Circadian Fall

I sit at the table, order a scotch and light a smoke. The barman knows me, “don’t be calling me son again, mister! Whiskey is it?” The room half full. Deadbeats and alkys line the walls. They search for anything to wake them from their shitkicking existence. A sudden surge of pleasure is all that’s needed to make them forget. As for me? I’m only here to see her. My need is for her to recognise me, to remember how it was, before it all went separate.

The light fades while the curtain goes back. A tree stands centre stage caught in the spotlight. Drums beat, and she makes her way out in front of the crowd; naked as the first time I laid eyes on her. This nest of losers stare silently spellbound. The dance enchants and seduces them. They drool as she rolls herself around the tree, the snake slides down; it stares into her eyes.

“Looking for anybody in particular?” A huge black guy leans on the chair to my left, “Bubba Pimp, I know everything there is to know about the whoring business.” He nods towards a dark corner of the room where some scantly clad twenty something fakes a smile and strokes her crotch. I turn my attention back to the stage, “how much for her?”

Im going to tell you a story; before I forget. You see, a Man can live a whole day in a story, a lifetime, many lives, to make one story, and then forget. Climb out of bed to a history he can’t remember. Thrown into a day he neither foretold nor requested. And that’s how my story goes. How it plays out, each and every day…

A room. It seems familiar…but the girl? I don’t recall. Naked. Skin soft and warm, her breath light. She rolls away, lost in some dream. Instinctively I grab the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Each morning the same struggle. I wonder how I ended up here, managing this hotel – ‘Paradise City’. its beautiful gardens buried deep in some stinking concrete jungle. I smile at the passing guests. My skull thick with whiskey; constantly they bark requests as the mind’s eye shows me things I was never meant to know. Eventually the darkness lands. With a flash I’m gone, out the door, pulse racing with an urge to see her.

I trudge uptown brandishing the stick at the swarm of oncoming human traffic. The city bursts skywards. Giant advertising screens flash baseball stars and sportswear.

“Fucks your problem?” screams some fat cunt in linen pants and a fedora.

“I come in peace, son.”

“Ain’t your son shitbag, watch where ya walking next time. Fucking cripple!”

Without breaking stride or looking back I wonder at how many times Ive heard this and smile. The night air warm and sticky; taxi cabs blare horns, the smell of hotdogs drift from the street vendors. I push on.

La temptation’ Gentleman’s club and Bubba Pimp is in full pitch, a girl on each arm. The crowd of losers holla at the show, throwing twenty bucks a pop. The snakes tongue flicks at her snatch as she writhes on the stage.

“You couldn’t afford that one,” he says.

“Oh, I’ve paid for it.” I laugh, “many times over.”

The snake rises to attention then dips back down flicking its tongue across her nipple. The audience goes wild. My heartbeat reaches critical as fingers tighten round the stick. Urge turns to rage. I’m up and out of the chair stick held high. The reptile turns it head. It taunts me. I see my reflection in its eyes. Teeth grind, my chest thuds and I swing heavy. The branch from an ancient tree shatters its skull. The bums go psycho.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” pleads Eva “Why don’t you just leave us alone?”

“Axel, son of man, pleased to meet ya.”

“You’re not the son!”

“What ya talking about?”

“Don’t you remember? You didn’t want us.” She points at the snake, “you’re not the son… he is!”

The serpent disappears, a half-eaten apple takes its place.

A voice shouts across the room, “you’re not the fucking son!”

“Not the son, not the son, not the son…” Faces chant, charging towards me. Stale whiskey and body odour rise with the heat; a nightmare scenario.

“Bitch” I shout, raising the stick towards the oncoming human traffic.

“Not the son, not the son…”

Blows reign in. I’m on the floor. I feel the snake slide against my leg. It’s soft and warm. I hear my breath gently moving in and out. The taste of whiskey sour in my mouth. Instinctively I reach out, grabbing the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Guests at the hotel come and go, forever needing something. They are always asking for help. I tire of smiling at them and take a walk in the garden. My buckled legs ache and the damp shirt clings to my skin. It will be dark soon, almost dark enough to see her again. I sense an urge and it begins to rise…

“If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more ” ~ Jules Renard.

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude” ~ Henry J.M Nouwen.

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design” ~ Red hot chili peppers.

