Don’t Fake It — You Might Not Make It

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

— Polonius, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene III

Polonius’s advice to his son Laertes comes in the context of finances and very likely was received by an Elizabethan audience as the recommendation to take care of one’s self first and foremost — Polonius being one of the villains of the story. Just two lines earlier, Polonius advises, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

And yet, our modern reading of these words has become gentler — these words serve as a guiding moral principle advising us of the power of being true to our own codes of morality, often in terms of presenting ourselves as we are rather than as others might like us to be to the world, rather than as a selfish conceit about putting ourselves first in business dealings.

To be fair, I prefer the modern interpretation of these words, even if it may be out of context in the play.


This past Sunday was Easter — the day upon which Jesus Christ is said to have risen from the dead, a miracle, and opened the gates of heaven to the believers. In Christian churches around the world jubilant cries of “He is Risen” could be heard along with “Alleluia” and “Hosanna in the Highest.”

I did not partake.

I did attend our church service via Zoom and listened as our ministers spoke about the realities of Jesus Christ’s death. That he was a political agitator. That he was put to death by a Roman Empire that who saw him as a threat. That while the narrative is that he was not in the tomb when Mary Magdalene and Jesus’s mother came on the third day because he’d risen from the dead, it is very probable that his body was removed and desecrated by the Romans.

We know that powerful people do awful things a to their enemies and there is little reason to believe that the Romans simply let his body be buried. They were, to be sure, a bloodthirsty lot. They fed people to lions for sport for goodness sake. And we know this happens to the bodies of dissidents in our modern world, witness Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder at the hands of the Saudi government.

I do not wish to belittle or betray anyone’s belief here. If you believe the story of the Resurrection and it provides you with faith and comfort, it is wonderful. We all need comfort in this chaotic world. And a little faith goes a long way.

If I’m honest, though, I never believed it.

But I tried. I tried to believe it for a long time.


Fake it ‘til you make it.

This well meaning turn of phrase, employed so often when someone struggles, grates on me. Particularly in the context of addiction recovery, I find this advice highly problematic. Just think about it for a moment. Addiction leads so many of us to a life masked in half-truths, denials, and outright lies.

We hid our addiction, out of shame and fear. We lied about how often we drank, or where the money came from, or what happened the night before. Even if we didn’t lie to others, we lied to ourselves denying that the problem was as big as it was as we hid the bottles, empty or otherwise.

Faking it until we make it, is just another lie. We can’t fake sobriety. We can’t fake recovery. We have to do the work.

Now, there is something to be said for modeling good behaviors. There is something to be said for setting intention and how intention can be a strong predictor of success. But “acting as if” is different than “faking it.”


I know what it means to fake it.

For nearly half a century I faked it. I did what others told me I should. I went to confession for the first time in 5th grade and took first communion later that year after a well meaning teacher in my school asked me if I’d like to receive the sacraments. Never once did I believe that saying 10 “Hail Mary’s” would relieve me of my sins, or that the stale wafer had transmuted into the flesh of Christ — and thank God for that, I mean, can you say cannibalism? — Later in high school, I got confirmed, because it was what I was supposed to do — even though I was a few years late to the party.

In my twenties, I attended a Catholic Church on and off with friends, but slowly drifted away. I broke up with a wonderful woman largely because I could not accept her interest in an evangelical faith — I still owe an amends there. Throughout those years, I would go to church for the big days — Christmas and Easter — and if I’m honest, I always wanted to believe. I felt that believing might relieve some of the pain. I found myself jealous of the certainty that others had about the hereafter.

This big ball of chaos and confusion that we call earth just might make a little more sense if there was an afterlife of bliss. I mean, it’s a great fucking story, but my life experience runs counter to it at every turn.

When I met my wife, she was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. I still don’t really know what that means, but I do know that she was invested in it — that it carried meaning for her. And I’d learned, by way of the aforementioned break up, that perhaps I needed to be sensitive to her faith even if I wasn’t all in. I attended church with her, because frankly, I’d have walked through a bed of hot coals to be with her.

