The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast

Pat W: Living with and Overcoming Tourette's Syndrome, Having a Near Death Experience and Finding True Purpose in Recovery

Episode Summary

#30: Pat W was born and raised in Pasadena, CA. He describes himself as a passionate cyclist, runner, photographer, and book nerd. Pat has been seeking and living his recovery since May 8, 2001, and has an incredible story about living through dynamic health issues as a child which largely contributed to his substance as a young teen and into adulthood.

Episode Notes

#30: Pat W was born and raised in Pasadena, CA. He describes himself as a passionate cyclist, runner, photographer, and book nerd. Pat has been seeking and living his recovery since May 8, 2001, and has an incredible story about living through dynamic health issues as a child which largely contributed to his substance as a young teen and into adulthood.

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Episode Transcription

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to The Courage to Change, a recovery Podcast. My name is Ashley Loeb Blassingame, and I am your host. Today we have Pat W. A friend of mine who was born and raised in Pasadena, California. He would describe himself as a passionate cyclist, runner, photographer and book nerd. Pat has been seeking and living in recovery, since May 8th of 2001 and has an incredible story about living through dynamic health issues as a child, which largely contributed to his substance use as a teen and into adulthood.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Those of you who do not know much about Tourette syndrome, we get to hear about what life was like with Pat and his Tourettes and how drugs and alcohol helped him make his way through that but then they became the problem. Please check out my friend. You know him as Pat W. Episode 30. Let's do this. Pat, welcome-

Pat W:

Thank you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... to the booth. I'm so grateful to have you here in-

Pat W:

It's a fancy booth.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... Thank you. Very fancy. It started out as this cardboard. We took some Amazon boxes and we made this cardboard... What did we call it? A foam shack.

Pat W:

You found something to do like when you buy a pencil, and they send you a giant box-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

A big giant box. We took all those giant boxes-

Pat W:

Awesome.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... and we cut, and we made this, what we call the shack, but it was... And we put the soundproofing stuff in it and then I would put my head in this box and talk into the microphone.

Pat W:

You have photos of this?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, we have photos somewhere.

Pat W:

That's awesome.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like talking to the microphone, but the air conditioning was so loud from the building. My neighbor, I was like, "Do you think that there's any way he's in construction? Do you think there's any way you could build a wall and a thing in..." Any way, this happened and this-

Pat W:

Cool.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... booth he belts and-

Pat W:

That's great.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... Yes. That's how it came to be.

Pat W:

I like That story. Progress, not perfection.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Exactly.

Pat W:

[crosstalk 00:02:11] .

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Serious, serious upgrade. Wow. It's been so long. We met back in 2000, I want to say '09.

Pat W:

Was it Brandon that brought us together a long time ago?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. We used to go to, I want to call it Ohio street, but that's not-

Pat W:

Yes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

.. is it?

Pat W:

I think it's Ohio street, one of those meetings out there.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like the young peoples. That was fun. Those were fun years.

Pat W:

That was great.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I talk about those years a lot about like being young and recovery and like being in-

Pat W:

No responsibilities.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... Yeah, no responsibilities, being in Southern California and like how much fun that was.

Pat W:

Yeah, it was cool. There was a big community.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Sure.

Pat W:

It was a really... I've been thinking a lot about the community aspect and how I think that humans are all very social people, whether or not we want to be, even when we're avoiding people and isolating ourselves, we're still in relation to other people by [inaudible 00:03:07] them, we're still thinking about them all the time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

In the act of avoidance.

Pat W:

Right, exactly. That community was amazing. I don't know that I would have made it if I didn't have the community of wild [inaudible 00:03:21].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I always talk about that how I got sober at 19.

Pat W:

I was 20. We were babies.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh my God.

Pat W:

We were babies.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I needed to be wild and 20 and crazy and do all that stuff but I also needed to not kill myself with drugs and alcohol.

Pat W:

Totally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I needed a group of people who are doing that, that community. I was given this space somehow.

Pat W:

Safe space.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I was given the safe space to do all that stuff. I don't even know what we did. We went to conventions. We stayed up till four in the morning. We were disorderly without being drunk. We loitered at the restaurants till two in the morning.

Pat W:

So much loitering.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So much loitering. I don't know. It was really like a really fun-

Pat W:

It was amazing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We had a really good time.

Pat W:

That's what I always wanted when I was kind of getting loaded.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. Totally.

Pat W:

Totally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Totally. But we were so like, just completely obliterated that you couldn't actually interact or connect with people. But it was really-

Pat W:

That's true.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It felt like... It was kind of like [902 00:04:31] in the sense that we were like, you got all the drama of being in high school, but we were actually in our twenties, like the actors are actually in their twenties we're just reliving the high school experience of like, but we made it much more fun-

Pat W:

We were basically a lot of the creepy older people that go to the high school parties.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Exactly. That's pretty much. We were the creepy.

Pat W:

Cool.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Cool.

Pat W:

I'll take it. Thanks.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Where did you grow up?

Pat W:

Pasadena, California. I lived there for 36 years.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wow.

Pat W:

I love Pasadena.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

36 years?

Pat W:

Mm-mmh (affirmative).

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You're not old enough to live there for 36 years.

Pat W:

I go back in time sometimes. No, I'm 38. I just turned 38 back in February.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Happy birthday in February almost 39, February soon.

Pat W:

Yeah. Maybe just isn't the right word. I didn't just turn 38, I've had a lot of coffee, like I said. I'm 38. I was born at a very young age in Pasadena.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You were born at a young?

Pat W:

Very young age.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I was born at a young age too. We have that in common.

Pat W:

I know. That's awesome. Bonding.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yep.

Pat W:

And-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Similarities.

Pat W:

... You're making me laugh a lot. I lived there until I was 14 and then I went to this amazing school called Midland in Los Olivos, which is the mountains, you know where that is?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I know where Los Olivos is.

Pat W:

There's nobody in Los Olivos-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Is Midland a boarding school?

Pat W:

Yeah. The ranch out there. It was just 2,800 acre ranch in the mountains-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, my God.

Pat W:

... and there was a hundred kids and it was coed and it was crazy. It was amazing. I hated it because I was 14. I didn't hate it. I just hated existence because I was 14. I go back a lot and I visit a lot there actually. That was six weeks on there and one week in Pasadena. And that kind of was cool because it taught me at a young age that there's spaces outside of where I'm living, like really quiet spaces. If I don't want to live in the city, I don't have to. It's kind of a privilege to be introduced to that because a lot of people don't have enough money to be able to kind of realize that they can-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

There's something beyond.

Pat W:

I'm really super grateful for that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Your parents married?

Pat W:

Somewhere, I think 47 years of marriage, I think.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wow.

Pat W:

Huge number like that. I can't even count that high.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

They're married for a real long time.

Pat W:

Long time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you have any siblings?

Pat W:

Oh, little sister.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What's the age gap?

Pat W:

36, so she's two years younger. we're super tight now.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Awesome.

Pat W:

I was a terrible brother for a long time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Pretty much, think all siblings. Very few siblings don't torture each other. What were your parents when you were growing up? Before 14.

