Save Yourself

"Save Yourself." 11/19/13. Pens and markers. 5x6½".
“Save Yourself.” 11/19/13. Pens and markers. 5×6½”.

After missing five in a row, I’m getting back into the swing of my Tuesday morning NA meeting. Save for an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that I went to once (somewhat unintentionally), it’s the only one I’ve ever been to in Jacksonville. I go because I figure it’s good for me or – at the very least – it’s not bad for me. When the time rolls around each week, I don’t usually want to go but that’s sort of why I do. It’s so rare these days that I have to do anything that I don’t want to; I feel like an NA meeting each week is a good way to stay in practice for the times when something I’m even more averse to comes up. It’s self-discipline of sorts.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t draw while I’m sitting there, but I do it pretty discreetly (on the pages of my text) and I don’t draw anything that requires the kind of concentration that’d prevent me from paying attention to everything being said. Yesterday, I drew this on page 390 of my Narcotics Anonymous book and then added the color later on at home. The title/sentiment is part repetition of “Selfish Program” and part preemptive “fuck off”/”take your own inventory” to anyone who might get it in their head that they’re my unsolicited new sponsor.

The meeting was on the eleventh tradition, which “deals with our relationship to those outside the Fellowship [of Narcotics Anonymous].” Specifically, “we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film” and “advertisements, circulars, and any literature that may reach the public’s hand.” That was written decades ago and some people think it should be updated to explicitly include the internet; I don’t see how anyone could interpret it as not already including the internet but – either way – I don’t maintain personal anonymity. The first sentence of my Bio has my real name because I think the power of a lot of my disclosure / honesty would be lost if I were using a pseudonym as a mask (and not just ’cause I’m a ridiculous human being). In any case, no one’s supposed to present themselves publicly as a member of Narcotics Anonymous and no one should ever purport to represent Narcotics Anonymous. [By the way, these guidelines are virtually identical in every twelve-step program (those I’m familiar with anyway)].

So I was thinking about that: Do I violate the Eleventh Tradition with (just about) every thing I do?

My answer: Nah. If I were to ask anyone at my regular meeting if I’m a member of NA, they’d say,”Of course!,” and pat me on the back to assuage my doubt. But do I consider myself a member of NA? Not really.

Yeah, I’ve worked the steps, I go to meetings (sometimes), and the way I live is pretty thoroughly in line with the principles and recommendations of the program – but that’s not because they’re the principles and recommendations of the program; we just happen to line up more often than not. And I certainly don’t purport to be a representative of any group/program. Shit – I’m not sure I’ve ever brought up AA or NA [in my writing] without making some kind of distinction between their program and mine.

While I’d recommend a twelve-step program to anyone struggling with anything, none of those programs were the magic bullet for me. The words in their books don’t resonate with me the way they do with others “in the rooms.” A lot of people say, “AA/NA saved my life.” I am not one of those people.

My counselor, Tracy, saved my life. Julie and expressive art therapy saved my life. It was everyone at Tranquil Shores (and everyone that supported me from outside) that saved my life.

And punk rock? Well, if I’m being honest, it didn’t really do SHIT in the life saving department but – without it – who would even wanna live?

“Icepick” by Tenement

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