PERSONAL about alcohol and other drugs (1st entry, winter 2003):
As of today - May 16, 2010 - for over 20 years I have not had any drugs or alcohol. I am very grateful for the new friends I have made in 'the program' and those old friends who led me there. I could spend the next month saying so without really being able to say it all. I hope I am a different person now - who has learned to live without the drugs (including alcohol, which always has been one of the most powerful drugs on earth) and without the lies, embarrassment, neglect, denial, disappointment, broken dreams, deception, and shame that goes along with these things. I know my life now is a thousand times better in a hundred different ways than when I was doing drugs and drinking.
(added 3-6-04) On March 2, 1990 my life changed drastically when two good friends invited me to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on Saturday, the 3rd. I never wanted to think of myself as an alcoholic, but I knew I was, and I couldn't wait until the next day to see if I could be helped.
That night of the 2nd my band, Harmony, was playing a "Grand Opening" night at The New Kove with a special guest with whom I had played in several different groups and who had gone on to play in a big-time band. He and the girl to whom he was married had found a way to stop drinking and doing other drugs. I had decided earlier that day to not drink or get high that night so I could show them I had a strong self-will and that I could be sober too. I remember standing behind a column at one end of the bar and watching them as they spoke to old friends who had come to hear us play. I was watching to make sure they didn't see me as I threw back a couple of drinks to 'help me relax' and I was ashamed of myself and I knew I was weak. Since I had a drink or two, I knew I would feel better if I just went on outside and took a few hits off of a joint to smooth out the high and while I was doing that I started looking around for somebody who might have some cocaine to give me a boost so I wouldn't be 'too' laid back.
There was a line of people waiting to get in the club as I came back in and a guy, who was an emergency room doctor, asked if I could get him in. I couldn't break him in front of all the others waiting in line, but he followed me into the bathroom and, as I was standing there, he offered me some 'real good' crack cocaine if I would get him in without having to pay the cover charge. I looked over at him and saw his wild eyes, red face, and desperate look. He looked sickening, weak, and repulsive to me and I didn't want to be like him, but at the same time I badly wanted to try that one other taboo drug that I had yet to try. All at once, I was the one who was sickening, weak, and repulsive - to myself - again.
I didn't smoke the 'crack' cocaine with him so I went back to play the next set and felt dull and I remember that I didn't do a good job of remembering my parts (I even have tape of the night) and I felt like a liar to my friend who was staying sober and who I told I was staying clean and sober. I was a weak, sick, and sorry liar. I felt like the sorriest person alive.
My friend from the 'big-time', and his wife, knew me well enough to know that I had a problem and they cared enough about me to want me to have a better life. They said they called to see when there was an AA meeting and asked if I wanted to go with them. The next day, on the 3rd, there was an AA meeting at 3:oo PM in a side building of a church in downtown Montgomery and we went together where they sat on either side of me to give me support - or to keep me from running.
Actually, I was eager to go to that meeting. I knew how bad my frame of mind had become and nothing I had done to quit worked for more than a few weeks, or days, or hours. I felt like I was dying and I wanted to find a way to make myself useful to my children and family. As much as I loved my kids, I didn't feel like I wanted to live. My daily life had been so full of lies for so long, I had made so many mistakes, and I was so tired of being tired that I didn't have much hope anymore.
The people at that AA meeting were very patient with me as I was filled with hope and tried to rush through the steps they offered, which I quickly understood could keep me alive. I could see that if I could do the things they had learned to do; depend on God, pray honestly and humbly, hang around people who weren't getting high, work on a step at a time, concentrate on a day at a time, and help others who had these problems, that I could have a different life without having to get high all day or getting half drunk just to feel normal enough to play music at night. I couldn't believe it would work for me but I could see that it did work for those people who wanted it bad enough, so I dove in.
There was one huge problem I could see with the program working for me and that was that I was required to be honest - more honest than I knew how to be. The quote, from the the 5th chapter of the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous ( http://www.recovery.org/aa/bigbook/ww/chapter_5.html ), that was a problem for me, is as follows; Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. I was scared to death when I read those words. If anybody seemed to have been born that way, it was me and I knew my chances were way less than average. I didn't even know how to wake up without reformulating the lies I had told the day and night before. I seriously doubted I could become clean and sober and stay that way, if honesty was that important. It was not that I didn't want to be honest, it was just that I honestly doubted that I could. However, I worked as hard at 'getting' the program as I ever worked at anything in my life and now I have been without any drugs or alcohol for over 14 years. It is hard for me to grasp, but it's true. It is amazing to me. 21 years of these things overshadowing my life followed by 14 years of none at all. I didn't think I could ever do it.
