Tonight I nearly had an alcoholic relapse. Not for the first time this year I’ve been having pretty strong thoughts about getting drunk. But this time it’s worse than the other times. I came closer than ever before to picking up a drink tonight. I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog for about the past three hours. I need to get a lot of shit out of my system. Sorry to those readers who don’t like profanities. I’m probably going to swear a lot tonight.
I came closer to a relapse tonight than I ever have in the past two years because I felt totally and utterly alone. I was at my home group in Notting Hill earlier, the place where I should have felt amongst friends, but for some reason I didn’t. I couldn’t share because it was a busy meeting, and for the first time there were no gaps in which I could open my mouth and say my name like there usually are. Everybody was jumping in very quickly tonight, so I ended the meeting without having said an honest word about the state that I was in. As always I joined the group for coffee afterwards, and I was able to sit with my new sponsee, who is very chatty and keen to talk about how excited he is about sobriety.
He was the only person I could really talk to at the café. Once he’d gone, I felt like an outsider in the group that I used to know so well. I was back inside that glass bubble that used to encase me at school and at college before alcohol came along. The voices in my head were very loud tonight, telling me that no one wanted me there at the café, they all had to be thinking that I was some weird freak intruding on their social space. There was absolutely no evidence to suggest that they were thinking this, but of course there was no evidence to suggest they were thinking anything else. I couldn’t jump into the conversation and give them the chance to prove my worst fears wrong. All I could do was sit there and feel like an idiot while everyone else laughed and talked and interacted around me.
I can’t give people the chance to prove that they like me, because after all these lonely fucking years I still can’t trust people enough. Even in AA, where I’ve been given so many opportunities to let go and trust, I remain that little bit distant from things. I don’t say ‘hello’ to everyone all the time; I don’t talk to newcomers or give my number out; I don’t share in that many meetings; I don’t get invited to AA dinners and parties any more. I haven’t quite got over the last remaining bit of social anxiety and so I feel as if I’m pressed up against the window looking in on everyone else in the middle of the AA bed, where it’s warm and cosy and ever so happy.
At times during the past two years I think I’ve managed to make it inside the central sphere of AA life, for instance when I was going to Dean’s place regularly for coffee and chats last year; when I went to Gavin’s place with the fabulous clique to play cards and listen to gay music last summer. There used to be lots of things like that happening; now there aren’t. Again tonight I noticed a little group going off for dinner – everyone else seemed to be asked along, except for me, even though I was hungry and could have done with a really expensive meal in a posh restaurant in Notting Hill. It doesn’t feel right to invite myself along to these things. Am I mad or am I really missing something here?
By 9 o’clock this evening I felt completely out of it and had to leave the café. I can’t understand why I’m beginning to feel like the loner in the school playground again, but that’s what’s happening. I desperately, desperately want to be part of the group like I used to be, but I don’t really know how to be part of it. I know if I was being more honest in meetings about what’s actually going on for me at the moment, I might feel less like a fraud when I sit with my sponsee pretending to be sane and normal. At one point tonight I thought that I’d probably be better off with him sponsoring me, and he’s only two months sober. That’s not a joke. I really don’t know what I’m doing in AA any more, where I’m going.
I’ve reached a point where something needs to change and it’s not changing. People come up to me all the time telling me how well they think I’m doing, how inspiring I am to them. I hate it when they do that because I think they couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not doing well at all. I might not be drinking, but something is very wrong with my life and with every day that passes the pretence gets harder to maintain. It’s not that I expect to be a happy bunny all the time – last year I definitely wasn’t happy, joyous and free every day, but over all life was better than it is now. This year I’m being forced to face up to things that I don’t like about myself.
It’s become clear how much work I still have to do on my addictions. Every day there seems to be another new problem to deal with. I’m not saying this to moan, I am just trying to be honest. The problems are not going away, they are just getting worse because I have no fucking idea how to deal with them. I don’t know how not to be a sex addict, no one’s telling me. I went to a SLAA HOW meeting the other day and all I got was that you have to be celibate for the first twenty years or something. What fucking good is that going to do me? I’ve already done celibacy, and it’s driven me round the fucking bend.
