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Addicts are not like us. They are not educated, opinionated, passionate, focused, spiritual, or disciplined. Addicts do not care about the world, themselves, or others. They choose to live selfish lives numbing out the world around them. Addicts don’t want to stop using, they just want the next high. Addicts are not like me.

Being gay really is all it is cracked up to be. My introduction into the gay life consisted of parties, and love, and warmth, and laughs. Growing up in a cis, heteronormative world, as most of us have, coming out can be like coming home to a family you never knew as they embrace you with welcome arms, rainbows, and glitter.

My first years out of the soft, safe closet were full of as many bumps and bruises as they were wonderful, warm times. I was suddenly surrounded by people who understood and, more importantly, inspired me.

I quickly grew to become a confident, self-accepting, socially conscious advocate.

I now spend my life tirelessly attempting to repair any and all problems in the world. Everything fell into place. My career changed my life. I was making a real difference and I could see the change in the world. If you met me at this time of my life, you would’ve thought I was happy.

However glamorous and exciting as these early days were, they also introduced me to another side of the gay community that few discuss openly. The frivolities and fun were usually enshrouded in copious amounts of alcohol and a variety of other “party favors.”

The glittery family provided many ways of escaping the difficulties of growing up in a society in which we felt different.

For some, these party-filled escape tactics become a necessary way of life, without which normal functioning became impossible. I wasn’t suppose to be one of them.

Addicts are not like me.

It’s easy to become acclimated to this colorful lifestyle and to spend every day and every night gay and wasted. I spent years this way. Then something changed. I started to be the last one awake at parties. I began to prioritize partying over my responsibilities.

Suddenly, I was going days and days without food or sleep. The severity of this issue ballooned too slowly for me to notice. I was using drugs and alcohol to be able to function in my normal life, yet I was completely sure I didn’t have a problem. Within a few short months, this problem grabbed ahold of me and I lost the career that meant more to me than life itself. I lost my self-respect, my status as a credible adult, many relationships, my clean record, my health, my home, my car, and my financial stability.

I now sit here sober and angry. I am angry because addicts are like me. Addicts are like us.

Addicts are doctors, and teachers, and visionaries, and lawyers. Addicts are desperate to heal, and yet the systems that exists to help support and heal those who suffer from this cunning, baffling disease are inaccessible to many of the most desperate addicts. Moreover, the physical and mental pain in the recovery process is excruciating and there is no cure. Family and friends slowly distance themselves. Society has no empathy for an addict in recovery. I have seen the desperation in enough tear-filled eyes to know there is room for change in how addicts are treated. My wish for humanity is that being a “friend of Bill W.” will someday feel as comfortable and socially acceptable as being a “friend of Dorothy.”

I try to look at myself in the mirror but my vision is blurred and I cannot seem to focus on anything. I squint and try again to see my own eyes, but still nothing.

I’ve been too wasted to see my own self.