Plan for the best, expect nothing. – Me
Can’t people pursue writing and music and fun and intensity without drugs? Isn’t it more punk rock to do music for music sake? Why have drugs and art become so intertwined?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot in the past few days, while the universe is hitting me right to left across the face with messages (stepped in dog shit two days in a row, I mean STEPPED in it, saw a sign emblazoned across the side of a trash can that stated “Forgive Yourself” just when I was about to buy a cigarette for the first time in over two years).
People assume because I’m an artist and I’m heavily tattooed that I like to partay.
I don’t fucking like to party. I like to spend time in nature and I like to hike and I like to work hard for things that I know will be rewarding in the future.
I am a recovered addict because I made a conscious decision to not use any substance that distracts me from reality. Should I ever make the decision to use again, you can just call me ADDICT.
I indulged in all sorts of alcohol and pills, at three separate points in my life. The first time, when I was 12, led to being sent to juvenile hall twice, a mental institution once, and locked up in another country for ten months by the time I was 15. At THAT point, I should have stopped, but no, after four years sober I let other people (musicians, believe it or not) teach me some hard, hard lessons I don’t ever want to have to learn again.
An engineer I was working with on my songs the other day joked about loosening me up with some whiskey. Me, ever the skirter around issues, said, “I’ve taken that road as far as it will go for me. It’s not a pretty place.”
I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the second I casually imbibe a substance, it is GAME ON. That substance, and other of its kind, will be all I care about from there on out. You will not be making music with me or reading my eloquent writing or going on great nature hikes. I will be raiding cabinets. I will be in a doorway with a 40 in a paper bag.
It’s been years of sobriety, and I’ve had a (more) consistently stable life internally and externally because of it. The drama has been dialed down exponentially. I’ve outgrown the need to indulge to avoid my reality. I generally like my reality, in spite of the trappings that frustrate me. And as much as I love music and art shows and all that, I hate that alcohol (and often drugs) have to be so prominent at both. I don’t want to be around it. I do myself a service by surrounding myself with people who get me, all sides.
At the same time, I am not a biggie on going to meetings. I like finding other sober people, sure, but I’ve been around meetings for many, many years and have found that they don’t make me feel much better, usually. I’m sure many people who go to meetings will get all up in arms and tell me, “You’re not really sober if you don’t go to meetings, and that’s why you’re unhappy if you don’t go.”
Believe it or not, I am pretty happy in individual moments. I know what I want and a lot of who I am and how I operate. I know which people make me feel good and which people don’t. I know how to read energy. I have meet some lifelong friends through meetings, but usually we continue our friendship outside of the meetings.
What about the fearless and thorough inventory, you say. I do daily inventories. I clean up my side of the street if something’s not working. I’m honest and I work out my resentments.
Meetings are a tool, not the end-all be-all. I’ve been told before that if I don’t do something I’m going to end up going to hell (or in this case, relapsing) and that was in the Mormon church and the behavior modification program I went to in Jamaica. Not much difference between those two places and meetings where people are asking me to chant and be superstitious and follow rules that were made up by a guy in the 1930’s. Before you worship Bill as an idol, take a look at his life. He was fallible, just like you and me. He was not god. He was speaking truths, yes, and we can take what works and leave the rest. I have.
So, I’ll go to meetings if I’m really feeling like getting loaded, but usually, the thing that helps more is simply calling up a sober friend who is healthy emotionally and saying, “I feel like getting loaded, let’s go on a hike.
Seems a lot of the dogma in substance abuse programs and AA is similar to societal dogma in that they encourage you to “buck up” and “get a real job” and “stop fighting everyone and everything,” “just surrender.”
Surrender to a lifestyle you don’t want in a system you don’t believe in working jobs you despise so that you can keep buying stuff you don’t need and checking out in front of the television night after night stuffing your face with shitty food and wondering why you don’t feel alive? Been there, done that.
I have never cared about trappings and traditions. Not unless you really know why you are doing them, have investigated what they mean to you and are OK with it and don’t need to push it on me. I do not push my life on other people.
I’m a strong believer in prayer and meditation and nature walks, and I do all three. I also do believe in utilizing support groups when you need them, and many people get a lot of good out of them. But you can get lost in those rooms, avoiding your daily life, waiting for people to help you out.
Prayer, meditation, walking, talking to people: These things all help me through some rough times. I also believe in good, clean, honest friendships, or friendships with people who, though they may drink or do other stuff occassionally, know me well enough to never encourage me to “just have one.” That would just be stupid.
I believe in writing and music, that if you use it–either as your lifelong passion or a hobby outlet–you will find your truth looking back at you through your own creations. My art reveals my heart to me.
A lot of people are afraid to put pen to paper because of this very reason. Don’t be afraid. There is nothing to be lost by following your heart. Nothing that will last forever, that is. A lot can be surrendered and let go in the process and it all hurts. I accept that, like the Buddha said, life is suffering. When I accept that, I find that the happy moments (eating watermelon, being with good friends, being heard, picking flowers, writing, playing music) are more accessible, because I am living in the moment, not expecting things to be any different than what they are at this current moment. Accept, yes, this is something they teach in AA. Yes, surrender…I agree…to an extent.
Just don’t surrender your spirit to a life that makes you just want to go pick up a drink and white knuckle it every single day of your life. Not worth it. There is good and bad in many things, and life is one big lesson. You stop learning when you’re dead.