You can’t lose me

depression-94808_640

Among the many chronic conditions I deal with, I have depression. By all recollection, I have always had depression although at various times I have been able to assemble a life which has allowed me to avoid the debilitating symptoms of depression. Like most people, I am capable of experiencing genuine happiness. In fact, I’m actually quite good at it. But it’s a delicate balance. There are no quick fixes. Every treatment has its side effects. Actions have consequences and even right action can have unintended consequences.

I don’t claim to understand depression any better than anyone else; all I know is me, my life and how I experience it. Depression is a name given to me by doctors, invented by scientist, based on hypotheses and the shared experiences of everyday ordinary people. As a result of this diagnosis I have been able to tape into a wealth of knowledge and collective experience to better understand myself. I’ve been able to take comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone. I am able to feel connected, which is perhaps an even greater sensation that happiness.

Despite all this insight, I have not been able to eliminate this thing, this part of me called depression. Whatever it is I suspect it will be with me forever. I hope I’m wrong. I would love to be wrong about this. I welcome any information that would suggest that I am wrong about this because so far knowledge has only made me more knowledgeable, not less depressed.

What is interesting is that sharing knowledge does make me less depressed. Connecting my experience directly with other people who have similar experiences does make me less depressed. Helping other people move from conflusion or anger to acceptance and understanding totally makes me feel better. The sad irony is that when I’m depressed, when I’m angry and confused, the last thing I want to do is spread that energy into the universe. Connecting with other living, loving souls may be the best thing for me but it’s not the best thing for my fellow earthlings. Perhaps this is a functional and evolutionary aspect of depression. We know that depression leads to isolation and inactivity and for a time this may be for the best. Unfortunately, we also know of the tragic ends met by people who feel completely disconnected from life.

I am writing this in an attempt to connect, to share openly and honestly my experience. And because I can… right now, at this time, in this moment, I can write. It’s been months since I’ve been able to write anything of substance and even longer since I’ve completed and published anything. I’m publishing this regardless. I’m just enough pissed off at the world to not give a fuck and that has it’s benefits.

What I want to do is share my greatest fear at the moment. I’m afraid that I may have lost you in my absence. Relationships require some level of consistency and predictability. Unfortunately, the shit I deal with makes that impossible. I suppose I could present the face of consistency and predictability by lowering the bar to something reliably attainable but where is the fun in that? I prefer to act when I can and burn out when the fuel is gone. I know how fucking annoying this is to the people around me but I don’t know how else to do it. I choose not to act out of anger or fear but sometimes… like right now… that’s what I have to work with.

So my hope is that you won’t take it personally. This is my shit. I accept that I’m an asshole but I hope that you won’t think of me that way. I hope that you won’t take my absence as rejection. I’m still here. I’m working on me and doing the best I can. If you can’t understand what it’s like to deal with depression, consider yourself lucky. If someone in your life is dealing with depression, be patient. It’s harder than it looks. I’m sorry we haven’t talked in a while. Most of the time, I struggle to put words into sentences. I fight the choking feeling around my neck. But I know it’s just life… and life goes on. I’ll be back… I just want to know that you will still be there when I’m done doing this thing I’m doing. I want to know that you are taking care of yourself. I want to know that you are finding support where you can. The most comforting words I’ve ever heard are, “You can’t lose me.” Share them with someone you love.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY

Everything happens for a reason

So today it snowed and my daughter decided that she wanted to take the day off from school… all so that I would have time to write. Right?!? Isn’t that why it happened? Doesn’t everything happen for a reason? Or do things just happen and we assign them a reason? Well. in this case it’s both. There is definitely a reason why it snowed having to do with all sorts of meteorological stuff that I don’t completely understand and wouldn’t dare try to explain. My daughter certainly has her reasons for not wanting to go to school today but I learned long ago that any attempts to understand teenage girls is pointless. Love and acceptance are the only tools which have any chance of yielding positive results in that situation.

The fact remains that I am now writing. It snowed, my daughter isn’t going to school and I’m writing a blog post. Cause and effect. Bam!

It’s also a fact that I haven’t been writing much since I got sober. There is obviously a correlation but fully understanding the cause may be a difficult as explaining the weather or teenage daughters.

There is a simple answer however. There’s always a simple answer. It’s God’s will is probably the simplest answer and it’s good enough. When all other explanations fail me, I still have God. To be honest, God has been indispensable during this phase of my journey but I don’t really want to write about God. I don’t. I really don’t. At least not publicly. At least not now. I consider spirituality in whatever form it takes to be a very personal thing. I no business writing about God or spirituality and I can’t write about what has been going on in my life without it. It may be God’s will that I not right but more likely it’s my will to not write about God.