It was uncomfortable. Not only was I not a true believer, but I’d been so thoroughly indoctrinated by the Catholic Church that I believed I was somehow committing a sin by attending another denomination’s services. They did a great job telling me that there was only one true church. To be honest, I still struggle with this from time to time even though I’ve all but renounced my Catholicism by burning the Pope in effigy.

This sense of betrayal was so strong in me that I struggled with the idea that we would be married in the Presbyterian Church — even though I loved the pastor of the church. He hooked me on the first day I attended his service which a sermon about how Liberals and Conservatives needed each other.

And yet, I overcame that sense of betrayal and actually became a member of not one, but two different Presbyterian churches. With time, I actually enjoyed the services. Those churches provided me with good people, good community.

But I still didn’t believe in the Resurrection.

And then I got sober.


I’ve written ad-nauseam about my challenges with religion versus spirituality and how I came to a sense of peace when I finally let go of the God of my childhood. It was only after doing so that I felt I could approach the 12 steps in a meaningful way. And it was only after letting go of that God, that I was able to seek out a church community where it was okay for me to have my doubts.

I tried to fake it until I made it for so many years, and never actually made it. Or at least, I didn’t make it in a way that looked like I thought it would. I had always thought that given enough time, I might eventually will myself into believing. That if I went to church and heard the message again and again, that it might some day actually be true for me. But that truth never crystallized.

This past Sunday was a glorious day in many ways. We had beautiful weather and I saw my family. Many of the adults in the family have been vaccinated and it feels like we might actually turn the corner in this god forsaken pandemic. I enjoyed our church service and felt connected to the universe. And I felt liberated because I didn’t need to pretend to believe in the Resurrection.

In the end, if I allow myself to believe that I’ve come to the end of this journey, which is probably another misconception, faking it until I made it did more harm than good. I struggled and suffered trying to reconcile a disjointed belief with my own life experience. It never fit and it was always uncomfortable. That certainty and the peace that I thought it might bring was never going to happen. I’d have been far better if I’d taken Polonius’ advice and been true to myself from the beginning.

It’s not that I have no faith, nor that there is no God — it’s that it doesn’t look like what I thought it would. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what making it looks like.

Day-Dates, Reclamation, & Courage and Strength

On Saturday, my wife and I took a drive over to Easton, MD and had lunch at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Scossa. We ate lunch outside, despite it being 48 degrees. Admittedly, it is a bit odd to eat lunch outside in January wearing our winter coats, but it’s as close as we are coming to normal right now.

Yesterday, we met my brother and his wife and son for a walk at Cromwell Valley Park, north of Baltimore. We did a two mile walk and found an old rusted out car chassis. The engine block was an in-line six. The markings on the block suggest that it was a Chevrolet built in 1948 or 1948. Nature is at work reclaiming the natural materials that were used to build that car. It may take hundreds of years but nature always wins.

Today, I’m thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. Our own African American pastor spoke about Dr. King eloquently yesterday and shard a recording of Dr. King speaking about his kitchen table experience in 1956, in which he talks about receiving a call around midnight with an ugly death threat, and finding the strength and courage to continue with his mission by calling on his God. My heart aches at the fact that we are still wrestling with white supremacy in this country, but I know that “the arc of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice.”

I am grateful for the day-date with my wife on Saturday, it was time together that was much needed. I’m grateful for the time with my brother on our walk yesterday, and nature’s gentle reminder that she always wins. And I’m grateful for the courage and strength of leaders which inspires me to be brave and strong.

Courage, Rebellion, and a Universe that has Your Back

Something that isn’t talked about enough in the rooms of the recovery community — courage. It takes courage to admit that we have a problem. It takes courage to ask for help. It takes courage to leave behind old habits and old coping mechanisms. It takes courage to get honest with ourselves and others. It takes courage to get sober or get clean.

