By Wes Shephard
Leaving Rehab, foregoing sober living…
Not being able to surrender to putting yourself first. This one is puzzling to me, because when I was deep in my addiction on my alcoholic sprees or benders…I had absolutely no problem putting myself first. I frankly did not give a fuck about anything or anyone or what I destroyed… especially my relationship with my girlfriend. And now that I am sober, I am incapable of putting myself first. I feel guilty. Like I owe a lot of people who helped me. Like how dare I act like a piece of shit for so long… disappear to rehab for 43 days… then get out and demand I put myself first and my recovery first? I understand the concept that everything goes to shit if my recovery goes to shit. Which is why I need to put it first. But it is just very difficult for me to surrender to that and not try and control peoples disappointment in me, my shame, etc. Of course that does not apply to all aspects of my life. I put making money at the top, my son second, recovery 3rd and my relationship last. I get that from my dad who put money above everything when I was growing up. It has been ingrained in my brain that I need to make money, that I need to look like I have money, and that I am doing fine. So I am really struggling with that and being able to surrender right now.
When I told the fans of the podcast where I had been, it was incredible. It was not easy telling thousands of people at once that I was an alcoholic and that I needed help. Of course the fear of being judged, the fear of appearing weak, of only seeking attention… all of that was there. Especially in an environment that is pretty machismo. But I was blown away with the support that came flowing in and the amount of people that reached out to me that said I inspired them to get their own recovery under control or get into rehab. It was super humbling and very fulfilling. I was suddenly talking to perfect strangers, fans, people struggling…that I could help. I felt like a hypocrite at times because I was not “Mr. AA” yet, and was struggling myself… but I think that’s the way it is with all of us… we rely on each other. That 12-step work became my recovery in a way. I also kind of rested on those laurels and started to get overwhelmed with all the accountability and basically responsibility. If I relapsed, what would people think then?
I think for me the key to recovery right now is not being hard on myself. I am BRUTAL with myself and am a very bad ‘all or nothing’ thinker. If one little thing is wrong, then the entire thing has gone to shit. If I make a meal and everything was perfect except one thing… the meal becomes all about that one little mistake. I failed. Just like in my food addiction and body image issues… if I eat a bad meal on Tuesday, I cannot start my diet or routine back up again until Monday. It’s brutal. So with recovery, if I am not feeling super connected to God, or feeling great, then I must be doing something wrong and almost relapsing. I have a real hard time looking at the good stuff that I have achieved. But if I remember to stay present and actually look at how far I have come…it’s a really long way. Progress, not perfection, is hard for me to grasp sometimes. I want to be floating on clouds… and if I’m not… I am fighting out of rubble.
Comedy is a great way for me to cope with recovery. I can laugh at myself pretty easily, and kind of enjoy being called out for the bullshit I pull sometimes. It’s hard to walk the line of being in recovery and trying to be funny. Should I be “Mr. AA” all the time? Or can I laugh at the crack head dancing on the corner and say “oh my, I hope he gets help”? Or can I say “holy shit look at this crackhead, isn’t that funny?” Because it is funny. It keeps me accountable, and we are all human. So it’s funny.