From Wannabe to Spinach to Kryptonite to Recovering
I always wanted to be somebody else. It originated when I was a young boy; I wished I was my cousin. He lived on a farm with lots of brothers and sisters, and farm animals, too. Fun and excitement were status quo at his house. All I had was two crummy sisters and a mongrel dog that liked to hug my leg. In second grade, I wished I was the kid that all the girls adored. I don’t know what I would have done with all of them, but that’s who I wanted to be. There’s one in every crowd, and I wanted to be that one.
When the Beatles were unveiled on The Ed Sullivan Show, I was eight. I wanted to be like them, with the mop tops, the girls screaming, and all those Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s. If only I could be a Beatle… When I played baseball, I wished I was the kid who was the best player, or maybe Mickey Mantle would do.
Being me was never enough. I felt incomplete, insufficient and overlooked. I was certain I was AWOL the most important day of school, when the secrets to life were exposed. Something was missing, but I kept it secret.
The day everything changed is still vivid; somebody handed me my first beer. That drink was my Big Wow, my moment of enlightenment. It turned me loose, it set me free; it rocked my world. It was history in the making. I wasn’t that square peg trying to fit in a round hole any more. In a hot minute, I got cool, got girlfriends, joined the In Crowd, and Bam! became a Somebody going Somewhere. Before long, I was a hippie doing what hippies do. My life revolved around partying, and I forgot I ever was that nobody going nowhere. I wasn’t him anymore; I was somebody else.
Every day for the next sixteen years I was under the influence of something better than reality. I wanted to feel good or nothing at all. That’s who I was.
Eventually, alcohol began taking away more than it was giving. My world was shrinking, but my problems were growing. I hoped it would pass, but it intensified.
At that sacred, ugly place alcoholics call bottom, where we cry out for help to something, to anything, and then to God, I surrendered. I knew my hopeless struggle with alcohol would be my endgame. Desperation opened a door into the unknown; they called it sobriety.
I entered rehab, and then AA meetings. I felt like that wannabe all over again, but shackled to my alcoholic wreckage, with a dreadful headfull of yesterdays and tomorrows. I’d forgotten what it was like to have no power, after alcohol provided it for years. Here I was again: unplugged.
I was thirty-three, acting fifteen, trying to trick the world into giving me its approval. Perhaps if I went to enough meetings, said enough prayers, and made enough coffee, I would regain the power I lost. Then my life would be better. Ultimately, it required more than that for me.
The turning point in my recovery occurred after I was confronted with my second surrender, activated not by alcohol, long left behind, but by character defects and my ego. I knew my time in AA was running out. However, after attending just the right meeting, I embarked on the Fourth Step Inventory I had avoided
The following day, on my way home after taking my Fifth Step, I was thinking if I did this a year ago, I would have had a pretty good year. Now life didn’t have to change to suit me; that’s too much to ask for. But now I knew I could change. Recovery began here, on the fourth of my …
I was that kid who wanted to be somebody else, and the guy who found magic in the bottle, drinking to dream bigger dreams; then, the guy in AA who thought he worked the program. After hitting a brick wall, my real journey through the steps was triggered. I’ve had two lives in AA, but I nearly missed the second one.
When I really tried, I got what I wanted all my life. I am somebody else. I couldn’t have guessed they had that here.