D&O in Fresno

Bloody Mary and the Trinity Square Sermon

Pennsylvania 2014, Poconos Mountains – somewhere about half way… 

 

We had drove for about an hour. Climbing all the way up a twisting narrow road that cut through thick forrest. The trees were so high as to block out most of the fading natural light and cast a darkness over the road. A shadow deep enough to make driving at that speed a little challenging. The tarmac snaked up and up till we reached a flat clearing and on it stood a building. We had travelled a long way to be there. I certainly didn’t have a personal invite and at that point didn’t realise exactly what I was walking into. My good friend and travel companion had spoke many times about the man who was celebrating there that night. As it turned out we weren’t the only ones who had travelled… both in miles and experience! 

The men in that room were of various ages and it turns out some of them were bordering ancient. The top man himself was in his 80’s and a few, one in particular, was quite a bit older. Some of these guys go back almost to the first 100. They had came from many parts of the United States just to be there that night. The experience itself was incredible. There was an energy in that room I’ve never felt before or since. One I will never be able to forget. One thing more than any other sticks with me and I knew it meant something as soon as I heard it. I had no idea what. Three men spoke from a podium for no more than fifteen minutes each. They had been hand picked by the Gentleman in question and what they shared was inspirational beyond words. But the last one, a real big fella who was in his 90’s barely looking a day over 60, stole the show with a poem that ended… “I would rather see a sermon than hear a sermon”. There was electricity in the air and I felt plugged into it! I knew right away I would never forget those words. Speaking with the old boy later I felt like I was around somebody who knew something I didn’t. Confirmed by the warmth of his laugh and the knowing look in his eyes as he listened to me, it was a silent “Good luck kid”.

Fort Worth Texas, Dallas Airport – around 2 years later… 

 

I had a 4 hour wait till my flight to Heathrow and was propping up a bar stool chasing that sense of ease and comfort. Half a dozen Bloody Marys, the beers I had sank in Fresno, and a short skin full on the plane into Dallas were starting to take effect. I was busy hitting it hard and amusing myself with the waitress for over an hour. Her cleavage was costing me 20 dollars every round and it was now starting to feel surreal. I was surrounded by Stetson hats, cowboy boots and bootlace neckties. The psychotic party for one was in full swing as ZZ Top blasted out of the sound system. I was reminded of the ‘Titty Twister’, like been stuck in a Tarantino movie. I knew I was heading into blackout and decided to make the call before it was too late. On the other end of the line would be a friend. He had known I was struggling, that I was in over my head and that soon I would probably crash. He didn’t at this point know I was heading home or that I was drunk. It works both ways! In the build up to this train crash I had become totally self absorbed. Self-centredness reigned supreme. He picked up the phone. He had been drinking! Turns out he had had a whole load of shit of his own going on. Shit I had been incapable of seeing due to been a Grade A selfish fucker totally absorbed in me. He had been sober a good while and his crash equaled mine and some. 

Ive Came to Believe that the God of my understanding doesn’t create problems. Humans have always done a grand job of that without needing assistance. Rather he develops solutions by using whatever is at hand. Me and my friend where heading in a parallel direction and it was about to get worse before it got better. 

We met up in a coffee shop in a place called Trinity Square. My evaluation of the situation at that point was… “Deep shit fucked up beyond repair”. I had never in my life felt that bad. He looked worse! As we parted company that day he turned and said “One day we will look back and laugh at this”. I seriously doubted it.

In the weeks that followed we stayed close. A couple of hours together most days. Taking turns to talk and periods of silence and staring into space. We cracked jokes while always on the edge of cracking up without a hope of return. There was times when his sickness would aggravate mine and vice versa. I would make a few days sober then fall back into the bottle and repeat. He went on his own mission to make things worse causing personal chaos that he can describe much better than I can. In short he worked himself chronic with most people. Eventually he was carted off to a rehab in some seaside town promising to get in touch as soon as he was allowed to make contact. I settled down to the thought of a marathon period of rebuilding. One I had no idea how to run. It was very hard work and I had the same conviction as listening to that parting comment in Trinity Square. Even though many people who matter commented on the fact I was doing better than I thought it still felt like the circus was in town and the monkey on my back was here to stay.

