Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The willingness to help does not make one charitable; it makes one free. - Robert Brault


I enjoy giving it. 

I loathe asking for it. 

It has been offered to me MANY times. 

To FEW times I have availed myself of it. 

Much of the past 20 years of my life was been spent hiding and deceiving myself and others into believing that I was strong, capable, well off, powerful, etc. 

This misguided, sad trajectory of events brought me misery, sorrow and loneliness - the exact opposite of my intended outcome. 

Why have I never been willing to let others help me? 

What was the source of my arrogance - and that is what it was - that prevented me accepting assistance from my fellows?

Why did I think  I was too good, so much better than others, that I was somehow beyond that need? 

It was a disastrous combination of drugs, alcohol, fear, dishonesty and mental illness. 

Only recently have I been taking small, yet bold steps to deal with the storms in my mind and in my life  - regularly seeing a therapist, not hiding from my own past, writing about my experiences, trying (and often failing) to keep a regular spiritual practice and engaging in a community of recovery. These actions have resulted in small life improvements - fewer panic attacks, a developing network of people who care about me, less frightening nightmares and an increasing sense of self-worth. 

When I was in the depths of my darkness, the lowest point where my pride and arrogance and delusional belief that I was separate and better than others, it was then and there that help came in the form of a nice couple who sat across from me in a Starbucks. I looked at them and I realized that they were everything I was not, yet wanted to be - happy, joyous and free

When I look back at that not so distant day, I wonder if the G-d of my understanding arranged that situation by bringing that nice couple to that Starbucks, by allowing me to become desperate enough to be willing to try another way, by creating within me and within that situation all the facets necessary to bring me to a point of brokenness where I was willing to accept help. 

This willingness to ask for help is but a first step. 

What comes next is using it - to do the actual asking for help. 

This will require me to exercise more humility then I have in the past, to embody the realization that I am not in this alone, that I am no better (and no worse) than anyone else. 

Perhaps in the midst of my pride and failure is that which has eluded me for so long..

Perhaps by becoming willing to be helped by others and then asking for that help, I will find what I have been seeking all along - self-acceptance. 

Be well, do good work and keep in touch. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Soundtrack of My Sobriety

Sometimes a song says what we cannot or will not. 

A single chord, often times a single note is enough to produce a flood of emotion, stir a long forgotten memory or shift an entire point of view.

Below are seven songs that have inspired, sustained and carried me....

Prayer For The Dying - Seal 
This is one of the most powerful pieces of music I have ever experienced. The lyrics pierce my soul - "I may not know what you are going through, but time is the space between me and you." In 2005, I started a downward spiral into the depths of undiagnosed bipolar disorder that would . My then significant other, Jeremy, who had never had someone close in his life with mental illness, said "I don't know what you are going through, but I am here for you." When I listen to this song, it reminds me of that time, when I knew for the first time I was not alone.

Nothing Really Matters - Madonna 
Logically, this is not a song that I would relate to recovery and sobriety, but logic has not always been at the center of my life. This song taught me that wisdom can come from unlikely sources - like the lyrics of a Madonna song. The line that speaks to me most is "Nothing really matters. Love is all we need. Everything I give you. All comes back to me." The rest of the equally profound lyrics can be found here

Let It Bet - The Beatles 
Could there be better advice about turning it over to your Higher Power and asking for help? 

Many times I have recited the lyrics in prayer and have found great comfort and peace. 

Invariably, the answer to what I am seeking comes when I just let it be. 

Run On (God's Gonna Cut You Down) - Johnny Cash
Lyrics here.

Further comment is not required. 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole
Sometimes a voice and a song collide and you are never the same. 

Such it was when I heard Iz's cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. 

This song is an icon of American culture. 

That reality coupled with the yearning and anguish implied in the lyrics of the song are enough to carry me to where I wish I could be. 

A hymn to Elsewhere...

Hazy Shades of Winter - The Bangles
This song is everything.

Whenever I listen to it, I hear what I need. 

Resolve, sadness, despair, anger, awakening, strength. 

The Catalyst - Linkin Park 
I heard this song last year when I was in a very dark place and while it did not immediately hit me, I liked it...sort of. 

Only recently have I read the lyrics and realized it is me on many levels. 

"God save us everyone/Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns/For the sins of our hands/The sins of our tongues"

Be  well, do good work and keep in touch. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Arc of Providence...

As long as I can remember, I have believed in a Higher Power of a sort.

Thankfully, belief in the Unseen comes quite easy for me.

This has at times been a source of much misery and hardship in my life, given my expansive and oft used powers of embellishment and delusion.

Other times, and I count the present time among these, it has been the greatest source of comfort and stability in my life. 

If I let it in

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, we are counseled as follows:
The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
Only recently have I realized that my spiritual experience, my burning bush is not an event, but rather an ongoing process. It is not a singular happening or a discrete encounter in which the clouds opened, sunlight rained down and choirs of angels sang.

It is a relationship.

What it has been is a continuous presence of small yet powerful impressions, thoughts, happenings, coincidences,  encounters with people, books, TV shows, songs lyrics that have been there at exactly the right place at exactly the right time to give me exactly the help I need to deal with  exactly what I am dealing with at that exact moment.


Rare were the times in which I was open enough, honest enough and willing enough to see these.

Most times I was to self-involved, self-seeking and self-serving to realize when it was happening right in front of me.

One of the powers of Time and Space is that it gives us the ability us to look back in our lives and analyze what ACTUALLY happened, not what we THINK happened.

When I read the aforementioned quote, I always take hold the last sentence in the highest esteem:
He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
The vast majority of my adult life has been spent in jails, institutions or on the streets. I had nowhere to sleep, no job to go to and no money with which to acquire the basics: food, clothing, shelter and so forth.

Given this, I have always been amazed at my ability to provide for myself as  I have ALWAYS had these things when I needed them.

Whether it was squatting in an abandoned house or sleeping in a unoccupied dorm room on a random college campus or stumbling across a backpack on a beach that held a box of granola bars and a pair of shoes that fit me just right, I have ALWAYS been provided for.

I was very proud of my ability to live by my wits.


Well, now I look back upon this unbroken line of perfect abundance, this Arc of Providence and know that it was not in any way, shape or form due to anything I did or did not due.

It was God, acting in small, unseen and often unacknowledged ways that allowed me to go where I needed to go, do what I needed to do.

It was God that fed me.

It was God that sheltered me.

It was God that sustained me.

In jails, in dorms, on beaches and in several rare instances, my own dwelling.

I was simply the lucky and undeserving recipient of this Arc of Providence.

Armed with this evidence, with the knowledge that my needs of food, shelter, clothing and other essentials have always been provided for and by logic will continue to be provided for, I move forward.

At this point in my life where I find myself, this terrifying and wondrous point, I ask that God grant me knowledge of His will for me and the carry it out.

Be well, do good work and keep in touch.