More on Sobriety and Art

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Once again, I am in a place where I am looking for something I cannot seem to find. It seems that Buddhist philosophies speak a lot to the human condition. Find a middle ground between the highs and lows, detach from expectations, accept what is. Suffering is an inevitable part of life. Acceptance is key.

I found a temporary solace in going to support groups, but now I am back to my reality, mainly, what steps do I need to take to get to where I want to go with my art, and where exactly do I want to go with my art. This is something I need to take action on myself, no one else can do it for me.

I ranted a little bit about AA in a previous post on Sobriety and Art. I haven’t really changed my mind about much of that, but I have found that I missed something key in that post. AA is really about alcoholics and addicts sharing their experience with others. The cornerstone of the whole program is one addict helping another. Where the hell else can people down and out go and find a group of people willing to just listen? Not many places. In this, the group is a great resource for people seeking recovery, support and friendship.

But, like with any group of people who are not well, you can get lost in those rooms. You can find yourself avoiding action in your real life, sequestering yourself away from making new friendships.

AA is good because it is inclusive, but bad because it can be very insular. As a whole, the friendships you make in AA tend to be incumbent on your participation in the program, just like any church. And a lot of times, people get rid of the drink or drug and continue to just act like assholes. But as long as they keep sober, they encourage staying in the same old behavior.

Humans, in groups, tend to act the same, no matter what the group.

No religion or support group, unfortunately, can assuage the reality that I am here, responsible for my own actions. I decided a long time ago not to pick up a drink. I am not powerless over whether or not I choose to take a drink. If, however, I choose to take a drink, I do not know what will happen from then on out, and I decided a long time ago that I am a purist and not willing to take that chance. I am questioned a lot by normal people and recreational users who ask why I had to quit completely. That’s why. I don’t know what will happen, and the last few times, it wasn’t fun, exciting, life-enhancing or pretty when I did decide to use substances as a coping mechanism. For some people it works. Not for me so far.

That being said, it is hard to find sober artists, writers and musicians to hang with, and I am truly struggling with that again. It’s important I don’t spend a lot of time around substances, because then I feel left out and bored by the people I’m with. It’s not fun for me to watch someone leave the vacancy behind their eyes while I am sitting right there, due to a chemical rush. It’s not jealousy, more like, “Dude, you just left the building while I’m sitting right here. Could you be present for a little while at least?”

I wanted to speak again to art and sobriety, because that seems to be an important topic for me on this blog. I attract a lot of people here who are sober or in recovery, etc. I do recommend AA or rehab to anyone trying to get out of their dysfunctional behavior with drugs and alcohol, but I can’t fully endorse BIll W’s program of action. I’ve done it myself, and I’ve had sponsers and sponsees, in fact, I’m currently doing that whole thing just because I don’t know how the hell else to fill up my time, but there’s something in my heart that says, “Don’t linger long.”

I need to get out and see the world. I believe, for me, quitting substances was a personal decision. AA gave me a support group and built-in instant friends, and exposure to people who were willing to let me hash out my problems, but there is such a thing as AA overkill, and getting annoyed by the shaky logic of AA dogma.

There is a lot of good in those rooms, and a lot of good in those books, if you take them all with a grain of salt and never stop trusting your own gut and intuition. It seems a lot of people in AA believe that relationships are a bad and addictive thing too. Relationships are a human desire, and they are fun. There’s a program for everything these days. Relationships, sex, marijuana, gambling…the problem we all have is life.

I was moaning and kvetching about AA once and a friend talked to her sober writer friend about my laments. This writer friend told her that AA is awesome, and it’s one of the last fully functional anarchist groups in the US.

I’m not sure I would classify AA as anarchist. There are definitely rules to follow, and you really aren’t accepted into the group until you follow these rules. I haven’t seen the rules really hurt anyone…looking inward and reflecting seems to be a good thing. The problem I have is when people stop trusting their own selves and decide that the group should decide for them what to do.

I don’t know, argue against me on this, tell me why you’re sold on the program as more than a short-term solution where people rush to your aid when you’re down in it and need quick help. I’ve always had conflicts with the actual steps and the book, a lot of it I read and I’m just like, “WTF. This is dated.”

I also know that I become like who I spend time with, so it’s important for me to not spend much time around people using drugs or alcohol, unless it’s a structured event where I’m playing a show or know sober people in attendance at a party. I don’t keep alcohol or pills in my home, I don’t keep many friends who would encourage me to use a pill to escape my problems. AA is a good place to meet other sober and crazy people.

Like anything, there’s good and bad, and no one can tell us the answers. Mainly, I stay sober because, as I’ve talked to other sober and not sober creative people about, when I use, I get off my path and lose my art. So it’s a personal choice. Knowing my art is a big part of why I exist, the meaning I have ascribed to my existence so to speak, I can’t in good faith allow myself to experiment with things I’ve already proven don’t help my life in any way.

0 comments

  1. Yes. I think that’s a very important life skill–to be able to take what’s helpful, be it in a group or a belief system or a situation, and to leave what’s not. I guess it’s about knowing and taking care of yourself.

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