GETTING SOBER: THE SOUL WALK


Decordova Museum, Antony Gormley. "Reflection II". 2008. Cast iron, 2 body forms.


It's something like entering a new atmosphere and having life’s accretions burned away, even the baby, so that I’m a little node of energy, and even that shedding its form. I am astonished that I’ve lived this long and still have a functioning liver. By the seventies, living in San Antonio, bartending at the Crystal Pistol, I had it all worked out. At least I thought I did. Living with a girlfriend who tolerated me and even loved me but I couldn’t see it because of my own clogged soul. I’d get up in the morning hung over, take a hit of speed to burn off the hangover, which would make me jittery and I’d smoke a joint to take the edge off, then I’d have a dry throat and needed a beer to cool me down. Off to the job. The wait-people would bring trays of half-drunk drinks back to the bar (I liked the tequila sunrises) and, of course, I’d look both ways and drink them. Then, halfway through my shift I’d start to get foggy with the booze and take another hit of speed to keep me going. You can drink a lot on speed. By the time I’d get home I was drunk and speeding, which is a bad combination, so I’d take a Quaalude to knock me out. Next morning, I’d start the whole cycle over again. My idea was that by this method I could keep myself from feeling anything I didn’t want to feel, but as any addict or drunk can tell you it doesn’t work. And when I decided I didn’t want to die or be institutionalized and I got sober, there all that shit was, waiting for me. My first months of sobriety I had boils all over my body from the stress of detoxification. They bled. One nearly closed my right eyelid. So, this was a kind of bardo: I had helping spirits to get me through all the demons that showed up. Vietnam. Childhood. A whole life of running running running away from it. My last drug was rage. Rage shut down all the other emotions, kept me from hurting about those things I always hurt about. It took two years to soul-walk. To see the stars again, like Dante emerging at the end.

24 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All