Sobriety and the music

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Sobriety and the music

Postby RiverRat » Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:43 am

I've been absent for almost 2 months, and some people are aware of the reasons. Now I'm going to let everyone else no why and hopefully someone will have some words of advice or encouragement to see me through.

I joined Rukind in 2008, at that time I had 9 months of sobriety from alcohol. I was feeling good in my recovery and wanted to reconnect with the music and get back to playing music. I started out doing sound and occasionally filling in with a band that I had help start the previous year. I was able maintain my sobriety for a while but I began to get resentful, I didn't see why I couldn't have a good time like everyone else. So I fell off the wagon, I kept my slips hidden from almost everyone around me. Over time, my resolve deteriorated even further and I began to drink publicly. Last year, my alcoholism was full blown and I was on a real bender.

Over the past year, my addiction has cost me a lot. In the past 6 months, I have lost nearly every opportunity to play music. None of the friends I've jammed with want to have me around any more, they're afraid of how I get when I'm drinking. I have played or listened to the Dead or anything related in the past 3 months. I just haven't felt the same about the music, I'm afraid to go to any local gigs, since all of them are at bars and that a place that I just can't afford to be right now. I'm sure when I have more time, I'll be able to so without any fear or hesitation. I just feel that right now, it would be like walking back into the lion's den and I know that I will lose if I do that.

I've also grown to be very resentful, so much so, I can't even log into Rukind or Facebook because all I see are painful reminders of a past I wish to leave behind. I want to leave that past behind, but not my love of the music or playing. It's gotten so bad lately, I'm contemplating selling all my gear and giving up on ever playing again.

I had two chances "of a lifetime" to jam with TC this year. One that I accepted and that opportunity was taken away when the promoter canceled all the headlining acts. Secretly I was glad, I knew I was in no shape to do that gig or face the challenge of going to festival and white knucking it. The 2nd opportunity, I declined. And my higher power, who must be a prankster at heart, gave me a sign that I made the right choice. Right about the time that I would have been playing, I was leaving a meeting. I got in my car and started it up, what was on the radio but Playin' In The Band! At first I was pissed, because I felt resentment over the fact that I was where I was. Eventually I laughed, because I wasn't where I wanted to be, I was where I NEEDED TO BE.

Where I needed to be was a meetings, every night. If not at a meeting, talking with my sponsor. If not talking with my sponsor, reading the Big Book or 12&12. My sponsor doesn't have any definite answer to this dilemma, the Big Book says I shouldn't need to run away from away from these situations if I have a legitimate reasons for being there.

So my question is this... Does and one have any experience in reconnecting with the music without giving into temptation? Any success stories you could share with me so I don't feel like I'm going at this part of my recovery alone. All I wanted to do was put down the drink, but I'm feeling like I have to give up the music too in order to survive. If you don't want to share publicly, you can always PM me.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby strumminsix » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:22 am

Sorry to hear of your struggles, dude! The sad reality is the music is related to bars and bars related to alcohol, etc...

I've stopped drinking many times over the years including at gigs and it's just plain weird. But it gets better.

Some ideas:
- Seek out secondary sponsors who are musicians!
- Build a band of "Wharf Rats". I'm sure you can find a few guys who are in the program but still want to play and you can be your own support group!
- Start disassociating music with booze. You don't while you drive and listen? etc...
- Stay sober today! Don't worry about tomorrow's struggle or yesterday's mistake!
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby mkaufman » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:32 am

Dude - I play straight. When it's good, the music is my turn-on. Granted, I never had an addiction, so it's easier for me.

Rather than "joining the party", it's ok to think "I'm right, everyone else is wrong". Feel positive in your conviction. Feel good about yourself. You can also ask people to respect you in what your dealing with. True friends should respect you.

Lastly, if the people you're hanging/playing with aren't helping you, find other people.

By making this public, you're taking steps in the right direction.