So I left Notting Hill and went straight to Soho, the place I would feel naturally inclined to relapse in because I know how to get drunk there. It would be so easy to walk into any bar on Old Compton Street, get wasted, meet some guy and have random drunken sex to top the night off. I did it millions of times in the old days. Last night I had some kind of flashback as I was falling asleep which took me back to those days: I was in G-A-Y Bar, holding a pint in my hand and chatting freely to some older bearded bloke whilst dancing to Kylie. That would have been the best part of a drinking night out, the part where I’m drunk enough to talk to sexy strangers but not so drunk that I’m falling over and urinating myself yet.
I wanted to experience that again tonight. I realised in the meeting tonight that I miss going crazy in Soho; I miss standing in bars and talking to guys who might actually be interested in having sex with me. I don’t miss the hangovers, the embarrassing morning after recollections, the waking up in strange beds in random parts of London. But for a while tonight I thought I might be able to convince myself that none of those bad things mattered.
As I immersed myself in the Soho throng I really didn’t know if I was going to drink or not. I wanted the oblivion, the feeling of calmness and release that comes with inebriation. I knew a terrible hangover might be on the cards, but I wasn’t so concerned about that. A hangover I could probably deal with, I’ve done it so many times before. What I was really concerned about was the nearly two years of sobriety under my belt that I was about to throw away. If I was going to drink, that would be it, no more sobriety. I don’t think I’m one of these people who could go straight back to AA after a relapse. I’d know that in another two years’ time I would probably feel like drinking again. So there would be no real point in stopping at a relapse. It would have to be constant drinking until death. All or nothing. I’ve always known that. Tonight, when faced with such a massive decision I was really unsure what to do.
I got to the Duke of Wellington on Wardour Street, bought a coke at the bar and sat at a table on my own, giving myself some time to think. What I really would have loved then was being approached by some gorgeous older guy who offers to take me home and show me a good time. That didn’t happen of course. When I was drunk it seemed to happen so easily. In my two years of sobriety, it has never once been easy. Full of fear, insecurity and shame about my body, I can never come to any sexual or romantic encounter without a head full of noise and negativity. That would have been another reason to drink tonight. Drunk, I might have been able to make eye contact with someone who looked nice. Sober, I could barely look up from the table. After all this time, all this practise at being sober!
After ten minutes I felt desperate enough to send a very long text message to Spike, telling him where I was and what I was contemplating doing. I don’t know what I hoped to gain from this act of desperation. It was getting late and I knew he’d probably be asleep. I suppose in my fantasy he would have got on the phone to me instantly and told me that he was coming to get me. In reality, I got no response from him. If there had been a response, what could he have said or done to make any of it better? Really, what could have changed the fact that I felt so incredibly lonely I had to sit in a bar on my own drinking coke to avoid going home and being with myself?
That’s why I never pick up the phone to call people when I’m feeling that way, even in spite of all the talk you hear in AA about the mobile phone being a lifeline. I’ve never been a great fan of calling people at the best of times. Tonight I would have felt like I was just burdening people with my silly problems, and I didn’t believe there was anything anyone could say to make me feel better. I knew that I needed to find a way of making myself better. I either needed to get drunk, or go home and pray. Torn between two such unappealing options, I felt absolutely stuck. I resented the fact that I was so stuck, and then I resented myself for not being able to get unstuck. What a stupid fucking failure I am, I thought. How the hell did I get here? After two years, how is this madness still possible?
