The dust is finally settling in my life, and I have mostly recovered my health after benzo withdrawal. I find myself thinking a lot when things are really still in my life, and I can feel spring exploding all around me. Everything feels more alive, and the simple things seem so amazing. Maybe it's because I couldn't do them for so long, and I appreciate it even more that I can do them now? Maybe it's because I never slowed down enough in my life to really derive the simple pleasures that can be found in just watching the apricots grow on the tree in the back yard? I got very excited thinking about making my mom's homemade apricot wafer pie in a few weeks when the apricots are all ripe. Something I never gave much thought to before, but part of my recover has been putting a collection of healthy recipes together and of course trying them out.
I think I was just afraid to stop and take time out from life to feel anything. The fear of being alone with all of those inner demons we are running from is a frighten thing to many of us. Especially when it is so easy in our world to wash all those feelings down with a pill. The thing is, when you have to come off of the pills, and there is nothing to numb all of those emotions with anymore, you have to come face to face with your worst fears and feelings. All of the sudden life starts to become really real. Things that you never thought were ever a problem, suddenly become an emotion that won't let you go.
I thought I had dealt with all of my family issues from an abusive childhood and an alcoholic father, but the truth is the fall out after withdrawal is similar to shrapnel that remains in the body after the wound is treated. You might become aware that there are some tender spots after most of the healing takes place that just continue to nag at you. Unless you pull the skin back and take a look at what's there, you are just going to continue to feel that shrapnel until it's removed. For me, there were remaining unexplained issues with both my mother and sister that continued to haunt me until I sought the help of a spiritual counselor that helped me put closure to some very long standing pain that I didn't know would resurface after withdrawal. The pain of childhood seems to stay with many of us for a lifetime if we don't deal with it.
We all have some kind of damage from childhood still stuck in our craw somewhere, even if we can't see it. The trouble is, we go too fast in this world and never have time to do any reflecting inward for very long. To make things even more complicated, somewhere along the way our culture was given these set of rules that we were all suppose to play by. We need to have a certain income, look and material status or apparently we suffer the consequences. I'm still not sure if those are self imposed consequences or not, as I know the stress and pressure of conforming did more to mess with my head than the actual not having all the things I was told I needed to be happy. As a musician, there is a lot of pressure to fit in where I was just miserably unhappy.
Truth be told, as I was rising from the ashes of benzo withdrawal, I realized how much I could get by without when I just didn't have the capacity to go after any of it from being too sick. The things I thought were suppose to be so important all of the sudden were non existent in mind. When you are fighting for your health and your life, everything else seems small in comparison. Now, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't realize how lucky I am to be alive. There isn't a breath or a second of minor good fortune that I am not grateful for. In that gratefulness, I didn't ever believe I could feel so much peace and happiness.
Essentially, I began to realize that the increasing tension I was feeling in the world when I was on the benzos was really a reflection of how I was feeling on the inside. I believe we are all going through some sort of huge growing pains in our world, and quite honestly I feel the growing need for these type of psychiatric medications is really a reflection of what we need to see as far as what an unhappy world we have become.
As I kept feeling better and better from the benzo withdrawal, I started running some ads to do some music business consulting while I was getting things off the ground with my new CD and video. I guess I didn't realize how much time had passed while I was sick and how much this idea of chasing after exterior satisfaction had become more of general theme in the world. When I grew up playing music, we didn't have all of the star driven T.V. shows, and music was mostly something we just heard on the radio that wasn't so in our face the way it is now with the internet. The idea that I would ever be famous from doing music was just not something that ever occurred to me because I was just enjoying the process of creating as I always have.
I received a phone call from a young man that had just moved from Memphis, TN to Phoenix and was inquiring about my consulting. He had been promised work from a record label that was pretty much just trying to get money out of him. I asked him a number of questions about his music and what his goals were. After reviewing the material he sent, I could see that he had a lot of work to do to get to a point where he was going to have anything professional enough to present as far as the music he currently had. I made some suggestions, and he seemed open, but I was really struck by what he said his goals were. He said he was going after this sound that was going to make everyone think he "sucked." This was his way of becoming famous by selling a sound that stupid people listen to.
The whole thing made me sort of sad because I have always used my music as a way to help people feel better and move them to inspiration. It never once occurred to me that I would emulate a particular style of music just to become famous. I emailed the young man back and asked if didn't feel that he was really enforcing this whole idea that he appeared to be so angry about. He accused these people of being stupid for listening to music that he obviously thought was horrible, yet I didn't understand why as an artist he wouldn't be more moved to introduce them to something that they might learn to enjoy more. Something that would inspire them and maybe give them hope in what can be a very tough world sometimes. His only goal seemed to be getting famous, not about making great music and inspiring a generation. Having come from a generation of artists that inspired great ideas and emotions on so many levels, I couldn't understand how empty this generation of artists must be feeling. Is the world really that unhappy? Are our young people really that disillusioned? Would they be needing even more drugs to blunt the reality of life if their expectations for fame were never achieved? Worse yet, if they did achieve it, how much more empty and unhappy would they be if they had never found something they loved to do for the shear joy of the journey? As you are aware, there are a lot of successful artists whose lives looked great on the surface that have died from drug overdoses.
I was wondering if this was an isolated incident, or if it was the general attitude among our youth in this country. Then as I thought about it, I realized that I had been puzzled by the lack of response to an online marketing position I was advertising. I was looking for someone that could help us launch our video fundraiser that had some knowledge of internet marketing. Even the students from the college that submitted their resumes for the position didn't call me back when I left messages to interview them for the job. I was terribly confused as I had never had trouble finding help when I had my kid's entertainment company nine years ago before the market crashed. I couldn't always find great help, but I would always get calls when I ran employment ads. This really left me wondering after the exchange with this young man if our young people are expecting too much for too little effort in life? If that's true, how much more vulnerable is that going to leave them when life doesn't always go the way they think it should?
I don't know, maybe coming face to face with my demons in withdrawal made me aware of them in other people a lot more? I just hope that I never become so disillusioned with life that I will quit wanting to inspire other people with my work. What I really hope is that more people are coming face to face with their demons because of this benzo epidemic as well, and that they are also hoping to inspire another generation with their talents and gifts. Hope is all we have sometimes, and if we don't continue to pass that hope along, then it seems to me that the world could appear even more bleak than it already does. That could be good for benzo sales though.