Pat W:

Existence was hard because I had Tourette. We have this family system that was very, we did the best that we could with what we had, but it was wildly dysfunctional because I couldn't talk. Tourette showed up in me as a stutter.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Talk a little bit about Tourette. What most people know Tourettes does is what Hollywood put grace-

Pat W:

Yeah, from the movies.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, from the movies.

Pat W:

It's funny in the movies, it's not funny when you actually-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. What's interesting is everyone I've ever known who's had, or let me say this differently, I've never known anyone who had Tourettes where they yelled something funny, which really I would like. But nobody... I don't know where they got that because I've never... Have you? Do you?

Pat W:

I actually have, so-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, you've had.

Pat W:

It shows up in many different ways. Like sometimes it's a tick, sometimes it has nothing to do with saying or shouting things. It's usually-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What is it?

Pat W:

It's... I don't know exactly. I don't want to kind of misrepresent it. I could share what it was like for me for sure. In other people it's usually a take that comes when you're under a huge amount of stress. That can be, it sometimes goes hand in hand in hand with OCD. I had very minor OCD when I had Tourette's. If I itch the right side of my face, I would have to do the left. Okay. It wasn't like, I really feel for the people that have to deal with this, but it wasn't like the type of thing where you have to wash your hands five times before you leave the house with a new bar soap every single time.

Pat W:

It gets super debilitating, really, really, really dark. I didn't get it that bad. Tourette's showed up in me in the way of a stutter. I don't remember not having it, but I don't know that I was born with it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Interesting.

Pat W:

I have no idea.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How old were you when they noticed?

Pat W:

I don't know. That's a good question actually. I never asked that but there were certain letters and certain words that I would get hooked on and it sometimes pops out when I'm really, really, really nervous. It's more than a common stutter, like I've said to people that I have Tourette's and it used to show up as a stutter and people would be like, "Oh, I stutter too." It's like, "I appreciate that." However it's not. It's kind of like when somebody... I read an essay by this amazing guy, Julian Barnes is really great writer and he wrote this beautiful essay about losing his wife and how he would open up and tell people that sometimes some people and people would be like, "I lost a dog a few years ago. " As a way of trying to-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Trying to relate.

Pat W:

I appreciate it. however, just don't say that. You know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I appre-

Pat W:

Totally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... I totally appreciate that that's a very difficult thing for you but I totally-

Pat W:

And they're doing it out of love.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Out of love and coonection.

Pat W:

They are doing it out of love and they are doing it, and they feel like it's helpful. I'm sure I've done it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I'm sure I've done it too.

Pat W:

Somebody might be listening to this and be like, that guy has done the same thing to me. I'm sorry. But it's different. I actually couldn't hold full conversations with people because it happens so much. Back in the day when I was a kid, it felt like it would come up when I was nervous, but I had such wild anxiety issues that it was all the time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Because you know what's going to happen, then that makes you nervous about trying.

Pat W:

Totally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

[crosstalk 00:10:56] fullfilling.

Pat W:

School was hard. I went to a school in Pasadena where, I mean school... I graduated high school in 1999 and I've been studying education for years. The whole school astic institution didn't know what to do really with kids that weren't ideal. You know what I mean? People say that I don't want to open up this Pandora's box. It's all just kind of leave this claim where it is and people are welcome to call me or email me about it. But you know say that the school system is broken and I totally disagree. I think it works exactly for what it was made for, but it's to serve a very specific type of person and it continues to do that. But a lot of people are left very underserved. It's not that it's broken, it just needs to overhaul or to be left in the dust and something else needs to be made in this way.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You have to study where and how it how it was created in order to understand that it's... That what you're saying like that it's not broken because it's not based on the industrial revolution and what it was meant for. It's serving the same purpose it did.

Pat W:

Very well, extremely well.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That same purpose.

Pat W:

And a lot of people get really hurt.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. That was kind of part of it, right?

Pat W:

Totally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I get it.

Pat W:

I didn't have a language to speak to my parents about what was going on with me. My parents never had a footing. It felt, I should say I'm not speaking for them, I'm speaking about them and I love them to death. I really kind of respect them and saying this. It seems like they didn't know what to do with somebody with the issues that I had. Honestly, I would be just as confused if I had a kid with the same problems. I would try to speak to them about what's going on with me and I wouldn't know how to name the feelings and emotions. Sometimes I couldn't physically say the words and they were doing the best that they could with what they had, but they were trying to create a big, amazing, beautiful life for me and my sister to have all of the opportunities that we have.

Pat W:

They were very kind of super busy doing their thing and it exploded a lot of the time. I remember asking to go... Memories are fallible, by the way. I'm going to say that because I'm going to talk a lot about memories. If I miss say a memory or if I... I'm only speaking about my memories and sometimes that's not actually what happened. It's a really interesting thing to investigate that stuff. I remember asking my parents, can I go to boarding school because I cannot communicate with them. I couldn't talk to them without yelling. That's what it felt like. Our communication broke down so terribly that I didn't feel safe at home. I didn't feel safe at school. I was getting bullied like crazy all over schools.

Pat W:

I got pulled out of this really good school that I was going to to go into these more liberal, some might say hippy dippy. I say hippy dippy. I am quite a hippy dippy guy, so I honor that and I love that, I say that about myself and I live that kind of lifestyle, but I got the opportunity to go to schools like that. At those schools, I still felt alone. I had a supernatural ability. Some people might relate to this. I had a supernatural ability to be in a group of people that really cared about me. The more people that showed up and said that they cared about me, the more alone I felt. It had this wild opposite reaction. It was really hard being me as a kid.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But you went to these schools.

Pat W:

Oh yeah. That's what I was going to say. Sorry to interrupt you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No.

Pat W:

But after going to that amazing boarding school that I told you about, I spent two years there and then I was still having the same problems, these communication problems with kids and I couldn't find my fellows. We found a school for kids with learning disabilities and it was a savior. It was amazing. But what they did at that school, and it seems like what they did at the time in schools is they would put all kids with disabilities in the same school, which is a problem.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

[crosstalk 00:15:14].

Pat W:

Crazy wild things would happen. But I got amazing opportunities... I didn't know how to talk and explain things and I... That actually inspired me to pick up a camera when I was about 13 and start shooting photography. Still do it a lot now. But I felt like through photography it was the only way to actually tell the stories that I was trying to tell and I couldn't physically do it with my mouth, with words. I mean that's kind of specifically why I have no interest in making money off of it. It's a really personal kind of experience for me to do photography. I just shot my friend's wedding a few weeks ago specifically because I love her a lot and I love her husband a lot. I told the story of that and they didn't pay me for it. It's just something that-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Wanted to do.

Pat W:

... I kind of wanted to do. I do things now to honor what it was like being a kid and only having that, you know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah.

Pat W:

We don't regret the past nor do we shut the door, stuff like that. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How did you, I mean your speech is fine. I would never... You-

Pat W:

You can say perfect. It's okay, I'll take it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Okay. It's perfect. How did that school... Did that take you-

Pat W:

I know. I started smoking weed. As soon as I started getting loaded it just went away. It was crazy.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It was literally like you smoked weed and then started talking normally?

