At the meeting today, I was asked to do a ‘share’ – to tell my story to the group. The head counsellor asked me if I would consider doing this as he had not met me before and he would like to get to know me, and as there were two new patients, it would be a good way to break the ice, with them.
I took the group of eight, which included myself, back through the last eighteen years, to the night I stepped into hell, and then brought them back, to February 8, when I stepped back into reality. I know I can write evocative stuff, and my words, spoken to those who know me, can bring tears, anger, laughter – I have a gift of evoking a reaction.
Today, though, I felt a great empathy, a great responsibility, when my words, still delivered in a lighthearted fashion that in truth usually betrays a heavy under-current of raw emotion, brought the newest patient – an addict of seven years, slave to crystal meth these past few, to a choking, sobbing brink of personal revelation.
In my share, I recounted the facts, but most importantly, I confided to the group that I am doing my healing publicly, and proudly. It made them uncomfortable, that much was more than evident. The counsellor, a man whom I soon learned shot from the hip with deadly accuracy, was also deeply diplomatic, reminding me and the group that the 12th principle of these meetings, the people who founded them and the recovering addicts who make them such a success is ANONYMITY, and the foundation of these supportive sessions and the subsequent healing, is that we put PRINCIPLE before PERSONALITY.
He was careful to uphold my self-esteem, as his quietly chided me for the perceived pride and arrogance of thinking that I could achieve recovery without rehab, that I could master this on my own, that I was driving my personality ahead of the principles. He praised the bravery of my undertaking and the eloquence with which I delivered the share. He underlined the need to internalise and express, and ask questions – the man was superb, and left me silent, and pensive.
Here’s the thing, though – I am effusive in my confessions because I am effusive in living. Too long now I have been a silent recluse, hidden in the clouds of crystal meth smoke, and I am reverting to type, from the days before the drugs – the loud, ebullient, laughing – God, it sounds like I’m about to mutate into a bottle of Graça!
I’m no celebrity, not by a long shot, nor am I famous, but I do have a significant connective group through this blog, facebook, and Twitter. I live my life on my sleeve, never mind wearing my heart on it. I’m talkative, gregarious and loud, in life, and online – just ask anyone I’ve ever met, worked with or emailed – there are thousands of them, and so far, only anger and disappointingly, hatred masked as injured pride, from four of them. Five, including Cris’ ex-wife. That’s a staggering number of people to affirm a non-celeb’s vitality, and it also means that I must be careful to eschew the pride, arrogance and complacency that comes from thinking I can do this on my own, that I have succeeded, and that I don’t owe gratitude, respect and above all humility, to everyone in my life, and those I’ll meet tomorrow and the day after.
Because that is exactly what I owe, to all of you – James and I talk frequently, via email or on the phone, and often, we end off assuring each other that “we’re in this together” and though I’ve not seen James since 1992, and not exchanged more than 5 words until January 8, 2012, and even though our lives couldn’t be more different, nor our stories, there is compassion between what our history has dealt us. I now believe that I would not be where I’m at, in my life, today, if not for James’ spur-of-the-moment comment on facebook.
It goes beyond James’ synonymity in traumatic experience; it reaches out to all of you, and the stories you tell me. The strength you give me, with each story you share. Mariet, Lorraine, Allison, AJ, James H, James D, Bazil, Jono, Angela, Kelly, Claudia, Clelland and Nanette, David, Helen, Jane, Matthew, Katie, Karen, Zoe,Nicole, Preston, Casey, Nicky M and C, Tracy – my god, I could name a thousand people, and still not have included all of you – Antony, Mary, Pete – my rocks, and my bastions, each one of you – Vijay, my muse, Nikita, my partner in crime; Mike – a deeply disturbing soul, and beautifully so. My family, who’ve patiently waited all these years for me to come around.
I am not anonymous within this enclave of love – Darren and Ange will attest to this. Gavin’s show is my story. Christ, it’s everybody’s story. Jeff asked me what made me so special, why was I so different – Gisela, Gil, you guys know exactly why – it’s because I have all of YOU, holding me up. That’s the story, that’s the beauty, and that’s the anonymity of the gift you give me, in that there are so many of you, yet I cannot do without a single one of you.
This is NOT about my personality, in truth, it’s about letting me heal, and giving me the realm of possibilities that allow my personality to nurture the concepts, realisations and bonds that form these beautiful relationships. I need you, so that I can tell my story. So that I can share. So that I can comprehend, accept, adapt, evolve, one step at a time.
My name is Dave Luis, and I will be an addict for the rest of my life. YOU are the cure for my disease.
We’re in this together.
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