Good luck,
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby tigerstrat » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:17 am

I don't drink when I perform because I always try to keep the keenest edge on my chops and reaction times as possible. Drinking also seems to raise the complacency level and reduces the curiosity and hungry drive to push the music into new territory. This music deserves the respect of having our full focus and capabilities.

Also many of the listening audience are not "too drunk to hear the difference" (a rationalization I am sure some of us have told ourselves): I find that a lot of people will come out to bars to hear this music (simply because that's where it is being played), and don't drink at all. (don't tell the club owner that!)
Last edited by tigerstrat on Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby jeffm725 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:19 am

Ray,
Wonderful to see you back! It is a challenge for sure. In my case, I actually had to remove myself from the whole scene for almost 10 years! Im not trying to bum you out. On the contrary, in that 10 year time I went from living in a tent with no money or job, to getting married, having a wonderful daughter, buying a house, finishing school, starting a real career....etc..., while I missed playing in bands greatly, I simply could not do it and also do the work that needed to be done. I wouldn't trade that 10 year period for anything. I had burnt too many bridges and more importantly I had to take care of the issues that put me in that place in the first place. But you know my story....

I can't give you my exact recipe, I have found something that works for me, but the same might be disastrous to someone else.

What I can tell you unequivocally, is that you will know in your heart when the time is right. If you are questioning it now, it is not right. Let go of the resentments. Missed opportunities will present themselves again, in a better way. I promise that! I speak first hand.

Cliche time Ray, but truly Baby steps, one day at a time.
Dude, I know you to be a genius! Not that it makes a difference as far as the disease is concerned, just that you have a myriad of ways to keep yourself busy. There are things you can do in the interim to keep your connection to the music that will not put your sobriety in jeopardy. You need to find them.

When I finally started to get ready to revisit performing again, I took baby steps. Started with some solo shows here and there, then some part time band work...I kept things light and easy.

For now, give yourself a break. If something is making the resentments pop up, even if it is something you love, that has got to go until you can work it without resentment. There ARE compensations. It works if you work it!!

If there is ANYTHING I can do, or you just want to shoot the shit sometime, you know where to find me.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby jeffm725 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:25 am

tigerstrat wrote:
Also many of the listening audience are not "too drunk to hear the difference" (a rationalization I am sure some of us have told ourselves): I find that a lot of people will come out to bars to hear this music (simply because that's where it is being played), and don't drink at all.


Although sometimes we wish they were "too drunk to hear the difference" :lol: :smile:

Bar owners complain to us all the time that our crowd doesnt come out to drink, and that they only do half the bar business of say a Blues band if the people count was equal. But they always chalked it up to our crowd being "broke hippies" rather than it being a "need a keen listening ear" type of deal :lol: :lol: :smile:


Thank you thank you, I will be here all week...... Take my wife please.... :smile:
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby Gr8fulGreg » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:46 am

Its so interesting to me to see people open up so much on a message board... i myself at least 4 times a week say "hi my names greg and im an addict" while its not the first thing on my list id like to be doing it beats out everything\everywhere i could be.... ive been clean since 4\20\10 (not a very long time at all) enough time to figure out that life can be good that you CAN be happy.... I go see furthur i go to smaller gigs of local guys i play with some friends but it all came in time.... Its important to SAFELY make sure you are detoxed and maybe make a meeting... the solution is always there even if you dont hear it.... my thoughts are with you please take care..... listening to wharfrat a few times never hurt


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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby tcsned » Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:51 am

Rat, my heart goes out to you brother. Addictions are hard demons to let go of especially when they're right in your face everytime you go out to do the thing you love doing. Strummin's advice about working on disassociating music and alcohol. Also disassociating drinking with good times before the addiction set in - romanticizing the good ol days even if true always leaves that shadow of regret about quitting.

I don't know if you're an acoustic player or not, but coffee shop gigs generally are alcohol free - that might provide a musical opportunity w/o alcohol temptation.

