As I do my 12 step work, I break the principals down to their underlying philosophy as I understand it. “God’s will verses my will” I can understand on a conceptual level, even though the language does not work for me. I am not one who makes the claim that certain principals in the 12 steps don’t work for me or do not apply to me. I see them in action in other people’s journeys and I believe that evolution also takes its course in human creations designed to serve a purpose for survival. Anything that isn’t useful will eventually be shed, and this one hasn’t been. I can understand this axiom of God’s will verses my will as this – perception verses conception.
Although one could argue that all understanding is ultimately conceptual, taking place only in the mind, just as “seeing” an apple is a chemical signal that is registered in the brain, a signal that would not exist if the hardware of sight were compromised, I believe the difference may be the level of input one accounts for from the outside world. Or maybe it’s in the order of things. It may be the difference between one who has already built a conception of the world and looks for evidence from the outside world to support this conception with varying degrees of selectivity, and one who first looks to the outside world to assess the environment to the best of their ability, and then makes a conclusion and decides on the appropriate action to take. Sounds like the difference between seeing things as you want them to be and seeing things as they really are. There is so much Buddhist philosophy in the 12 steps and recovery principles in general, it continues to surprise me but then also makes perfect sense.
A long lived pre-fabricated conceptual snow globe of mine finally rocked itself off the table and smashed. I seriously thought I was singing Christmas carols in the snow. Although I’m not completely sure that I haven’t just jolted awake inside yet another level of my life-like snow globe scenarios (again, one could say that is all there is..), I feel jarred and exhausted enough to have a purposeless look around. And by “purposeless,” I mean uninvested in madly scrapping together a new narrative that will bring me feelings of safety and control over my environment. I am too tired and my head hurts. I’m looking at the fractured glass bubble I was under the influence of, the silly fake snow and cheesy lamp post and park bench I had been warbling next to in my scarf and top hat, and feeling very humble indeed. It goes far beyond believing I could figure out a way to drink like a normal person – some magical method that all the other alchie stoner whatever-you-got “garbage cans” before me somehow failed to find.. It even goes beyond thinking that I had more time to “figure things out.” It goes as far out (as far as I know) as thinking I was on a train that was heading to a sure-fire destination in life, when really I have been on a bike meandering on the path of least resistance in a very different direction. There are no trains with fixed tracks, dummy. Only the end of the line is for sure, and how we get there is as varied as all the people that ever have or ever will exist.
A big blank spot in my conception was that darn fourth dimension – Time.. how things change/develop/evolve over time. My coping strategies developed, even if from a real predisposition and real environmental pressures. It doesn’t matter why something develops in a moral context, it matters only to understand why so we can adapt. A reason is not the same as an excuse. A reason is an unbiased context with which to learn from, an excuse is a justification in the face of a judgement call, which, in my experience is far less useful. But I digress. My compulsions are not static – bearing the same intensity from age 12 to 31. What may have worked for me at 15 is probably no longer the best strategy for me at 31. That, at times, infuriates me to no end. Other times I feel incredibly sad. But I must be careful to get the point and keep moving, without crossing the line into wallowing. Some days I do better than others. Time is a bitch sometimes.
Cory Monteith, beloved star in Glee, was my age when he recently died of a preventable overdose. I went to very similar such programs, although I count myself lucky to have gone through the girl versions of those programs, which are generally much more forgiving. I left them with similar misinformation and a really dangerous negative complex about my addictive tendencies, which left me very vulnerable to them. Music was the thing that pulled me out of the blender for a while, like Cory’s acting. A different drug of choice, and it could have been me. I do see now that, at that point in the mid 90’s, no one could really have seen the perfect storm I was of gender dysphoria, major depression, a traumatically stressful home life, and a predisposition to impulsive behavior. The information just wasn’t yet available. In retrospect it was plain as day, but that is really nobody’s fault. And I can’t really say I would have been better off staying at home in the real crazy house. I believe the only reason I began writing songs with such fervor was because all my other coping mechanisms were forcefully taken away from me for those years. I also don’t know if I would have found such inspiration and deep understanding in psychology had I not been so immersed in it. So, a double edged sword, but at this point the value of my experience lies with those I might help. Same with Cory’s.
Time, it seems, also carries the promise of salvation from its past works. Bill Dub even said it in the Big Book – “we will be rocketed into the fourth dimension..” My recovery, like my affliction, will also not remain static. If sobriety stayed the same as it is 16 days in, no one would stay sober. I still don’t know what’s over the next rise, or the one after that, but that is just part of the bargain. Faith is trusting something that you can’t see. Although, to be fair, I see it in other people all the time. Faith is perhaps trusting something that you haven’t yourself experienced. Yet. In AA we have the bad “yet’s,” like DUIs, jail time, health issues, divorces, etc; maybe I could spend a little more time manifesting some of the good “yet’s.” Like, say, a 1 year chip, a solo album, debt relief, self sufficiency, maybe a published work.. I think I’ll start with teaching some guitar lessons. Or maybe just folding the pile of clean laundry I am sitting on right now, and slept on last night. Baby steps. At least the laundry is clean.
So I am back to the meetings, back to burying myself in books, back to dodging the bullets of the acute withdrawal phase, and hopefully back to blogging. And maybe one day songwriting. I’m not ready to call my songwriting a casualty, but perhaps it was removed from me by the powers that be, and will one day be returned when I have made myself a safe place for them to emerge from again. New endeavors will include actual meditation (not just lip service) so that I may more accurately perceive the world, and respond accordingly.