By Martin J Smith
I am days away from getting a year of sobriety... again.
Last time I got a year, I gave up my apartment in West Hollywood after 15 days sober or so to go to Houston for rehab. I remember having an emotional breakdown, and yelling at one of my 12 Step meetings before I left.
I spent eight months in outpatient rehab. During which I got involved in the LGBT sober community in Houston. I worked the steps. I worked in retail. After those eight months, I got a little chip made of bronze, with the name of my rehab on one side and the Serenity Prayer on the other. My fellow patients and the facilitators passed the coin around, and they gave me words to hold onto as I move forward in life. I was given seven words: passion, worthy, wholeness, manhood, continuity, authenticity.
I do my best to live by those words. Passion in my writing, worthy of living my life, being authentic, being a man, to feel as though I'm not damaged, and to continue to live my life sober.
However, I did not continue to be sober. After 18 1/2 months, I relapsed in New York. For six weeks, I drained my bank account, doing everything and everyone except my drug of choice: crystal meth. So in a way I did continue, but not entirely.
My sobriety date is March 30th, 2016. The last thing I did was poppers. This also happens to be the day I left New York City. I get on my Southwest flight from LaGuardia to Nashville, then from Nashville to LAX.
I arrive at LAX around 1AM on the 31st. I feel feel defeated. In my own overdramatic mind, I equate myself to Grizabella the Glamour Cat. Grizabella is the cat who decided to venture out in the world, but comes back after many years, old and tattered. I go back to one of my regular meetings: an LGBT Young People's meeting in West Hollywood. And I share a Burning Desire, where I feel as though if I don't share, I'm going to drink or use. And I did feel like I was going to use.
After the meeting, the speaker that night came up to me and told me of a meeting he was secretary for. A meeting on Tuesdays at a house in Hollywood coincidentally named, Burning Desire. After going to my usual meetings the next few days, I go to Burning Desire.
It's in a backyard with a bonfire, pillows, a smoking section. And there I meet new people. I meet a future ex-boyfriend, a group of sexy men and women, two future sponsors. I get a commitment within a short amount of time, helping set up the mic.
After Burning Desire, I go to fellowship, the meeting after the meeting, with game night. There's food, music and we play Super Smash Bros, usually. We also play Street Fighter sometimes. We just chat, hang out. No drama.
After a month, I move to Glendale, and I get a job working retail. The following month, my boyfriend and I break up during Pride weekend. But I go back to Burning Desire. I avoid my ex, but our friends tell me we're still family.
After a few weeks, my ex and I started talking again, becoming friends. And we're still friends.
Then in July, I get another boyfriend, a man in his early 40's and another man, also in his early 40's, I like to call my FWA, Friend with Affection. All we did was kiss. Neither was jealous of the other.
In August, my FWA would join me and my friends to Malibu to go to the beach. I started going to Malibu on Saturday July 30th, with the man who owns the house where we have Burning Desire. It was four of us. We'd swim in the ocean, we'd talk spirituality, have lunch, take pictures. We'd be there for hours.
The following day I quit my job, buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, read it, and every Sunday of August, I'd join my friends for a beach day, same spot. There'd be music, I do impromptu drag. And, on the last day, we actually had a meeting.
Thanks to those days in Malibu, My whole program changed. I changed sponsors, I got more involved in the program, and I began to feel I belonged in the recovery community in Los Angeles.
I developed strong friendships, strong sobriety. In fact, this is the longest I've stayed in one state. I usually travel at least once a year. I did leave the city for a night for a failed flight attendant interview in San Francisco. But I usually leave the state, sometimes the country.
This has developed a sense of stability. Same surroundings, same people, same meetings. My sobriety is strong. It is stable. Yes, there have been a lot changes: boyfriends, lovers, houses, jobs, sponsors. But, I grew mentally, spiritually, emotionally. I love differently, I live differently.
I'm getting another one year of sobriety. I did it without rehab. And I owe it to my Burning Desire.