Weeks passed and with the help of others I managed to stay sober. Then the phone rang. It was him. He had walked out of the rehab and was at a train station heading home. I worried for him. I remembered us been on a platform not that long ago and I was convinced he would throw himself under the next train. But something had changed. There was an enthusiasm in his voice when he told me he knew what he was doing and what was going to happen next. 

Back home he took to the task. He stayed close to those who could help. We met up regularly and talked about what happened, where to go next, and what was it that was deeply wrong with us. No darkness remained hidden! Impressively he went about cleaning up the shit he had made and managed to gain a foothold when some wanted to cast him off. He got put on shift in the Bentnick Hotel and spread some peace to those going through personal nightmares of their own.

Moving around jobs to better his own situation has always been accompanied by a never ending commitment to help those who ask him. Myself included. His crash was public and massive. His comeback has been monumental. Ive learned so much and am incredibly proud of him. Throughout all the rigorous honesty he has always pointed and never lectured. A few years have passed and we got to “look back and laugh”. The growth has been amazing and the journey though rarely easy has at times been very exciting. I wouldn’t change a second of it. But above everything… I got to see a sermon.

“The Steps are not the work, they remove the blocks that stop you from performing the work” – Don P

“Nothing is important life is just a comedy ~ Aye a fucking black one” – In conversation

“… tried to carry this message…” – 12

 D&O in Fresno

Spiritual Warfare

“On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent…”

For a short while… After 4 years of a living hell that with all the best of intentions we are unable to fully comprehend… the guns fell silent! Just a few weeks ago I was looking at some recent photos of the battle fields of France. Even after 99 years the landscape has only partially recovered. The mud is long gone, trees have obviously grown back but the visible signs of the trenches are still there. A fitting tribute to a destruction and suffering of the highest order. The guns fell silent in France and brought an end to an episode and nothing more!

The thoughts and feelings of those guys on both sides when the reality of the ceasefire kicked in is again something we who weren’t there are unable to fully absorb. Regardless of who claimed victory it must have been a huge relief. That silence. That peace.

Unique in its own right because without that extreme human riot the absolute beauty of one second of pure silence can be vacant in a whole lifetime.

Whole lives have been lived without ever experiencing the total wonderment of a moments peace. The world and its people have constantly been at war. We are at war with ourselves.

Somebody with a greater understanding than me once said “All wars are fought due to mans inability to be in a room by himself and sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up” – Spiritual Warfare!

The ego will constantly try to force the idea of separation into the human consciousness… Im right and you are wrong! Like there is such a thing. Right and wrong! Never has there been and never will there be a situation where everybody concerned is satisfied. Somehow it just doesn’t work that way.

Five years ago I found myself at a point in life I just couldn’t go on with. I could sit in a room by myself, in fact thats what the majority of my days consisted of. I could sit down, again most of the time thats what I did. But shut the fuck up… not for one second. Even in my sleeping moments my head was screaming! A Passchendaele and Flanders in my own personal living room. I prayed for a ceasefire and eventually one came. A surrender in a war I had been fighting for over 40 years. A war with myself. Drink drugs violence ego and insecurity had been the machinery of war that I had bombarded myself with in a continuously progressive way. Like France the guns fell silent to an episode. The world and its people are constantly at war. It appears we are made that way. The constant illusion of separation fed by the ego.

We have the option to opt out but that feeling of separation (the ego rebuilds and reconstructs) makes it difficult to “Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up” but I felt it for the first time way back and looked for it ever since…

A few weeks ago I was waiting with my mate outside a locked up yoga studio at 6:55am five minutes before the session was due to start when the instructor turns up in a taxi. I made the comment to him that me and my friend had decided to give him a few more moments then go find a bar. We laughed and hugged then went inside and hit the mat. It wasn’t the first time a drink had crossed my mind since getting out of bed that morning. In fact theres very few days when its not my first thought. Theres hundreds of times Ive found a bar at 7 in the morning if not a shop that serves booze well before that. Theres something about morning drinking that really stroked my nuts from the very first time. Something non drinkers will never understand. That opt out feeling of surrendering to what is…

I remember been around 14 years old coming down stairs first thing and going out into the back garden. My old man was sitting there in his work clothes but obviously not going to work. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a glass and went back out and joined him. I cant remember much about what was said that day, it was sometime ago, but I remember that total feeling of been at peace. That middle finger, go fuck yourself to the rest of the world. That pure silence response to the bullshit that humans in general seem completely unable to take a break from. Most if not all of them appear incapable of stopping themselves from adding to the noise of that circus ground cluster fuck. They are absolutely unaware of it. Its not their fault, the world is full of sick people – Im one of them!

