Let me take you on a journey, from the hells of addiction to the peaks of experience. I wish I had heard this when I was younger, so please allow me to give you a gift, a gift I need to give.
We all seek a refuge in life, we all seek happiness and freedom. Drugs and alcohol are an easy way out, a well trod path from pain. Sadly though, they lead to more suffering.
Addiction is very much like a cave system, you leave the world and go into a warm and inviting room. A cosy pub or party, with smiles and beautiful, jolly people. You like it there, and you want to stay. Your social life is now a search for this feeling of cosiness, of security, of confidence, of smiles.
Maybe it didn’t start that way, maybe it was a desperate search to end pain, to quench your thirst for happiness and company. You might even be managing to hide or live with your addiction. However it starts, it goes to the same places, as rivers start from different springs but all end up in the ocean.
Gradually you start moving further in, through a succession of caves, darker environments, with more tortured characters inhabiting them. It may be that the use of your chosen poison is having an effect on you, on your life. It may be that people are starting to notice. You don’t care, you are wild and you are cool, free and dangerous. You even create an identity around it, you joke about your outrageous behaviour, but inside there is shame, you know you cause harm. You secretly can’t believe you did or said such things.
It may be that you are withdrawing from certain circles of friends, seeking out the dark. There is a river running down through these caves, and it is taking you along in its current.
It may be that you are finding it harder to live out in the daylight, maybe you have started to crave and shake. It goes deep and it gets very dark. Up ahead there are realms of fits and sweats, paranoia, nightmares, hallucinations, and suicide. The river ends in death my friend, it ends in death, or prison, or the asylum.
I would wake up in cells, in hospitals, and in random places. I owned no key, had terrible fits and panic, I saw things that were not there, and had nowhere to turn. I would have bruises I couldn’t explain, and no idea what had happened the night before, or the few days before, depending on the severity of the binge.
I remember, when I was right in the deepest centre, hanging around train stations trying to summon up the courage to jump. Luckily for me, I often decided to have just one more drink before I did. I eventually slashed my wrists with a fork.
How deep do you want to go?
There is a place we get to, people like us, when we cannot imagine life without our poison, it seems impossible, unbearable. Yet we are in hell, alone and desparate, afraid and with no hope and no light in sight. We can’t carry on and yet we can’t stop.
You and I are different yet the same. I want you to know a few things, and I hope this plants a seed of hope and wisdom in the soil of your awareness.
Seeds are resilient, they can lie dormant for as long as it takes for the right conditions in which to unfurl and spread out towards the light.
I have met thousands of people, I have listened to their stories. I have told my own a hundred times, giving hope to people just like you. They all got out, however far into the caves they went, they are now free.
People like us sometimes get a chance, through a chance meeting or a desparate phone call, to meet others in recovery, at meetings, or in wards or rehabs. But the cemeteries are full of us, taken young, surrendered to the dark.
When we get a chance, we fucking need to take it. We need to suck up spiritual teachings as if our lives depend on them, and make no mistake – they do.
We need to listen to message of hope and stories of recovery, and we need to keep hearing them. We need to keep learning, keep growing, keep praying or meditating or whatever you find that will nourish your soul. I know, religion and spirituality may seem ridiculous, a distant joke, something for the weak and the needy, or even for people who are sane and sorted.
I remember first going to a meeting and being astonished that the people there had been to similar places as me. I thought I was special and unique. If you met me now you would never know where I had been.
If you think you may have a problem, an addiction, then you do. You need to do what it takes before it robs you of everything. Need you hit a lower low? Some people say you have to hit bottom, but there are ever lower bottoms to hit.
Now let me tell you about the light. I believe in no stories of fire and brimstone, I am no religious zealot. I have found inner peace, freedom, and happiness beyond what I expected or even thought possible. It wasn’t in the things our society tells it is in, it is not in wealth or gadgets or sex, it’s in you, and it’s more wonderful and more beautiful than any high a drug can give.