In some ways, getting sober is a radical act. I mean, one day I was drinking to excess and the next day I made a decision not to drink. And while we use the one day at a time mantra, I knew that I was making a life decision. I knew that I was making a commitment not just fit the day, not just for the foreseeable future, but really for every day of the rest of my life. I knew that in my core.

Getting sober was an act of protest against the substance that had been my tyrant for so long. An act of rebellion. I put my foot down and said, “Enough! I can’t live like this anymore!”

But I didn’t do this on my own. I needed help. I needed people to show me the way. I needed people to lean on. People to call when things got rough. Because, let’s face it, rebellion is a hard road. There are times when we need support. A kind face. An open mind. Someone to listen. Someone to hear. Simone to cry with.

Last Monday, I had one of those hard days. Things went off the rails with my son. I lost my temper. I was angry and escalating the situation — it’s telling that a week later I can’t even recall what the argument was about. And the I paused. I took a breath and left the Hoise for a walk, right after setting dinner in the table.

I went for a long walk and was contemplating the concept of a higher power. Contemplating how the God of my childhood had been a failure and how I had let that go. I was thinking about the mystery of the universe, and thinking about how things always seem to work out. My faith in things getting better is definitely part of my higher power.

The universe has your back.

The thought crossed my mind, just as I was looking at the liquor store where I’d been a regular customer. I kept walking, down an old rails to trails path in my town when I came upon two friendly faces from the rooms sitting outside a local coffee shop.

“How’s it going?”

“Shitty,” I said as I pulled up a chair.

We talked briefly and it felt good to let it out. There was something cathartic about talking about my feelings and frustrations, if only for five minutes. I said I needed to be going and that I was planning to go to a meeting that night.

Both men got up and gave me a hug. Hugs have been sparse in this COVID-19 world and while I’ll admit that they felt damn good, I also felt guilty for accepting them, and vaguely worried that I’d unknowingly exposed myself to the virus.

But, mostly I felt good. Even courageous and rebellious people in recovery need hugs and support.

The universe has your back.

Step 12: Give Others Hope

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Fundamentally, the 12 Steps are a roadmap for change as well as a guide for living a rich and full life. Whether one calls it a spiritual awakening or something else is immaterial. Some folks do feel that they have undergone a monumental psychic shift as the result of working through the steps. Others feel that the change is more subtle.

I personally suspect that the degree to which one feels a change is highly dependent upon how circumstances of their active addiction. For an addict who found himself or herself living on the street, steeling to survive, and living in constant fear, the shift is undoubtedly monumental. But for others who managed to keep their outward lives together while they suffered existential dread internally the shift may seem less dramatic, at least from outward appearances.

Personally, it took more than the 12 Steps for me to feel a fundamental shift in my outlook on life. Specifically it has taken the support of friends and family as well as trauma therapy. I began trauma therapy about nine months ago and as I’ve learned what triggers me, how to recognize with these triggers, and how to be with these triggers in the moment, I have felt a calmness that I’ve never known before in my life.

Many people do find this calmness through the 12 Steps. I didn’t. I felt just the opposite for a long time because the 12 Steps tripped my triggers. I am triggered by the word God. I am triggered by the the notion of an omniscient, omnipresent, and benevolent deity. The root of these triggers are in my life experience. I suffered spiritual trauma when I was told that my birth father could never go to heaven because he died of suicide. Additionally, my life experience is at odds with the idea that there is a benevolent deity directing the world — my direct experience is the opposite. The universe is chaos.

And yet, I’ve learned to accept this. I’ve learned that even if the universe is chaotic, it can still be a power greater than myself. I’ve learned that the mystery of the universe shows me that there is something more out there. Something that deeply connects us to all other things in the universe.

Recently, I was reminded of the scientific Law of Conservation of Mass, which states that matter can not be created or destroyed. When I consume food, that matter gets converted into either cells in my body or waste. For my rational brain, this is proof enough of the interconnectedness of everything in the universe.

