It's inevitable, I guess. Eventually someone I know will stumble across this blog. So if you're that person, I'm writing this to you. I want to answer the questions that you may not feel comfortable asking.
First of all, how big of a deal is this secret you've found? That depends. We're not talking Men In Black, or Watergate tapes, or the Sacred Feminine and Knights Templar. I have no power or money to speak of, and I'm not running for office. In one sense you've just walked into a recovery meeting of sorts, where the basic rules of anonymity and confidentiality are tacitly assumed, if not always followed. Most of what you read here I've shared with complete strangers in 12-step groups for years. That takes guts, and I'm proud of it.
Here's where I stand today: Most of my family knows I'm an addict. (Even my grandparents – I had to sit in their living room a few years back and apologize for stealing a bottle of Vicodin.) And as for the burning question on the table, yes, my pastor knows. That day a year ago, when I sat in his office sobbing, parents at my side for support, was a turning point. I've worked here six years as your full time employee, I told him. People look up to me. Whether I feel like one or not, they see me as their pastor. All this time, as I've made myself available to God in the best way I know how, I've had a plan: Someday, I'll sit you down and tell you that I used to be an alcoholic/addict. I lied for a while, but now I'm done. And everything is fixed. But now I understand that it doesn't work that way. I'm an alcoholic. I'll always be an alcoholic. This will never go away. I can't lie anymore, so I'm pouring myself into recovery, and I'm ready to face whatever this means for my work here in the church.
If you indeed know me, you might also know my pastor. How do you think he reacted? Gracefully, wisely. He said that as an employer, he was not obligated by our church laws to fire me, bring me before the church board, or anything else of that nature. He said that as a friend and mentor, he was proud of me and excited for what God could do in my life now that I had come to the end of myself. We set up accountability checks, we prayed and hugged, and I went on with my life.
So on a professional level, the information in this blog probably wouldn't cost me my career, but it could seriously mess up the time line I've been following for “going public” with my addictions. You know, the one that says I'm just not ready yet to “go public” with my addictions.
I guess this is what I'd ask of you at this point. First, let me know you're “in.” Email me, call me, know that I've done the disclosure thing before, and I'll do it again. Many times. Chances are, you knowing about my addictions will ultimately be beneficial to both you and me.
Second, make a decision about this blog. If it's just not your thing, if the language is too course or the stories too raw, let it go. If you find it helpful or thought-provoking, then by all means, read and comment. Either way, if you're connected to other people who know me, help me keep it a secret. If (and when?) I lose my anonymity here, writing these posts will stop being helpful to me. At least in the way they've been helpful so far – in digging through emotions and details that are hard to talk about face to face. I haven't invited my pastor to read. He doesn't know that I relapsed in December, only that I am working my program and giving my all to find sobriety through God and the program.
Many of my fellow bloggers have written this post. One of my favorites is MPJ's, whose front page states: “Click the links below if you have realized you are My Mother, My Father, Anyone else who knows the real life me.” Cute. And profound and touching if you follow the links. I figured it was time for me to write my entry in the “what to do if you know me” genre.
So if you're my bass player, and you noticed that my Gmail account was open to a certain “Eli Hornby” when you used my computer this morning, welcome to my world. I think we need to spend some time over coffee soon. I'm free most days this week.
I wish I only had to introduce you to ME: dad, husband, songwriter, pastor. That’s the guy I see in the mirror. I love my kids, I’m good at fixing things, I love to read or chase my dogs around the house. But I lose track of myself sometimes when I’m hurting. That’s when my addict comes around, the bastard who would throw it all away for a moment alone with his drugs and his porn. He cuts me with a razor and he steals things just for the rush. He’s even tried to kill me. But there’s a huge difference between us, and I’ll tell you what it is: He’s a coward. And I’m not. I won’t let him have my kids, my beautiful wife, my job or my home. And since he hates exposure, I’m going to tell you all about him. I’m Eli, and I’m an addict.