“Selfisness, Self-Centredness that we think is the root of our troubles” Right or wrong!

So opting out without taking a drink takes a lot of hard work and practice. The ego screams separation. All that right and wrong bullshit! “Selfishness Self-Centredness…”

The guns fell silent just to mark an end to an episode. One I am doomed to repeat if I “fall victim to the delusion that happiness and satisfaction can be wrestled from this world…”

There is a lot about this world I don’t like. People, Places and Things that just don’t sit easy with me. But Im no better qualified to judge whats right or wrong anymore than they are.

The real peace that those guys must have temporarily felt as news of the ceasefire spread round the trenches can be experienced by one thing only. Surrendering to the fact that the war was always internal “This world and its people are often quite wrong and that is as far as most of us ever got…

“Above everything we must be rid of This selfishness, we must or it kills us” – Big Book p62.

“I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is and not as a comment on my life” -David Ignatow.

“I leave you with a new commandment, Love each other as I have Loved you” – The Carpenter.

D&O in Fresno.

You can hear it in my accent when I talk…

I love traveling. Not in any geographical escape manner, though I’ve tried that a few times. It doesn’t work. Everywhere I go I take me with me. However there is one place I love to visit that allows me just to be comfortable with exactly who I am. That place is New York City. There is something about that particular spot on the planet that just swallows me up and gives me a head space which could best be described as “not giving a fuck!”
I’ve just returned from my 5th time in the greatest city on earth and again it was a wonderful experience. With all its hustle and bustle, near constant flow of people, traffic and obvious problems on the surface around homelessness and mental ill health. I’ve never felt more at home! Staying present and focused on the here and now, exactly what’s in front of me while dealing with reality feels totally intuitive there. It seems to happen in a way that I have to work hard on a daily basis to achieve anywhere else. I fall more and more in love with the Big Apple each time I go there.

This time it was that bit extra special as I was travelling with my son. It was his first time in the States and it was great to be able to show him round. I know the City well. I can find my way around without any real difficulty. Im at home there and have friends who I like to touch base with as soon as I land. This time was no different. We met up with my good friend Eoin as soon as we dropped the bags in the hotel. We sat down to some Korean food then walked the High Line Park. It was built out of a disused railway line on the Lower Westside running from 14th street up to 34th along 10th Avenue some one and a half miles. It is elevated and has a constant view looking down on the City and over at the Hudson River. We walked and talked, taking in the incredible views, stopping for ice cream along the way. It quickly became obvious that my sons eyes where opening to the fact this was a little different to anything he had experienced before. I resisted the temptation to start taking control and becoming a fount of information. I just rolled with it, allowing him to experience it his way while dropping into the conversation anything I deemed important.

Hitting the street at 5am to take the Subway from Hells Kitchen up to 96th street to meet up with “Mutual Friends” Im aware of the fact my mind is calm and tuned into my surroundings. Unlike the instant attack of compulsive thoughts I awake to back home. Something Ive grown to be grateful for. The routine I’ve developed to cope with this has gave me so much more in return. Still it’s nice to have a break from it and be able to walk out the door on a morning after a quick wash and grab a coffee on route.

The week itself was incredible. Mostly just to be with my boy. He stuck by the old me through thick and thin. When everybody at one point or another turned their back on me for a time as I sank further and further into a drink and drug induced madness and the chaos that brings. He was always there! We have always been close and have a solid bond. But like all relationships there comes a time when some space opens up and he has forged his own life. We never really get time to spend more than a day here and there together and thats cool as long as he is happy and healthy. So having this week together on the other side of the world in a place I feel so relaxed in was a massive privilege.