I haven’t helped my case in recent times by stopping my anti-depressant medication suddenly; nor have I helped myself by making a sexual dysfunction that I’ve always lived with into a big massive problem. I haven’t been communicating with my sponsor for a long time. I’m really fucking angry with my sponsor at the moment, to be honest. Ever since we finished the steps there has hardly been what you could call a relationship there. He hasn’t done anything wrong, as such. He just hasn’t done anything. I see him every now and then, tell him I’m fine then move on to speak with someone else. I don’t trust my sponsor any more. He wouldn’t know what I was talking about if I tried to broach the subject of sex addiction with him. He doesn’t have that kind of problem, apparently. And I still cannot stand his partner, Clive, who was there at the meeting tonight and who completely ignored me, as he has done a few times recently. I don’t blame him, I’ve been ignoring him too. I gave up feeling bad about that tonight. We don’t speak on each other’s wavelength and that’s all there is to it. I need a sponsor. But I haven’t got a fucking clue who I’m going to ask. I can’t think of a single person who I want to put my trust in right now.
I didn’t drink tonight. After finishing my coke I left the Duke of Wellington and got the tube safely home. Here I am now, feeling like the biggest loser in London. Wasting all that time and energy in preparation for a relaspe that was never meant to happen. What was the point in all that? Why the hell did I go to Soho tonight? I just wanted to get away from this life, this head for a while. What I’ve realised this year is that I am still incredibly angry about what’s happened to me in life, and that anger is going nowhere. I’ve written about all of it in this blog, and that’s great, but I haven’t been sharing about it in meetings because they’re all so fucking busy and you barely get the chance to open your mouth before you have the yellow card waved in your face to tell you to wrap up.
I feel like I’ve been let down by so many people in my life and what hurts the most is that I cannot do a thing to change that. People are fallible and my heart is broken by that. My mother, who I love to bits, is a co-dependent emotional cripple who cannot take too much reality without falling apart. I continue to need her to make everything all right for me, and she just can’t. My father isn’t able to be in my life very much because he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him and I don’t blame him for that, but it’s never going to change. I have to look after myself in the world now and I don’t really believe that I can. Doesn’t matter how much spirituality I read about or how much therapy I do – at the end of the day, I have to be by myself in this world sometimes and I don’t want to be.
I want some intimacy and tenderness in my life. I don’t expect love, romance or a long term boyfriend, but I want to be held sometimes by someone who really loves me. Upon careful examination it turns out that I’ve never had intimacy in my life. I’ve had boyfriends and romance, I’ve been told by various men that I am loved; but have I ever had real intimacy? Almost certainly not. I’ve never had real, authentic love where I know the person’s soul inside out and they know mine. What absolutely does me in tonight is that I don’t believe I’m capable of putting all the work necessary into the kind of relationship where those magical things might happen.
For a start I don’t know where the hell I’m supposed to meet someone authentic and real who I might be able to relate to on a level that isn’t purely sexual. Gay bars, saunas and sex clubs are full of physically beautiful men – it would have been very, very easy to find sex tonight. I strongly considered going to one of those places after leaving Old Compton Street but in the end I just couldn’t be bothered. I probably would have failed to get an erection again, and there wouldn’t have been any intimacy. Sex places are great for learning about what I like and don’t like doing with my body, but they’re not great for finding intimacy and tenderness.
A few weeks ago if someone had said to me that what I really need is intimacy and tenderness I probably would have scoffed, as I was still under the impression that intimacy and tenderness don’t exist. What’s changed my mind? I’m not sure. Someone mentioned those things in a step 11 meeting the other day and I guess it’s become my latest obsession.
See, I can’t think about anything without becoming obsessed by it. I don’t know where I’m supposed to find intimacy and it scares me that I’ll never find it and instead of putting it to one side like a normal person would, I’m obsessing about it to the point where suicide seems like an attractive option for shutting my head up. Because drinking again would mean suicide for me. At the moment it really doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world. Picking up the phone or going to meeting to share all this stuff does seem like the worst idea in the world. How embarrassing it would be to have to admit in an AA meeting full of people who know me that I am closer to a drink than I’ve ever been. What’s Spike going to think of me in the morning when he gets my desperate loser text messages? He’ll probably feel sorry for me and not know what to do for me. And that makes me feel a whole lot worse about myself.