Finding Acceptance in the Fellowship

It was my first drunk that I found how I could fit in. I didn’t exactly like the way that I felt getting drunk at twelve years old; dumb and clumsy. But what I loved the most was that I was drinking with older kids who used to harass me and make fun of me for being younger, smaller and poor.

That’s how the addiction started for me. Of course I had fun and enjoyed partying like everyone else. But early on what I loved the most about drinking and partying was how it positioned me socially. Back then when I drank the girls that normally wouldn’t have anything to do with me were now suddenly flirting with me and treating me like one of the cool guys. The tough kids I wanted to be like were the sons of bikers. They would share their booze and drugs with me, give me rides in their muscle cars and bring me along for drinking induced illegal activities.

This type of drinking continued all throughout my teenage years and well in to my twenties. But eventually fitting in just wasn’t good enough for me anymore. My drinking started moving in to a completely different level. I found I got a lot of attention for being the crazy guy, the badass, the stud, or the lady killer. I wanted to be the Fonz of punk rock.

I was no longer satisfied with blending in with everyone else. I wanted to stand out by becoming a monster that no one would mess with. And I did just that. Mysteriousness, danger, street cred and status, all became the construct of my drunken identity. The hardcore punk legend in the making was taking place and all it took was for me to keep drinking. Because, when I drank I was dangerous, obnoxious, loud and crude and the fearless fighter. Every time I drank something inside of me would trigger an expectation that whatever I did would have to be that of legendary proportions. Yep, that’s how delusional drinking made me.

Early on my punk rock circle of friends gave me a nickname fitting enough for my Mediterranean and Irish lineage, and my lust for scrapping and chasing women. But this was all just a front I created in order to protect what I was really hiding – the real me.

After more than twenty years of living this destructive alcoholic life and creating a lot of heartache and pain, I was done. My drinking was out of control and I needed it to stop. I came to believe that I had no idea who I was anymore.

The one place I found unconditional acceptance was in an AA meeting in January 2010. After all the years of the drinking that which altered my perception of how I fit in the world, I didn’t need to qualify myself with any of you. It was in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous that the only thing I needed to have for qualification – was the desire to stop drinking. I knew my destructive behavior was primarily a symptom of my alcoholism and that when I drink I make very bad and dangerous decisions.

It took some time for me to really get comfortable in sobriety, so I gravitated to the recovering drunks who shared common interests as I. My first sponsor loved film and Rock ‘n’ Roll, which we would talk passionately about after meetings. I started bonding with other women and men in AA and becoming more focused on long term sobriety. The psychic change that is talked about in the Big Book was apparently working inside of me as I started caring about other people and their passions and desires.

I searched for over 30 years to be a part of something much greater than myself. In search of my own secret society, an underground of working class women and men who have a common bond that unites us all. I have found that in Alcoholics Anonymous. When I use to guard the hardcore punk scene so passionately from those less worthy of its existence, I have to share with others what makes me part of this fellowship. But I have to earn my AA chips to be able to do that. And that is exactly what I did.

I made my first AA meeting I went to my home group, and that’s also where I met my sponsor. I went to other meetings, and took suggestions from my sponsor once we started working the steps. I did a thorough 4th and 5th step, and completed working the steps. I’ve been working as a sponsor to other alcoholics since March 2011.

In the last two plus years of recovery I have learned to love and accept myself for not only who I am, but also for what I have survived to get to this point in my life. The rugged exterior has slowly cracked and crumbled away, revealing a man who has learned to love again, and to also accept love in return. As a result of working the steps, I have learned to forgive myself and also the persons, places and principles that I blamed for so much of my pain and anger.

Today I am free from the anger and resentments of my past. My life is much different now; peaceful and quiet. I work on a daily basis to maintain that freedom with a lot of help from the force in my life that keeps me sober, and also being grateful for the promises and rewards that I have today.

~ C.A. Salt Lake City

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