Journal — 38 Years Clean

12th August 2023

Maybe it's been said before, you have to lose yourself to find your self. 

Today, the 12th of August 2023, marks the passing of 38 years since I got “clean and sober”. 

Six weeks prior, on the 3rd of July 1985, the day after my 21st birthday, I arrived at Mosman Ward 4 Detox in Sydney -- Six weeks before I finally “got it”. 

It was after first conceding that success as a teenage junkie had eluded me and finally accepting that I couldn't drink and substitute one addiction for another. All roads seemed to lead me back to the same sorry place. 

While in Ward 4, a lovely old Australian Federation-styled house converted into a short-term rehab, I stepped into the magical world of recovery groups at my first anonymous “meeting”, which had the same effect on me as hearing punk rock for the first time. I met some inspirational characters, older than me, who had climbed out of the dark hole to become lighthouse people -- People with genuine heartfelt compassion for others, people who knew where they had come from and where it was possible to go. 

And, like I said, it took me a while to get it, but I eventually got there. 

What kept us clean wasn't self-preservation because most of us did not care enough for ourselves for that strategy to work. It was love and loyalty that did it for me. We had to keep at it because as we grew as a community, we knew that we each depended on the other to prove it was possible to stay clean and keep going on the days we wanted to turn back. If one of us slipped, it would open the trap door for all of us. 

The recovery path led me to ride motorcycles and partake in other metaphors for freedom. And I developed a healthy obsession with karate training to quell the feeling that something was trying to break free. I wasn't sure what was trying to break free, but it, in turn, led me to write and listen to the voice it had within me. Although unintelligible, there were rumblings I was yet to identify and articulate. 

I like it here now. I'm 59, and it's good to be alive. During this time, I've found diamonds hidden in plain sight and discovered that not all gold is real. Yes, I still fall for fool's gold and sometimes can't help seeing what I want to see, but the truth is, you have to lose yourself to find your self.



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