Recently – after nearly three years sober – I picked up a drink.
Well: to say “picked up a drink” is putting it somewhat mildly. I actually made a decision to kill myself with a bottle of vodka and a handful of Prozac. I knew I was taking a risk, though; and the risk was this: there was a very good chance that I would just come round again, four hours later, having set off the physical craving for alcohol in my body, and be unable to stop drinking.
And that is exactly what happened.
How had I allowed myself to come to this point of insanity?
Those of you familiar with my blog will know that after my initial “spiritual awakening” through the twelve step program of recovery I became interested in the non-dual nature of reality, and decided to adopt the practice of self-enquiry, with the view of attaining enlightenment. This all seemed like good step 11 stuff to me.
I began to live a more monastic lifestyle: I got rid of the telly, spent most of my time in silence and stopped communicating with people unless absolutely necessary. I fantasized about the moment when I would be free of the body, mind and ego. And yet: every bloody morning I woke up, still in samsara; still identified with the body and mind; still in bondage. Or so it seemed. It was like Groundhog Day. It was like drinking. I became transcendentally bored.
The truth of the matter was: I wasn’t getting what I wanted. And what I wanted – once again, albeit in a subtle “spiritual” disguise – was something that would make me feel better. I was, once again, in resistance to what is.
I was trying to fix myself. I had stopped “relying upon God” and was relying almost entirely on my ego (which as we know, doesn’t even really exist). I had cunningly fooled myself into thinking that I was freeing myself from my mind, when in actual fact I was reinforcing my habitual non-acceptance of everything. I was full of spiritual pride. I was screwed: but I didn’t know it.
Wandering around Boscombe, pissed, I would run into people from the fellowship. None of them – thank God – tried to lecture me. They only asked if I was ready for help yet. But I was defiant. I was going to destroy myself.
And then I got “lucky”. Something happened to me which has never happened before. On the fifth or sixth morning I came round with a couple of beers left in the flat. And it suddenly dawned on me: This is futile. This is going nowhere. You’ve already smashed yourself to pieces. You don’t need to do it again.
There and then I picked up the telephone and called my friend, Wobbly John. Amazingly, he had an alcohol detox which he’d kept in a drawer for the last two years against such an emergency, and he administered it to me. And took me to a meeting. And another meeting. And no-one in those meetings judged or lectured me.
And really what I want to say is this: to all my friends and to our wonderful fellowship, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you I would be dead or fucked or worse.
*Incidentally, I no longer wish to kill myself; nor do I particularly care about enlightenment.