We got round quite a bit. A visit to Gleasons Boxing Gym in Brooklyn and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Times Square and a steak at the world class steak house ‘Gallaghers’. Central Park. “A Bronx Tale” at a Broadway theatre. A Baseball game at Citi fields. Football (Soccer they call it) at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. A train ride out to Jersey Shore to spend a day at the beach, and various sight seeing, restaurants and bars. I know it couldn’t have been easy on the boy enjoying a few beers with a middle aged man and former hell raiser as I sipped on ice cold Coca Cola. But he made the best of it. Something I would have found extremely difficult at his age. We had a great time. All the while knowing that like minded “Mutual Friends” are never far away in this Metropolis and always pleased to see me as I walk through the door. A true miracle and one I cherish and feel blessed to be so firmly connected with.

The whole week the weather was hot and sunny. Except for the day we came home. It rained heavily in a thunder storm those few hours as we prepared to head out to the Airport after lunch. It would be easy for me to fantasise that it was the City’s way of saying “So long, it was great to see ya again, sorry your going come back soon”. I like to think so, who knows!

Back home all is as I left it. Same crazy head, same little struggles. Same tried and tested 80 year old program that delivers sanity on the grounds that “half measures avail us nothing!” Back to a new job I started 2 weeks before jetting off. All is well. Its great to be alive and even better to be sober. All of it thanks to an amazing world wide fellowship of people that started with 2 men, one from NYC, sitting down together admitting that on their own they were fucked! I thank ‘Him as I understand Him’ for including me in that and all that it has given me.

“You can hear it in my accent when I talk I’m an Englishman in New York” ~ Sting.

D&O in Fresno

Seeker of Experience

“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

Thinking and Drinking with Mick and Mel


For countless Millenia Mankind has had a constant relationship with two things… The Mind and Alcohol. The two are intrinsically linked. As an individual I am no different. We all live with our mind, so that relationship is without dispute, but as for alcohol, well lots of people don’t drink so wheres the relationship there? Certain religions and cultures forbid the use of alcohol so again how could they be classed as sharing a relationship?

Any divorced parent will agree that their ex spouse still has some baring on their life, they affect things, stuff, decisions in a way that can be both positive and negative. Alcohol affects everybody’s life regardless whether or not we are the one participating in its consumption! Its important for me as an ex drinker to state firmly here and now I am in no way anti drinking! Drink can mean joviality, companionship, relaxation and many other things to those who can ‘take it or leave it.’ To those who can use it responsibly I say “Fair play to you, please feel free to enjoy”  To those who cannot (myself included), all I can say is there is way to live that provides everything that alcohol promised, gave a glimpse of, then cruelly ripped away. A way of living that provides all these things and so much more.

Addiction (Alcoholism in terms of numbers outweighs Drug Addiction by about 50 -1) is the biggest killer on this planet and has been for centuries. Not heart disease, not cancer and certainly not war. At first glance people will dispute that, but lets look a little deeper.

How many innocent people, either as a passenger, occupant of another vehicle, or a pedestrian have been killed by a drunk driver? How many suicides are down to an addict giving up hope? How many murder victims, remembering most were killed by somebody they knew, were the victim of a person under the influence? How many of them have been executed or confined to a life in prison? How many kids lives have been ruined before they have even started because of a parents relationship with drink or drugs? Without even mentioning the huge numbers of people who die as a direct result of their drinking and drugging! Im sure you can add many other examples to the list but I’m getting a little tired of the morbidity all ready. It aint exactly jolly reading.

How as a species could we let this happen and still for the most part be completely ignorant of it? Simple… the mind!! Addiction has very little to do with the substance of choice and a lot more to do with the mind. Not in a way that current drug and alcohol agencies would like to think – duel diagnosis… “do they drink because they are mentally ill or are they mentally ill because they drink?”  The short answer is… Neither or maybe both, who gives a shit! That question is as useful as shooting at the moon. Its totally irrelevant and skirts round the real issue, and thats a form of denial… addiction loves that shit, feeds on it!  Take another spin of the wheel and tune in next week!! Addiction is a spiritual illness that shreds the mind and ravages the body, it destroys both. But they are just symptoms. It is a sickness of the soul, that sickens both body and mind (regardless whether we are drinking/using or not) and it is progressive – that  opens up a voracious debate by ‘experts’ who have never experienced it…or have they?

Addiction is not the only soul sickness… The question should be is the soul sick because we are mentally ill or are we mentally ill because the soul is sick? 

