Interview with Brian E.
J.P. Give me a super brief background on yourself:
B.E. I used for around 30 years, started young, faced a lot of consequences, and suffered tremendously but still used. I continued to get high. Until I didn’t. I’ve been in recovery for over 11 years.
J.P. What are your motivations for staying clean?
B.E. Freedom from not only active addiction but freedom within myself, not being a slave to a drug, being able to go ANYWHERE without being scared of getting dope sick. Not having drugs control my life- jails, institutions, and death are huge motivators- I experienced all of those in one form or another- and I never physically died but I had A LOT of friends pass from this disease- I, personally, was dead spiritually.
J.P. How would you describe yourself?
B.E. Outgoing, funny af, welcoming to newbies who want to find a new way to live. I’m huge on friendships, I’m a hard worker; all of this I recognized and became aware of after getting clean. I never thought I had anything to offer society, friendships, family members. I enjoy participating in life today. After all the darkness, coming into the light feels loose, light, and nothing feels as serious as what I came from. I’m a jokester.
J.P. What do you do for fun in your recovery?
B.E. Since I got clean, I’ve been able to get back into things I enjoyed as a teen/youngster. My favorite thing to do, however, is going to live shows. Concerts are a huge part of my life- I’ve been to so many over years. I didn’t start going until I felt safe and secure in my recovery. I wasn’t going when I had 3 months clean, but that’s just me! I still always try to go with at least one other person in recovery. I used to associate having fun with being loaded and that’s not the case today. I can go out with other people in recovery and I really enjoy seeing THEM have fun too!
J.P. How has music helped you in your recovery?
B.E. I grew up in the mtv era. My mom loved music. I associated music with having a good time. Hearing the music I love, live, is just awesome, and I enjoy people-watching. I enjoy the vibe at live shows and watch the other attendees dancing, indulging, and socializing. I found a group of people from my fellowship and another fellowship and we go all out. It’s simply just fun. The concerts I attend have a meeting table set up for set break- different fellowships- so you can go over to the table which states “it’s a safe place, somewhere that can be a slippery slope” and you can get with people in recovery. I can go to a show, alone even, and I know that everyone there has a “primary purpose” and that everyone holds a common interest- the music! It’s similar in that way to fellowship! Plus, when we go together as a group, there’s a “meeting” in the car on the way there and the way back.
J.P. What other hobbies do you have?
B.E. I collect concert memorabilia and trade or sell stuff to other like-minded people. I also trade and buy/sell vintage bike parts/accessories. I’ve been to vintage bike shows in Asbury Park. I also enjoy riding my bike- I have a couple of different bikes- I love taking my mountain bike out into nature, listening to a playlist or podcast, and just taking it all in. I also have my street bike to get out on.
J.P. Did you find it daunting when you kept hearing “recovery has to come first” when you first got clean?
B.E. No. I came to my first meeting when I was 15, so I’ve seen that when I put other things before that, I won’t stay clean. The last time I came into recovery, I basically just surrendered and took the suggestions that worked for the people that came before me.
They say whatever you put before your recovery you’ll lose- and even after I got clean this last time, I STILL put the wife and the house we bought FIRST, and I lost both of those things while not focusing on recovery or doing some work on myself.
J.P. Follow up question- how do you apply this in your life after a decade?
B.E. By participating in my recovery- staying in contact with a sponsor and a network. If I’m not going to be at my homegroup, I tell everyone, and give them enough time to find someone to fill my commitment. I still let my sponsor know where I’m going, and if/how I’ll hit a meeting; it helps me hold myself accountable, even “when no one is looking”. I never say no when asked to speak at a meeting (even if a great football game is happening that night!) If I tell my sponsor I’m going to do something, I do it.
The fact I got clean and have stayed clean, it’s an honor to be asked to speak and it’s the least I can do for my program, the newcomer, and the fellowship.
J.P. I think a lot of people come into recovery, choose a fellowship, and then think that’s ALL their life will be – and that’s scary! Tell me how you help a newcomer see there’s much more to life than staying clean AND participating in a clean fun-filled life.
B.E. “Attraction rather than promotion, babe.”