Pat W:

I don't remember. Again, this is memories. I don't remember stuttering and having Tourette's when I was doing drugs or drinking.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you remember what it was like the first time you-

Pat W:

[crosstalk 00:16:53].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... yeah, that is wild. Also a reason why you wouldn't stop.

Pat W:

Why would I ever stop?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I have-

Pat W:

I have been going to therapy and I remember taking medication for it, experimental medication for Tourette's and getting sick. Sometimes it would be a bonding experience with me and my dad when he would rub my back and I was throwing up because like an allergic reaction to medicines and stuff like that and then started doing drugs.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You smoked... Do you remember the first time you did drugs and you were like-

Pat W:

Absolutely.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Tell us about the first time and you were like-

Pat W:

It was really cute. I was a teenager and it was in the bushes right outside my house with my two best friends. It was this crappy hand carved wooden pipe. I don't think I remember... I don't remember getting high but I remember... I remember it felt like, I say this a lot, I speak at 12 step recovery meetings a lot actually. It felt like... I mean, I had an inability to process feelings just because talking was extraordinarily hard. It felt like there was no safe space to bring these places. I was in speech therapy and I do think that speech therapy and kind of doing drugs kind of help this.

Pat W:

I'm not a professional, so I'm not making a professional claim, but that's my experience. It felt like the volume was turned up to 11 on all of my emotions and they were just mashing together and it couldn't decipher between them. It felt like the weight, it essentially felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I was trying to breathe through those little straws that you would stir coffee with that we all try to breath throug, it's impossible, that's what it felt like. I had been doing for years. That was.. I know super emo. I know, I did listen to a lot of Elliot Smith and Jeff Buckley and stuff like that and I still do. They're great. But it's, it's the gym. If you're emo kid, you're going to listen to that stuff.

Pat W:

It felt like the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders and I could like really take a deep breath for the first time. I mean, honestly it was like the best thing that's probably ever happened to me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

So you're with your buddies and you just-

Pat W:

In the bushes.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... in a bush outside your house and you just... And you start talking and it's gone.

Pat W:

No. I don't know. But that's what it felt like.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What it felt.

Pat W:

I should ask them actually, that would be really interesting.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Because if they were like, "Whoa, it's magic weed."

Pat W:

I mean, when you're 13 or however old we were and, "Our weed is magic weed."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's true.

Pat W:

We were probably smoking the worst weed ever just because-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Probably.

Pat W:

You can't find the purple haze when you're 12 or 13 yet and... The volume on everything turned down and no, nothing had ever done that before. It had a lot of opportunities to go to a lot of places and talked to a lot of people that should help and nothing helped but that did. I was, all of a sudden, I was going to parties and I was hanging out with people and I was living this life that I thought was only for other people that I would never get. The reason that I think that I just stopped stuttering or it was the beginning of a very quick end to it, is that I know how terrible high school kids are for sure and I would not have been welcomed with open arms into high school, cool kids club parties if I were a stuttering, twitchy little kid. That's kind of real. You know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. I mean, it is.

Pat W:

Yeah, totally. I don't know how it happened. I've been seeing the same therapist, we'll talk about this at some point. Probably for 19 years I've been seeing the same therapist.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's awesome.

Pat W:

Right. We talk about this a lot also. It's not that memories are wrong, they're just not the capital T truth but it is our truth. For me-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's the one we react to.

Pat W:

Totally. When I started doing drugs, the Tourette's started going away and drinking too. I never exclusively did anything. I never only drank and I never only only did drugs.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Were your parents like, "What's happening?"

Pat W:

It's another good question actually. They... I don't know I don't know. I would have to hypothesize but I would assume that it was just a thing that maybe they didn't know enough about Tourette's that they thought people-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

They thought you were growing out of it or something.

Pat W:

Yeah. That might be a possibility. That's probably a possibility.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I have no idea.

Pat W:

I have no idea either, so I'm not going to say that it is a possibility but I know human beings change, brain chemistry changes and so I would assume, I could be incorrectly assuming, but it would assume that these... I don't even like using the word disorders, but I'm going to use it. Those could probably change and morph as the human being as the vessel changes in ages. They might have been thinking that that's what was going on. That's a really good thing to think about though. I don't know.

Pat W:

That's that. It was amazing and there was no reason for me not to do it all the time because there was what I always wanted. All of the... it was spectacular. It was really nice.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And bad.

Pat W:

And then it wasn't-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What was the transition?

Pat W:

Into bad?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah. How did it fall apart?

Pat W:

I still had an inability to deal with emotions and process emotions. I felt good and I thought that was the solution. It's a very selfish way to navigate the world. I feel good, therefore it is the solution. You know what I mean? When I first got into 12 step recovery, when I first got into AA, I didn't work the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous for a good amount of time. It's because I felt way better than I'd ever felt.

Pat W:

I remember sitting in meetings and hearing people say these things like, "Recovery and spiritual awakenings and these promises that are read." I was with friends, I made friends like what we were talking about. Getting wild and staying up late and doing all these things that I wanted to do when I was getting loaded and I thought that that is what recovery was. You know what I mean? Maybe people were telling me that that's not what recovery is and it's different than sobriety. The only requirement for a membership is desire to stop drinking, but it's definitely not the only requirement for-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

For staying sober.

Pat W:

... For recovery. Recovery is changed and recovery is, well it can change. I wasn't changing my patterns and my behaviors. I was still acting like a wild alcoholic, but I just didn't have any kind of alcohol or drugs in me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But when you stopped using drugs and alcohol, the Tourette's was still gone?

Pat W:

Mm-mmh (affirmative).

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's pretty remarkable.

Pat W:

Right. I mean, my emotions would heighten up again. Anxiety came back, stuttering came back a little bit. I was honestly really afraid that I was going to turn back into that scared 12 13, 14, 11, 10 year old. But I didn't, I still had really, really bad anxiety issues, but the Tourettes didn't really come back that much and thank God.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But how interesting.

Pat W:

That was terrible. I don't know what happened. I'm forever grateful that it happened, that I don't have that problem anymore. It's really brutal. I wish words were, I'll talk about it all day long. It's my experience and hopefully someone could hear it and kind of relate to it and understand that they're not alone. But the thing about experiences is like a lot of the time words aren't created yet that can really illustrate what an experience is. I could tell the story and talk about a feeling, like name feelings, but it's an experience. But that's also the difference between sobriety and recovery and stuff like that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well we talk a lot about in recovery, we talk a lot about this feeling of I always felt different, I always fell apart from as opposed to a part of... From as early as whatever, we talk about that a lot, a common shared thing that's experienced. One of the things that I think happens is a lot of the time people talk about that in the context of I had made that up. I felt apart from, there was no... They say that and there wasn't a distinct reason to fill apart from, but they did.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And then I always thought about, but what if you really were different from everyone else? That's the alcohol experience. Except that's not an alcoholic experience. That is literally the experience that has been created for you.

Pat W:

I mean, that's my truth. 100% I definitely don't think, and I don't think you're saying this but I don't think that buys me come for your seat in alcoholics anonymous or anything like that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No.

Pat W:

You know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If only.

Pat W:

The more you settle, the more you... It's super nice.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, but I really was different.

