This podcast was recorded in the parking lot of an airport, so there may be some extra sound effects!
Removing the Stigma of Addiction. For those of us in long-term recovery, it is up to us to live happy, successful lives, and be an example of what we can accomplish. We can choose to not be stigmatized by societal biases about addiction recovery.
These 3 words: Be Here Now were some of the most powerful and inspirational that I heard in my early recovery. There were a lot of similar expressions, like Keep your head where your feet are, Take it one day at a time, Live in the now, Wherever you go – there you are, Just for today, and on and on.
As much as I like meaningful words, I just was never much of a sloganeer. These sayings were fine for bumper stickers, but I always interpreted them as “AA sales pitches.” Like “keep Coming Back, It Works If You Work It.” I always hated that one because it assumes that if I go back out, if I relapse, it is because I was a failure and I failed at working this miraculous AA program. I didn’t “work it good enough.” So, these sayings and slogans may have been well-meaning, but to me, they represented an ideal to which I often fell short. They set me up for failure.
And, the fonts and typesetting were horrible. They looked like they were right out of a Byzantine monastery. I couldn’t relate intellectually, spiritually, or artistically.
I was at an old book store at a dusty market in Fergus, Ontario. The stall had all sorts of metaphysical and new age titles. And, it had an interesting thick book with a beautifully designed cover illustration. It was an intricate line drawing, white on a purple background. The title was
Wow, that’s it, I thought! That’s as simple as recovery can get Be Here Now…
I opened the book and found dozens of short essays illustrated by someone who was obviously familiar with a vast amount of hallucinogens. The author was Ram Dass, who I later discovered was a former Harvard professor, a friend and fellow traveller with the more famous Timothy Leary. Dass’ former name was Richard Alpert, until he undertook several spiritual quest to India and the east, and he transformed from a tweed wearing, pipe smoking Harvard intellectual, to a simple follower of truth. This book sung to me. I had to buy it. I think, after the US to Canadian exchange rate was factored in, it costs me $7.95 That’s Cheap for a new philosophy on life.
This book made a huge difference in my life. It helped me understand and become comfortable with my own truth. And here’s the truth I learned. I’ll tell you now, in case you can’t find your own:
We can control nothing outside of the two square feet we each occupy on this planet.
Put your hands on top of your head and look down at your feet. There you are. No bumper sticker or poorly designed slogan required.
You can click on any of the “Be Here Now” links in this post and order your copy of Ram Dass’ book.
One of the most often heard comments from newly sober people is “What am I going to do now? I’m bored.” I assure you your life in addiction recovery will be anything but boring.
Check out the Progressive Recovery Culture over at Since Right Now
Read my not-so-boring book Boom Baby Boom
Most of the time, I refer to myself as being “In Recovery.” This is an easy way to communicate that I used to be all screwed up on drugs and alcohol, and now, I’m doing better. It’s also a handy little hashtag to use on Twitter when I’m hoping to reach fellow traveler’s who spend time online. Almost all my little online gems contain #Addiction, #Recovery, # Sobriety. Its the secret code we use to find one another, and hopefully, interact and support each other’s efforts to live a fuller life without drugs and alcohol.
But, lately, I’ve been thinking about the language we use. Words have meaning. Behind these buzz words are actual people. Really complicated people. Sometimes really anxious, depressed, confused and addicted people. People like me.
The word “Recovery” implies that we are trying to return to a former state of being. It implies that we were once in a good place, we lost our way, and now we are back on track. We’ve recovered our sense of life’s direction.
But – who of us has honestly lived such a fairy-tale? How many of us really want to reclaim, or recover the life we were living before our addictions got the best of us? In my case, my life was so depressing and painful, that I used drugs and alcohol to escape that reality. When I got high, I went to a warm, safe place. I shut out the noise and the pain. It worked for a while. Until it didn’t, and I found myself addicted to cocaine and alcohol. I never want to recover the life that led me there.
Instead of recovery – we might consider “Growth.” #Growth. I’m not trying to recover the life I once had, I’m learning to grow into my new life – a life with endless potential, love, and purpose.