You will love spiritual experiences, like a good ex-addict I seek my pleasures still, in the deep meditations and their deep welling happiness, in the deep spiritual friendships and relationships which make me so happy I could weep with gratitude and joy. I know that spiritual bliss was what I always yearned for. I need to tell you its here. It is on the other side.
I have learned to see beauty everywhere, to find complete joy in the sky and the eyes of another. Once when I closed my eyes, a repeat cycle of torture beat me continually until I shut it out. Now when I close my eyes, I am in heaven, I can sit in infinite love. I really want to teach you the way.
So we are all here waiting to cheer you from your gloomy cave, come out, bask in sunshine, find freedom and happiness. Please, I beg you to be patient, it takes some time to find freedom. The pains of addiction and the reasons we did it take time to unfold and be released. You have to hack the path in the beginning, but it is soon easier to tread.
I felt like I was clinging to the wreckage of my ship, in stormy seas. The sky was dark, and it was wearying, frightening and I was ready to let go. I couldn’t see then, that the storm would pass if I held on, that there was a welcoming port I would come to. I felt like that for a while after quitting, but slowly the weather changed, as weather does.
I know, we all think we are uniquely damaged, we are special and different, but we are not, we are just full of our own story. So we need to share that story, hear others, learn that we are not alone and that we are not so different. In fact, at some point we learn that our happiness is dependent on helping others, serving something greater than ourselves.
We learn that it doesn’t matter what others think of us, it only matters to have a clear and bright heart, the knowing that whatever we may have done, we are doing good now. We learn to hold no resentment or hatred in our heart, as it makes us suffer. We learn to make a mind and a heart so large that hatred has nowhere to stand. All that bad karma can be purified.
The North American Indians say that if we have survive an illness, then we naturally become healers for that illness. There are millions of recovered addicts, and millions still suffering, come and be a part of the solution. Your story can save lives.
The most important thing to know is that everything changes, that is just the way of things. There is a life beyond the poisoning, even if you cant see it, touch it or imagine it.
There is a way of life beyond even your dreams, if I could only show you, have you visit my body and see through my eyes for a while, then I know you would come here in an instant, and do whatever it takes.
If you could only feel how I feel when I am in nature, when im skygazing, dancing, when Im meditating and praying. The world is full of the most incredible beauty, the most unbelievable experiences and goosebumps and highs that need no drug. You can surf turquoise waves with dolphins, you can dance, sing, fly down mountains and rivers, sail amazing seascapes, laugh, make love and cry. You learn to roll with it all, to dance with it all.
I know now that spiritual happiness was what I yearned for, and looked for in all the wrong places, simply because there was no guide.The highs of the spiritual life reach parts no drug ever could, no rave or trip can compare.
A mind clear and bright, like a beautiful diamond radiant with all colours. Consciousness so pure and light that it is very difficult for darkness to take hold. A heart that is wide open, holds all, naturally loving and kind, like a little sun. This is your future, your birthright, your freedom.
Would I look back, would I swap what I have for a few beers or a rubbish artificial high? Not a chance, and believe me I don’t lie, I don’t harm a soul, and I can hold my head up high now. Instead of the self-hatred, the violence, the desperation, and all manner of harms, in my own little way I try to make up for them, and try to shine a little light in the world.
Even though we do terrible things, we can do our best to make amends, and I can truthfully say I am now living in good karma, or grace, or whatever you would call it. When you take that calamitous, life-changing, trembling step into recovery, you too will find grace in time, you too will purify your karma and know joy and gratitude, love and connection. You too will know inner peace, health, and how it is to delight in life again.
I hope you managed to read this. I hope there is a seed in your soil, and I pray that soon the water and the sunshine come your way. I wish that one day you will be the one saying these things, giving hope and strength to another suffering being. Wake up for the world needs you.
The teachers you need are all around you, the helpers just waiting for you, the whole universe is cheering you on, wanting a beautiful part of itself that is you, my friend, to be happy again.