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Grapevine : September 2011
My next thought, however, was, Does this mean I can drink? It seemed, for an instant, as if the past was just a bad dream. The disease of alcoholism is cunning, waiting for me to let my guard down, and this was the perfect opportunity for it to squash my spirit again. I began to feel like I'd never been in a bar before, like a young man ready to meet great new adventures never before experienced. After 30 minutes, I was prepared to leave, even if it meant losing out on future employment. Nothing was more important than maintaining my sobriety. At least I still had that much sense. Scanning the menu for take-out, I discovered most of the food con- tained alcohol, something I purpose- ly avoid. I could have built an instant resentment. Finally, I was enjoying life, content and honest with myself, and excited about being in the mo- ment. Of course, my next thought was, And I can't even celebrate! Thankfully, God helped me choose not to build upon this resent- ment. Instead, I continued my ef- forts, remembering stories I'd read in the Big Book. I recalled the basics, but most importantly, recognized and accepted deep down, "Once an Alcoholic, Always an Alcoholic." This is true regardless of who we become on the road of recovery. When the desire to smoke popped its ugly head, I reflected deeper, on the newest and dearest price of all. It had been only two years since I realized my true identi- ty. With just a single swig of alcohol, I could possibly lose everything I had gained and learned about myself. One sip is all it would take for me to lose this new freedom to experience joy without guilt, shame or bewilder- ment. I had waited all my life to feel this freedom and knew it only came from living sober. In the end, my colleague didn't show. I ordered a "safe" sandwich to go and drove home. God had kept me sober and safe from myself. I arrived home able to meet my responsibili- ties and commitments, grateful to be able to call the people I love and let them know I was home safe. As my transition to male contin- ues, I am making space to feel guilt- free joy, the very thing I searched for all those years behind a bottle of booze. I am grateful for those who came be- fore me who drilled into my mind and heart never to hide from my illness, to stay sober in unexpected, challenging moments and to remember, "Once an Alcoholic, Always an Alcoholic." Malkiel-Robert Dartmouth, Nova Scotia My mind threw me a wicked curve ball as I became aware of the "new me" feelings. 44 September 2011