Time to let go

Five-hundred and Eighteen days ago I took my last drink. In two days I will have been sober for seventeen months. I quickly learned that if I was to remain sober I was going to have to place my sobriety above everything else in my life. For a long time, that was enough. I let go of my old life and embraced the new. Remaining sober became my full time job. For well over a year I immersed myself in thoughts of recovery from addiction; going to meetings, working steps and helping others who were struggling.

Recently I’ve been asking myself if there is more to life than this. With all that I have been through the answer is clearly, “yes”. But what do I want to make of my life? As I pull away from thoughts of sobriety my mind quickly turns to drinking. As I try to envision my future it is impossible to see one that doesn’t involve alcohol. It’s not the hopeless, drunken vision of the future that I had when I quit but neither is it a future firmly rooted in sobriety.

Of course the future is unknown. So far I have been unable to get myself to take that first drink. My visions are but delusions based only on what I have experienced. Not since I was twelve have I experienced such continuous sobriety. I find myself surrounded by uncharted waters. While there are those who have been here before me, I am not interested in following anyone else’s path. All I can do is take what I have learned and blaze my own trail.

Still, that’s an amazingly scary proposition. There is a commonly heard phrase in AA that goes, “the first thing you put ahead of your sobriety will be the second thing that you lose.” The lesson is that if we fail to make sobriety our top priority that we will lose it and with it everything that we have worked for.  These are sage words indeed. Many have tested this premise and found it sound in reasoning. But I live a spiritual life, guided by reason perhaps, but propelled by passion. I find that whatever I hold most dear winds up controlling me. It is that attachment which becomes the burden and the source of my suffering. It is time for me to let of sobriety with the same courage with which I let go of the drink. In essence, I am putting my sobriety in God’s hands.

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.

 

 

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.

Alcohol is a solution

Alcohol is a solution

My last post was a little cryptic. It was one of my more poetic posts. I was playing with language because I was trying to make sense of things which don’t make sense. When I started I was trying to make sense of big issues like war, poverty, racism and sexual assault. By the time I finished it several days later I was thinking about my own life. Specifically I was thinking about the role alcohol plays in my life.

I’m what is commonly referred to as an alcoholic. I tend to reject labels but as they say, “if the shoe fits…”. The label alcoholic is one that I identify with strongly, I accept it, I embrace and I will even take pride in it. Society tends to look down on alcoholics and attempts to instill shame. Shame is a destructive force and so I reject it. Alcoholics are not defective people, they are just people. Sure they do some fucked up things sometimes but everybody who does anything will fuck up from time to time. Bigger things can mean bigger fuck ups. Combine that with social stigma and ostracization and you’ve got a mess. I happen to find most alcoholics to be pretty freaking amazing people.

For me, alcohol is not a problem. Alcohol is a solution. It may be an imperfect solution but there are no perfect solutions. On the whole, alcohol has served me pretty well. Alcohol has been there for me when all else has failed. Alcohol is like a best friend… only more consistent, and more predictable. Alcohol has been my mentor, teaching me countless life lessons. Alcohol has held my hand as I’ve attempted things I never thought I could. Alcohol has taught me courage. Alcohol has taught me to speak my mind. Alcohol has taught me vulnerability. Alcohol has taught me how to ask for help. Alcohol has taught taught me the power of forgiveness. No matter what I am feeling, regardless of my state of mind, alcohol can put me in touch with my true self or give me an attitude adjustment when needed. Alcohol has been with me for virtually every major life event. Alcohol has introduced me to the vast majority of my lovers, partners and friends. Alcohol has got me through every brake-up and has even helped me end unhealthy relationships when nothing else could. Alcohol has been my medication for chronic illness. Alcohol has been my motivation to keep going. Alcohol has been my reward for a job well done. Alcohol has fueled most of this blog. Alcohol has literally saved my life.

Yeah, alcohol is pretty amazing stuff!

As I look at my life and all I’ve accomplished I realize that I owe alcohol a deep debt of gratitude. Alcohol has worked for me and it has got me to this point. I just have this aching feeling like there has to be more to life. Maybe I’m wrong but I know that I’ll never find out as long as alcohol is in the picture; keeping life exciting and making everything okay when life gets too much.  In order to see what is around that bend, I’m going to have to break up with alcohol. I’m going to have to become a sober alcoholic.

Yeah, right! Like that ever happens. Sounds like a flightless bird to me. 

