“I seek experience. I no longer seek faith or belief, I seek experience. When I find experience faith and belief take care of themselves. I urge you to seek experience.” – Peter M from New Jersey speaking at the Primary Purpose weekend at Camp Hill Pennsylvania 27/8/2004
I remember it well. It was a Sunday morning and I had risen to the thought of how fucking amazing I felt. I was 3 months out of rehab, 6 months sober and for the briefest moment I felt totally in control of my own destiny. For the first time in my life I held the deck and the cards where stacked in my favour. Oh how deep the darkness just before the dawn..
A family commitment I had that day had been cancelled. The sun shone. I had a whole day to myself. A blank canvas to paint as I choose. Then the thought hit me out of the blue, with the power of a freight train. It was the voice of a madman. My voice but not my words… an obsession so subtle and so powerful.
In under half an hour I knew I was going to get drunk. Within the hour I had acquired enough alcohol to find oblivion and was marching through it at the same insane pace I’d left off.
4 weeks that felt like 4 years. I could write exclusively on that period, but not this time, maybe another day. I fell deep inside a Hell State that could wipe just about any human from the face of this planet. The illness dragged me through debauchery, depression, misery, mayhem, isolation and public examination. It brought a pain so sweet I clambered for more.
Coming to and to what seemed like out the other side I found myself at a meeting dripping with self pity looking like a traffic accident. I could see the horror and the relief that it wasn’t them on the faces of those listing to me share it with the room. Except for one! An old timer. He approached me outside and he was laughing! I didn’t get the joke. I remember anxiously explaining to him how I had done everything right, I was working the Steps (remembering this I both laugh and cringe – I’d made 6 months haha what the fuck did I know about working the Steps), I was trying to get honest and making meetings. He asked me to name one thing I had done for somebody else over that period of self indulgent destruction. I felt speechless, unable to comprehend even the idea of what he was talking about. Had he not been listening? I had been waist deep in the shit. How could I have even thought about helping somebody else? I didn’t know how to do that, nobody had ever shown me! “Selfishness, self-centeredness that we think is the route of our troubles” – I was 41 years old and I had never gave a flying fuck about anybody or anything but me! Then he said – “ask God to show ya, He will send an angel, He always does”.
Visiting my counsellor back at the rehab he heard me describe what had happened, that complete lack of a mental defence against the first drink. He informed me I was getting to know my enemy (true knowledge of my condition) and he made some definite and valuable suggestions.
4 weeks that felt like 4 years, 4 weeks that brought 4 years of experience!
I remember that night praying to just be fucking willing to be willing…
What happened next is well beyond words that can fit into a blog post. I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon. What it’s been is beyond anything I could have imagined or wished for. An incredible ride on an incredible leg of this miraculous journey. Things have been massively high with excitement at times and at others like trudging through treacle. I’ve worked alongside some amazing people and been privileged to serve some truly wounded souls who have at times made my heart bleed and at others made me laugh in a way I had forgot. During this time I’ve traveled the country and the world in connection with my work, and again been blessed with the experience of connecting with others in a way that for 41 years was alien to me. The sign was always on the door, always opening to some room, always a seat I had qualified for. It always was and always will.
Big Book Page 152 (A Vision for You) – “I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I, have you a sufficient substitute?”
“Yes there is a substitute and it is VASTLY more than that…”
Without this program I have no idea where I would be, but I know the experience of the last four years wouldn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t either.
As this leg of the journey comes to a close and I prepare to leave my job as part of the Sunderland team of Changing Lives. As I move into a new role within the Organisation, in a new location with new experiences I remember my greatest teachers have been those whom I’ve struggled with. Everybody is a mirror or a teacher. I’m truly grateful for all they have shown me. Especially the angel who was sent to give me an opportunity to grow by stopping been so fucking self obsessed. If she had saw the shit storm I was just a few short weeks earlier she may have thought twice, but then again I doubt that. Somebody who guided and supported me in a way I will never be able to repay. Unless someday some other fuck up going through a shit storm gets asked the question what has he done for somebody else during that period, then shows up asking me how he can help!
There has been a massive growth in the project over the last 4 years. Many faces have come and gone. Ive connected with all of them on one level or another. I respect and care about each of them. We have moved offices from an over crowded unit in a block shared with many others to a huge and very comfortable environment half a mile away. What started out as one small project has expanded and morphed into a multi service multi disciplinary team. As a result the people we support have benefited in many ways. The people who do this work are more than something special. I have loved my time as a part of all this and know it will continue to grow and move forward. Adapting at every turn, it doesn’t need me! There is currently only 3 of us left from my first year, soon that will be 2. I have tried to remain present as much as possible throughout the whole experience and wish to remain forever teachable.
I am in the process of asking “how I understand Him” to provide me with another great teacher, I don’t know why I’m asking, He will anyways, He always does!
“What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it” – Hugh Mulligan.
“Opinions are great, we all have them. Only problem with that is when the truth shows up it doesn’t give a fuck about opinions” – Heard in a meeting.
D&O in Fresno