For the past few months, I’ve been attending a Unitarian Universalist church and have found in this church a welcoming of my skepticism. It’s as if I suddenly found a bunch of people who think like me. Who suspect that there is something out there but who may not always be sure. The church is welcoming of theists, non-theists, atheists and agnostics. There is very little dogma. They don’t tell me how to believe. And that’s what I needed. This is my spiritual tribe, at least for now.

Importantly, I couldn’t have considered attending this church without going through the therapy process. I needed to deprogram old thinking and old patterns of behavior that no longer served me.

In the 12th step, we are asked to carry the message to other alcoholics. I believe the message is simple. There is a way out of the horrors of addiction and we can have a happy, healthy, and full life without the bondage of addiction. In short, it is a message of hope.

That is what I felt when I came into the rooms in 2015, a great sense of hope. Hope that I could turn things around. Hope that I could feel better. Hope that I could get the monkey off my back. Hope that I could be free. Hope that I might live past fifty years old.

Interestingly, when I was in high school I knew the importance of hope. In a very dark time I scrawled out a short poem that likened life to a matchstick. It shines bright and strong. Intense and dramatic after being lit. And then it’s over. The poem asked the question, if there’s nothing more than this life “why even spark the match?” Years later, one of my teachers found this poem tucked inside my old social studies book and got it to my mother.

And so, when I was confronted in therapy with the question, “what does a God provide to people who believe?” I knew the answer even if I wasn’t ready to accept it. The answer is hope and meaning.

And hope was vital. Without hope, my recovery would not have been possible. And so, even if I don’t like the words, I’ve had what one might call a spiritual awakening.

We need to be able to see that there is a way out of the things that we struggle with. We need to see that our struggles are part of the human condition. All humans struggle with “character defects.” All humans have problems with their egos. All humans have thoughts that if given voice might cause others to pause, to be taken aback. There is nothing unique or special about alcoholics and addicts that predisposes us to these things. The difference is how we have attempted to cope. Alcoholics and addicts have attempted to numb the pain of being human. But numbing the pain doesn’t make it go away.

What helps in times of struggle is the belief that the present reality won’t always be the reality. That things can and will get better. It doesn’t matter what the struggle is — it may be addiction but it may be something else — the message of hope is the answer.

I carry the message of hope with me in my daily life. Through my words and actions, I share it with others who are struggling. Sometimes in one on one conversations, sometimes in tweets with the RecoveryPosse on Twitter, and sometimes here on this blog.

Step 2: It’s Not What I Thought

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

I cringed when I first read this step. In my mind, that capitalization of the word power clearly meant something. And that something was an interventionist God that was going to fix me. I was having none of it.

I’ve written extensively about my struggles with the God Talk in AA. It all comes down to a spiritual trauma inflicted upon me by a person in authority in the Roman Catholic Church. Quite simply God is a trigger for me. How could I possibly work through a step that triggers me?

Not very well is the answer. I spent months, wrestling with this step. I read countless books about alternate takes on the steps. I read about Buddhism and the steps. I read about secular versions of the steps. I read and talked and tried to reframe it in a way that would work for me. And I failed. Nothing satisfied my angst.

Then one day I was re-reading a journal entry that I wrote shortly before getting sober. If there ever been a moment of clarity captured in words in my life this was it.

‌September 21, 2015
Severna Park, MD / 65F, Cloudy

I cannot keep living like this. This is not living. This is a slow, painful suicide. What else can I call it, but that. Night after night of not quite enough booze to kill me has to be taking it’s toll.

I am terrified of the thought of AA. Terrified of not having a drink ever again. Terrified of the stigma that society puts on people like me. The ones who can’t drink within reason.

The first few gulps at the end of the day seem to put my world back on it’s axis. Level things out — but it almost always ends in guilt and shame. Deep senses of depression.

So, I have to make a choice. I have to stand like a warrior and fight against this foe who is trying to and eventually will kill me. It’s time to stop this madness.

It’s time for AA.

It literally jumped off the page at me. There was, in fact, a power greater than me that restored me to sanity. That power was my own mortality. I knew that if I were to continue drinking I was going to die a slow and painful death. I knew that I was not ready to die. I knew that I needed help and that I would find that help in AA. And that gave me hope.

