Greetings All, Welcome to the podcast “Close to the Bone.” I’m Carl Vreeland.
This is episode #41, it’s titled, “Alcohol, Drugs, and Transcendence.”
As some of you may know, I currently purchased a new home that I had renovated. I was fortunate enough to have good friends who let me stay at their homes while working on my apartment. In brief, as they say, moving is one of the most stressful things in life. That said, I believe I handled the chaos and disorder quite well. No doubt, I had a several moments, whereas I got impatient with the situation not going according to plan, be it a lawyer taking longer than promised, or a contractor not showing up, or an oversight. Nevertheless, things went well for most part. But that doesn’t mean my body and mind weren’t affected. I’m not a machine, and the stress of it all had taken its toll on me in some regard. Namely, I noticed, at some point during the renovations and such, my mind got noisy. And I wasn’t sleeping well as a result of this. I was forgetting things. I wasn’t as clear-headed, and I was off-balance.
It was all a reminder—I’d forgotten how my mind used to be. For many, many years I lived with a noisy mind, with racing thoughts, ruminating over things, obsessing, dwelling, and distracted. I forgot about this. I’ve been living with a quiet mind for the last ten years or more, and I’ve gotten quite used to it. I took for granted. I forgot what it was like to have a busy mind. No wonder I drank and drugged heavily back in the day. It’s was the only way I knew how to quiet my mind. Of course I didn’t come upon meditation and the Yoga practice yet. So, I had no alternatives, or at least alternatives I believed in, meaning suggestions from people that I believed would work. But as they say, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”1 OK, maybe I didn’t have contempt for meditation, I just didn’t believe it would work. No doubt, I was a cynic at the time. And as I heard podcast host Krista Tippett once say, “. . . cynicism is really easy. It’s never surprised or disappointed. And doesn’t lift a finger to change anything.”
And so, like many folks, I didn’t want to “lift a finger.” I just wanted a quick fix. Quick fixes are easier, faster, and less painful, or so it seems. They don’t take much effort, if at all. Of course, I now know that quick fixes don’t work in the end, and often don’t work at all. They are just band-aids. I learned that numbing out is not the answer. Yes, drugs and alcohol gave me moments of quiet. Well, actually, it was really a false sense of quiet. It was more like oblivion, Meaning, I wasn’t alive, I wasn’t feeling anything. For sure, I was destroying myself. In fact, at some point, I welcomed death. Problem was though, I was dying a slow painful death. Which of course, was far from desirous.
I didn’t quite know it, but I was trying to transcend my pain, my ego, my self. Yes, when I was drunk or high as a kite, it gave me a false sense of transcendence. It put me in a zone, as I used to call it. Things seemed calm and quiet and peaceful, everything seemed groovy and chill. Indeed, booze was my spirituality. Well, it’s no coincidence they call alcohol spirits. Although it didn’t bring me closer to God, it took me to the depths of hell.
Of course, I didn’t think this or know this at the time, I was just blindly getting high and trying to escape my pain. I was trying to relieve myself of the unease, restlessness, discontent, and very strong cravings that nothing or no one could satisfy. Yes, I had an insatiable appetite for more, nothing or no one was enough. I was like a vampire in a way. But again, I didn’t know this. . . .
Talk-therapy didn’t help. Psyched-meds didn’t help. Nothing seemed to help, not until I got sober. In retrospect, as long as I drank and drugged, I didn’t stand a chance of waking up and working through my demons. After all, how could I face my demons when every time the sh*t hit the fan I would get high? Actually, the sh*t didn’t even have to hit the fan for me to get high, any bump in the road would do.
If you’re identifying with my experience, but you’re still struggling, get honest, get serious, don’t you think you should do something about it? If you want out, you can do something. Get sober, get clean, and stop messing around and get help. You can’t do this alone.
Do you want a better life? Do you want to experience a quiet mind and joy, peace, calm, and serenity? Do you want to be able to relax in this crazy world we live in? Do you want to let go of anger, resentment, and bitterness? Do you want to transcend your ego and your cravings? If you do, work on you. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We must change, the world is not going to change, we must.
Attend a recovery meeting. Read. Learn. But “lift a finger.” Start a Yoga practice. Start mediating. In recovery they say, “move a muscle, change a thought.” In the Bible it is said, “faith without works is dead.” Yes, we must do the work. We need help and should ask for it, but no one can save us.
In any case, once I realized my mind was noisy again, I did something about it. I kicked up my meditation practice. And voila! it worked. My mind quieted down. I was back to my baseline. Thank heaven I don’t need the drink any longer. As I said, there are alternatives.
As always, thank you for listening. And of course, if you’re enjoying this podcast, a good way to support it, and my blog and all my writings as well, would be to subscribe to my free newsletter on my website. Just go to carltvreeland.com and go to the support page. You can also go to Apple Podcasts as well and give the podcast a Star-Rating and a Review. It’s a simple and effective way to support all my free content. Additionally, some of you expressed that you like to or prefer to read the transcripts, so, I’m trying to post them more frequently on the blog page. Thank you again everyone.
- A quote by William Paley. (Although in Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book (Third Edition), Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher, is credited, p. 570.