William Cullen Bryant is right: "Truth crushed to earth will rise again."
In November 2001 I was 27 years old. A month shy of 28. I had been crushing the truth to earth for as long as I could remember. So much truth. Crushed to Earth. That sounds awfully dramatic, and as I recall it was just how it was.
I liked when adults were pleased with me. I basked in the glory of their praise and attention and so I sought to do well. It wasn't hard. I was a smart kid and a creative and athletic kid. I was a cute kid, a white kid and a Preachers kid. Decent cards, eh?
Like the rest of the people on this planet, I arrived into a sea of ideas that others gathered of who I should be, what I should like, how I should act and what I should want. I found the things that I SHOULD be and I aimed to become them. I aimed to please. Sound familiar? Yep.
My hearts desires didn't match many of the 'shoulds' that were proposed to me by adults or by the world's elusive consensus. My hearts desires didn't align with the signs people held claiming God loved some and hated others. Didn't align with many things, but I wanted to please and the should's were my map.
I began drinking around 1986 because alcohol aligned me somehow. It kidnapped some part of the equation that made living so painful. I don't know which part. It made it easier to say what I actually thought about you, to recognize and articulate how I felt. It gave me the confidence to join in, I didn't feel like an eyesore in my skinny skinny frame. Alcohol appeared to make you like me more too. All of the awkward, the worry, the shame of not living up to shoulds, all of that vanished when I drank.
Up to then and for the next fifteen years I would crush so much truth to earth. In the beginning, alcohol was my friend. It was my solution. It made the crushed truth not hurt, it made the secrets bearable and I could endure the lies and the many isolated compartments in my life. The longer I drank, the less alcohol helped and it began to turn on me. I'd always blacked out, but who I was in a blackout began to change. I had been funny and the last one on the dance floor at any club. I became erratic, angry, anguished and impossible. The 'truth' became distorted and this new form of it would rise aggressively through alcohol. Shamelessly, irresponsibly, and without any skill.
I hurt people.
I didn't know how to ask myself who I was and love her. I steadied myself so absolutely against the SHOULDS that were presented to me, I wanted so badly to please the people around me. I would leak ambition from time to time and move through life in what appeared to be a courageous, albeit cantankerous, manner.
I wasn't ready. I needed alcohol. I needed medicine to bridge that journey. Unfortunately, or fortunately, alcohol turned on me. I am an alcoholic which makes me bodily and mentally different from non-alcoholics. Facing social and character death, I had a decision to make. Would I keep drinking and roll through life in this horrible cyclical fashion I'd become accustomed to? Drink, want to stop, swear I'd stop, try to stop, drink... or would I accept spiritual help?
In Chicago, IL on the third day of November 2001, at the age of 27, I asked for help.