Growing up in small town Manitoba, not really fitting in, I turned to drugs and alcohol when I moved to Winnipeg after high school. At first socially to make friends, then regularly to deal with the pressures of life and to escape from the monotony of wake up - go to work - pay bills - go to bed - repeat. Substances became a big part of my life. I surrounded myself with like-minded people, and pushed away people that didn't approve. That's how substances work. They are entities in themselves. In cases like mine, once they are allowed in, they start "building their nest". Starting with social use for a variable amount of time...years or decades even, then, to deal with problems. Finally these "entities" moved in, convincing me that their presence was normal, while they attracted negative, like-minded people into my life and repelled any others.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Having an addiction doesn't really seem like a problem. The problem comes when you want to make a change. I'll use my case as an example. I grew up middle-class which in a town that had a huge oil and ranching industry meant lower middle-class. I was always looking up, wanting the finer things, the best of everything to attain validation. As an adult, on the outside, I had lots of friends. I had a good job where I was at the top of my game and climbing. I had a girlfriend that I lived with. On the surface, pretty great life. Everyone liked having me around. On the inside though, I was insecure and still seeking the validation I did as a child. Because I wanted to be the big spender and show off to my friends, when I got into substances, this meant the highest grade. Grey Goose vodka for 'hydration' on mountain biking trips, trying out different dealers to get the best marijuana, magic mushrooms, MDMA and cocaine I could find in Winnipeg. I would always buy extra to share with the people I was partying with. My presence was mostly always appreciated, if for nothing else what I had brought with me. Deep down I don't know if I ever knew if people liked me for me or because of the show I put on and the substances I brought.
My once in a while partying became more frequent. I began cheating on my girlfriend, coming home in the morning before she woke up to go to work. I had multiple social circles so that nobody knew how far gone I really was. I hurt people who were trying to help me, and lied to everyone around me - especially to myself, getting to the point where I didn't even want to look at myself in the mirror. The scariest thing about the dark is how your eyes adjust to it to make it seem normal.
A friend of mine saw my cycles. She had begun taking training at The Modern Mystery School and had learned this healing called a Life Activation. She said that it would change my life. Man, I had no idea how right she was.
Change hits hard. When you decide it's time to change, sometimes life provides that with a swift kick in the ass. I did hit my breaking point. After hurting a good friend - possibly beyond repair, and a really depressing morning after a drug fuelled binge, I decided I should go sober. Initially, people didn't think much of it, telling me, "how long is this going to last", "I don't give you any more than a month". Well they were right. After a month I relapsed and went on a few binges. I was fed up with myself. I didn't know what to do to get clean or where to go. I needed help, and the group sharing atmosphere of an AA meeting didn't really appeal to me.
I committed to making myself better. That didn't mean perfect, just better. I started to see shifts in my patterns; I ended my relationship with my then girlfriend, went to the UK to pursue a business venture, and I was able to have periods of sobriety. Seeing my success, that same friend who gave me a Life Activation told me about something called the Empower Thyself Program & initiation. While I couldn't deny that I had seen changes from the Life Activation, I politely said that I was good, and that I didn't need that. But it was on the back of my mind, and a strange thing happened...three days before the class was set to start, I received a cheque from my lawyer for the closing cost on the purchase of my house I just bought that was the exact amount of the Empower Thyself course. Not really one to ignore a blatant sign, I registered for the course where I got initiated into The Lineage of King Solomon. Since that day, I went (almost) completely sober, save for once smoking pot on a camping trip and a toast for a good friend. That was it. Life as I knew it was forever changed, because that's what I wanted. I learned that the initiation isn't just about getting sober, it is about self-mastery. I REALLY wanted to change, so I did. But that just leaves the question...
What does life look like after a big shift? Well, it looks different. For me, because I wanted it so badly, drastically different. And that's what scares a lot of people, the unknown of change. When you look around, and most of the friends you thought you had are nowhere to be found. Where does everyone go when the party stops?
Was I lonely? Initially, but no more so and not nearly as frequent as going home alone because you're too fucked up to carry on a conversation with someone new, or standing around a table doing lines at 5AM with the same few people. The first part of life after substance use can be lonely at times, but not lonely and sad.
I needed something to replace the parties, to give me a purpose. I talked with my Guide and she directed me to certain classes at the Mystery School. I wound up finding meditations and tools that worked for me. Meditation became my new coping mechanism to replace substances, but so did joy. Substances block out bad feeling, but no one ever told me they block out the good feelings as well. Without substances in my life I started to feel happiness again. Real happiness. From meditating, through the Max Meditation System™ or Sanctuary Meditations, I found a healthy way to deal with stress, and to strengthen my mind so that I didn't slip back into my old routine. Meditations and a ritual practice showed me a method to attain peace and clarity within myself. I learned to work through my problems without pushing them aside. The people I work with and the friends that stuck with me have noticed a huge difference. Noticing how I went from being an irrational hothead to levelheaded guy, performing better in every aspect of life.
How does life look now? I went from being that insecure kid to dealing with those issues and making improvements in my life to become stronger. I went from lying to others and myself to telling the truth not having to live out a complicated series of lies. I went from bringing the crutch to my friends (drugs and alcohol) to bringing them support and tools to change. The reason behind my detailed, lengthy story was to illustrate that even someone as far gone as me, and even further, can make a change, can find peace and strength, can find an escape that doesn't come from an outside source, but from within yourself. I am grateful that my past inspired me to wanting the finer things. I have never stopped looking for the best to bring to people. Only now that foundation isn't built on insecurity, it's built on empowerment. I now bring the best of myself to people, and anything I can to help them. The Modern Mystery School have shown me that magick it is real, that it does make a difference in people's lives - no matter how slight their experience with the school may be.
Substances as addictions are a means of escape. When you have a life you love there is nothing you need to escape from.
Finally, I can look at myself in the mirror, and like what I see.
- Drew Girardin