I’d like to talk with you today about the three pillars of my experience in MA. Love, compassion, and trust. Instead of sharing my origin story as an addict, I’d like to share the origin story of us all. Anxiety and depression brought many of us to MA. PTSD brought others, and isolation and loneliness brought still more. No matter what ailments we have, weed convinced us to turn our backs on them and float into the euphoria of denial.
Love conquers all it is said and in my experience in MA that is certainly true. Love of all of our fellowship and of ourselves is often hard to give. Our days are frequently stressful and challenging even without being recovering addicts. Putting our frustration and disappointment behind us as we enter a zoom room is difficult. But soon we recognize familiar faces or begin to hear the familiar serenity prayer and those hurdles begin to fade. Strangers become family. Their hardships echo our own hardships and frustrations and we nod in quiet agreement. As each share pours out of our fellowship members, our hearts warm to the group and to the individual. We see ourselves in each other and our love for their story becomes our love for them. It’s not an easy gift to give, but as we surrender to the power of the fellowship our hearts open and welcome our love for each member, familiar or not, and in turn we begin to love ourselves as we hear our own stories in each of theirs.
Compassion within us grows as we witness the hardships and tragedy of the stories of our fellows. Our estranged relationships or profound sadness of loss resonate in the words and faces we have come to love. Our own stories are spoken back to us in a remarkable clarity of vision. We reach out with our hearts with smiles and nods, perhaps sending the clapping hands emoji or a loving heart in sympathy. Our compassion is our gift of solidarity, our hearts reaching out to hug the hurting fellow as we learn from them. We experience true compassion for the recovering addict for in them we see ourselves.
Trust in the program, in our higher power, and in the fellowship blossoms as our love and compassion for one another embraces us. Trust in each other and in ourselves. The trust that with commitment and dedication to the program we can somehow rise up far beyond the status of recovering marijuana addict. Becoming the person we always wanted to be before we were lost. Leaving behind the person of step four that was often lost in this world. Lost in addiction and usage. Lost in our own remorse and regret for a life forfeit to marijuana. Our trust in ourselves grows each week as the days of our sobriety slowly tick by. We can finally believe our abuse is behind us, and a life of honesty and selflessness is not that far in front of us.
I believe the miracle of our recovery lies in love, compassion, and trust. They each require us to accept the fellowship of each other without judgement, without ego, without regret. They each require us to submit to the higher power of our combined strength and will, and through that miracle of acceptance we can find ourselves. The person free of enslavement to marijuana, free of the lies we told ourselves, free of the shame of our hidden truths. We are now free to be the person we can all truly be. We are our own rescuer, gratefully recovering and committed to each other and to ourselves in our love, our compassion, and our trust.
Mike A. - April 2021
Mendocino Coast MA “The Fog Lifters”
I have no wealth of gold to give away,
But I can pledge to worthy causes these:
I'll give my strength, my days and hours of ease,
My finest thought and courage when I may,
And take some deed accomplished for my pay.
I cannot offer much in silver fees,
But I can serve when richer persons play,
And with my presence fill some vacancies.
There are some things beyond the gift of gold,
A richer treasure's needed now and then;
Some joys life needs which are not bought and sold—
The high occasion often calls for men.
Some for release from service give their pelf,
But he gives most who freely gives himself.
Edgar A. Guest, 1902
Not easy to state the change you made.
If I'm alive now, then I was dead,
Though, like a stone, unbothered by it,
Staying put according to habit.
You didn't just tow me an inch, no—
Nor leave me to set my small bald eye
Skyward again, without hope, of course,
Of apprehending blueness, or stars.
And I slept on like a bent finger.
The first thing I was, was sheer air
And the locked drops rising in dew
Limpid as spirits. Many stones lay
Dense and expressionless round about.
I didn't know what to make of it.
I shone, mice-scaled, and unfolded
To pour myself out like a fluid
Among bird feet and the stems of plants.
I wasn't fooled. I knew you at once.
Tree and stone glittered, without shadows.
My finger-length grew lucent as glass.
I started to bud like a March twig:
An arm and a leg, and arm, a leg.
From stone to cloud, so I ascended.
Now I resemble a sort of god
Floating through the air in my soul-shift
Pure as a pane of ice. It's a gift.
Sylvia Plath, 1960
So, trust me now: when I say thirst
I mean defeated
Lonely as the slow charge into a bayonet thirst
Imagine being the sand forced to watch silt dance in the Nile
Kaveh Akbar, 2017
It's better when the lights are off,
you shine brighter like the stars.
I feel you nearer, I see you clearer,
when we close our eyes in the dark.
To breathe in the scent of you and the countryside,
to leave our fears in the metropolis and city lights,
makes me love you and nature in its simplest form,
from it you came, that I could have sworn.
Lunar, March 2016
To my Achilles Heel
One river leads to heaven or hell,
meandering like a path into Wonderworld
Swearing upon a smile worth dying for,
we dived head first into the river Styx with hearts like a lion's
Our fears washed away
You and me against the world
Our aegis spread his arms to shield us from the wars raging above
Thunder bolts roared and howled,
but we were bulletproof,
safely tucked away in the far end of the galaxy
A flaw in my armor
Pierced by one fatal blow,
my corpse cried its last tear into the Styx
The voice of Cassandra ringed in my ears
Gone with my breath was my soul
You are my Achilles heel.
Steph Cheng, 2018
The origin of every fortune is a crime.
The ides of March are a dangerous time.
The ideas of March originate in wind.
Madness may spring from a mind that hasn’t sinned.
The guides of March have scary stories to tell.
The family money came from a corpse and an oil well.
The editors of March fly to the moon and bring back April.
The original sinner has learned to shave and say “I will.”
