30 years of continuous abstinence.
Back then, I couldn’t wrap my head around that amount of clean time. And it’s a good thing, ‘cause had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been able to make it. I believe that with absolute certainty.
Recovery and treatment can tend to protect newcomers from certain ‘truths’, which they probably should. Meetings are especially protective, I wouldn’t know anymore, I haven’t been to one since 2014. I’m not criticizing as much as I’m acknowledging the reality that some things don’t need to be heard on day one, week one, or even year one.
So- if you’re in early recovery, you might want to skip this blog for a while. I’m going to have some critical things to say about some traditional recovery stuff that might be confusing, even irritating. If you read this stuff, and you have any questions or if it pisses you off, let’s chat about it. Talk to your sponsor or your support group. All I really ask is that you keep in mind that this is my story, opinion and point of view: it’s not meant to be yours.
Anyway, 30 years ago today, I lost my mind. Went on a 7 day binge, averaging a case of beer plus hard liquor each day. I drank until I passed out, woke up a couple of hours later in withdrawal and started the whole thing over again. It was a waking stupor, a nightmare that convinced me of two things: there is a Higher Power, because of how the body reacts to that kind of abuse, and that I absolutely had to stop all substances of abuse. Period.
I didn’t do it alone, and for 7 years I was regularly involved in meetings, even on an Area level of service in NA. 12-Step helped to save my life, and I’ll never forget that. I also don’t intend to ever go to a meeting again, but I can’t with certainty write that I never will. But right now, at this moment, it’s a hard pass. I also refuse to be one of those people who shows up once or twice a year and pick up a chip. I haven’t gotten a chip in about 17 years, I think. I might have a 13 year chip somewhere in storage: I’ll have to check some day.
False humility aside, 30 years an achievement. Even if I’m “unorthodox” in my approach to recovery, I might have something of value for someone, somewhere to read. I’ve also been a counselor for 16 years: I got my Masters about 4 years ago, an independent license, and teach and supervise counselors.
It’s been an eventful 30 years, and I can honestly write that I haven’t been bored very often. Life has kicked me in the balls, I’ve made some insanely stupid decisions. I’ve been horribly hurt and betrayed by a lot of people, and I’ve horribly hurt and betrayed more than a few myself. I can be aggravatingly arrogant and yet unbelievably humble and shy, all within seconds of each other. Two of the best descriptions I ever heard was in AA: I’m basically an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. Or: I’m not much, but I’m all I think about.
If the shoe fits…
When it comes to my professional side, I’m well-versed in quite a bit of addiction and treatment theory. I’m a member of a few professional organizations, and have had the privilege of developing and teaching a curriculum at a community college. One of my proudest moments was being a Subject Matter Expert working on a credentialing exam.
At the same time, I think most of what we teach and practice is glorified voodoo. I’m a bit of a heretic, and gawd-only knows why my bosses put up with me. At all. But they did, and I’ve worked with thousands of patients across 3 states, mostly in methadone treatment. I LOVE the work, I HATE seeing what counselors have to go through on a daily basis. Seriously, the way counselors get treated in mental health and addiction treatment should be illegal. Someday, I hope it is. I’ll be addressing that stuff later.
I plan on using this blog the way I intended it 7 years ago. I think I average 4 or 5 posts a year, and it’s not like I’m consistent about anything. I’m ok with that: it’s been that kind of 7 years on this end, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I wasn’t ready for this kind of thing: not sure I am now. But, I think it’s time to quit dabbling with my toes in the water and jump in. It’s time to tell my story, and the project I have in mind will take at least a year to pull off.
I intend to tell you my story, from just before to recovery to the present day. Not everything, but the parts that mean something to me and aren’t so horribly painful that it’s toxic or self-destructive to disclose. And I plan on using music as the main guide or vehicle. I’m not kidding about music being more important to my recovery than any meeting or therapy. So, that’s what I plan on doing. I’ll be sharing a Spotify Playlist and everything. Yep, this Boomer is going multi-media on this project!
I call it “30 Years of Heavy Recovery.” My target audience is clean/sober or at least “clean adjacent” people who share a love of all things heavy. But fuckit, I think heavy stoners will be ok with most of it. All are welcome, but I want to be clear: I’m a clean and sober stoner. I listen to a lot of heavy music, and that heavy music has kept me clean and sane. I have two lava lamps, I go to concerts, wear band (and Batman) T-shirts a lot, and use phrases like, “Wow, man. That’s a bummer,” daily. I also 100% support the legalization of marijuana, and I don’t buy-in to a lot of the abstinence-based crap that passes for treatment. Harm Reduction: represent!
Except for me. I can never, and I mean ever, safely use beer, weed, or any drug, ever again. I’m the real thing, man. Once I get started, things become twisted and pathetic, quickly. I must abstain: I’m an addict. It doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to, and I refuse to put my personal bummer on anyone else. Not everyone who uses is an addict. I don’t advocate for the use of any drug: weed isn’t the safe drug a lot of people think it is. It’s just safer than…most of the others.
So, in a few days I’ll start posting. I’m putting things together now, and the Playlist will be up soon. I plan on at least one post each week, two if I can keep up. I’m starting in the summer of ’92 with a prologue, and for the most part will go chronologically with a bunch of side-trips. Please follow me if you’re so inclined, and let me know if you do. Hitting a like button is always a HUGE help for any blogger, and constructive criticism would be, like, awesome, man.
So kick back, and stretch your sack…
(Bonus points for anyone who gets the reference)