Pat W:

I mean... The community of alcoholics anonymous saved my life. Being a part of that same community, the thing that I love about alcoholics anonymous and the thing that I hate about therapy, and again, I've been going to therapy for my whole life. My recovery is holistic. My recovery from alcoholism is based in alcoholics anonymous. My recovery from everything else is probably based in therapy. Problem with therapies is it's expensive and therefore it's not accessible to a lot of people that don't have money.

Pat W:

That makes me really sad. There's a lot of people out there that are suffering a lot that could really, really, really use help.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

There are more and more ways though that... and cheaper and cheaper ways. If people really want the help.

Pat W:

Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm definitely not saying it's impossible.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But you do... Yes, it is. There is cost because there's expertise.

Pat W:

Totally. And rightfully so. If I'm trying to fix my soul essentially, if I'm trying to... I'm dying, help me not die, I want know that the most professional person is going to help me. They've gone through a lot of school and they've spent an absurd amount of money going to school to be able to help people. They absolutely should get paid a huge amount of money to do that. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's a big gap between the person's wallet that needs it and them.

Pat W:

A lot of changes are happening. A lot of health insurances pay for that. You don't have to pay for it. It's awesome. It's amazing. There are many, many, many, many, many, many different ways. I mean, I like what Lion Rock does with recovery too. Sometimes you can't physically go to a place.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

One, it's also-

Pat W:

It's important therapies like that, now they do therapy like that. It's awesome.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, we're doing... That's all.... All of our therapists serve the same thing.

Pat W:

It's beautiful.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

The thing is that if you remove the overhead, you can charge less. That's-

Pat W:

Exactly-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How we're able to charge such a little amount.

Pat W:

It's phenomenal. It's phenomenal. However-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You're right, it costs... The truth is it's still not accessible to everyone that is abso- there's just no...

Pat W:

One of the things that I found, so I lived in Olympia, Washington for two years and I moved back in June. I was studying teaching up there. Bbeing away from LA for so long and coming back made me realize a lot of things about LA that I was aware of, but I needed to separate myself from it and then come back to see it is that it's incredibly diverse. But it's fairly segregated, hugely. And a lot of it is, this is a big box to open and it makes me really sad.

Pat W:

I don't want to have a special way out of what I had that other people can't. That really, really rubs me the wrong way. And so I try not to do that. When I go to meetings, AA meetings, I specifically try to avoid meetings that aren't on the apps that we have on the phone and that aren't in the directory because it's super sad that... I mean, I've grown a lot. My life has been forever saved because of it and there's no reason that I thought other people shouldn't... I can't find a reason that other people shouldn't have that. And that's the cool thing about AA, is that it's free. If you go to the meetings that are on the list, it's free, right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yup.

Pat W:

You don't have to pay any money to go and t's awesome.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What went wrong?

Pat W:

With, when, that's happened a lot of times. When-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Seriously. That's a loaded question. What went wrong that caused you to seek getting help in the first place? We don't just decide one day to stop.

Pat W:

It's beautiful Saturday. My life is dope. My bank account is full. I'm going to Alcoholic Anonymus.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We don't come in on a winning streak.

Pat W:

No, I was not on a winning streak and then it turned to a winning streak. Everything, alcoholism is a progressive illness and one of the ways that it is progressive is that the problems that I feel, I'm dealing with and getting over just by not feeling them because I'm getting loaded that nothing is being fixed, they're just compounding on themselves more and more and more.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Gaining interest.

Pat W:

It was interesting.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's for sure.

Pat W:

And then over time, I'm trying to think of what happened. So I was studying photography abroad.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Where did you go?

Pat W:

Greece, a little Island in Greece, fancy and it was amazing. That's what I always wanted and I kind of burned it to the ground in a way. There weren't great, so I couldn't feel anything, but I just wasn't doing anything there. I put a relationship on hold here with a woman that I was really in love with and I was 18 so it was like the first big love is really cute. And then that ended and that was the straw that broke my back kind of emotionally just because it wasn't only the breakup, it was everything that I wasn't dealing with up to that point as well. Right. That's when I started drinking to like really end it. Like the party was done. I was very aware of that.

Pat W:

I started going on these road trips up to San Francisco with friends of mine to go these hip hop shows and just party up in San Francisco. I was coming down the high five once and I didn't have any drugs or alcohol and I convinced my friend to drive because I knew that that seven hour drive without me having any chemicals in me it was just going to be not good. I kind of sat in the [inaudible 00:32:20] and he drove my car and then there was this... Out of nowhere, it hailed maybe like an hour and a half, two hours South of San Francisco. It hailed about two inches in seconds. And so no cars could do anything.

Pat W:

There's nothing we could do to get out of the accident. We slammed in the back of this car going like, 60 miles an hour, 50 miles an hour, we got hit from behind and it's this big 18 car pile up. In the moments. I love how time distorts the car crash time and the whole narrative of every time... Every time I hurt somebody as a direct result of my relationship with alcohol or drugs kind of came flooding back into my psyche, but not only from my perspective but from the perspective of the person that I did that run thing to. But all at once. That's how time works in our brains. It comes all at once.I realized I had to do something and if I made it out of that accident, I would do my best to stop. I didn't know anything about AA. This was probably like 2000, there were no AA TV shows. It was not a part of, and I love those AA TV shows. It's far more accessible to people now, which is great, but it wasn't a part of the narrative as it is now.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did your parents know what was going on?

Pat W:

No.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Did you go to them and say, I need help?

Pat W:

Basically this big car crash happened, nobody got injured.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What! Wow.

Pat W:

It was wild. I don't want to take up too much space in this, but we can edit through this however you want. It's a really beautiful story. I looked at my friend, I remember looking at my friend who could have made this part out, but I remember looking at my friend and he was looking at me and we were sliding probably like 40 yards in ice, knowing that we were going to hit this car going super fast and probably get hit from behind.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What kind of car were you in?

Pat W:

It was a Volvo, a low Volvo. If I have kids, I'm buying Volvos for sure.I remember looking at him and saying like, "Dude, if we make it through this, I need to stop." And I remember him saying, "I'm for sure going to... " I'm Irish, so I cry a lot. So get ready. I remember looking at him and him looking at me and he said, "Yeah, me too." We hit it and we got hit from behind and we're spinning through the air like a five 40 spin. We were teetering off this, I don't know, 40, 50 foot embankment on the i5. We got out of the car and the only injury on our side that I remember is the [inaudible 00:34:54], knees, a little scratch on it. It was wild, crazy. We got out of the car and it was a station wagon.

Pat W:

We get out of the car and go to the back and all the windows had been busted out of the station right in the back and all of our bags were laying on the ground next to each other like with the handles up as if somebody had... If you asked him, his name is Ty, we're still super good friends. I mean, neither one of us hit our head. We didn't black out. There wasn't time for someone to collect the bags and put them on next to each other as if somebody had. So like that's what they like. They were all lined up next to each other. It's crazy. And he was missing his backpack and we were looking around and his backpack, he, he, he was a, he's a musician and he was up there buying records at amoeba records in his backpack full of records.

