By Christian Parker
I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll start from the beginning. My name is Christian. I live in Manhattan. I’m a sober, gay person. I’m nearly 40 - which terrifies me. I got sober when I was 23 years old. I haven’t relapsed. I don’t know if that is because of effort on my part or just blind luck. I started drinking like an alcoholic when I was 15 years old. I discovered hard drugs when I was 16. I started toying with the idea of killing myself when I was about 13. I’ve felt out of place for as long as I can remember.
My childhood was, as one would bluntly put it, privileged. My parents, my brothers, and I lived a big and pretty life. On the outside, there was lots of glitz and glam. But on the inside, there was a lot of violence, abuse, words that can’t be unsaid, and overall a lot of pain - both physical and emotional. When I was about 15 years old, I found out that my father was a key player in one of the organized crime families of that time. I felt for my mother who, like us, felt trapped in a situation that no one signed up for. But she stayed with him, she is still with him. One of my parent’s main businesses was in restaurants, so alcohol was readily available both at home and when I would spend time hanging out with them at work. I used to love sneaking a little vodka or whisky or rum from their fancy as fuck decanters. I became very slick and sly when it came to delicately sneaking into the house bar and getting my fix in the middle of the night. To be honest, it helped me sleep. I liked the feeling of the alcohol. Regardless of the brand, I liked what it did for me.
When I was fourteen, I was hospitalized for an eating disorder. Then the depression set in and I was sent to several shrinks. I was diagnosed manic depressive. A well-meaning psychiatrist prescribed a low-level antidepressant. But it wasn’t a magic wand and didn’t work as fast as the alcohol, but still I took it. When I was 16, a friend of my father introduced me to the wonders of cocaine. The seemingly magical combination of alcohol and cocaine was an amazing experience. It was the best night of my life so far. For 15 minutes I felt like a king. I had courage. I could do anything. Those two substances when put into my body, made me the man I always wanted to be. In a real sense, whenever I think about the 9th step Promises, I’m reminded of that night. The promises happened to me that night. For those of you that don’t know what “the promises” are, they are a well known set of rewards in the recovery community. For example, “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness” is one of the 9th step Promises. And when I took drugs and alcohol, I most definitely knew a “new freedom and a new happiness”. Because that first high was so good, I spent the next 8 years trying to recapture that night. But I always seemed to miss the mark. On through the years, I drank and did cocaine. I wanted to be more social and wanted to meet other gay men. And at the time, I was convinced that going to gay bars and clubs was the only place to be around gay men. So, that was my avenue. I discovered more ways later, but that’s a story for another time. My drinking and using was never as good as that first time. I also had this unhealthy obsession with suicide and between the age of thirteen and thirty-four, I’ve attempted suicide 5 times. The only times I came close to doing the job was recently in 2012, in 2001, and in 2000 – right before I got sober.
This leads me to what happened. I went through a series of boyfriends and dalliances. I also went through a couple of jobs. I was convinced that after I got the job and the money and the boyfriend, I’d calm down my partying. I was always trying to fix my insides by working on my outsides. I later learned that recovery is an inside job. So after the boy of the moment left for the last time and after the job was finally done with me and my tardiness to work - the things that I thought defined me were no more. I was left with myself and sank into a deep depression. I ran to my mother. A using buddy told on me. It was getting bad. It was getting bad because I started crying all the time. I was peeing on myself. I was running up a bar tab I couldn’t possibly pay. I was running up a drug debt with my dealer that was getting dangerously high. And with no job and no income, I started to panic. My mother entered the situation and introduced me to a Park Avenue doctor that would help. I flushed my cocaine down the toilet in that doctor’s office on December 9th, 2000. I entered a rehab center in the hill country of Texas on January 9th, 2001. The four weeks in between were the darkest, most dangerous times I can recall. How dark it is before the dawn. In that brief period of time, I managed to get caught stealing from my mother’s purse, get involved in a hit and run auto accident while in a blackout, went back to jail for a second time for something I can’t even remember, and tried to kill myself by overdosing on pain medication, antidepressants, and an obscene amount of alcohol. After I downed the pills and alcohol, I tried to walk to my parent’s place. On the way, I decided that I needed a rest, so I laid down to sleep. The maid, Lala was doing errands that afternoon and found me in a doorway of what is now the Tom Ford store on Madison Avenue and 70th street. My mother was notified and in a panic drove me to the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital. I came to two days later. There was a nurse at my bedside. I was strapped into the hospital bed.
She asked me if I knew where I was or what I tried to do. I told her that I didn’t want to kill myself. That I don’t like pain. And that all I really wanted was to take a nap. A long nap. That I thought that maybe when I woke up all these terrible things would be over. While in that bed, I remember thinking to myself, over and over again as I had on so many sleepless wired nights
before... “God, if you’re there, please just take me away. Take my life.”
And he did. He took that life so he could give me a new one.
On January 9th, 2001, I entered a treatment center in the hill country of Texas.
To be continued...