A lot of things changed in my life when I quit drinking. The undeniable truth is that drinking played a huge role in my life. The simple act of quitting meant that things were going to change. That was kind of the point. If I wasn’t an alcoholic that would probably be the end of the story. Man quits drinking, stops making trips to the liquor store. In my case it’s a much bigger deal than that. In many ways my story resembles that of every other alcoholic who has gotten sober. If you want to read some of those stories there is a whole book of them online.

I’m determined to make my story a success story but I’m not ready to declare victory yet, not that I even know what that would mean. Every day I don’t have a drink is a victory but I’m under no illusions that my recovery will one day be complete. Prior to sobriety I didn’t care how the story turned out. It was just me, doing my thing. I felt perfectly comfortable telling it in the moment. Win or lose I knew it would make a good story. But it’s no longer just about me. It’s bigger than me. That is to say, I’m part of something bigger than me. If I fail I don’t want to bring anyone else down with me. That and I actually care how my life turns out now. It’s not just a story.

Never going back again

 

I don’t know where my path will lead me but I do know that it lies ahead, not behind.

I’ve been in recovery from alcoholism for a little over three and a half months. I’ve been working the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s working but I sure as hell don’t have everything figured out. I’m also not in any rush to get there. I’m just trying to enjoy the moments as they pass and grow through the process. I”m doing it my way which apparently is pretty disconcerting to a number of people close to me. After all, doing it my way is what got me in this predicament in the first place, right?

Now that would be a pretty compelling argument for not doing things my way if I thought my current predicament was somehow bad. I’m not going to say that everything is perfect by any means but considering the alternative I”m really grateful for where I am today. I certainly don’t think that being in recovery is anything to be ashamed of. Obviously I wouldn’t be in recovery if I hadn’t done a lot of crazy fucked up shit but I wasn’t going to get here any other way. That’s not to say that I would recommend my method to anyone else. Of course, I’ve heard a lot of stories from other people about how they got here and I wouldn’t recommend any of those methods either. Of all the options for getting where I am today, I’m pretty satisfied with the way I did it.

Still, it’s hard to look back on where I was without some level of regret. It’s impossible to get better without acknowledging that you once weren’t so good. I can take comfort in the fact that I always did my best. I’m not perfect and sometimes my best sucks… but so what! I’m getting better, right? I’ve been wrong and I’ll probably be wrong again. I’ve never gotten better by doing something I was already perficient at. I get better by doing something I don’t know how to do. Along the way I make mistakes, I fuck up, I learn and I get better. That’s how I got to where I am today. Of course it’s hard to be on a path of self-improvement without realizing how much I must suck right now compared to some future version of me.

All I know is that I have to keep going. I will stay on this path as long as it continues to work… and probably a little bit longer just to make sure. That’s my way of doing things. I’m kind of stubborn like that. I like to be thorough. But have I learned everything there is to learn from my past? I don’t know but I have my doubts. I may have done the best I could have done at the time but that doesn’t mean that I did the best I can do now. I can’t go back and relive those moments but I can continue to learn from them.  I can try again with the wisdom I have gained. I’m pretty sure I’m done with the drinking experiment though. I’ve actually lost the desire to go down that road. I know it works, I’m just not in a rush to get where it will take me.

 

 

You must have had so much fun

Sunrise in the deep playa, Burning Man 2014

I’m back from touring with Against Me!, Burning Man and Shangri-la. I see the awe in people’s eyes as the ask me about my journey. It certainly has been an amazing journey. I am extremely grateful for all that I experienced over the past month. I had never been to Burning Man  before nor had I been on a tour of this caliber.  Very few people will ever have the opportunities bestowed upon me over the past month. They want to live vicariously through me. They want to hear my tales of adventure and triumph. They imagine me having the time of my life. Well I did, but you know what? It’s still just life and as we know… life suck. I think the imagined is probably far more exciting that the reality so in an attempt to be kind I will let you imagine how much fun I must have had.

I will say that life on the road sucks a whole lot less than life at home. I still don’t know about this concept of fun however. I enjoyed virtually every minute of

[I started writing this on September 9th and that is as far as I got before I broke into tears.]

The reality is that being back in Minneapolis has been really painful for me. I’ve spent my whole time back here trying to figure out why. The obvious answer is that I have depression, that I’m mentally ill, that there is something wrong with me. I’m fine with the depression label. I’ve got the t-shirt and I wear it proudly. What I reject is that having depression is somehow a defect. That there is something wrong with me. That I need to be fixed. If it is what I am, then so be it. If anything, it’s a super-power that I just need to learn how to control. There is no need for judgement about it.

