Posts Tagged With: Recovery

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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Who’s in my Head…

Ever since my ticket purchase last week for THE WHO’S QUADROPHENIA – LIVE this upcoming November, Who tunes have been running thru my head.

On July 24th, I saw the single night showing of the movie QUADROPHENIA – CAN YOU SEE THE REAL ME? at a theatre in the West End, Minneapolis, which just made me understand Quadrophenia even more.

From the first time I saw Quadrophenia, I could totally indentify with the main character, Jimmy Cooper. I didn’t realize that he was portraying someone who was quad-polar or “quadrophrenic,” with the four polarities being a trait of each member of The Who ruling Jimmy’s mind at different times.

Jimmy. I have always loved that name… maybe because it was the name of my first real childhood friend. Or maybe because it was the name of a very significant friend in early adulthood. …well, the latter was a Jim, but with the boyish nature of our relationship, to me, he will always be a Jimmy.

Jimmy Cooper was kind of a fucked up lad, (weren’t we all?) trying to find where he belonged, trying to become his own man, yet just in a whirlwind; being pulled by these emotions and energies; loves and hates, looking up to false heroes, crashing down hard as the heroes were revealed as their true selves. And of course, masking all of it with alcohol and drugs; yearning for love, but acting out with empty sexual encounters.

Jimmy moves through a series of jobs, travels, friends, destroying what he loves most, his Vespa; becomes disenchanted with his Mod lifestyle, his drug use escalates, bringing him close to death, where he has an epiphany and he sees through all the personalities, the “real him.”

I thought Quadrophenia had something to do with it being recorded in quadraphonic sound.

My life has been wrought with different (yet, in a way, the same) insanities throughout my existence and for years I self medicated through drugs, alcohol and sex. Some of these mental warbles were inherited, while others were developed, self-imposed. Although at times it has been a struggle and brought some heartache…the mental storms have never been enough to warrant serious prescribed medication.

It is only by maintaining a clean and sober life that I have begun to understand this.

In early recovery, medical professionals were quick to give me (as they do most entering a rehab facility) the textbook, quick-fix label of bipolar-manic-depressive – which oddly enough are the same symptoms of an active crystal methamphetamine addict. I refused to start taking any medication until I was off all drugs for a year and my brain and body detoxed from the crystal meth and other substances. Sure enough, the traits that they first labeled me with diminished as I maintained a drug -free lifestyle and they withdrew their early diagnosis and chemical plan.

My life has always been cyclical…ruled by, I believe, astrology..the placement of the planets and their orbit in the universe. I seem to experince certain highs and lows over the course of the year in various seasons and certainly lunar. Usually in patterns against the norm; I am depressed in the early and mid- summer, at peace and more active in the early and mid-winter. Spring and fall are always periods of change for me. Full moons usually bring calm.

For over 30 years, events always happened in two-year patterns.

Before getting clean (off drugs), the spring and fall would always be time of upheaval and major change; either with dramatic cross-country moves; people leaving or coming into my life, major employment changes. Since maintaining clean time, changes have been (seem to be) minor things, but important nonetheless, just not as devastating, dramatic or carrying such severe consquences.

I joke at times that life seems somewhat dull for I haven’t been assaulted, evicted, incarcerated or had employment terminated in years. With clean time comes stability.

I am just exiting a low or depression and actually felt a change in my being with the passing of the last full moon three days ago. Up until that full lunar, I was sleeping a lot, lacked motivation, eating empty calorie junk food, not working out and was under frequent advisement of my shitty committee… those little nagging voices that seem to criticize existence. In the drug days, I would try to silence the shitty committee with use or just act impulsively, thinking my rash decisions were based in a solid healthy, thinking pattern, which in an active drug psychosis, made perfect sense.

I spent my early years in recovery at 12 step meetings and on a shrink’s couch under the delusion that by maintaining clean time, this shitty committee would go away and the nagging negativity that drove me to use drugs would disappear. I finally came to the understanding that no, these things do not disappear, they diminish. I have just learned by maintaining clean time to how to handle them…to recognize them.

At least this how it has been with me…I can’t speak for all in recovery. I can be honest enough to say this: There is still the nagging voice; I just try not to feed into it as much or let it control my life.

And through the years and the, um, phases I have gone thru …I have seen the real me. It just it has taken time to fully realize who that is and embrace it for who I am.

Only love
Can make it rain
The way the beach is kissed by the sea.
Only love
Can make it rain
Like the sweat of lovers’
Laying in the fields.

Love, reign o’er me.
Love, reign o’er me, rain on me.

Only love
Can bring the rain
That makes you yearn to the sky.
Only love
Can bring the rain
That falls like tears from on high.

Love Reign O’er me.

On the dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool cool rain.
The nights are hot and black as ink
I can’t sleep and I lay and I think
Oh God, I need a drink of cool cool rain.

~ Peter Townshend

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