When I got sober back in 2008, there was a ton of different suggestions around what I should and should not do being in recovery. The most common one I had heard at various 12 step groups was about changing "people, places, and things". This cause me to begin looking at what I loved, thinking that I had to sacrifice some of these activities not that I was sober. Immediately, music festivals popped into my mind. I love music festivals! I loved everything about these festivals; the dancing, singing, laughing, food, friendliness, seeing amazing artists I had always looked up to and so much more! I'm also very aware of the underground drug scene that goes on at these events. Everything from molly (MDMA), acid, weed, cocaine, alcohol and pills. I asked myself, should I avoid music festivals all together?! Do I need to hire a body gourd to shield me away from these temptations?! What’s a music lover to do?!
I had been told that if I was spiritually fit I could do anything any free man could do. I decided one night to challenge the “people, places, and things” slogan. My first concert in recovery was in Austin, TX at Emo's (the old Emos off of red river). Bone Thugz-N-Harmony was playing a show and I really wanted to attend. Bone Thugz was the first CD I ever owned. I had about 9 months sober at the time and I felt like I was solid in my unity, recovery, and my service work. I had a weekly commitment sharing my experience strength and hope at a detox center. I met with my sponsor almost weekly, practiced daily spiritual principles, and had a home twelve step group that I was a part of. I consulted with my sponsor and he referred me to a page out of the big book of alcoholics anonymous that states. "So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experiences with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting providence, but it isn’t. You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places? If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motives in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!"
After consulting with my spiritual advisor, I went to the Bong Thugz concert and had a blast! Most importantly I was blown away by the idea of not wanting/needing to think about drugs/alcohol. If you know about Bone Thugz you can imagine how much marijuana smoke was in the air, but it did not bother me one bit. First concert in recovery was a complete success.
Since then I've gone to probably hundreds of concerts in recovery (living in Austin made it very easy to see musicians)
My experience shows me that if I stay spiritually fit, I will stay sober through these situations that some people in recovery tell me to shy away from and avoid. I had to check myself heading into this weekend because I got a free ticket from Black Swan Yoga to attend the Free Press Summer Fest in Houston. I am elated to get the opportunity to experience another event like this sober. Please tune in next week to find out how the festival went! I have asked one of my best friends, Mark Rector to contribute his thought on this topic as well. He and I will be enjoying the festival together this weekend.
Getting sober, I had all these fears and questions about what I could and could not do. I was sure that I was going to be doomed to a boring life. After all, look at how much fun I had in my life at concerts and events where there was drugs and alcohol present. In my head, alcohol and drugs made the event fun. It was backwards thinking. I was dependent on a substance to enjoy life and now that I had used up that privilege what was I supposed to do?
Luckily, I was introduced to people who were enjoying life and the experiences they were having. They promised me that since these things had happened to them they could happen to me as well. This was news to me because the message I had heard in many rehab and meetings was that I would have to avoid alcohol and areas that might have drugs. These people offered a solution that didn’t involve avoidance, it promised freedom. I bought in, but was still extremely nervous. I hadn’t been sober doing ANYTHING in 8 years. They said I needed to be spiritually fit in order too experience these things and stay sober so I began to work at that. I really wanted to live a full life and not let my sobriety hinder me. I attended many meetings, began prayer and meditation, got unified with my peers and was being of service in the recovery community, I met with my spiritual adviser and was working steps consistently. After checking in with my peers, house manager, and spiritual adviser I got the go ahead to go to see Flosstradamus, a DJ duo that was gaining momentum in 2012.
I remember the concert vividly (probably because I wasn’t on my usual cocktail of alcohol, Xanax, molly, and heroin). I went with some friends in recovery and another old friend who I didn’t think was an alcoholic/addict (come to find out she joined our ranks 3 years later). She partook in some molly and acid, which I witnessed her take. The desire to ask for some was gone, lifted completely. I didn’t even have to think about thinking to not use. It was amazed how spirituality had solved my problem in a few months that I hadn’t been able to figure out for 8 years. I didn’t even notice that people were drinking and using. I was in it, entrenched in the beat. I walked out of that concert excited for life again. It was possible, I could make it through things like this as long as I was spiritually fit.
Since then, I have enjoyed hundreds of shows by myself and with my peers and have yet to experience an obsession that this concert would be better with a substance. I continue to check my spiritual fitness before each show and proceed to enjoy my life, free from alcohol and drugs. I will check where I am at again before I head into Free Press Summer Fest this weekend and decide if I need to go or not. I do know that if I am not fit, there is a solution to it which is relieving. Ideally, I will join in with Peter and others at the festival. Until next time guys…