Feelings are not wrong. Feeling are guideposts. They help us understand our world. But, feelings can cloud our perception of things. They can become overwhelming and distort our view of reality. They can accentuate each other and create a feedback loop to the point where everything just looks shitty. I’ve been there. I know about how that works and it can cause a whole lot of problems. When our choices are based on a false perception of reality we make some pretty fucked up choices. Nature has a way of correcting this though. In time, after a series of fucked up choices, reality and our perception of reality merge and we no longer feel insane. I think that is the world in which we live in, and it’s kind of fucked up.

Depression is not wrong but this pain which I’m feeling is an indication that something is wrong. And oh boy is there a lot of shit wrong! That is reality! My goal, is to not add to it. One solution would be to do nothing but to my brain, my depression brain, that literally means death. Now I know some pretty spiritually enlightened people who have become fairly good at doing nothing. I just don’t think that that is my path. It sounds awfully selfish to me. I’m not judging. I have no problem with people being selfish in this way. It’s all done in the name of God after all so it’s not really selfish, right?. I just think that we are all God so it looks selfish to me. Also, I kind of like people. If I’m going to serve God I’m going to do it by loving people. If I have to put anything out into the world I want it to be love.

So back to this idea of fun. I have a hard time with this concept of fun. It seems really important to a lot of people but I don’t worry about it that much. I have fun sometimes but it’s never my motivation. I don’t go out trying to have a “good time”. It just kind of happens sometimes. My motivation, first of all is to survive. For me, that means doing something, anything. My intention is for it to be meaningful and purposeful. My intent is to give. I want the fuel which puts a fire under my ass to be love. If along the way I have some fun, if I have a good time… that just a bonus.

So what do I find fun? I guess I can find fun in just about anything if I look for it. Breathing is pretty amazing if you think about it. I don’t need to go on a national tour. I don’t need to go to Burning Man. I don’t need to go to Harmony Park. That said, the most fun experience I had was sitting outside our camp at Burning Man, sipping my morning coffee while three naked women biked by. I’m pretty sure that if I started every day that way I wouldn’t have depression. Unfortunately you don’t see much naked biking  in Minneapolis. As amazing as that was, it still couldn’t compare to the awesomeness of watching the sun peak it’s head over the mountain range at the edge of the playa while sitting atop scaffolding that we weren’t suppose to be on. Some would say that I am wrong for this but I don’t see how that could possible be true.

Here we come

 
Here we come

 

We are at the half way point in our tour with Against Me! and finally have a day without a 400 mile drive. Okay, from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, CO wasn’t so bad most days have involved a lot of driving. We are now in Eugene, OR. We arrived last night in time for me to catch my first AA meeting of the tour. I was really looking forward to catching meeting across the country but there really hasn’t been time. This is a major tour and it’s on a majorly tight schedule. I don’t think most people understand how much work this is but it’s the work that I enjoy. The days off are actually pretty disorienting. I don’t know what to do with myself. Luckily, I’m pretty good at navigating when I don’t know which end is up.

I had really thought that I would be doing more blogging while on tour but that hasn’t happened. I think that it might take me a while to fully process all that is going on. Every moment seems more alive and vivid that so called “real life”. Moments seem more intense. Time seems to slow down. One week on tour feels like a month. It’s like living on another planet… and I haven’t ever got to Burning Man yet. I still don’t know what to expect with that.

I feel out of touch with the rest of the world but I’m still trying make updates on Facebook and Twitter. You are welcome to add me, friend me,  follow me there.  And if you happen to be in Eugene, OR, come see Venus de Mars and All The Pretty Horses opening for Against Me! tonight at W.O.W. Hall. Doors at 7pm, we go on promptly at 8.

 

 

 

 

Change is coming

change-roadsignIt’s been a least a couple of weeks since I have posted anything. I actually have a few articles in the works but since I’m having such a hard time getting them finished I thought I should at least stop by to say “hi”.

Today is my 45th day of sobriety. I don’t think there is anything magical about that particular number but today does seem pretty magical. In fact, I’ve had quite a few magical days over the past month and a half. Not all have been great but there have certainly been more good days than bad… and I’ve been busy. I can’t say that I feel like I’ve accomplished a whole lot but I’ve been living life to a fuller extent of “living life the to fullest” than I did when I was drinking. That alone seems pretty amazing to me. What is really amazing are the doors which have opened up before me. Over the next 45 days or so my life will take me places I’ve only dreamed about…

Venus de Mars & All The Pretty Horses Tour supporting Against Me!

