When i try to reconstruct what my life was like “before,” I see a coin with two faces. One, the side I turned to myself and the world, was respectable—even, in some ways, distinguished. I was father, husband, taxpayer, home owner. I was clubman, athlete, artist, musician, author, editor, aircraft pilot, and world traveler. I was listed in Who’s Who in America as an American who, by distinguished achievement, had arrived.

The other side of the coin was sinister, baffling. I was inwardly unhappy most of the time. There would be times when the life of respectability and achievement seemed insufferably dull—I had to break out. This I would do by going completely “bohemian” for a night, getting drunk, and rolling home with the dawn. Next day, remorse would be on me like a tiger. I’d claw my way back to respectability and stay there —until the inevitable next time.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous p382

This passage from ‘The Big Book’ really struck a chord with me recently. It reminded me of my drinking and using, the image and life I would try and portray to both the outside world and to myself. In many ways I was living inside my head, living in fantasy. I had material things, a house, a car and I was running my own company but I would have this warped perspective and convince myself that aspects of my life; my success, my happiness, my state of mind were wildly different to what they actually were.

The truth is there was another side to all of this, I was deeply unhappy, living in a state of fear and putting on a mask to hide myself from the outside world from how I was I feeling. I used drinking and drugs to push this pain down deeper, living in a cycle of using and despair which only started to get progressively worse.

Life is different now thanks to recovery, I’m no longer hiding from my fears and able to deal with emotions and life situations as they come up. It’s not always easy, there’s a lot of growth which comes with pain after getting sober, but being more honest with myself and the world around me is a much better way of living and I’m grateful to now be living life on this path.