That night of the 3rd I went back to The Kove and played Saturday night music. It was my first child's 21st birthday and we had family there in a special section for her party. It was quite different from her 3rd birthday when I called from the Forrest County Jail in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to tell her mother I had been arrested with a pound of marijuana and a bottle of illegal barbiturates. My whole band was in jail on felony drug charges and we needed bail money. Thank God for all the second chances I was given.
For the benefit of anyone reading who is not familiar with AA, I would like to explain this; The purpose of AA is not just to get us off of drugs and alcohol. We have found a way to live without drinking or doing drugs being necessary to have a good time, but the best part is that we have found an answer to why we felt it was necessary in the first place. Life is not easy and it is not easy to take unhappiness, discomfort and failure. Although getting high in some way definitely changes our perception of these things, it doesn't make us happy or comfortable - except temporarily, and, sooner or later it causes, or contributes to, all kinds of failure. AA people have learned that finding help from each other and God can lead to happiness, comfort, and success. Life is still difficult, but we help each other through problems and we know, for sure, that it is a miracle when we have days of happiness. Especially when we are useful and helpful to people we care about instead of being a problem. It is a lot for which to be thankful.
I thank God for the people of Alcoholics Anonymous.
PERSONAL about alcohol and other drugs:(winter, 2003)
Right here I should explain why I keep saying alcohol is a drug. I have seen, all my life, people who think alcohol is okay because it is legal and accepted by even the most respected doctors, lawyers, preachers, and business people. Now, it is true that some of these people are able to use alcohol responsibly and maybe it is not as much a part of their life as such that would cause problems for them. However, it is also true that alcohol has become an everyday, or, at least, regular part of some of their lives as well as the more run-of-the-mill ones of us have let it become part of ours. Alcohol has become integral in the lives of the rich and poor and it has no less effect on either. When families have alcohol available at every occasion and children see it as a part of becoming an adult, for instance when virgin daiquiris become alcoholic at a certain age, then those gallons of booze and cases of beer, hidden or in plain view, become like an invisible, but very hot, fire just waiting to burn the next victim. I don't want anyone to play games with this fire just because it has yet to burn them personally. In fact, most of the time, most families are already badly burned and they ignore the injuries or diminish them and I think this is because the cunning and baffling power of alcohol is already imbedded in life. When alcohol is accepted in this way, because it is such a powerful drug, it is a proven killer and contributor to broken families over and over again.
Whether the adults of a family choose to show their children, by their actions, that drinking is okay and can be done responsibly, or to show that drinking is not needed at all, is every family's own life or death decision. I just don't want anyone to play games with themselves or their children by acting like alcohol is not a strong and powerful drug. It is certainly the one that has been around the longest and is the most used and abused. Every alcohol and drug abuse treatment center in the world and every alcohol and drug abuse counselor, therapist, or psychologist in the world will say that this is so, unless maybe they are active drinkers themselves.
I know that there were many times where I have done the wrong thing when I was stoned, high, and/or drinking, but those things didn't make me do anything that wasn't in my heart to do anyway. The effect of being drugged, on me, whether on alcohol or the other drugs or both, is that I would go ahead and do the things I knew were wrong. I was uninhibited. One way I know this is because there are still times when I am tempted to do hurtful things and I know good and well that if I would just have a few drinks or get high that I would go ahead and do them. But, even though I, in myself, am weak enough to give in to doing the wrong thing, I am able, through having a sober mind, to give in to God and let him control me. I'm not perfect at this process but I know it is the right goal. What I just said is clear enough in my mind to work for me and I hope I was able to express myself clearly.
Even Ray Charles can get confused while inebriated. This is me before I stopped drinking. Drinking can also make you gain unwanted nasal weight.
Some people wonder if they are alcoholics or not. I, personally, think that when someone - drinks too much (binge drinking), too often, habitually, at every occasion, for any occasion, has it around all the time, gets a DUI, sneaks drinks, or plans most everything they do making sure they have the right brand and that they will have 'enough' - they know it. Some people think 'since I don't do ALL those things' then I'm not an alcoholic. I have to tell you, any one of those things can indicate a possible problem and that is what alcoholism is - problem drinking. Most of those I know who admit they have had a problem with alcohol also admit that they played games about it with themselves, which included outright denial, for almost all of the time they were problem drinkers. We absolutely did everything we could think of to not appear to be doing one or more of those actions on that list above. We lied to ourselves and anybody around us who might know about or find out about our problem. It is ridiculous how far we go to make sure nobody will even think we are drinking in an unhealthy way. My thought, now, is that, if someone is doing something wrong about drinking, they know it. It hurts them sometimes, or a lot, and they know it deep inside and they know it hurts people around them - or that it will.
Another way drinking can be a problem is when it influences our children. They see what we do. I hope we can stop doing the things we don't want them to do.