Well, as it turns out there are a lot of sober alcoholics. They even gather in groups multiple times a day, every day of the week. I’ve been going to these gatherings and what I’ve discovered is that like the ostridge, these people are pretty freaking amazing. Them do seem to be rather down on my beloved alcohol however; blaming it for the problems in their life rather than celebrating it for their accomplishments. Still, despite our differences we seem to have a lot in common. As I listen to their stories it sounds like my life. We may not share the same perspective but the experiences are pretty similar. When sitting with these sober alcoholics I feel like I’m where I’m meant to be. I can’t help but thank alcohol for helping me find this place. I think my new friends feel the same way because when I said, “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for alcohol”, they all nodded in agreement.

I heard a speaker the other night say that the Alcoholics Anonymous steps and program are not something to believe in, it’s not something you learn from, it’s something you do. I think what he was saying was that the beliefs and knowledge come from the doing, not from the steps themselves. I’m not going to AA because I believe in it, I’m not going to learn how to be a better alcoholic, I’m going because I need something to do. Alcohol has been my thing to do and it has works to this point. The one thing I want now is the one thing it can’t get me. I want sobriety and alcohol will no longer get me there. I’m sure that there are other ways but Alcoholics Anonymous has a proven track record of helping alcoholics find sobriety. As they say, “It works if you work it.”

Teetering on the brink of sanity

I did have a complete meltdown on Friday. I’m dealing with issues surrounding my adoption. I’m dealing with changes that have happened in my life over the past year. I’m dealing with all the problems of the world. I’m dealing with being sued. I’m dealing with not seeing my daughter. I’m dealing with the fact that I don’t function well alone and I’ve felt really alone lately. It all just caught up with me. Sometimes we crack. Sometimes we just can’t take it anymore.

That’s when the tears start flowing.

That’s when the booze starts flowing.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with either. LET IT FLOW!

Unless it’s bullets. I do have a problem with bullets.

It’s okay if every once in a while everything else in the world just stops. I get that I’m not the center of the universe but technically speaking, I am the center of my universe. Anybody who wants to be a part of my universe can either help or get out of the way. That’s how I felt Friday.

I called my band leader and said that I was in no condition to make it to rehearsal. I secretly wished that she would come take care of me and get me to rehearsal but she is the center of her universe and had other things on her mind. That’s fair. And you know what… that part turned out okay. It’s times like these that I’m glad I’m not an air traffic controller.

These are dangerous times however. Someone who was is in the state that I was in Friday night could cause harm. We can do things or say things that our better self might not do. I do have one regret from Friday night. I did tell Ben Folds that he has no right to cover The Cure. Granted, it was only on my Facebook page and he probably never saw it but still; it wasn’t fair of me to say that and I’m sorry.

I did have one friend who was willing to enter into my universe on that night and I will be eternally grateful to her. It was a very brave thing to do and what impressed me even more was that she did it sober. I realize that I use alcohol as a crutch but I’ve got to tell you how much respect I have for people who have found sobriety; not just because it is hard, but because it is good. I realize that the path I am on will lead to recovery or death but I’m doing my best to avoid either of those options because they both scare the shit out of me. That said, I want to give a plug for sobriety. From what I’ve seen, it ain’t perfect, but it is fucking better. It is a path of love.

So what is sanity?

I’ve spent much of the day googling this question. I didn’t get any answers. I also don’t know why my Google Chrome browser is telling me that googling is spelled wrong. From what I can tell, sanity is just a made up concept like everything else. I get that there is a legal definition for “sanity” but to think that laws are not just made up is insane. Law are some sort of common consensus of what is right. They are also a whole bunch of rules that we turn to because there is no common consensus and we still need to function as a society.

So what happens when society goes insane? I think that is where we are. Maybe that makes me insane. Actually, by definition, that does make me insane. I have a couple of major mental illness diagnosis so I don’t really have a problem with being called insane but my diagnosis are not typically the kind of things that are referred to as insanity. I have depression and anxiety. They are both pretty logical considering what I have been through but they do take on some strange attributes from time to time. I break into tears for no reason and I feel like someone is about to attack me when I am sitting at home alone. Still, I don’t think that it is nearly as insane as the way our society is acting.

For example, CEO now may 273 times as much as their average worker. To be honest, I don’t know if this is true, I don’t know if this is fair, I don’t know if this is good. But is seems to be a well agreed upon opinion… and I think it’s insane. Still, this is what is called sanity in our society. There are many other examples but the point of this blog has never been to give you the answers; only to get you to think.

I think that society is doing okay. I think that I am doing okay. But we both are are probably falling over the brink into insanity. It may take some crazy thinking to bring us back. That’s why I’m okay with being on the insane side of normal… for now.

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