“Dude, Who Are You Writing This For?”

Someone left a comment on one of the personal blog posts here, asking a question.

“Dude, who are you writing this for?”

Good question, and it’s one I’ve been thinking about for a few days. The obvious answer is “Me.” That’s the really simple answer, and it’s correct. I write little essays about spirituality or recovery or philosophy or whatever because writing is how I process stuff. A lot of the time I’m writing about things that are bothering me, or ideas I’m trying to understand, or about failings that I have, and I’m trying to work through them.

But that isn’t the whole answer. If I were writing for me, why even bother publishing (beyond narcissism)? It’s because I believe that whatever I’m processing at the moment can be of value to someone else.

I go to 12 step meetings. I go to different locations at different times, and even to different 12 step groups. Sometimes I go to meetings where the people have a lot of years under their belts, meetings where people have left behind the tumultuous days of early sobriety and have found a new life of something approaching happiness. Meetings with people who are 45 and got sober in 1998. Those are nice, and those people are nice. But I also need other meetings – ones that give me a little more juice.

I need meetings with people who are struggling. People who are counting their sober days on one hand. People who are raw, who are hurting. I listen to their stories and I am energized. I see their strength and their bravery as they walk through their own personal fire and I am inspired. I have my own experiences reflected through the prism of their experience, and I am able to better approach and grapple with my own problems as a result.

The way it works is that these people come into a room full of strangers and they speak their mind for three to five minutes. For them there’s a weight lifted, pain being spoken, exhaled and dispelled. But for the other people in the room the experience is, I believe, similar to what I described in the paragraph above. Random people walk into a room and are bonded and consoled through a few minutes of sharing; strangers see the similarities in each others’ fucked up stories. For a little while nobody is alone.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have sat down in some meeting – one I had never been to before – and heard someone random say something that spoke directly to my immediate experience. How often I’ve dragged myself to meetings I didn’t want to attend only to have this profound moment where the veil that separated me from everybody else was lifted and the loneliness and fear fell away for a little while. Or how many times I’ve shared about whatever was happening to me and had someone come up to me afterwards and say, “Thanks, I needed to hear that.”

So who am I writing this for? For anyone who needs to read it. For anyone who finds anything with which to identify. For anyone who is looking for a small moment of connection. For anyone who is grappling with their own stuff and who needs to hear what I need to say. For anyone who finds anything that reflects their own experience, no matter how fundamentally different their experience is. For you.