Silver Sobriety

Me looking in the mirror, 1986.  From a production of Play with a Tiger.  Photographer unknown.

Me looking in the mirror, 1986. From a production of Play with a Tiger. Photographer unknown.

25 years.

Today marks 25 years since my last drink.

There was a time when 25 hours without a drink was pretty much impossible for me. Now it has been 25 years.

On past anniversaries I have recounted the bad times and how lucky I was to come through them. This year, for the silver anniversary, I want to celebrate. I want to think of the good things that have happened in my life that may not have if I had not quit drinking that night two score and five years ago.

To start, I have a life partner with whom I am deeply in love. We have been together now for almost 23 years and will be together that many more if we live that long and that many afterlifes or whatever comes next.

I have a job where I am respected that I have held for more than seven years.

I have created organizations that are thriving to this day and that have helped countless other people to live more authentic and rewarding lives.

I have had dozens of articles and poems published and also fulfilled a lifelong dream of writing a book (with more to come).

I have written 23 full-length plays, as well as one-acts and monologues.

I have won several awards for various things.

I have helped others find sobriety and/or move away from lives filled with drinking and drugs. Not that I want prohibition; I’m talking about people who were like me and were killing themselves with it.

I have squarely faced childhood horrors and have become an outspoken advocate to make sure the things that happened to me don’t happen to others.

I have learned to love myself and more deeply love others.

I have lived longer by many years than I certainly would have if my behavior hadn’t changed.

Twenty-five years ago I started a journey that led to all these things and more simply by recognizing that alcohol was destroying my life and possibly–probably–killing me. I stopped one night, not knowing for sure whether I could actually do it for good, but knowing that I had to try.

25 years later I would say that it’s clear that I could actually do it.

Today, on this silver anniversary of my sobriety, I am proud of this accomplishment and all that I’ve done in the intervening years. I look forward to the next twenty-five.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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