Today I firmly believe that the power greater than ourselves referenced in step two need not be the same as the God of our understanding that makes its first appearance in step 3. The power greater than ourselves is what ever makes us seek help. It’s whatever gives us the hope that there is a way out of the mess we find ourselves in. For many people, that power is the God of their understanding, but it doesn’t have to be.

Step two is all about hope. Hope is so important in early recovery. Without the hope that things would get better, that I would get better, I could never have achieved a week, let alone a month, or even years of continuous sobriety.

Hope and Faith are sisters. My wife has told me that I have a strong faith. At first I thought she must be joking. How could an agnostic like me have a great deal of faith? But she pointed out that I always believe that things will get better, that things will work out, even in the most horrific and tragic of situations. I believe that because my life experience has shown me that it’s true. That’s resilience.

When I look back now, I can see that I’d already taken step 2 when I walked through the doors of AA. I just didn’t know it at the time. What I did know was that I had hope and even faith that things would get better. With time I came to understand that with support I would be able to stop drinking and live a rich and full life.

Accepting the Language of Others

I thought I’d laid my angst with the God talk to rest when I had my breakthrough last winter and came to understand that my challenge was with the God of my childhood rather than with the God of my understanding. I thought I’d finally gotten to the point that I could hear others talk about how God was doing things in their lives that they couldn’t do for themselves without having a visceral reaction. I thought that I’d made progress. And then I went to a Step meeting on a Friday.

I heard people sharing their truths in that meeting. I heard them talking about the God of their understanding. Intellectually, I knew that their understanding was theirs and not mine. Intellectually, I knew that they weren’t preaching to me — that their God talk was not aimed at me. But emotionally, I was not prepared to hear those things for what they were. Emotionally, I heard these people talking about the God of my childhood — God that I don’t believe in and even if I did we wouldn’t be in speaking terms. And I found myself in a foul mood questioning the one thing that had made a difference when other things couldn’t. Questioning the validity of 12-Step as a mode of recovery.

That’s the insanity of being affected by an addiction. If there is one thing for certain about my addiction to booze it’s that I was not able to stop drinking without help. And for me that help came in the form of 12-Step meetings, the fellowship, and the program.

I’ve spent some time wrestling with this. What is it about hearing other people talk about the God of their understanding that triggers me? Why do I automatically assume that they are talking about the God of my childhood when they use Christian terms and names for God?

After some soul searching I think that it comes down to this: I went to Catholic school in a rural area. While Vatican II occurred between 1963 and 1965 and, in part, attempted to reconcile modern life with Catholic orthodoxy, you wouldn’t have known that nearly 30 years had passed in the churches of the area. We had very conservative priests. One of the key messages that I received was this: “Roman Catholicism is the only true religion with a direct lineage between the Pope and God starting with Peter.”

While I rejected many things about the Catholic Church, this particular nugget stuck with me. So powerful were these words that I viewed all Protestant faiths as being somehow unworthy, not quite real if not outright false. This sense that there was no true religion outside the Catholic Church tainted my view of the world, so much so that I secretly struggled with getting married in the Presbyterian Church even though I consistently found the message of our pastor to be beautiful and in lock step with my understanding of the universe.

And so, I struggle when I hear the people talk about God because I haven’t let go of the idea that the only true interpretation of God sources from the Roman Catholic Church — a notion that I rejected long ago but one in which I still feel entrapped. I struggle with accepting that when people speak of the God of their understanding, they are not necessarily speaking of the God of my childhood — a God that repeatedly failed me.

And so, I have some work to do. The work of letting go of old ideas and sitting with the discomfort. And I have to work on accepting what I know to be true — that there are other faiths which are true and pure, that language gets in the way of spiritual connections, that we are all really speaking about the same mystery, regardless of the name we put on it.