The whole world is sick, everybody – myself included, along with the Dalai Lama! All suffering to various degrees on different levels. Why is that? The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety (that may surprise a few ‘experts’) it is connection! That is where the mind fits in with this intrinsically linked little web. We as a species totally identify with our own mind and therefore disconnect with all things over time in a progressive manner. The more we disconnect the sicker we become. The difference between addiction soul sickness and those who have no destructive addictive behaviours is an awareness. I knew something was wrong long before (long as in my few short years on this planet at the time) I picked up a drink. I instantly knew how to treat that from the very first moment I had my first drink! The uncomfortable feeling in my own skin that progressed in me over time can most easily be described as instincts in collision! A massive ego at war with a huge inferiority complex coupled with what is described in the Doctors Opinion in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as “A feeling of restlessness, irritability and discontented” “…unless he can again experience the ease and comfort provided by taking a few drinks, drinks he sees others taking with impunity!”  Those who can take it or leave it… I cannot, like millions of others ‘I Drank, I Sank and I Stank’ (The stinking bit came later). It almost destroyed me at the end and thoughts of suicide were creeping up my ‘to do list!’

My journey in AA consists at its most basic level with remaining connected to those others who were aware (all be it on a subconscious level) of this before treating it with alcohol. People who were completely relieved of its symptoms by consuming liquor, continued to do so until arriving at the jumping off point. People who at the last gasp found a way to live that provides everything that alcohol promised, gave a glimpse of, then cruelly ripped away. A way of living that provides all these things and so much more. A way of treating something that is progressing regardless of whether we are drinking/drugging or not! A way to grow and a way to go!

As for the mind… Its not you!! It appears so at times (we are conditioned that way) but once you experience taking a step back and watching it the illusion is shattered! This can only be achieved by meditation and the awareness it gifts.

The mind is fully autonomous, like the heart, it does its own thing and keeps going regardless. Like the heart it can go at different speeds depending on how hard we push it. It can also slow down as we give it a break. Thats were meditation comes in. Sitting still in silence, holding our attention on one thing. We cannot stop the mind anymore than we can stop the heart. Even in deep meditation, focusing completely on the natural rhythm of the breath, a thought will pop up at least every 3 – 5 breaths. Watching it sail by without engaging with it, seeing its insignificance without judging it, the thought quickly passes. This is a skill that develops over time with practice. This provides the awareness necessary to observe the mind as a separate entity. Along with the abhorrent, disturbing and sometimes downright hilarious thoughts the mind will throw in there to grab our attention and have us engage with it again. Scary at first until over time you get to see it as a naughty schoolboy! We learn to ‘watch’ the mind and become aware of who is doing the watching.

The mind is the chief provider of fear. The Amygdala at the lower rear area of the brain is a throwback from primitive days. Its main role is to produce the fight or flight instinct required for survival. However since humans now face different challenges today other than been eaten by wild beasts and things of a similar nature, the Amygdala kinda gets confused! It creates fear over any little thing. Again producing an illusion. Always time related… Past or Future! Never in the present moment where reality lives. This is not real and another attempt by an imposter who wants you to engage with it other than connect to reality! The mind itself is frightened of the present moment and of reality. It strives to delude and keep you in denial, reason been… how can it control you if you can really see things as they are?

This post for the everyday inspiration challenge asked for suggestions through the contact page and I have chosen these two, one each from Mick and Mel…

Mel – “Write about your story. What makes you seek help from AA, when was your turning point?”

Mick – “You have wrote now a couple of times of how the mind controls us and how we are not our mind and that its just another part of our body. I find this really interesting and hard to get my head around. If we are not our mind then who is driving the bus? My mind is probably the only thing I listen to and reason with. So If we are not our mind then who are we? Is it something that you have to discover for yourself ? Can you give a bit more insight on this troubling matter?”

Thank you to Mick and Mel along with the others who submitted suggestions. I hope my answers (in a roundabout way) gave some understanding (from my perspective, somebody who can still on a regular basis slip from awareness to been controlled by my mind. From time to time still feels like saying ‘Fuck it’ and going right on one with the drink! Then I remember… there is a better way).

“To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders.” ~ Lao Tzu

“The voice in your head is not who you are. It’s just an excitable commentator – You are the game.” ~ Mark Rice Oxley.

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

“We are all here because we are not all there”  &  “I came for my drinking and stayed for my thinking” ~ Heard in The Rooms.

 

D&O in Fresno