Progressive Prison Project
Innocent Spouse & Children Project
Into The Wild:
Addictions Beyond Addictions
Surrenders Beyond Surrenders
Freedom Beyond Freedom
By David Gordon, Guest Blogger
David and I met a few weeks ago in Greenwich to discuss his new personal transformation program, Into The Wild. It was hard not to notice the wonderful changes in David. He agreed to write a guest blog for us and tell us all about his transformation story.
Much of what I love about curating this blogsite are the many relationships we’ve made along the way. While we neither endorse nor edit our guest bloggers, we think we choose wisely. – Jeff
I was many years sober in a 12-Step program had a sponsor and was sponsoring multiple people. I had been through the steps multiple times, led step study groups, held every position in my home group many times over and went to almost a meeting a day. I had a successful career on Wall Street making more money in a year than most people make in 10 years. I had a beautiful wife, a beautiful son and lived in a nice home in one of the richest towns in the country. I became a certified therapist, an Ordained Interfaith Minister and officiated multiple weddings. I was in the best shape of my life, travelled the world, drove the nicest cars, shopped in the nicest stores and had a healthy retirement account. I had arrived! I had reached the mountaintop and as I looked out over all I had, the truth was I was dying inside, alone, scared and in pain. How could this be after all I had done? I had already been in the depths of hell before coming into recovery, surrendered and created a great life. How could I be in a place where I could be in this much pain once again? This was not how the story was supposed to go.
I redoubled my efforts in hopes that if I just 12-stepped a little more, prayed harder, meditated longer, tried the next self-help craze, the next diet, spent more on therapy, reached the next income bracket, had a nicer car, etc., I would reach a clearing and would be able to realize some peace once again. That peace continued to elude me.
Because I was so unconscious to my real problem and I truly felt it was my obligation to pass on a message of hope to newcomers. I kept up a great mask to the outside world that everything was wonderful. I was the guy that sounded great in meetings and my actions backed up my words. I could talk for hours about recovery and the psychology behind it, I could quote our literature word for word and could throw in scripture as well to really impress. At one point I had people literally lining up after meetings just to get my advice (which I had no problem dishing out). But there was always that voice that said, you sound great but you don’t believe what your saying in your heart. It reminds me of a passage from the bible where Jesus said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13
Even when I started to realize something was wrong I didn’t know what to do about it. After all I was the guy that had tried everything. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 59 it says, “Half measures availed us nothing.” Well half measure was never my problem…my problem was measures and a half. No matter what I tried I wound up right back were I started and I continued to sabotage myself in my life. The contradiction of my outside life and my inner emotional turmoil began to rip me apart and I felt scared and alone.
To kill the pain I turned to more socially acceptable addictions. Many of these addictions are not only laughed about in 12-step circles but are actually supported. The list included work, food, sex, pornography masturbation, exercise, shopping, smoking, gambling, people pleasing, enabling, control, anger and judgment. Yes I even became addicted to 12-stepping, therapy, religion, self-help, prayer and meditation. I did this not to truly connect with others and something greater but to get “relief” rather than real “recovery.” I would put one addiction down just to fall into another…. in essence I was switching seats on the Titanic but the entire ship was going down. I couldn’t sit with myself for 5 minutes before I had to do something to avoid dealing with what was truly going on in me emotionally. Yes I was “sober” from drugs and alcohol but deep down I knew I was not truly emotionally sober. Because these addictions are laughed about by many people in “recovery” no one was going to call me on it and as a matter of fact, many people were patting me on the back for the lie I was living. All along the underlying causes of my problems went unaddressed.
Deep down, I hated myself for what I was doing and knew I was living a double life. I just didn’t know there was another way. I was in trouble and knew that if I didn’t find a solution, eventually I would go back to my addiction of choice or worse. Honestly, part of me wished for it because I was in more pain than I had ever been before in my life…including my using years. It was by far one of the darkest loneliest places I have ever been. I didn’t hear others talking about having the same problem, never mind having a solution to that problem. I began to believe that God had abandoned me and that at best I would continue to live a life of quiet desperation or worse or worse die a lonely man.
A while back in my recovery one of my sponsors sent me a tape of a speaker talking about Bill Wilsons letter to other “oldsters” called The final Frontier; Emotional Sobriety. In this letter the co-founder of one of the greatest social movements of our time was admitting that after 23+ years of sobriety and after all he had accomplished, he still felt emotionally unsober. The speaker on the tape was 26+ years sober and wanted to take his own life. Although the tape resonated deeply with me when I received it 10 years earlier, I wasn’t ready to truly do anything about it. But now the inner emotional turmoil finally drove me to my knees and brought me to a place where I was willing to turn around to it. I was willing to do whatever I had to do to find a solution, even if it meant walking away from everything and I mean everything in my life. Not just the outside things but also even some of my most prized possessions like my investment in who my ego thought I was in the world (Wall Street success, spiritual guru, Minister, guy with long term recovery, etc.). I have found that the thing I am unwilling to give up is always the thing keeping me from freedom.
