October, 1988. I was 34 years old and had a live-in boyfriend. We'd been together for 4 years. We were both alcoholics. He was 10 years my junior (I've always been attracted to guys younger than myself). He was also a hypochondriac, HIV positive, addicted to pain meds shopping and lying. And he was a psycho. Definitely bi-polar. We had met in a gay bookstore while doing the nasty in a back room. Neither of us ever had any pretention of being monogamous. Perfect fit, eh?
I could write for hours about that relationship, but I digress.
The company I worked for sent me to Trinidad and Tobago for a short project. I would be gone for a couple of months. I was thrilled to get away from Psycho. While there I quickly discovered one of the world's great pubs. Straight, of course. Yeah, right. Not when I was there.
This initial overseas assignment turned into years of more travelling. A good part of those travels were by myself. For the next 5 years, I would spend weeks and months in port cities, living in hotels. I worked in straight environments with frequent visits by my boss. For a couple of those years, my boss and I lived together in a rental home near London. The home also served as our office outside the USA. If anyone ever suspected I was gay OR an alcoholic, they didn't let on (to me, at least). Work by day. Drink at night with the occasional sexual tryst.
I became very good at separating work from play. They were literally two different lives. They ran parallel to each other. I would often travel from London to a small port in Holland. That included the 45-minute flight to Amsterdam followed by an hour train trip north. Nearly every time I made that trip I would stay overnight in Amsterdam at a gay bathhouse. Amsterdam provided all my wants. Good bars, easily available marijuana and sex. Then I would head off to work early the next morning, no one the wiser. I did this countless times.
I've heard many times in AA meetings how we are so good at compartmentalizing our lives. That's exactly what I did.
During those last years of drinking when I had returned to Houston I tried not to show my alcoholism to my mother. When I visited her it would be in the mornings, before I began drinking for the day. On holidays and family get-togethers I rarely stayed more than a couple of hours. Had to get to the bar, ya know. I tried to hide it from Mom, but she knew. Oh yeah, she knew.
Today, I am so lucky to be able to continue making my living amends to her as a sober and responsible son. Now is when it counts. Now is when she really needs me and I am there for her. Not only do I love sobriety, I love recovery.