On Vertigo and God

Friday,6:58 AM

I woke with a start. The alarm had been snoozed twice, maybe three times, and I had fallen back to sleep. It was one of those times when you wake up and you aren’t sure if you’ve missed your alarm or not. I flipped over quickly.

The room started spinning.

I was instantly transported back to college, to times when I’d had the spins in bed after a heavy night of drinking and kind of giggled myself to sleep. Except this time there was no booze involved. And no giggles.

I got up to go to the bathroom and the spinning got worse. Faster. I stumbled to the bathroom and knew that it was only a matter of time before I’d start to throw up, or heave. And I got the latter.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m not sure.”

More heaves.

“Do I need to call 911?”

“Something’s not right”

I couldn’t open my eyes. Every time I did, the room was spinning like whirling dervish. I heard the ambulance siren as they approached.

I couldn’t walk. They had to take me out of the house on a wheel chair contraption that had rails to go down the stairs.

I was scared, but not panicked. We were going to the right hospital — my wife has strict instructions not to ever let them take any of us to the hospital where my father died.

As they gave me an IV in the ambulance, I practiced breathing, noticing the cool air at my nostrils on the inhale and the warmer air on the exhale. The thought that this could be serious, even life threatening was present in my mind, but I was at peace.


I’ve been meaning to write about a transformative conversation I had with my wife a few weeks back for a while, but life has gotten in the way. One morning, while getting my son ready for school, he’d been uncooperative and I flipped out. My wife suggested that I call a friend in the program and I got angry, telling her not to 12 Step me. I told her that the Steps were bullshit, that I hadn’t gotten sober because God saved me. It didn’t go well. I felt bad about it all day.

She took my son to school that day, if I recall correctly, and I sat on the couch feeling like I felt many times when I’d still been drinking. My sponsor was in Hawaii getting married and it was the middle of the night in his timezone. Reluctantly, I called a friend in the program. My friend talked me through things and suggested that I should get to a meeting. He suggested that we go to a meeting together and we made tentative plans to go to a 7:30 meeting that night.

When my wife got home, she told me that she was busy that night and so I found a meeting at 5:30 to go to, texted my friend that I wouldn’t make the 7:30, and went. The meeting was not exceptional, but it was good to be there. I came home, made amends to my son and took care of him for the rest of the evening.

When my wife returned, I started talking about all the things that I don’t like about 12 Step. All the things that I hate about the God talk. And she said, “I think you need to look at that. I think you need to figure out why you get so angry about the God talk.”

“I get angry because religion is something that early humans created to explain things that are unexplainable. I get angry because all religions espouse that their way is the only way. This leads to wars. Do you know how many wars have been fought in the name of this supposedly merciful, loving, and benevolent God?” I was on the verge of going into a rant on this. She stopped me.

“I don’t think that’s why you don’t like the God talk,” she said.

“No? What do you think it is then?”

Calmly, she looked at me and said, “I think you’re angry at God. I think there were some very traumatic things that happened early in your life. I think that you were taught about God in a way that didn’t match your experience.”

In a few sentences Mrs. TKD had nailed it. I have been angry with God since I was five years old. God took away my father. And even though the church taught me that God loves me, I didn’t see it that way. What I saw was a God who hated me — a God who was cruel — a God who took away my father.

The church tried to tell me that God was a loving God. They tried to tell me that God protected me. They tried to tell me that God was essentially good. And when I asked why He’d taken my father, the best they could come up was hollow and plastic, “sometimes we don’t understand why God does things, but he always does them for the right reasons.”

Bullshit.

I called bullshit on that at the age of five and I call bullshit on that today. The God that I know isn’t always benevolent. The God that I know doesn’t always have a rhyme or reason. The God I know is at times, chaotic.

And yet, the God that I know distinguishes between right and wrong and provides balance in times of need. The God I know is infused in this thing called life. This divinity is within all things, the ocean, the mountain, the fox, the eagle, the earth and everything that lives on the earth, and the universe. This divinity is not a deity, but is formless. It is a divine presence.

The God that I know — have always known — is not the God of my childhood.

