A Typical Childhood
This is the story of someone who went from homeless junky to leading spiritualist. Along road of putting oneself back together after completely falling apart and losing hope. Often times, when things were at their worst, I would wonder if the life I had was worth continuing. There was no joy and no hope. I still don’t know how I kept going through those days.
There was nothing in my upbringing that points to this. I was raised in a very normal suburban home. My family and friends were nice people. I grew up in a nice part of town and did very normal and average things with my time. Nothing in my life that says I would become one of societies outcasts.
I actually did really well at school. I had a really good relationship with some of my teachers and saw them after finishing year 12. I enjoyed drugs and alcohol, though I didn’t think much of it at the time. But looking back, I enjoyed them a lot more than all my friends. more of it and more often. Though I didn’t think it was a problem.
I went to university and my drinking and using lifestyle. I just knew that I was different. That when I got wasted I felt normal. When I got wasted I felt OK, and not OK whenever I wasn’t wasted.
So I had a string of massive failures in my 20s. And they were not brought on by any outside pressure. All the opportunities that came my way I managed to mess them all up. It was horrible. I just had this amazing knack for falling flat on my face. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
I knew there was something wrong with me, but nobody was able to tell me what it was. It was really confusing and there was no-one I felt I could trust to help me. So I took it upon myself to study psychology. I was smart enough to understand it all, though I didn’t find anything useful in there to help me. Sometimes it described parts of what was going on for me, but never the whole thing. And never a course of action to pursue after that. It was useless.
So I continued to lead a reckless and wasteful life right into homelessness. I still couldn’t see what I was doing wrong. And I will say this :People take drugs because they have to.
Life Felt Hard and Magically It Was
Whatever was terrible about me and what was going on in my head was over when I was off my face. It was the only way I felt normal. EVER. Many people think this is a moral issue; it is not; it is a survival issue. If your head space was just as much of a war zone, you too would want to be ‘out of it.’
In fact, we all probably know someone like this, someone who makes life look hard. When you hear them speak, you just know that their attitudes to life are a mess. You just know there are some people who just don’t ‘get it.’ Most of those people end up on prescription medicine anyway. So why not medicate oneself? It is no better than what the establishment does.
Most treatments involve other drugs. Heroin is treated with methadone, alcohol with Valium, and many others. I couldn’t see the difference between ‘our’ drugs and ‘their’ drugs. Legal or illegal, it is just the identity of the seller that is different.
Drugs were never the problem. They were the answer. And if drugs are the answer; what is the question?
And this story is about how that question got discovered.
When I went to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I sat in a room full of people and when I listened to them, I knew I was at home. What came out of people’s mouths was exactly the sort of thing that was going on in my head. I knew I was just like all of them and my new way of life began.
I worked really hard in that group. I went to heaps of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, I did the 12 steps 3 times in one year. They saw how hard I was working and kept giving me more responsibility, more and more until I became the secretary of the state board. I was a 12 step poster child!
One thing I discovered is that everyone had the same problems. Everyone stood up in those meetings and explained what their problems were. And they were all the same; just variations on a theme. It is that commonality that keeps the organization together. It is that common approach to problem solving, that commonality of mindset between all addicts that
I was also the youngest person in the organization for a while. Most of the people were 10 or 20 years older than me. Though as secretary of the board, I had access to the pillars of the membership. People with 10 or 20 years clean time. I asked all sorts of questions of them. What are the techniques you used to work on yourself? What was the best way to deal with family/work/friends/money trouble. I really pumped them for ideas about what to do about this illness.
And I found an increasingly dry well. After 2 or 3 years clean, they had nothing more to offer. It was just an insulin for the illness we all shared. It was only a holding pattern for a condition that everyone could describe. A condition that we all knew through and through, something insidious and cunning. As the Big Book (seminal 12 step text) says: ‘the condition is cunning, baffling and powerful’
Meditation Provided A New Path
Though there was something in the wealth of literature on the topic. 6 of the 12 steps mention God, so I went out there to find some kind of God. Strange quest I know, but one I do not regret for a second.
SO I went to the old school church, and that was a waste of time. I went to the new happy, clappy style church and they were nice people, but they didn’t really have much to offer. I found the entire depth of their work with prayer to be summed up in two words: ‘find Jesus’. Which in my opinion was just weak. So I started asking HOW to find him and didn’t really get any response at all…
I also spent some time with the Buddhists. They were really nice people, strong and friendly. I started attending their gatherings, doing their meditations and talking to the people. I found that the work we were doing was not really helpful to what I needed. I knew they had much more to offer, but they were not going to show it to me until I had been a member for 5 years or so….
So I kept looking and I went to the new age guys. All they wanted was money, so I gave them some and did some of their weekend courses. And the material was GOOD. I learned a lot. The applications they had with meditation were exactly what I needed. It made real impact and change into the issues I faced within myself.
I was the youngest and most hard working member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I knew that I had a pretty severe case of the condition and I really wanted to resolve it for good. And I found that solace through the meditation styles. These guys had real, available answers.
So I set about learning all I could and I studied a dozen different systems of meditation. Each of them offered a different reasoning and approach to working in this way. I learned them all, and I worked hard at understanding the nuts and bolts of what makes them work. I worked these ideas backwards and forwards, interwove techniques from different disciplines and tried and tested all sorts of ideas within this spiritual realm. In many cases, I now know more about the techniques than my instructor does.
I laughed with a friend of mine that meditation quietly took over my life. I didn’t mean it to happen that way, but it was a gradual thing. I really enjoyed it so much that I got more and more involved. Though the real joy now is helping people out of the same hole that I was in. I get to improve people’s attitudes day in and day out. I get to help people through their toughest challenges and boost them to their highest triumphs. Though their highs and low, I help people reorient their mindset towards their dreams, their goals and a better life. Such a privilege.
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