One day after prayer and mediation I wrote these words on a piece of paper “Into the Wild I Go!” I never knew how prophetic that short statement would be. I knew it was time to get rid of all the things that kept me from facing what I had always feared…myself! It was time to sit and deal with my emotional demons of the past…the only way out was through. . Not out of virtue but out of pure desperation, I started to dismantle my life (or should I say what I thought life was) one piece at a time. I walked in and resigned my big Wall Street job, I said goodbye to all the 12-step groups I was a part of, to my self-help books, to all my sponsees, to my therapist, to the gym, to the pornography, the masturbation, unhealthy eating, all my other painkillers, to all my friends and extended family and most importantly I said goodbye to David Gordon.
I knew I needed to get out of my familiar surroundings where I could be in control and fall back on my old distractions if things got to hairy. My immediate family and I flew out to California and surrounded ourselves with trusted guides so I could begin my work. We were in a strange city, in a small apartment, with no income, our 2-year-old son and we were scared shitless and it was exactly what I needed.
For the next month I spent 6 hours a day, 7 days a week, beginning to excavate the pain and faulty beliefs that were at the root of ALL my problems. If I wasn’t in the work I was either eating healthy meals or in prayer and meditation. For some reason I had always pictured this process in somewhat of a romantic light…like the monk going up to the mountain top to gain enlightenment and wisdom…but this was nothing like the movies. Without the distractions and painkillers and the mask of who I thought I was in the world, all the parts of who I truly was came out into the light…and I mean everything. The pain, tears, rage, lust, secrets, lies, love, joy, laughter, hatred, superiority, creativity, spontaneity, judgment, rigidity and fear all came rushing out in no particular order. For the first time in a long time I resigned my position as Head Doctor and allowed myself to be the sickest patient. It was OK to not have it all together and as a matter of fact a pre-requisite for this work was my willingness to let it all fall apart. It was messy and made no logical sense to my practical mind…but deep down I knew healing was taking place.
What I found was that I had deep unhealed emotional pain and an unconscious philosophy about life that was based on false information. When I was a child I can remember making the decision to never feel again because it was just too painful. To survive I created a defense or mask to show the outside world to get what I needed without ever really having to open my heart. After 40+ years of living from this defense, I literally thought it was my real identity…in essence I had forgotten who I was. As a result the pain and faulty unconscious beliefs were literally buried alive and still lived in my body, my subconscious mind, and my soulall these years later. This pain and belief system never went away and still dictated my actions even though I wanted the total opposite in my conscious mind. These actions brought about the very things I feared causing me to have to escape the pain and throwing me back into the cycle of addiction. Without deep emotional healing and unlearning what was in my unconscious, the person I was was always going to have the problems I had.
Sound simple and easy to fix right? Wrong! The problem with the mask or defense is that it actually believes it is saving your life (because at one time it did) and when challenged it makes you feel that your life is literally being threatened. It will actually talk to you in your own voice and use reason to get you as far away from a real solution as possible. The defense never goes down without a fight. In this work I have seen people do incredibly crazy things to sabotage their own healing and defend the way they are killing themselves (in and out of recovery). They will go to incredible lengths and spend amazing amounts of time and money, on things that will not address the problem (I was one of these people). For me this is why going to meetings, talking to my sponsor, going to therapy once a week and reading self-help books was never going to heal me. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for others but for me I needed something more.
Today through Gods loving grace I am free of ALL my addictions and the work continues. In the words of one of my greatest teacher…”If there is no pain, there is no need for a painkiller. If there is no fear there is no need for escape. If there is no guilt there is no need for punishment.” I have uncovered the real mystery behind addiction and what I am truly addicted too. I have slowly begun to unlearn the false information I received over the years and continue to heal the pain that kept me in the devastating cycle of addiction on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. I have devoted my life to helping people in pain find a way out. From a place of self-love, self-respect and understanding of who I truly am, I have constructed a blueprint for my life that stems from that truth and live by it everyday. I am able to continually and consistently face down fear and take courageous action in my life. The circle of people I spend time with has gotten a lot smaller but the friendships I have today see me and I see them. I have a new understanding of God and understand that everything I was looking for was right here inside of me all the while. The truth is we are all eternal spiritual beings who are one with God.
This condition of lost identity is not unique to people who only suffer from addiction (although I believe most people are addicted to something). I believe many people suffer from this condition and live quietly and alone in their pain both in and out of 12-step programs, therapy, etc. Beneath the addiction there is always deep emotional pain with its associated broken belief system and unless this is addressed the person will always be looking for some type of escape. It is my mission in life to take my pain and my experience of finding peace, to help others find freedom and the highest expression of who they are. From my journey over the last 24 years, I have created a place and a process where people can come, let down their masks, feel safe enough to release all their pain, false beliefs and remember who they truly are. They don’t need to leave their jobs, go to California or any mountaintop like I did, all they need to do is want the help. This process is appropriately called INTO THE WILD and is a journey of healing that produces radical awakening in people’s lives.
If you or your loved ones suffer from addiction or have tried other methods that have failed to get you physically and emotionally sober, then please contact David Gordon at 888-885-9517 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit his website at www.intothewildllc.com.
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children
George Bresnan, Advocate, Ex-Pats
Michael Karaffa, Advocate, Disabilities
Please feel free to contact us if we can be of service to you, a friend or family member – we will promptly send you an information package by mail, email via Dropbox.