Pat W:

Got lodged under the axle to the car. And that's what stopped us from going off the embankment. I don't know if the, it, I mean Paul was just safe. It might have made it down the rolling down that embankment if his backpack wasn't there. But we for sure would have gotten hurt and maybe trapped and it was hailing and raining and stuff like that. And he, he probably has that backpack still. He kept it for a very long time. I think he had it framed for a little while. This is crazy. So you guys are like looking around for the backpack and you look under and it's stuck and it, it saved whatever was going to happen next from happening. Right. I still don't know what I believe in. Sometimes I still have problems capitalizing the in God when I write it on paper.

Pat W:

But there... I mean, I couldn't even have made that up.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No. I mean those are the types of things that we have to ex- or that we get to experience where it's like, I really don't have any explanation.

Pat W:

I don't think the universe conspires for my favor. I think for me it's a selfish thing to say, that's totally awesome if other people think that. I think the universe happens in unison with itself all the time. When I'm not thinking about myself in the few moments that I'm not thinking about myself, I get to notice moments like that. That's what I think I, I really think that's how everything works all the time. I'm so selfish that I'm blind to it sometimes. When I think this led to this led to this led to this for me, makes me think, I'm saying that the universe is rotating for me. It seems a little bit egotistical for me to say. I'm not trying to be critical of the way that people look at it, but that's just my opinion.

Pat W:

I knew the game was done. I made a promise to tie and to whatever could have conspired to make that happen. I kept getting loaded after that because I didn't know how to not do that. There was no narrative of anything else. There was no hope. I love my sister a lot and I always have, even when I was being a bad brother and I didn't want... From that point I was very suicidal. I would kind of wake up in the morning and get super loaded to turn the volume down in my head and then within a few hours it would turn back up and then it would just be a game of what can I do today to convince myself to not kill myself. For a good few months. It got to a point where I just couldn't do that anymore and I really didn't want to leave my sister alone.

Pat W:

Our family is very safe, it's not a familial thing. I'm a really good big brother and I kind of honor that. I'm that way with women in AA too. I'm that way with women out of AA. I'm a really good safe space for people that haven't really experienced men that don't have ulterior motives and I'm really proud of that. I didn't want to leave my sister alone and so I asked my dad what, "What do I do? I don't know what to do." He says, "Call your doctor." My doctor was Dr. Drew at the time actually, that's the funny thing. This is pretty his TV show.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Was he doing love line yet. He might-

Pat W:

Oh yeah. I love the line. My mom was a teacher in high school and she was his teacher and I asked her if she could call him for my 18th birthday so he could be my doctor because I love the love line. She did and it was. He was my doctor for a long time. When I would get sick I'd go see him and stuff like that. I call-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Called your doctor.

Pat W:

Isn't that cool?.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, it's cool but it's also-

Pat W:

Well that's what people did back in the day.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Right. That's what I was thinking. I was thinking, now that's not what people would say. That's why I was just like, Oh yeah.

Pat W:

This is in 2000 or 2001 and so I called him and he was like, "well, do you..." Through the phone, it was really emotional. This is a very distorted memory. But what I remember is I remember him saying something along the lines of, "Do you want to go to rehab?" And I was like, "What's rehab?" And he told me what rehab is. I was like, "Nope". And then, and he's like, "Do you want to go to AA?" And I asked what AA is and he described it to me and I was like, "Nope, that doesn't sound like fun either."

Pat W:

And then he said something along the lines of, "Well, there's a woman who's a therapist and she's the only person that I've ever met who can help people through this that don't want to go to treatment and don't want to go to AA." I would assume that that's 2000 and she's been my therapist ever since. And it's now 1999 or no, it's now 2019.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I was like [crosstalk 00:40:19].

Pat W:

It's 1999 and we're going to go watch Scream in the theater after this-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's just like, "Okay, I can do this."

Pat W:

She eased me into AA after awhile. And so that's why I say it's been a holistic experience of recovery because without therapy I would not be in AA and without AA in the culture of growth, that I'm honestly honored to be a part of. I would not have been inspired to stay in therapy for as long as I have. You know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yes.

Pat W:

There's a lot, I mean AA is amazing, but there's a lot that I've experienced at AA isn't going to touch. You know what I mean? And that might not be everybody else's truths, but that's definitely mine.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Yeah, I agree with that. I mean, I think it's part of like, it's... There's a holistic solution... I always say when people take meds, like when [crosstalk 00:41:15] medication, right? I said, "Look, meds aren't the work, they're the thing that gets you to start the work." They get you to the starting line.

Pat W:

It's important.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

They aren't the actual work in and of itself. I feel like that's the same, it's not the work, the experience of recovery and being sober is a whole ex- If you really do it, it's all these different types of things that we do, that we seek, we create.

Pat W:

It takes a long time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It takes a long time and lot of... But it isn't just like I'm going to go... It starts out that way I should say. It starts out with whatever you're willing to do, but if you're going to stay along time, it has to be more.`

Pat W:

The cool thing about it, for something to take place of the progressiveness of alcoholism and addiction in itself, the solution, the thing that's going to take its place has to be equally progressive. Right. You know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's a good point, yeah.

Pat W:

And so the more I take drugs and drink, the further down I'll go infinitely until I die. The more I truly believe because I, so relapse is a big part of, after being sober for 16 years, I relapsed. I'm very aware with what I have to do to be a part of the progressiveness of recovery. The more I work and the longer I work on it means I can kind of infinitely grow and heal until I die in the same way. But just the opposite side of the yin and yang.

Speaker 3:

Hi, I'm Peter Lobe, CEO and cofounder of Lion Rock Recovery. We're proud to sponsor the courage to change and I hope you find that it's an inspiration. I was inspired to start Lion Rock after my sister lost her own struggle with drugs and alcohol back in 2010. Because we provide care online by live video Lion Rock clients can get help from the privacy of home. We offer flexible schedules that fit our client's busy lives and of course we're licensed and accredited and we accept most private health insurance. You can find out more about us at lionrockrecovery.com or call us for a free consultation. No commitment at (800) 258-6550. Thank you.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I think like to that point, it's so interesting for me it's like... We got super, super young and you don't have much to lo- You don't have much. You have to feel so terrible. But like you don't have kids, you don't have anything. If you stay sober a long time like we did and have a couple of things happen. Number one you grow up. You-

Pat W:

As a human being.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

As a human, you go through the natural cycle of your 20s and actually becoming an adult. That's confusing because you don't know if that's like part of being sober or to be, you don't know how much of it to equate to just maturity and how much to equate to this program that you're doing. I'm sure it's a mixture of both. And then you also get things, whatever that is, relationship, jobs, all these different things, you get things to lose and your disease is progressive. Over a period of time, and you're young and all these different things. You feel more invincible say than someone who's lived a lot more life.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Over time you do less, you start to do less. You grow up, you're like, oh gosh, I've been doing that. You get bored with it, you grow up, you have more responsibilities. You're trying to figure out how to... I've been sober a long time and I think -

Pat W:

I got this.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... I got this. What I see and what I've experienced is this, you know the saying, grower go, like you grower go.

Pat W:

It's some old school shit.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's some old school shit but it's real.

Pat W:

It's super real.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's real. And the way I've experienced it is first of all, I use against my own.

