That One Time At That One Meeting

I drank and used drugs everyday for a really, really REALLY long time. Therefore, my thought in 2009, and I think it was a good one and yet it was probably someone else’s thought, was I should do something everyday to help me not drink or do drugs. One of those things is going to 12 step meetings. Look, every bad TV movie of the week with Markie Post or the mom from Family Ties has very dramatic scenes of folks tearfully sitting in meetings and admitting they have a problem. And after a few commercial breaks, this person has their shit together. A billion movies, a billion more books and endless other forms of media have covered the idea of meetings and how they help addicts so many times that even non-addicts have a somewhat solid idea of how 12-step programs work. So I sort of don’t talk about meetings all that much. I figure that people who need them go to them and the ones who don’t, can watch it on TV. Nothing I say will make people go to a meeting. There’s not, like, Yelp reviews for this kind of thing. Like, “great meeting but I wish the coffee was French roast–3 stars.”

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Also, meetings and the literature you find in them, have been effective and around for a long, long time and there’s nothing I can add that would be fresh.  However, I feel sort of compelled to write about them today because a.) they have saved my life (although it took a tad longer than a commercial break) and b.) because sometimes they’re really, really hilarious. Without breaking anonymity of others or giving out addresses or specifics, I can say the very idea of a room full of emotional disasters ripe with varying degrees and flavors of mental illness is inherently hilarious. And today’s meeting was the perfect example of that. The chairperson at today’s meeting ignored the format, cross-talked like she was on Meet the Press and got lost several times. She went rogue and off book much to the chagrin of old-timers in the meeting. The attendees murmured to themselves and shared entirely too long. The whole thing went off the rails and started to get surreal. And after 45 minutes of all things crazy, your’s truly couldn’t stop giggling. I blame the girl next to me. She started it. Her shoulders moved up and down and she laughed to herself and I joined in. When things get awkward or weird or just random, I think it’s really hilarious. It’s so human and goofy and I have to laugh.

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Once upon a time, this kind of wackadoodle meeting might have ticked me off or made me leave early. In the early days, I looked to meetings to lift me up and tell me how to live without getting wasted. And when things got weird or real back then I couldn’t deal.  But not today. Today, I had to laugh because these are my muthafucking people. I laughed because I get it. I get them. These folks have what I have. These folks are showing up in the middle of a Tuesday to save their own lives. And for all their faults and hilarity, these folks are my heroes and I’m honored to be in their company.

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There’s a line in recovery literature which says, “we are people who normally would not mix.” There’s also references to folks in recovery being like survivors of a disaster.

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From my experience, both statements happen to be true. I’ve been to meetings with high-powered attorneys, Hollywood stars, hipsters, homeless people, all gays, mixed and everything in between. I can’t be sure how this is possible but when all you want to do is stop trying drinking or using, all prejudices fly out the window. For the most part, considering they’ve all come back from the brink of death, this assorted group of nuts is usually a pretty happy and welcoming bunch no matter what meeting you go to. I’ve been thinking about the people I’ve fought this battle with lately.  And the book I juts finished reading 90 Days talks about the power of these people too. The people who I was lucky enough to have save my ass on several occasions and in a couple of different States (both mental and geographic). It took a village to lift my glitter covered self out of the gutter. By just showing up and saying, “Hey I feel like shit over here and I need some help” they helped me. Or by sharing that their life was really challenging and they felt like drinking and using. Or whenever I just heard someone say “I’m _______ and I’m an alcoholic.”  I felt less freakish and less alone. I felt like I had the support of these people who were nothing like me.  And I wanted to help them too.

End-ceremony-star-wars-a-new-hope-12500053-820-444These misfits, these people who I wouldn’t normally mix with are the people I like being around the most. They get me. We speak the same crazy language and have the same fucked-up thoughts. And we’ve fought the same battles. As a result of this recovery deal, my life has gotten amazing and wonderful and big. The odd thing is that sometimes this life makes it hard for me to get to meetings and spend time with my fellow warriors.This week was really busy and I only went to one meeting. Well, by today I was pretty much a complete lunatic. I think I actually floated to my meeting that’s much I needed to go there. As soon as I sat down and exhaled, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was home– again.

That’s what’s so incredible about this blog too. “My People” read this too and I read their blogs and so on and so on. This experience with UrtheInspiration has been so powerful and so much fun I figured why not make it even bigger? So I’m happy to announce that I am finally fast-tracking the book proposal for a book based on this blog and I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, this fall too. But more on that later. For now, thanks for being my people. I couldn’t do this without you.

I’m So Effing Spiritual

In today’s post, I will share with you everything I know about prayer and meditation. Here goes: I don’t know how it works, I don’t know if I’m doing it right but I know when I don’t do it my days sort of suck. The end.  That’s it.

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I could blather on about the ideal prayer conditions and my recommended reading list to help someone develop a practice but it would be bullshit. The only ideal condition for prayer and mediation I’ve found is that it helps if your awake and alive, although I haven’t tried it asleep or from beyond the grave so I can’t even be sure about that either. And if we’re being honest here I never finish books about spirituality so my reading list would be based on a lie or what I read about in an inflight magazine. Yes, I’ll tell you I’ve read Eckhart Tolle or a Course in Miracles and its true that I do own them but I get a few chapters in, get distracted and go watch a television show where people make stuff and compete against each other. What I know for certain is that I feel crappy when I don’t do it and I increase my chances of being a nicer person when I do. And even then I can still act like a douchebag. Take this afternoon for example.

I’ve been feeling all “enlightened and shit” since I’ve increased my prayer and meditation in the morning. For a half an hour every day for the last week or so, I’m waiting to tweet or check my email and I’m taking time to check in with G.O.D. Hopefully this period of time will remind me to think of others and have the divine direction to act like the spiritual giant that I was born to be. Thus far, my increased practice has put my days on a better path and allowed me to be on an auto-pilot where I’m guided by a higher purpose and not by my crazy, cockamamie ideas. Today, I left my humble abode after a morning of writing and felt spiritually armed to face whatever came my way. I was going to my favorite noon meeting which I was thrilled to go do. Yet as I sat in the room listening to shares I found myself getting irritated, bitchy even. “Oh my God! That reading again!?!” and “Didn’t that guy just share” were a few of the snarky thoughts running through my mind. I wanted to hear some solution and what I got was the ramblings of crazy people! How dare they. Well, even as I was thinking this I knew I was being ridiculous.

For one thing, clearly I was supposed to hear what people were saying, insane or not. Maybe it was all a test to see how tolerant and spiritual I’ve really become. Maybe I need to just listen and hear all kinds of sobriety, even the batshit variety.  And I happen to one of those crazy people I was having an inner bitch session about and lord knows my ramblings are probably annoying to someone else. At the end of the meeting, I shared with some friends how I felt. We had a good laugh about my intolerant, bitchy ass and just like that I was back in love with program that saved my life. All of this stuff I do to make myself feel better, to keep me sane and sober is a practice. I can pray on top of  mountain with a guru but chances are something at the foot of the mountain will annoy me. That’s life. What I can do is keep practicing every day, keep trying to be more helpful to the people around me, keep forgiving myself when I fail and keep remembering I’m not in charge. And that’s about as enlightened as I need to be.