Admitting you’re an alcoholic to yourself is never fun, but it’s super unfunny when you have to tell someone outside of your inner circle. It’s even more awkward when it’s just discovered organically.
Last summer I was a temp and had just gotten hired full time at a new job and naturally I was thrilled as it had been a long haul in between jobs because of my
black shiny swollen liver trying to shoot out of my ass illness.
I go to various support meetings and one of them is an LGBT meeting that I adore. When I asked if it was okay if I attended such meetings, being straight and all, I was delighted when they replied that as long as I had the desire to stop drinking I was welcome there and homosexuality was totally optional. Suh-weet.
So in the spirit of such things, the annual Gay Pride festival rolled around and I volunteered to work in a recovery booth for said support group. As I was sitting there taking in all the sights and sweating like a virgin at a prison rodeo, I noticed what would be my NEW boss walking towards me, holding hands with another woman. It IS gay pride, after all. I thought nothing of it.
I sprang from behind the collapsable table and jumped in front of them.
Me: “Hey guys! How’s it going?!”
My New Boss: *stammering* “Ummm…great! You?
I proceed to make cheesy small talk with her and her friend and tried to appear confident and capable of doing a fine job in my new role at her company. Finally, she got up the nerve to ask me THE QUESTION.
MNB: *glancing around at the festivities surrounding us* “I thought you had a husband? And kids?!?”.
Me: “Yeah, I do! I’m married and I have two stepdaughters”. I couldn’t figure out why in the world she was asking me about my family. Seriously, you guys…I’m that stupid.
And then, like a 2 x 4 to the skull, it finally hit me. OMG.
Me: *laughing and not quite thinking things through* “OH! I’m not gay, I’m an alcoholic“! I proceeded to point to the recovery booth I had previously been manning.
Now here one could say EVERYTHING was out of the closet and figuratively on the table. I did NOT mean to “out” myself to my new employer, certainly…it just happened. It flew out of my mouth like
sometimes often things do.
To her credit she never mentioned our accidental rendezvous the following Monday and never told any of our coworkers to my knowledge. Over time as we worked together and learned more about each other we had some awesome private jokes and winks here and there and only once she mentioned that Saturday morning. We laughed about the awkwardness of that day and she offered, “I guess we both felt we had something to hide”.
I didn’t agree and told her so. I told her you couldn’t compare being gay to being an alcoholic. Being gay is part of who you are and she shouldn’t ever be ashamed, in my opinion. Now I look back on that exchange and I feel somewhat differently. She had felt shame for being gay. She had hidden it at times in her life. She also knew that it’s part of who she is, like her DNA or fingerprints.
Just like my alcoholism. It’s part of me, but not all of me. And that will never change, like my DNA or fingerprints. And if I’m being totally honest, my unbridled love of the show “Hoarders”.