Pat W:

Totally. Often.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

As often as humanly possible. But I'll do that. It's like you take drugs and alcohol to the picture, I'm not done. I'll find what... I must be treating the ism at all times, because I will do, whether it's sex, gambling, food-

Pat W:

Shopping is a good one.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Shopping.

Pat W:

Shopping is a great one.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Don't do that while you're married because-

Pat W:

No. There's other people.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... The whole Complication. You have this whole, you suddenly have things, I never had things. You get to this new place of not only are you completely sober and so you feel everything. You also have shit to lose now. So it's like a different experience. You think you have it and you think you've done the work. That's the thing that gets me. And so you have to step up the recovery to a new place or you go down.

Pat W:

I like... That idea of done the work, I've done the work puts it in past tense.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's how I felt.

Pat W:

That's-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Because I thought like I've done the work.

Pat W:

So-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Look guys, look what I've done with my life.

Pat W:

There's an interesting, this isn't written anywhere in any of the literature and by no means do I live my life dictated exactly by what was written in the literature of AA. But I know that as a part of being an alcoholic, my view of the world is very distorted, very distorted. Usually to my selfish means, and it's important for me to understand that. I need a foundation of what I need to do to recover from alcoholism. It definitely doesn't have to be a 12 step recovery and AA has absolutely no monopoly on anything. Right? Right. But if you read the literature and if you want to experience what is described in the literature, I have to do some things. More just have a desire to stop drinking or I'm going to have a different experience that's not in the book.

Pat W:

And so therefore not the AA experience. There's this idea that I've heard, I haven't heard it down here, but I heard it up in Washington a lot, that my recovery from alcoholism has a 24 hour half life. I think that's a really neat thing that I never thought about. The idea that what I do today might not have much to do with my recovery tomorrow. I don't think it's actually that extreme, however-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But it's close. I mean that may be hyperbole, but it's not-

Pat W:

I'm a hustler and I'm really good at hustling myself. and so if I think I could take one day off and nothing will happen, I'll-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Try that.

Pat W:

... probably think I could take two and then four and then eight, and then that's two weeks and it's a month. And then I'm yelling at traffic thinking that the lady in line and at the supermarket is literally in my way. Totally ignoring the fact that I'm just participating in the community of life. But they're in my way. There's nobody else having an experience in the supermarket or in traffic except for me and it's right directly in my way. You know what I mean?-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Mm-mmh (affirmative).

Pat W:

The idea of what is it like to be an alcoholic without drugs and alcohol. I didn't really think about that a lot before. I remember... So taking a long time, a few years without doing the steps and just being sober and doing all the AA stuff-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You had some trauma early in sobriety?

Pat W:

Yeah. Oh I did. Yes I did. But that didn't come up. So I'll talk about that in a minute, in linear time. Because that didn't come up until I relapsed and then was meditating. Wild. Crazy, crazy. I'll fast forward through this because that's really interesting and I like talking about that. So it's important to say that I didn't do the steps and I started getting sicker sober. Something that makes me an alcoholic because when you take the drugs and alcohol away, when you take the substance away, my life, a lot of the time will get worse. You know what I mean? If I don't replace it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If we don't replace it with something. Because we are medicating something.

Pat W:

Totally. Yeah. So those nine step promises that we read in meetings like the, I totally forget them. I've been in-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

We will not regret the past or wish to shut the door and we will know peace and we will suddenly realize we will know how to handle situations with [inaudible 00:49:59].

Pat W:

I had it on my fancy iPhone app. It's a really good description of what it felt like to get loaded. Because that has been illustrated to me that that is a description of treated alcoholism, and I was treating my alcoholism with alcohol. That's not written in the literature. That's a thought that I agree with in my personal experience. So that's not a universal foundation for everybody in alcoholics anonymous. I say that exact phrase that I just said because I'm not... Just because I've had an experience doesn't mean I'm a professional. I'm not speaking for all of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Pat W:

I say that because just in case somebody is listening to this and has had a different experience, everybody that wants to recover from alcoholism is completely safe in Alcoholics Anonymous in having their own experience of recovery. It's really important for me to say that. I got suicidal again when I had three years sober and I was doing really, really, really bad things to really, really, really nice people with a year sober and I was turning into that scared teenager. I didn't know how to behave and I didn't know how to react and I didn't know how to... My coping skills had not been rebuilt. And then I was in Philadelphia, my sister was graduating from college and I wanted to escape so bad and I was listening to a speaker tape of a guy and I made a promise. Most these promises, I got to stop making promises to myself. They get me... They really change my life a lot.

Pat W:

I made a promise to myself that if I listened to this and I feel different, I hadn't felt different. I hadn't felt not depressed, not suicidal, sober for a while. It had rebuilt itself as the foundation of my life. It got stronger than the feeling of a fellowship and friendship that I described before. So I said, if I listened to this and I felt different. I would do the steps, I would recover from alcoholism. I was really scared of that process. I didn't know what would happen but I knew that it would be different than this.

Pat W:

I listened to him and he told a complete different story than anything I'd ever experienced. I didn't relate to a thing that he said about his physical world but his emotional world, I had never related to anything as perfectly as that. I came back and I did the steps and I rocketed through and it was amazing.

Pat W:

And I got a lot of congratulations and it puffed up my chest a lot and I started sponsoring people. That was amazing. And the whole time I was kind of making it about myself though and I didn't even realize, that's part of that distortion. I didn't even realize, but a lot of the time I remember sponsoring people and thinking like, am I doing this right? It being just as concerned about my personal standing as their recovery and telling people these grand stories because people would applaud. It feels really good to be applauded. I have to been such a lonely human. It feels really good to, that phrase that we said before, like let the bridges we burn light our way. That's a really positive thing. You know, we can move forward with those experiences. However, I can really get addicted to feeling good and stop thinking about other people.

Pat W:

Over, probably... I did that... I didn't hurt anybody within that process. I actually helped a lot of people get sober and a lot of them are still sober and I did some amazing things with my life. This entire time my parents, my family and I had been rebuilding our relationship. We're wildly in love with each other. It's amazing. I live with them. I'm the cool kid on the block. I'm their 38 year old single man, $40,000 in school debt, living with my parents. But they invited me back in their life. You know what I mean? It's incredible.

Pat W:

You were talking before about all these things that you get, you know what I mean? And I started focusing on that a lot more than actual AA and recovery. I didn't think about the fact that I could even get, I mean, I was so broken when I came in and it took some time, but then I was not broken. The only way that I got to that point is through the work that I did in therapy and in Alcoholics Anonymous and I kind of forgot that. And so I stopped. This is a story I've heard a million times, but I'm going to be a part of that is that I stopped going to the thing that gave me everything and I started going to the things that I got for peace and comfort. It doesn't give any peace and comfort, it's just these temporary fixes and stuff like that.

Pat W:

Over years I stopped going to AA so much and I drank. I forgot I was an alcoholic for about a half a second. I was on a train going to Olympia from Thanksgiving. In the moment I was offered whiskey and I forgot I was an alcoholic. It's wild.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That the stuff that terrifies.

