Sober in San Francisco (Aint Easy)

The author has been sober and on a rigid eating plan to control his addictions for some time. But nothing puts him to the test quite like time on the road.

Mood music for this post: “Saints of Los Angeles” by Motley Crue —

Here’s the thing with security conferences (and conferences in general): a ton of food is lying around and booze seems to ooze from every building.

That used to suit me just fine when I was a binge eater and wine guzzler. It offered a welcome respite from the pressure I was always putting on myself to succeed at these events. But then that’s what addicts do — pollute themselves to kill the pressure or the pain.

Luckily, I don’t feel that kind of pressure anymore. But the temptations can run hot when I’m on the road.

So here I am in San Francisco for the RSA conference and Security B-Sides events. I’m at a lot of events that involve drinking and instead of wine I’m sucking down club sodas and Red Bull. And, truth be told, I still have trouble feeling at ease in the crowd without the wine buzzing beneath the skin of my forehead.

But here’s the good news, kids: When you’re open about your recovery, people look out for you.

This morning, at the B-Sides event, one of my newer security friends warned me that the taco truck on the street below might not have food I can eat, and suggested a place around the corner that would be a better option. He knew about my limits from reading this blog.

Later, at the evening parties, people pointed me toward the non-alcoholic beverages.

I’ve been reminded again and again on this trip that there are some kind souls out there. Because I’ve opened up to them, they’ve accepted me for who I am without reservation.

It’s true that anonymity is a critical tool for those of us in recovery. Everything said at an OA or AA meeting stays there. One must never out another person.

But I chose to out myself, partly because it’s easier for me to stick with recovery when I don’t have to make up strange excuses for why I can’t eat at a certain place or have a glass of alcohol.

A lot of addicts worry about being scorned and seen as a freak by those around them if they reveal too much. To a certain extent, it’s a valid concern. To be sure, there are plenty of shitheads out there.

But my experience is that those people are a very small minority.  Since just about everyone has a few skeletons in the closet, they can identify. And that seems to make everything better.

As a dear friend of mine likes to say, if you can’t get rid of the skeletons in your closet, might as well make them dance.

So to those of you looking out for me while I’m here, I thank you.

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17 thoughts on “Sober in San Francisco (Aint Easy)

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  14. The fact that you are honest about these things speaks volumes for your integrity. We talk about full disclosure, you live it.

    Add to that the ability to attend, enjoy, and function at these events is a demonstration of strength. You bring the smackdown on your demons so well it almost looks easy.

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  16. I especially enjoyed your use of the word “shitheads” in this one. Interstingly, I can’t find that word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary 🙂

  17. Bill

    Your openness and frankness of the challenges you face are an inspiration to many, including those of us who do not suffer from any addicitions.

    Keep strong and keep up the great work.

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