  • August 6, 2014    The Aquarium                        Fargo, ND
  • August 7, 2014    Bourbon Theatre                     Lincoln, NE
  • August 8, 2014    Black Sheep                         Colorado Springs, CO
  • August 9, 2014    AGGIE THEATRE                       Fort Collins, CO
  • August 11, 2014   Knitting Factory Concert House      Boise, ID
  • August 12, 2014   Knitting Factory Concert House      Spokane, WA
  • August 14, 2014   Wow Hall                            Eugene, OR
  • August 15, 2014   Ace of Spades                       Sacramento, CA
  • August 16, 2014   The Phoenix Theater                 Petaluma, CA
  • August 17, 2014   Slo Brew                            San Luis Obispo, CA
  • August 19, 2014   The Catalyst                        Santa Cruz, CA
  • August 20, 2014   Strummer's                          Fresno, CA
  • August 22, 2014   Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas             Las Vegas, NV

 

From Las Vegas I will be heading to Black Rock City in the Nevada desert for Burning Man with Hammer and Cyclery. Following that I will be at Harmony Park near Geneva, MN for Shangri-la.

Hopefully I can get at least one of these articles posted before I leave. I’m sure that I’ll be making some updates from the road during the tour so keep in touch.

Peace, pussy, pride and harmony

Rock For Pussy 2014

Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy

The Fourth of July, Independance Day, will be my one month anniversary of sobriety. So far, it’s been quite an adventure. I feel like I may have picked the hardest month of the year to try and get sober but that should come as no surprise. I’ve never been one for doing things the easy way.  I don’t know if that’s part of the alcoholic mind set or not but it’s certainly my nature. I’m an extreme person. The things that are the most difficult are the things I find most rewarding. The truth is, quitting drinking is not difficult. All I have to do is not drink. It’s just that drinking is so easy. As an alcoholic, drinking is what is in my nature. Embracing sobriety means going against my nature. That is why this is a big deal. That is why getting sober is difficult. What I am attempting to do is to evolve. In a sense, I’m trying to become a different species. I’m trying to overcome my human nature.

The irony is that I wouldn’t even be attempting this without a great deal of arrogance and self-confidence yet if I am to succeed it will only be through humility. I like to think of myself as a peaceful person but I’m probably more of a fighter than I would like to admit. I think that is part of the human condition.  Alcoholism is part of my human condition. I won’t be able to overcome it by fighting. This will require a peaceful solution. This will require a spiritual solution. Many struggle with recovery over the spiritual aspect of the program but in truth the struggle is human, not spiritual. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We think of ourselves as our bodies and our minds. We imagine that our bodies have a soul. It would probably be more accurate to say that we are our soul and we have a body. The soul is pure energy. The soul is peaceful. The soul is in perfect harmony. Sobriety is simply a matter of surrendering to my true spiritual self.

Pride 35W Bridge

The 35W Bridge lit up for Pride

Ah but fuck that.  I will find that spiritual perfection and I will be free from the human condition once I die. Since I feel like I’ve taken suicide off the table, I’m left with no choice but to make the most of this life. I’m kind of enjoying this human experience. I like the journey. It’s fascinating and bizarre. If i’m going to get sober I”m going to do it the human way. I’m going to work at it.

I can’t yet say that quitting drinking is the best decision I’ve ever made but so far it seems to be a pretty good one. Life is not perfect so it’s important to keep things in perspective. Sobriety seems to be about 80% good and 20% sucky. I know that for some people that would still be unacceptable but for me anything above 50% is worth doing. Plus, it’s nice to have room for improvement. My drinking life was probably at 70/30 but I feel like that was about as good as it was going to get it. The highs might not be as high now and the lows not as low, but that could just be because I’m being more cautious.  I have a feeling that as I get more comfortable with sobriety the extremes will reemerge.

Project Earth at Harmony Park

Project Earth at Harmony Park

That said, it has still been a pretty exciting month. June is one of my favorite months of the year. This is the month that my band,  All The Pretty Horses, play “Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy”, the annual David Bowie tribute show to benefit no-kill animal shelters. It is also the month of Project Earth, a charitable music festival held at Harmony Park near Geneva, Minnesota and the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis. These are three of my favorite events. They are also three events closely linked to drunken debauchery. Without going into too much detail I think it would be safe to say that I got a lot of practice saying, “no thank you”.

Even my dreams were filled with opportunities to say no. For the first three weeks of sobriety, night after night, I would have anxiety filled dreams of being offered alcohol. Then one night I totally forgot that I wasn’t drinking and had a PBR and a whiskey. The disappointment I felt was overwhelming but I resolved to carry on with my quest for sobriety. Then I woke up and realized it was just a dream. I haven’t had a drinking dream since. I know that there is a moral in there somewhere.

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