Pat W:

It's so... Bee scared.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, that's the stuff that terrifies me.

Pat W:

It's crazy. I had this big grand thing of "Oh, when I drink-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You were 16, you were sober.

Pat W:

Yeah. 16 and a half. And so probably for, I don't know, five years-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How long had it been since you'd gone to a meeting?

Pat W:

I was going to about a meeting a week or a meeting every other week and I was not praying or meditating.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Or like just involved. You're... the vessel was there.

Pat W:

Right. I was sponsoring people but it's-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You weren't completely out?

Pat W:

No, but it was all for me. You know what I mean? It was all for me kind of.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's kind of, literally you were offered and you just said yes.

Pat W:

Over 16 years, I can't imagine how many times I've been offered a drink.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's why-

Pat W:

Thousands upon thousands upon thousands.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's why I'm asking because it is not, I mean I've been offered more than a drink.

Pat W:

Totally.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Just...

Pat W:

The narrative of the possibility of drinking instilled itself in me. Just the wonder of what would happen if I drank? Years prior. I always just thought of it as a joke and I never told anybody about it and I never told my sponsor about it or my therapist about it. This is what it's like to be an alcoholic when I'm not drinking. I mean, I gave everything, all of me to drinking and doing drugs and then I was not giving all of me, I was giving the minimal amount of me to Alcoholics Anonymous and that I'm not very good at math, I'm a book guy, I'm a word guy but that equation does not equal out. You know what I mean?

Pat W:

I had this big grand idea of if I relapse it... Like something catastrophic. Like my family's going to die in some accident and I'm just going to go out and explode Pasadena around [crosstalk 00:56:53] Pasadena once. I was like, "When I come back to AA there's going to be a parade in this grand. There's going to be a party, there's going to be great." All ego-based. Right?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, I get it.

Pat W:

But I just forgot I was an alcoholic because I had no foundation of growth in recovery. I had this false foudation of just maintaining and looking to outside influences to fix what was going on inside. I drank it in the moment that I drank-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh my God, I can't even imagine because it's so-

Pat W:

I only drank for a day.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... Which I also can't even imagine.

Pat W:

This moment that I'm going to describe in a minute but keep saying what you're going to say. Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I've been-

Pat W:

[crosstalk 00:57:39].

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... I've been on the train, the equivalent of the train and had the drink offered and thought no one would know. I've been in this situation but-

Pat W:

No one will know.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... I had enough, there were still enough that I said no, but I can distinctly see a scenario where I make that decision and I drink and then I'm like, "Oh, ma-" I literally would, I don't know... I wouldn't know what to do. There would only be two options.

Pat W:

It was not a conscious decision to drink. That's the crazy part.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When did you realize you were drank?

Pat W:

I wish it was [crosstalk 00:00:58] awesome blackout. I woke up like-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But I mean were you just like [crosstalk 00:58:21] down like, oh no.

Pat W:

I drank it and I had a same experience like I had in that car crash where the entire narrative of my life prior to AA, no, prior to recovery I should say, prior to recovering from alcoholism. I mean every good thing that had ever happened to me came as a result of coming into AA and I forgot that. It's very easy to forget that. In that moment, I was very aware of that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

How did you only drink for a day? Did you-

Pat W:

Well, I had that moment. I had that moment where the entire narrative, from being a kid, everything that I described to you right came at once into me, including all the amazing like being friends with you, knowing Brandon, knowing all these amazing people and getting this wild life by participating in Alcoholics anonymous. That's what it's like to be an alcoholic. Like when I say I forgot that I was an alcoholic, I don't mean I forgot that I was a crazy alcoholic. I mean that, I forgot that being an alcoholic in AA means growth and means being a part of this amazing community. We are literally there only to help each other.

Pat W:

We're there for ourselves to clean up the mess. That's what the first eight and a half nine steps are about. And then for me in the ninth step, it starts being about how I can participate in other people's lives. And so I'm there to help other people and other people to are there to help me. It's a very special thing that we have. That's what it's like to be an alcoholic. When, I mean, I forgot what it was like to be an alcoholic.

Pat W:

Because I wasn't selfish for 16 and a half years. It was wild. All that came rushing to me all in an instant, time again, as the stored in your head when you have these moments, and I realized that the best possible outcome that would happen if I were able to drink like a normal person is I would drink like a normal person, which is really boring. It's sitting... My parents have this cocktail hour, they're as normal as normal can be.

Pat W:

At 5:30 every night they sit down and they make little cocktails and they just talk about the day. That's beautiful.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's adorable.

Pat W:

It's super adorable.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's so what I would talk myself into.

Pat W:

I have absolutely no interest in participating in that stuff. I want to drive 400 miles an hour.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I want to drive 400 miles an hour.

Pat W:

I want to go crazy.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's why I'm lik, you went out for like I....

Pat W:

I don't know when alcoholism is going to talk to me and convinced me to drink. I don't know how it's going to talk to me. I don't know when it's going to talk to me.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You're right. I've been surprised when I have been like it's talking to me.

Pat W:

It's completely unpredictable.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's talking to me, I got to go.

Pat W:

Help. The problem is that's going to happen often, probably daily. That's why my recovery has a 24 hour lifespan is because when I'm minimizing the things that turns the volume down in that voice, I'll be on a train and that voice will come in super hot and talk to me in a super sexy voice. Like, "You're just... And don't worry about it."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

If you drink this.

Pat W:

This is what you want.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

This is what you-

Pat W:

Yeah, exactly. It sounds like that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You know what this tastes like? Gold.

Pat W:

You want to be normal.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Everyone around you [crosstalk 01:01:56] drink it too.

Pat W:

They're all thinking about you just as much as you're thinking about yourself. I don't know that I've ever wanted to do one, if anything ever of anything that I've ever wanted to do in recovery, well recovered, half recovered, before recovery. I'm, I'm just not interested in doing that. And that's not a bad thing. We get to do amazing. When we go to school, we dominate at school because of that. It's this incredible, beautiful characteristic that we can harness through-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But must be harnessed.

Pat W:

Must be harnessed. And so that is why I only drank for a day is because-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You just knew.

Pat W:

... Yeah, I knew I had two choices at that point that I would either have to be boring and normal or fucking amazing and grow exponentially infinitely and-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Funny you say that.Because I was like, so they're only, what I thought was there are only two choices after what happens. One, I don't know what you were into, but if it's me, I got to go and get everything. I got to go try all the new thing. I have a lot of work [crosstalk 01:03:04].

Pat W:

Whatever the kids are doing.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Whatever the kids are doing, crocodile... I know whatever.

Pat W:

That's wild.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

When you said that, I'm like, yeah, there's only two options. So my two options where you you have make up some time here you got to go hard or you have to get sober. But what's interesting is your two thoughts were is this is either going to be normal and boring because I don't want normal or?

Pat W:

No, I knew that the best outcome would to be normal and boring, which I had no interest in, but the probable outcome would be disastrous. Horrible. or I can kind of reintegrate back into the beautiful community of infinite growth and recovery that we have and the potential to share this experience with other people and watch other people kind of change their lives and participate in that happening in other people, most importantly participate in that happening in other people or those other two. And so the fact that I even contemplate that idea of which of those three do I want to do might indicate the fact that I am in fact quite an alcoholic.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You can't convince me that-

Pat W:

You know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... contemplating all three wouldn't be a difficult decision.