PERSONAL of a family nature:
I say that, about life in America, because, although life is convenient in America, there is a huge, negative, spiritual influence in TV, especially MTV, and there aren't any people I see that I would want my kids to imitate. I'm afraid TV has raised our kids, primarily, because of the time they have spent with the 'screen' instead of us. It is a convenient way for us not to have to watch them, but MAN, I think, to a greater or lesser degree, we've harmed them. The only answer I can come up with is that we who are parents, or who have influential roles with kids, must be and act like and do only the things we would have them do. In other words, we have to not watch, on TV, what we don't want them to watch and we have to not do the things we don't want them to do; lie, cheat, steal, get drunk, smoke cigarettes, idolize sex, do drugs, ignore God, have sex with anyone who we're not married to, and on and on. We can't make our children do the right thing any more than our parents could make us do the right thing. And, we can no more keep them from doing the wrong things than our parents could keep us from doing them. I think that the only significant influence we can have on our children is to be the kind of person we wish they would be.
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Philosophy of Ed: I tell my kids that musical talent is a gift that came free with just being born, so, if they don't share it by performing for others, it is a shame and it is wrong. It is also my experience that, because musical talent is a gift from God, it is most valuable when my motive is to share it freely than when I try to use it commercially. If I were to benefit a great deal financially from my music it would be well liked by my family, but it seems like, in my case, that when I have tried to write what I thought of as a 'commercial' style song I usually disliked the song later. I guess I'm not going to get rich, but I sure do enjoy singing for people who want to hear what I do. Sometimes, when I'm in schools doing my job, a choral teacher or band director will find out I have been a professional musician and then ask me to speak to the kids who are interested in a music career. I tell them if they can find a 'practical' job that will pay their bills then maybe they can afford to pursue a calling in music on their own time.
Night club work is not good for health and it is not good to be with other people, away from home, every night when it's bedtime. Music teachers in schools are sure not doing it for the money and good paying church jobs are rare. I have worked in church music and my experience with the committees, bureaucracy, and power struggles in the 'church' business are demoralizing and sad. The recording business is pretty much run by lawyers, which is pretty much un-artistic, and the people who have already made it big pretty much want to stay there so, to some of them, that means they don't want to share the dollars and fame with other musicians and song writers. All this causes making a living in the music business undesirable, in my view. However, the other side of that is that when I have been a full time musician I was logically playing more and singing more which improved my ability. And the other side of that is that I was doing a lot for the money instead of for the music and many times I hated it so much I would just get drunk and high and high and drunk and I took it all for granted. So, it is a 'catch-22' for me; play in clubs and spend hours in a bad environment away from family, play in churches and get caught up in insider games and traditions, play in schools and get dragged down by the 'system' and lack of money.
Being a musician is thought of as being very cool but the deck sure is stacked against us. The bottom line is that, when we have it in our blood and genes to be a musician, we have to play because of our innate love for it. But, we have to be clear-headed to keep the 'business environment' from killing us. This is where I believe I handicapped myself. The 'business environment' of night clubs is sex, drugs, and alcohol and I was good at promoting that, so I wasn't clear-headed.
The 'business environment' of church companies is pretty much no different from any other business except they don't have to pay taxes. There are very good people who go to churches in an effort to live out what we have all been taught by our parents and preachers, but something is wrong - not with the people, but with the way things have turned out in religions. Church, as it is in most of America, doesn't resemble much that is described in the Bible. It looks like to me, if a religious idea, tradition, book, or movie becomes popular, it is widely promoted and accepted in churches whether or not it is in line with what the Messiah, His Disciples, or the Prophets of the Old Testament said . For example: the 'rapture' (Left Behind) books and movies, Christmas, and Easter.
I have so much to say about this subject that I can hardly say anything at all. If I start, I begin to act like I know something and then that becomes a problem.
The conclusion, today, of what I have found in all my years of searching for spiritual truth ....more to come
School music seems to be so stuck in the 'status quo' that it is debilitating unless the teacher can just put his value in the human relationships and talent development of those young humans instead of money or career advancement. return to Katie's page
PERSONAL of a personal nature: I have been unsuccessful in marriage five times represented by five divorces. I was a selfish liar who only wanted what he could see that would please him at the moment. Instant self-gratification was my goal. Although womanizing wasn't the reason for every divorce, it was a problem that everybody knew I had. I actually felt sorry for Bill Clinton, when I wasn't despising him, because I knew how he felt. When you can't tell anybody the truth, it is a lonely and self-destructive place to be. I hope I have changed and that the people I have hurt have been able to forgive me. I know, from my own experience, how it hurts to continue to hate and blame someone else for the way my life has turned out. I know I am different now in so many ways but that I am still faulty. I am thankful to the people who have loved me and prayed for me - for years. I am thankful to the people I found who taught me a simple way to pray and depend on God, who has the strength I don't have, and who showed me how to live without drugs and alcohol.
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