The Recovered Gentleman – issue 15


For many years I played guitar in rock bands. Specifically, I was a punk rock guitar player. It was more than just the music. Punk rock and playing guitar in punk bands made up a huge part of my identity. And of course, punk rock being what it is, this involved a lot of drinking. The whole punk scene was in bars and parties. Punk rock shows were always in bars. Band practice required beer. Life was punk and booze.As the booze and drugs began to take over my life, the punk rock life made that alright. For a long time it seemed, the more out of control I became, the more punk I appeared. After a few years my life stopped looking like punk rock and started looking like a someone who was just lost and out of control. I could never keep a job. My family was out of patience with me. I wasn’t fun or wild or exciting. I was just a mess. Eventually I found my way into alcohol and drug treatment.With the kinds of changes I had to make in order to stay sober, I really thought that punk rock life was forever over and behind me. There simply is no way to maintain the craziness of playing guitar in a rock band and remain sober. The two things seemed mutually exclusive. To be honest, for a long time I stayed away from everything that had anything to do with that old life. I didn’t even play my guitar for several months. I put my recovery and sobriety before everything else because more than being a guitar player, I wanted to be a sober man first.Over the last two or three years I started playing again. I still do not go out to clubs or bars. I just think there is no good reason to be in places like that as a recovering alcoholic. But the Big Book explains that we will, in life, find ourselves in such places and we need not be afraid. As long as we maintain our spiritual condition, we should not be afraid.I was recently asked to play guitar in a band again. My first reaction was to say no, but I considered it for a while For one thing, that my reputation as guitar player still existed was something of a miracle to me. Apparently I was good enough at one time that a bunch of guys forming a band thought it would be best to ask me to play. This was a reminder that I was a functioning person in the world before the disease of alcoholism took me down. Eventually I agreed to play.I play guitar again now. We cut a cd and we play at punk rock shows. I play my guitar better than I ever could have when I was drinking and using. All the excitement comes from the music and not the artificial rush of substances. The world is still out there for us once we get into recovery. We work the steps and stay on top of our program, we practice the principles, and we may get another shot at the things that mattered to us.