Selfish Program

"Selfish Program." 11/29/12. Colored pencil. 7x11".
“Selfish Program.” 11/29/12. Colored pencil. 7×11″.

I drew this eleven months ago. It’s only the fifth thing that I ever made by choice (and not as part of a treatment assignment). People say that Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (or, more generally, recovery) is a “selfish program.” It’s not about self-interest or self-serving as much as it is… well… let me put it this way. The girl I dated for most of 2012 – we went to go “visit” her family in St. Louis when Miami got to be more than we could handle. (I say “visit” because her parents agreed to a week but – desperately wanting to not go back to our lives in Florida – we stayed for more than a month). Anyway, something her dad always said that stuck with me is this oxygen/airplane metaphor: “Put on your own mask before assisting other passengers.” Meaning – if you don’t take care of yourself first, there’s a good chance you’re not gonna be much good to anyone else either.

At Tranquil Shores, the first major assignment everyone has to complete is the “First Step” (not to be confused with the first of the twelve steps; this is something different). Anyway, it’s the assignment where group feedback is the most important (and the only one where everyone’s really supposed to be as honest and blunt as possible and call the person out if they’re full of shit). The morning that I drew this, I was losing my mind (a pretty regular occurrence back then). On the one hand,  a friend was presenting her First Step and I felt like I’d be letting her down if I didn’t give her my full attention. On the other hand, I had my own mess to sort out and I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to get out of my head, get away from damage, destruction, hell, and shit. I wanted to color.

So I did.

Mental health doesn’t happen on a schedule. As much as I’d love to always be there for everyone, I can’t. If my own life/head is a mess, I’ve gotta deal with that first. And it’s worked out; if you were to ask my friends, I’m certain they’d say I’m a better friend today than ever before. So – as the block letters behind the fence in this drawing say…

Selfish program.


  • This piece is currently on display, as part of my first art show, now running at Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville.
  • I also have signed prints available in my webstore.

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