A Guitar God, Manic Behavior & Addiction

Late last night and into the early hours of this morning, I finished reading WHO I AM, Pete Townshend’s autobiography.

I always love reading these types of books as they give me a greater understanding of my musical heroes; giving me more insight into their lives by either dispelling the stories I have heard or providing me a factual account of what really was happening.

I was so enthralled by Townshend’s writing and was immediately drawn into his story. I was amazed at his candor. And as is usually the case with heroes, their friability. I always find so “shocking” in the sense that I realize that most of them are just as fucked up, if not more so, than me. I always viewed him as this guitar god, this world famous musician; not someone with these traits of fucked-upedness I clearly possess.

I could completely identify with all of Townshend’s awkwardness…his feelings of inadequacy,his loneliness, his fear of sexuality and of abandonment.

Not surprising was his use of alcohol, chemicals and work to try and soothe the aches and pains of mind and soul; his fright when the drugs and alcohol no longer worked, his recovery, relapses and finally his coming to terms with his issues.

As is the case with most stories of addiction, the issues are the same, but the plot, characters and how we get to “that point” are unique to the story-teller.

It has been reinforced to me that for addicts like myself, there are really only two options. Learn how to deal with the issues that manifest themselves through our chemical use or die. Alot of addicts don’t get the first option. At times, I wonder why I was given a chance at the former when the latter seemed more desirable.

As is also the case with most stories of addiction, I find comfort in hearing someone’s story and identifying with it.

It was wild to see Pete use his lyrics to highlight points in chapters. I mean, rightfully so..they are his lyrics. I have been using these same credited lyrics in my writing for years.

Towards the end of the book..as he started to cover the late 1980’s, many emotions were triggered within me. It was during this time that I saw The Who live for the first time and shared this concert experience with the one I keep thinking I am “so over”

As Townshend discussed the workings of The Iron Man and the song A Friend is a Friend, I was pretty much raw.

When in the final chapters of the book, Pete recites the letter he wrote to his 8 year old self. I was completely done in and have been in a funk for the last few hours.

I can’t tag an age in my childhood when my issues first manifested themselves. Moreover, I know I can only move forward…that these issues will never go away and will pop up time and again. It’s the dealing with this shit..this dysfunctional thinking…that is the barometer of my recovery. Still…at times when I am in an emotional upheaval such as this, I feel like a stranger in a strange land, alone amongst the masses.

Maybe if I used heroin for the first time this go around…it would be different. Ya, right.

So I find solace in exercise and the bike ride I just completed on a balmy, November, Minnesota 30 degree day.

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