It took some hard lessons for Alexander to realize that he didn’t have to keep living his life by other people’s standards.
Alexander Kacala was a gay man struggling with alcohol.
Alexander’s friends tried to tell him he had a problem. His body tried to tell him. The law tried to tell him. But the changes didn’t happen until he was ready to tell himself.
In his words:
My name is Alexander Kacala, I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I never really drank or partied in high school until I turned about 18 and that’s when I discovered alcohol. In the beginning it was amazing and positive and I loved it and it definitely connected me to people and it definitely gave me friends, and it was great for a couple of years. Slowly, problems just started coming up and arising.
One of the nights I drank so much that I passed out before we even went out. And the next morning I woke up and I was like, “I don’t even remember going out.”
And my roommates were like, “Oh, that’s because you didn’t. You blacked out before you even went out.”
And soon I really started getting in these ridiculous arguments and fights with people and people started referring to me as a monster, they would say to me, “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone do that and it was scary and the type of person you became was a monster.”
And that was really hard for me to hear and I started hearing that more and more.
A few years ago I had been out one night and I had drank too much and I met this really cute boy and he was bi-curious and we met on the dance floor of this club in Old City and I kissed him he said, “Oh, I’m going to this after hours place.”
And I said, “Oh, I want to follow you there.” And I had happened to drive.
But I got behind the wheel of my car and I drove to the second place, parked, got there safe. And then we were there and I was like, “You know what, man, I’m really tired and I gotta go home.”
So I got back in the car, I put my “Chorus Line” soundtrack on, and I remember just nodding off, kept nodding off, then I fell asleep. And the thing that woke me was hitting these parked cars. The last car that I hit, I hit it so hard that my car flipped over. Ambulance and police came, they battery rammed me out of my car, took me to the hospital, cut me out of my clothes, then took me to prison.
I was in this jail cell with this dude, he was probably 300 pounds, and he seemed like a tough ass dude going into the experience. I was kind of intimidated. He was like, “What did you do to get in here?”
And I explained to him what happened. And in that moment he was so inspirational and he really cared for me. And I don’t even know who he was and I never will. But he was like, and it really makes me upset when I talk about it, but in that moment he said to me, “Oh, man, you are meant to be here. God cradled you in his arms last night and you are meant to be here for some reason. I don’t really know why, but if i were you I wouldn’t ever drink another drop of alcohol ever again.”
I didn’t listen. I went back to drinking after that and I had a couple more years of negative behavior and dramatic behavior and constantly getting into trouble. This one day here in Philly is Out Fest and it’s a huge celebration in the Gayborhood, thousands of people come out and I got to work early that day and I was really committed to doing a good job because I had already been on the fringe at the bar I was working at for some other stupid stuff and some drama. And I had a couple drinks and then I was ready to go home and I realized, “Oh, I forgot my charger back at Tabu” so I went back to where I was working. And then I was there and I had another couple of drinks and I hadn’t eaten all day because I was working. And the next thing you know I got in some fight with some stranger, she was a girl, I don’t even know what we were arguing about, what she said that pissed me off but she said something and I poured a beer on her.
I woke up the next morning being like, “Oh my god, what happened last night?”
I didn’t really know but I felt that something had happened. Later that day I already had a meeting set up with the manager, or the owner, and we had a meeting about something and then at the end he was like, “So do you want to tell me what happened last night?”
And I was like, “Oh, I know something happened but I don’t really know, I think this is maybe what happened, I think I maybe poured a beer on a girl.”
And he was like, “Yeah, that’s exactly what you did.” He said, “I think you have a problem.”
And I listened to him. And I walked away from that really, really upset, really angry at myself. And two days later I was with my best girlfriends and we were about to start drinking for the night and we had gone into this convenience store and they said, “Oh, we’re going to pick up some beers. Oh, I’ll get two pumpkin beers.”
But something inside me was just, “I don’t want to start this cycle over again.”
Because it was always a cycle and it was always doing something bad and then having healthy behavior for a couple of days and then going right back into it. And I had the first beer, and I kept the second one, because I just didn’t want it. I got home and I sat in my apartment and I was alone and I was drinking that second beer and I was just like, “I’m so ready for this to be the last drink that I ever have.”
And I was like, “I really have to post about this because if I post about it, it’s really going to prove to people that I’m being honest with myself about this problem, a problem they all already probably know I have and it’s really going to make me be accountable.”
And once I put it out there like that, I can’t go back to the bar the next week and have a drink. I woke up the next day, I fell asleep that night on the couch, and I looked at my phone and there were all these “likes” and comments and people commenting who didn’t even know Adult Alex, who didn’t even know about my drinking problem, people from elementary school, congratulating me and wishing me “good luck”, and so that was really scary in that moment because I was really exposing myself to those people, but that day was October 15, 2013.
There’s so much pressure being put on everybody, especially the gay community, about how to live your life. And we’re constantly being told that the way to live that life is by drinking. Be wild, have fun, be crazy, do all these great, amazing things, and be smart, and be sassy, and be promiscuous, but in order to really achieve those things, we’re conditioned that we can only achieve those things by drinking.
There’s a line I’ve said before and it’s, “Never stop the party just change the way you do it.” And I really do believe in that, and that’s something that I live by. I’m still going to party, I’m just not going to drink while I do it.
Originally published at ImFromDriftwood.com. I’m From Driftwood envisions a world where every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer person feels understood and accepted, and every straight person is an ally.