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I’m not an Addict - Recovery Programs and Liberation

Transcribed from an Open Meeting, by Erica Mulford

I love the message, and it’s really shifted things for me. The issue I’m having is how to talk to other people. I’ve been in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for almost 20 years and I sponsor many women. Since having this shift of knowing (no past, no future, and nothing to regret), I’m really struggling with how to talk to the women I sponsor. Even going to AA meetings is a real problem for me. I can’t relate anymore. I was wondering if you could give me some guidance on that?

Are you afraid to lose something? Are you willing to lose everything? I don’t mean that in some kind of a hyperbolic way, and I’m not saying that you have to do anything.

I want to answer this in two ways. First, I want to answer it in a very ultimate way. Are you willing to lose that 12 step program and the sponsorship?

Yes.

I’m not saying you should, I’m not at all saying you should. I’m just asking, are you willing to be nothing? It could be that from being in AA for 20 years, it is something to hold onto. It’s an identity, isn’t it? It’s not bad, it’s good. It has helped you and it has helped many people. There is nothing wrong with it. I’m just asking if you’re willing to be nothing, to not have that any longer. What if that was gone now?

I’m good with that.

That’s the highest answer. A person has to first see for themselves if they’re willing to lose everything. It doesn’t mean you will lose anything. You may not. And you have to be willing to be free. I’ve lost everything in my life. Everything that has ever come, has gone: people, places, things, etc. You see? It’s fine, there’s no problem for me.

Your sobriety isn’t gone though, is it?

I have no sobriety, I have nothing.

Okay.

I’m not a thing. I don’t have sobriety, I don’t have anything.

I never went into AA, and I never looked at it that way. My drug usage just ended, it was a very strange situation; it just ended. I’m not comparing it to anything, it’s just what happened to me. So, I never thought of myself as being “in sobriety.” I understand what you're saying, and that’s not my point.

I’ll use a personal example to make my point. When I say this, I’m very serious. I’ve been doing this work for 7 years and when I say this next sentence, I’m telling you the truth. If it ends in two seconds, it’s fine, it’s over, no problem. No problem. I have a life that’s completely free, I don’t need anything and I mean that very seriously. This is not my identity, this work. I’m not a teacher, I’m not a musician. Right now, I’m speaking. Tomorrow, I’ll be playing my guitar and tomorrow, it can all go, no problem! That’s why I asked you, are you willing to be nothing? Is it okay for you? Is that enough?

Well just today, I was taking a walk and thinking about this issue and thought if all these women decide they don’t want me to be their sponsor, if they fire me, that’s okay. I’m fine with that. I just had that realization today before this meeting.

Okay, good. That’s one thing you have to know for yourself. It doesn’t mean that’s going to happen. So far, and I’ve felt this since day one, at any moment, this work can end, no problem. Throughout my whole life, things have come and gone. If this work goes, something else will emerge, but so far in 7 years, it hasn’t. So, we’ll see what happens.

My question is - Who are you? Are you willing to be who you are? Who you are doesn’t need this work or your work. It doesn’t need anything. Your fulfillment, your completion, your wholeness doesn’t have to do with you being a sponsor in AA. My sense of fulfillment has nothing to do with me doing this work or making music. It has nothing to do with any of that at all. And therefore, whatever comes, comes, and whatever goes, goes. It can stay, and it can leave. Is that a recognition for you?

Yeah, more and more.

That’s the first answer I wanted to give you. The second is this, I never, ever speak about this work with anyone. The only exception is for the people who come to these meetings or my intensives. They saw the title of my book, “Liberation IS: The End of the Spiritual Path,” which I made very audacious to keep the riff-raff away, and for whatever reason they're interested. If someone attends this meeting, they know why they’re here. So, I’m free to speak about it. But never in a million years, do I speak to anyone else about it if they don’t specifically ask. Therefore, if your work’s been beneficial, helping people for these 20 years, then just keep doing it as you’ve been doing it. It doesn’t have anything to do with your freedom.

Right, but it’s not my experience anymore. It feels fake and inauthentic.

I understand and let me say this to you. I work with many therapists, psychologists, and hypnotherapists. Many of them keep doing their work. It is still beneficial. Without consciously doing anything about it, their own freedom somehow informs that work and makes it even better, without them trying to push freedom onto someone, or convince them to be free.

For you, it could be that you can’t do that work anymore because you don’t believe it anymore. Or it could be that you still do that work and because of your own freedom (without any conscious doing) it benefits others. And I understand with the 12 step work there are very specific concepts and ideas about a higher power, which would be very difficult for me to do. Well, I couldn’t do it, I’m very limited. I only do this one thing (laughs). I’m very simple, I just chop the head off.

I mean the 12 step program is a very beautiful form that helped prior to me recognizing that I’m nothing. I was very identified with being an alcoholic and the 12 step process of going into the past and making amends was very beneficial.  However, it’s a paradigm and I’m over it now.

I really understand. That’s the one thing I never really liked about it. People that get into that program are going to be addicts for the rest of their lives. You have to keep reifying the fact that you’re an addict.

I did heroin, freebased and everything, and it ended 20 years ago when I had a big epiphany. All of my friends were in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and they kept telling me to join. They kept saying, “you’re an addict.” I said from day one. “NO, I am not an addict.” Some of the people I know are still saying “yes, I’m an addict,” even though they haven’t taken drugs in 20 years.

If it prevents people from taking drugs, that’s fine. But you’ve clearly recognized that you’re not an addict. If you want freedom, then you’re not an addict, you’re nothing.

It’s hard to convey that.

No, you can’t convey that. In fact, if you say that you’re not an addict in AA, they’re going to castrate you and send you to hell.

Moving away from AA and not being able to sponsor the way I used to has rocked my world this past year. It’s been kind of unsettling, but in a good way, you know?

Exactly, I respect what you’re saying. I totally get it, and it’s not something that has to be a drastic move or something like that. First of all, you’re not the doer of anything. You don’t create anything. For whatever reason, you found this work. You didn’t choose to be doing this work.

Out of all of your friends in AA, you are probably the only one who found this work. Why? You don’t know, it’s just what happened. You didn’t choose to do this, did you? So, you’re not going to choose to end it either. You don’t need to worry about it. It’ll either fall away, you’ll find reconciliation with AA and how to work within it, or something else will emerge. If your nature is to be helpful and sharing, that will appear by itself. There’s nothing for you to do, you see?

I guess I just needed the reassurance of that and I appreciate your answers. So, thank you.

You’re welcome. I think it’s very courageous for someone like you, who has been doing AA, which is very insistent on a “person” who has a thing called an addiction, and who has a higher power, to be doing this work. It is a big thing to step into this freedom, it’s the exact opposite of that work. It’s a big thing, man and I respect you for that.

 


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