you got to where you are now was astounding and scary and amazing and joyful.

    Thank you for being so honest and for putting so much of yourself into this work.

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