Today one day has turned into SEVEN-years of continuous sobriety for yours truly. In celebration and reflection of the past seven years, I wrote an article about my first day clean and sober for the latest issue of The Fight Magazine.
I’m feeling grateful.
I wanted to quit the drinking, the drugging and the whoring that was followed by more drinking and drugging and whoring. I couldn’t quit on my own. The jig was up.
BY PAULO MURILLO
There comes a point in a certain gay man’s life when he faces the harsh reality that he is not Madonna. Needless to say, I was not having a Madonna moment when I stood outside the Van Ness Recovery House with my ass brutally beaten after a nasty four-day run with crystal meth that January 10, 2007. I was roughly 24-hours clean and sober when I made my way up that driveway on Beachwood Drive to check myself into rehab.
Being on Day One sucked ass. I had some extravagant – if not delusional – ideas about myself – none of which included rehab being part of my story. Rehab was for quitters and I sir, was no quitter. I was a survivor, yet there was no denying that I had taken that dreaded first step and admitted complete powerlessness over drugs and alcohol. I wanted to quit the drinking, the drugging and the whoring that was followed by more drinking and drugging and whoring. I couldn’t quit on my own. The jig was up. I knew getting clean and sober was real this time. I knew my life would be split in a time and space between before and after I got sober. I knew I was done. It wouldn’t be easy, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I stood up and introduced myself as an alcoholic addict with one day clean and sober.
I wish I could articulate the cringe-inducing shame I felt in those first days of sobriety. Recovery went against everything that I believed in or stood for. It also contradicted my family upbringing, for there isn’t a single family member in my gene pool who is sober or works any program of recovery that I’m aware of. The shame was unbearable. I thought my life was over. I crashed and burned at the rocky bottom of addiction, yet I was still at the mercy of a giant-sized ego and pride that caused me tremendous suffering. The ache of my new existence, which throbbed like a rotten tooth, was this idea that I was no longer cool. OMG, what will people think? Sobriety didn’t sound edgy, fun or anything remotely cool. And to quote Cher, “The worst thing in the world is to be uncool.”
However, one look in the mirror and I had to let go of my old ideas where coolness was concerned. I was in really bad shape at one day sober—now don’t get it twisted, the body was cute with my tiny waist, tight washboard abs, perky pecs and broad shoulders, but the shocked look on my face exposed my drug use. I remember my clenched jaw, the sunken cheekbones, baggage under my bloodshot eyes, the rubbery texture of my skin, and the open pores that seemed to scream, “Tweaker!”
Then there was the hurt on the inside, which goes without saying. My internal clock was all out of whack, which had me twitching all over the place. Everything straight up hurt, from the balls of my feet to my actual balls, to my chest, to the tips of my hair. Yeah, I was done.
Every New Year, I’m reminded of Day One when I see newcomers line up to get their welcome chips with their tight little bodies and shocked facial expressions. It’s newcomer season in the month of January. Those welcome chips fly faster than a brand new gym membership in the beginning of the year. Some guys get it and stick around. Some guys do not. But it’s always fascinating to see a new life flourish for those who do decide to stay.
People often ask me what a newcomer should expect in their early recovery, to which I say, stay out of expectations, then expect miracles; be open to everything and never forget those final moments that led to recovery. People don’t usually decide to get sober because they had a bad day, a bad week or a bad month, and whatever shit went down that led to that surrender doesn’t just go away by simply attending a few meetings. It works, but you have to work it.
There are those who accrue some time and conveniently forget their early days in recovery. I’m always fascinated by the people with time who are straight up mean to those who are newly clean and sober-especially to those who are returnees, whether they’re being nasty and dismissive to a newcomer’s face, or by talking shit behind his back–oh how quickly some people can forget their Day One. It’s fucked up and unfair to judge those who can’t stop doing what comes natural to all of us as alcoholics and drug addicts. We like to drink and use. Those who say they wouldn’t trade their worst day sober for their best day drunk are either full of shit, or they straight up weren’t drinking and drugging the right way. We actually go against what is normal when we stay clean and sober for many years. And in comes the miracle.
NO MORE SHAME
At day one I was given what some like to call the gift of desperation. By the grace of something greater than myself, that one day has recently turned into seven years of continuous sobriety for yours truly this January 10. Day one was awful. Day one is the reason I am still sober today. I strongly believe that it is easier to stay sober than to get sober, so if you’re new in recovery, stick around. It gets so much better.
Looking back now, I can’t believe I thought my life was over when I made that first step. Life had actually just begun. To quote a soccer mom, “There’s no more shame in my game.” Madonna would be proud.
***For more Paulo Murillo commentary visit thehissfit.com. Welcome chips provided by my12stepstore.com.***
It’s newcomer season in the month of January. Those welcome chips fly faster than a brand new gym membership in the beginning of the year. Some guys get it and stick around. Some guys do not. But it’s always fascinating to see a new life flourish for those who do decide to stay.