Excerpt: 'Moments of Clarity'

So after David died, this cousin I called said, "You know, we've gotta stay sober." He'd gotten sober a while before and was actually the only person who'd said something to me, tried to stop my downward spiral. He had made a quantum leap ahead of me, and on some level I probably knew that, but I wasn't willing to admit it. And so when he said that, I just said, "Fuck you. I'm not staying sober through this. My best friend just died. If you think for one minute I'm gonna lose my other best friend too, you're crazy."

But on the morning of February 17, I called him up and said, "Tell me what to do. Just tell me what to do. What ever you say, I'll do." And he told me to go back to that group of people who were in recovery and to do what they told me to do. If I hadn't completely surrendered I would've said, "I've already done it, it didn't work." Instead I said, "Okay." And I did it.

There was an enormous relief in the surrender. I remember feeling that something changed, something shifted. I had tried many, many times to get sober, so I didn't completely trust this. But there was something deep down inside me, just a glimmer, where something shifted. I didn't understand it, I just had some awareness of it and how profound it was. God, or what ever you want to call it, had given me a glimmer of hope.

So I knew intuitively there was something different going on, just a sliver of understanding, something so deep that it was undeniable, and it was totally different from anything that I'd ever experienced before. Just a glimmer. Just a taste.

And it grew exponentially every single day, because the surrender gave me the key of willingness to engage this new life. It's like a starving guy who gets to have a little piece of something, and that's when he realizes just how ravenous he is. That's what it was like, pulling my seat up to this new table and beginning to eat, and then just stuffing my face. Which proves I'm an addict. I'll stuff my face with anything.

The woman I was with was using at the same time, and she didn't stop right away. She tried to get me to use with her. She said, "Do you want to take this?"—a Quaalude or what ever. And I was like . . . "No." I had never said no in a context like that before, ever. When somebody handed me something, I put it in my mouth, always. But at that point I could say no.

Even so, the obsession was not lifted immediately. The thing that had driven me for seventeen years, ever since I was twelve years old and I took that first tab of acid—"Oh my God, I want to do this again," "When can I do it again?" "How can I get more?"—that thing, which is the obsession, which is the 800- pound gorilla, which I know is the weight that no human power could relieve (because I had tried everything), that thing didn't disappear right away. That thing was still there.

I remember coming to New York, which was always the place I'd go to get high, and I had a lot of prescriptions still. And there's this thing. I was enmeshed in recovery, talking to people, and this guy said to me, "You need to get on your knees." I went, "Wh-what?" And he said, "No, you need to get on your knees, and you have to ask to have that lifted. If you have to, throw your shoes under your bed as a way of getting you on your knees. What ever you need to get down there. To humble yourself. To actually, physically humble yourself. It's all well and good to think about it, but unless you do it . .."

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