You can trace each legacy back to the day
when the ides of March exposed the ego’s feet of clay.
The dice of March roll on the green felt tabletop.
The suicides of March drive past the octagonal sign: Stop!
On the dais of March sit the deceased father and mother.
Every happy family is different from every other.
The Atlantic. March 2011
Do you believe in the lies that we painted on these plain white walls?
Hand in hand together, like children, drawing scrawls?
When our mothers came too late we picked up the pieces of our past.
We never thought the echoes of our laughter would be our last.
When we see the painted walls at which the older we became.
The noise became too much.
The pain became a game.
The lies upon these walls they are painted on with red.
The scrawls symbolize the tears.
The blood the fears we bred.
Welcome to this homely place where nothing can escape.
It’s you and me forever.
In this living masquerade.
Do you believe in lies that are painted on these walls.
Painted on as children.
We grew up now it falls.
The older that we get the more it fades away.
The longer I’m awake.
The more I feel astray.
Believe in what we must.
That I may see.
That all these scars will heal.
But our wounds were meant to bleed.
By 'Soul to Keep'
Addiction is addiction is addiction is addiction
3 parts fantasy and 3 parts fiction
Something which should be served a notice of eviction
Because all that it is, is a freeloading friction
It's a pariah parasitical
A conning, conniving disease of level critical
That turns people into puppets pitiful
No longer complete individuals
Alessandra Liverani, 2005
I am coming to get you, yes I am,
and I will get you however I can,
burning like lava through your eager viens.
I am free to damage you, I have no reigns.
I will take you to heaven for a 2 minute trip,
then after that my darkness shall let rip,
I will leave you with clouded eyes,
and shaking hands,
all plans of the future will be put on hold,
there you will sit alone and cold.
you will feel so sick you cannot think,
you will neglect yourself and begin to stink,
I will rob you of all your friends,
you will lose interest in all todays trends,
I will be on your mind every second of the day,
your life will lose direction,
and become a tragic timeless play,
and knowing all this you still come to me,
to receive the kiss of short term bliss.
it’s ironic to say the least,
that to find a little escape,
you have to release the beast,
I do not pity you,
I survive on people like you.
Not Long Left, 2005
Missing I am, the leaves
As they change to match the lovely color of your hair
Missing I am, your arm around me as we walk through the crisp fall air
Missing the trees, evergreen your favorite
And missing the green color in your eyes
Missing the lips that when they took me
I couldn’t even kiss goodbye
In me your light did shine with me even in my darkest times
Your encouraging words echoed in my mind
And flowed right through this hand of mine
Kelsey Youst, 2020
Looking forward with fear I stare.
I face the mirror to see there.
I've lost my family, my friends are few.
You've controlled my life but now I'm through.
I'm finally strong enough to fight.
By myself I'll make this right.
I've lived in Hell with my demon.
I've done your deeds a life of scheming.
All I've loved I've lost no hope.
All that's left is you and dope.
Seeing life smoked through a glass.
To erase the memories from my past.
With every hit I kept you strong.
I've stayed weak for far too long.
I'm taking back all you stole.
My life, my love, my world, my soul.
Today's the day I leave this jail.
So take your demon and go to Hell.
S. Raine 2008
To try to speak, and miss the way
And ask it of the Tears,
Is Gratitude’s sweet poverty,
The Tatters that he wears—
A better Coat if he possessed
Would help him to conceal,
Not subjugate, the Mutineer
Whose title is “the Soul.”
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886
Brick by brick
I built this wall
My wall of protection
Is what it was called
Safe and guarded
No one could get inside
Too afraid and unsure
Behind my wall I did hide
But this sense of loneliness
Became so strong overtime
So brick by brick
I started to climb
To escape this prison
I myself created
Where I wasn’t protected
Behind my wall
I couldn’t possible live
And through this wall
None of myself could I possibly give
So now it is life
That I choose to pick
I will tear down this wall
Brick by brick.
Kelsey Yost, October 2010
I'm watching that bottle in shame
Crouched over in physical pain
I want it to eradicate what I feel
I swallow as much as I can
And suddenly all is ok
Its okay you two fell out of love
and that you broke my heart at a tender age
its okay if you leave and we go our separate ways
Because I'm numb to whatever comes next
Some may say I am dancing with the devil
And so I am; but I will never fall in love
I know his evil ways
I've been down that lonely path
I'm not as naive as you may think
I only let you believe I am weak
This is my game to hide my heart from you
So you can't see all the talent I possess
I can walk away just as fast as I came
And you'll be wishing I never left
You'll be calling out my name
Crouched over in emotional pain
And ill be laughing to myself thinking
Now who wants that bottles shame?
Kim Haslam, 2009
So many things shape what we become
Minute to large influences add up to one sum
Many individuals have touched our paths
From the preachers who preached to our folks who gave baths
And those parents must have shown us a lesson or two
And our teachers often taught us the false and the true
Even neighbors who helped with a requisite loan
Or relatives we'd only met on the phone
Without any we'd be somehow different today
If still present we're thankful for the roles that they play
But it's hard to believe you've touched someone the same
They may not have known you or even your name
But believe that we're significant in this brief life
We help one another through lessons and strife
There's hope and there's friendship with others who care
We're never alone in these lives that we share
So let fellowship grow among women and men
And be blessed with gladness again and again.
Derrick J. Shoemaker, 2007
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley, 1875
There was this perfect world
Inside my mind
Where it was okay
To sometimes run and hide,
To give up hope
I did refuse
On my ability to moderately use
To control myself
And not abuse
So my true self
I would not lose
But the truth in this
I did find
That this paradise
Inside my mind
Turned out to be
The perfect lie.
Kelsey Yost, 2020
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.