I wish you the best on your journey to good health and back to music.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby PaulJay » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:02 pm

Hey RR, All the above advice is good. I am no expert in the field. But please do not sell your gear. Do not stop playing or listening to this music. It has a certain "magic" to it that makes people feel better when times are tough. Even If you have to go back to jamming in the Basement with a few buddies, hopefully ones that can refrain from drinking too. This will keep you connected to the music and also keep your playing in good form for when you are ready to go back to gigging. Best of luck to you. ,Paul
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby USBLUES » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:55 pm

I think if you stay away for a while you will load up your passion and it will find its way to the fingers once again. Staying too long one way or another gets old and dull, you get in a rutt, the magic goes away......i think anyone on here wouldn't be happy just to leave this forever, you will always be sad about it and regret it, take your time and give it another shot when your ready, you can do it.......Best of Luck and stay strong
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby JonnyBoy » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:38 pm

Rat, I sincerely wish you the best, and a lot of us share the disease. Alcohol being your DOC is tougher when you are playing music in bars. I couldn't imagine playing in an opium den 15 years ago, especially within the beginning time of sobriety. Slips and relapses are often looked at negatively, while they are horrible, there is so much you can learn from it like boundries and the fact that this desease is beyond cunning and powerful. I myself dabbled into beer and some herbs when I started playing again, while it was not my choice of drug, it still began to lead me into some stupid thoughts ie: I need to get some meds for my back pain, blah blah... even 15 years later. I am lucky that I have put this time together (even with the slips) since I have neglected my illness at times thinking I am stonger than I am. I now stay sober and play better for it too. Many fellow musicians notice I don't drink and like that because it shows a level of seriousness for the profession. You are not alone, we need to remember that drunk/high people are not having more fun, they are just high or drunk missing out on some awesome brain signals you can only recieve being sober. I rarely share about my past publically, but your story was one I needed to hear and felt compelled to process. And for that, I truely thank you.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby playingdead » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:43 pm

Hang in there, Ray ... you can enjoy yourself and enjoy playing sober. You just have to be able to separate the "good time" you're having playing from the "good time" you used to have drinking. Easier said than done, as we all know. And you're right to try and remove yourself from temptation at the outset.

You should check out the folks at Rock into Recovery in Boston ... http://www.rockintorecovery.com ... they just did a show a month or so ago, but Dead music and sobriety are among their tenets.

I'm sure you're aware of the Wharf Rats organization, as well; good folks. http://www.wharfrat.org/

Perhaps you might expend some positive energy trying to set up some Wharf Rats meetings in the Boston area. I know of at least one other Dead-oriented musician in this area who's an avowed Wharf Rat, and has been one for years; I can put you in touch if you don't know whom I'm referring to.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby javalina » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:05 am

professionalism has kept me sober through times i didn't have a lot of other reasons not to drink. when the bass player blows a change, everybody knows it. also playing with people who are above my ability even sober has me doing things like stretching, breathing and thinking yoga thoughts even for rehearsals just so i can stand a chance of getting it right.

lately though, hanging with a younger crowd (people in their mid-late 30s) and seeing them making all the mistakes my friends were making 20 years ago, wrecking cars and marriages, forgetting lyrics and getting half beat to death in bar fights reminds me of a lot of other good reasons for staying sober.

but being the designated driver has given me the best excuse for not drinking around all my drunk friends. packing all the gear and rolling away from the gig and past all the cops with a sober guy driving is something they really appreciate.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby SlowTexasZim » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:54 pm

I was in a band once where we introduced a rule where everyone in the band agreed to be sober at practice and gigs. We were all treating it like a party and because we were recording ourselves could tell as a practice or a gig fell apart. Playing sober we found the music improved greatly. Playing music is the best part plus the fellowship of musicians in a band together working to grow and explore and kick butt.

I wish you strength and light in your journey.
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Re: Sobriety and the music

Postby tigerstrat » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:45 pm

what kills me is when guys rehearse sober, nail changes and play inspiring stuff...and then at the gig, they knock back some drinks and the wheels fall off, and all finesse goes out the window.

I'd rather they did it the other way around! :?
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