I quickly realized that all of my resistance has been rooted in resistance to the God of my childhood. I’ve resisted a God not of my understanding but of someone else understanding. And I’ve resisted because I am angry with that God.

Now, I was throughly indoctrinated in my schooling that the God of my childhood is the one true God. That there will be no other gods before Him. That all other understandings of God are false gods. This set up a prison that has been hard to escape.

Once I understood that I was angry with this God, that I don’t ever need to make peace with this God, and that the Church insisting that their understanding of God is the one true way doesn’t make it so, I felt a new sense of freedom.

There is no evidence outside any system of belief proving the assumptions on which that belief system is based.1

I felt a sense that I could cast away the God of my childhood, without wholesale abandoning God. I felt that I could, in fact, choose a God of my understanding, and that this would not doom me to suffer the hellfire of eternal damnation.

I had finally, fully, taken Step 2 after nearly two and a half years of being sober and thinking that I’d already taken this step because I had my understanding of God. And I had, partially, but I was still clinging to feelings of guilt that I my understanding of God did not match the doctrine that I’d been taught as a child.

Coincidentally, my sponsor had come across the book which I’ve quoted above and without knowing that these events had transpired he’d decided to suggest that this book might be valuable to me. And, it sure has been.

God is what you imagine God is; God is what you need God to be so that you can recover from the disease that is ruining your life and the lives of those you love. 2


Friday was a terrible day. I was sick from 7 in the morning until 7 at night. Every time I opened my eyes, I either heaved or vomited. The nursing staff and doctors did everything that they could for me, but I was slow to respond. Over the course of the day I was given at least six different medications maybe closer to nine. I was given exceptional care in the ER and was kept one night for observation and was released the following afternoon. The most likely cause was a viral infection in my inner ear, and I’ll be following up with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

Back to that thought in the ambulance. It was not just a thought that this vertigo was serious, it was truly that I might actually die and that it might actually happen before I got to the hospital. In retrospect, it sounds kind of silly, but that was the thought at the time. And I was at peace. The immediate thought after “you might die here” was “that will be okay.”

Certainly, I did not want to die. I have far too much to do in life to die at the young age of 45. I didn’t get sober at 43 so that I could die sober at 45. I got sober so that I’d have a shot at 20, 30, maybe 40 more years on this earth. But I was at peace with the idea that I could die — for the first time in my life the thought was not absolutely terrifying.

And I believe that is largely because I’ve made peace, not with the God of my childhood, but with the anger I have with the God of my childhood. I may, someday, make peace with that God, and I may not. But for now, I have made peace with myself — peace with how I feel about myself because I’m angry with the God that I was taught was the only true God as a child.

And that is growth.


  1. Shapiro, Rabbi Rami. Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice (The Art of Spiritual Living) (Kindle Locations 726-727). Turner Publishing Company. Kindle Edition. ↩︎
  2. Shapiro, Rabbi Rami. Recovery—The Sacred Art: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice (The Art of Spiritual Living) (Kindle Locations 925-927). Turner Publishing Company. Kindle Edition. ↩︎

It’s Taken Me a Long Time to Get Here, Again

For months, I have woken up filled with anger and angst about the politics of the United States. I’ve felt that it was my responsibility to be educated, to be involved, to raise my voice against injustice, to resist. But in the 24 hour news cycle this has become taxing — Taxing on my mental health, my family, and my friendships.

I’ve been keenly aware that my anger and angst, my resentments, have been eating me alive. I’ve also been keenly aware that these things are beyond my control. Intellectually, I know what to do, and yet, I have resisted. And I’ve felt trapped. Trapped by the fact that this is an “outside issue.” I’ve felt a strong need to talk about it in a safe place, a meeting perhaps, but have known that I cannot bring up politics in a meeting for obvious reasons.

I’ve been caustic in my criticism of this new reality on my social media outlets. Where I’ve needed to bring healing words, I’ve only brought sandpaper to rub the wounds of my friends. Continue reading