The first time I told anyone that I might be gay was terrifying. I was surprised at the way my friends all took the news. In fact, nothing changed at all. No one freaked out or stopped being my friend. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They let me be the drunk, hot mess that I needed to be in order to be myself. They let me stay at their houses, puke in their toilets and cry my eyes out when needed. I needed to be drunk. All of the time. I felt like I was living one big lie. My friends knew that I was gay but my family didn't know- I was living a double life, in a sense.
I was waiting for the perfect time to tell my parents. I always thought I'd tell them "after I moved to a different city" or "once I graduated college" so I wouldn't be such a disgrace. Well, as it turns out, I didn't have to tell my parents... they found out in April 2009 after I went to Gay Pride in Las Vegas. Not sure that's how I would have liked for it come about, but it did and I'm strangely okay with it now. I guess there would have been no "easy" or "awesome" way to tell my parents.
The next few months, to put it nicely, were hell. Utter and complete hell. My parents didn't take the news well and I tried to drown myself in liquor. I did a pretty good job, too. The months turned into a year and a couple of months; I thought that running away would solve all my problems. I moved to Las Vegas in September 2010 and stayed good and drunk until April 2011. At that point I was more miserable drunk than I was sober and that was a problem.
Even though my parents/family do no agree with my sexuality or my lifestyle, they let me come back to Utah until I could get into rehab about a week later. I am very grateful for that. I don't know what would have happened if my dad wouldn't have booked my ticket back to Utah the day he did. My life was going downhill very swiftly, literally and figuratively.
The day I had my alcohol assessment at the Horizon House on April 29, 2011 was the first day I hadn't had a drink in months. I was hungover, miserable, and scared shitless. I was crying because my body hurt but also because I knew that I would have to face the fact that I couldn't hide behind Everclear, cheap vodka, and spiced rum forever... or I'd die.
I didn't know how to be sober and be myself. I had never done that before. I didn't know if I was ready to never drink again, but I knew that I didn't want to drink that day because I felt like shit. Alcohol was how I was able to be me, although, looking back I guess it wasn't really "me". I was able to cover up all my feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment for being gay. I also covered up all the hurt that I was feeling by drinking alcohol and blacking out. I was pro at blacking out. I guess I just figured that if I couldn't remember what happened last night, neither could anyone else. If only that were true...
Turns out that I hurt a lot of people, did a lot of stupid things, and probably killed my liver (and obviously my brain) by drinking-- all so that I could be myself.
Looking back it sounds kind of silly, but honestly, I wouldn't change a thing. I take that back. I would take back hurting other people along the way, if I could change the past. I can't do that, so I'm just doing my best to be a better friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, employee and citizen today. I really love my life today. It's not perfect and there are things that I wish I had or that I could be better at, but overall I'm the happiest I've ever been. The best part is that I get to be me and I don't have to drown myself in liquor to survive. I can actually show up to family events without a water bottle full of vodka- or better yet, I can actually show up at all.
The weirdest part about all of this to me is that by being sober I have definitely made more genuine and caring friends than I ever did when I was drinking. These people love me for me and not because I can drink a gallon of Vodka and still walk (not coherently, but still...). I was certain that once I was sober and people knew I was gay, I'd have no friends. I was thought I was destined to be a lonely old cat lady who didn't have any friends.
While I may be a cat lady, I'm definitely not lacking in the amazing friend and family department. Everyday I'm amazed at how many people truly care about me, regardless of my sexuality or anything else. I guess I am just a lucky girl because I know of so many people who lose everything because they are gay.Sure there are a few people who routinely try to "save me" from going to hell and help me overcome my gayness. I know they are just doing what they think is right- and that's cool.
I am very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life today and I'm so grateful that I am able to enjoy life sober and almost shame-free...I'm working on that one still. I know I still have a long way to go and that there will surely be bumps in the road, but for now I couldn't be more pleased with the way my life is going. I blame all of this on alcohol. If it weren't for alcohol I would never be where I am today or as happy as I am today. Seriously, alcohol allowed me to come to terms with who I am and now I get to be me sober. If you don't like it, you don't have to talk to me; I won't be offended. Plus, I have way too much going for me to be worried about what other people think about me.
Oh, and just for the record, I have been sober for 213 days today. That's 213 days that I mostly remember and that I've been able to be myself and for the most part be okay with me, too.
Pretty amazing considering that last year at this time I was probably throwing up in a garbage can next to the bed.