To Thine Own Self Be True – Grapevine Article February 2003 by Steve C.

It’s the path to freedom

Self-concern and fear dominated me most of my life. I was also afraid that people could detect my fear so I drank to escape it and to escape from myself. When I was sober for two and a half years, I realized that the quality of my life left me wanting. I was still very self-conscious and full of fear.

Ill at ease in meetings, I decided to cut back on them. But I soon realized that fewer meetings couldn’t possibly be the right answer. I decided to take a deeper look into myself. Why was I so self-conscious and full of fear all the time, no matter whom I was with or where I was?

One day it dawned on me that my self-perception was so distorted that I couldn’t possibly live up to the person I was pretending to be because that person didn’t exist. Because of my religious background, I had not been able to admit that I was gay. So I had lived a lie my entire life. The result was terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair.

When I got sick and tired of being “sober and miserable,” I realized that my problem was deeper than alcoholism. My problem was sexual confusion. My alcoholism was merely a symptom.

The words “and we have ceased fighting anything or anyone–even alcohol” finally rang true for me. Ever since I was a child, I had modified everything about myself, from the way I walked, to the way I talked, to the way I dressed. And I was still a misfit. Thanks to AA, I don’t have to fight any longer.

Shakespeare said, “To thine ownself be true.” He didn’t say be someone you aren’t. Today I am alcohol-free. I am what I am–a sober gay man!

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