Pat W:

Totally. I don't like whiskey and it was terrible train whiskey. It was Amtrak whiskey.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What! Oh God.

Pat W:

I'm fancy and I like gin and tonic. So I had two gin and tonics and I just sat with that through the day and this is last time I drank. And then I came, I sat in meetings and shook and was scared and got a new sponsor up in Olympia and we... It was amazing. I'm a human being so I'm selfish by nature, so I'm not going to say I'm not selfish anymore, but it felt like this lens of me, me, me, me, me, me, me, that I was kind of viewing my entire existence up to that point.

Pat W:

It felt like I had a moment of awakening within that where I knew that the only way to not have that happen again was to really make it not 100% about me and make it as much about other people as humanly possible. Specifically because all these ideas and stories that I never related to in that moment I totally related to. So I knew that I was a part of a shared experience from that point on. What you're talking about, like the trauma that I experienced at the beginning, I was so scared coming back to AA.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I bet.

Pat W:

I had so much ego. I-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I stayed sober just so I don't have to be a new... I have not drank-

Pat W:

It's so scary having time like I have to, how I speak of the world around me is how I speak about myself and to myself. I consciously say, or I consciously don't say I lost 16 years, you know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

No, definitely. No.

Pat W:

I just gained a new experience, I guess, I'll say. Those 16 years were not mine in the first place to lose, they're not an object. I buy the cheap Nalgene bottles because I lose them often. That's not what I do. That's not what you do with experience. Right. So nothing's lost in my experience. In Other people experience long relapse. Unfortunately a lot is lost. I was overwhelmed by anxiety. I felt lost and I didn't know what to do. But I had experiences from AA. I knew that if I pray, meditate, it would calm me down. It would take a while, cause I hadn't done it in a long time.

Pat W:

So it's important to say also that these practices, these prayers and meditations are not Tylenol, they're not spiritual Tylenol. If you feel stressed out, do that and it's fixed. I do it often so that I get less stressed out and less triggered by things that would normally stress me out.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Spiritual Tylenol. Awesome.

Pat W:

I'm good with words. What are you going to say?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I love it.

Pat W:

I got a big ego too, in case you didn't realize that, I'm good with words. What are you going to say?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You had... You get sober, you freaking-

Pat W:

I was freaking out. I was losing my mind, but I was going to meetings and I knew to rush to meetings and I was sitting in, I was meditating, long meditations, 20, 30 minute meditations, guided meditation sometimes. There's an infinite amount of different types of meditations. There's no right or wrong way to do it. But I was doing it in a way of calming, introspective, searching. This idea of meditation being deep contemplation specifically because of alcoholism. The big book was written in the late thirties. This Eastern idea of meditation hadn't really integrated into mainstream America until the counterculture went East in the '60s. You know what I mean?

Pat W:

I did a lot of research in that moment to be, how can I meditate for my alcoholism? You know what I mean? What did they do pre Zen, Buddhist kind of yoga based, all the... We're so lucky to have all these new kinds of ideas, but they didn't have that back then. The idea of like sitting, making a safe space to contemplate what is it like to be an alcoholic without alcohol in me now. I did that often, daily, often. I realized that when I was new, the first time in 2001 there was this dude that made me and my buddy George think that he was creating a safe space, being an older guy. He sexually assaulted us at different times. And my brain did interesting things with that. I remembered it happening.

Pat W:

I know what this association is and I know how memories change. I kind of spoke about that, but this remembered clearly. And I didn't realize until 16 and a half close to 17 years after it happened that it actually was sexual assault. we were just there and he held me down and he grabbed my private parts and I threw him off and I left this last time I saw him. I've always remembered that clearly, but the truth of it, the capital T truth, the actual truth was not associated with that until I was practicing those meditations.

Pat W:

This is the power of meditation, contemplative meditation, is that somehow in all these experiences that I've described and what the however many hour and a half hours that we'd been talking about this a safe space within my heart was created where I could actually realize what that was.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did you think it was? What had you-

Pat W:

I mean, I was a dude growing up in the '90s, you know what I mean?

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You were like, "Dude, get off me." Like that kind of thing?

Pat W:

Yeah. I thought it was that-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

There was no label.

Pat W:

You're right. It wasn't that.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

What did that experience... So you named it, you did this to-

Pat W:

I was confused. I was confused because like, why didn't I remember that? Or why didn't I realize what it was for years. I called people and I was like, "Oh my God. I just realized this."

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You called the other dude?

Pat W:

Yeah.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And he was like, "Yeah, me too."?

Pat W:

Yeah. And-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Realized what it was?

Pat W:

No, he knew what it was. I called friends to double check that because this is a serious thing to say about somebody.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, for sure.

Pat W:

Very serious. Like you don't claim this unless you know it's the truth, not my truth, not his truth, but that what actually happened. And every single person I talked to met me with, you know, love and compassion and said like, that's really bad. Like, that's really terrible. I'm really sorry. But I still had this thing in me. I don't know if that's what actually happened. How can I find this if this is true?

Pat W:

And then I couldn't sleep for three nights. And so that is what told me, like when my, the way I look at the world a lot of the time can be distorted by fears and stuff like that. It not always is, but it can be. But when you don't sleep for three nights, that's your body physically telling you that this is something that actually happened. You know what I mean? Like don't doubt this. Yeah. You know what I mean? This is something that you got to heal from.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's something that the other person who was around experience, like had the same experience, so you can add all those things together to know that.

Pat W:

To recover from alcoholism this time I had to work a four step over that guy and learn how to forgive him. If you call it forgiveness, I still think he should burn in hell. And I absolutely never want to talk to them again. And a lot of the time I do wish the worst for him. But forgiveness doesn't mean I'm going to like somebody or I'm going to hang out with somebody. Forgiveness is like that dude sick, I do my best to wish the best for him, but a lot of the time I just don't even think about him anymore. And he is a rotten piece of for doing that to me. Because you don't do that by mistake. You know what I mean? To me, my friend, whoever else he did that to, and that's the truth. I think, look how I'm holding my hands. Like when I want to say this story, it's so funny. Like what the body will physically do.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I think a couple of things come to mind for me. Obviously. I'm really sorry that happened. And you know, I had a similar, you know, an a similar experience where I thought I was safe, I was sober. I was like, this doesn't happen when you're on sober. I'm sober. How could this happen?

Pat W:

I wonder if it's a deserve thing. We're doing all this work, We're sober, we don't deserve for this to happen.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I was like, this doesn't happen when you're sober. This is a, this is a drunk thing. That was my ex, I was so shocked. And what I'm thinking is, my assumption was, and this is, tell me if you jive with this. My assumption was that because of me being sober and this other person I assigned him safe qualities.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

He wasn't in program, but I assigned him safe qualities. I assumed I was safe. Like it never occurred to me totally 100% myself. Right? However, if I had been in many other situations, I would have protected. I was always protecting myself. Right? So part of the trauma was about-

Pat W:

It's the trust.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Like you opened up this trust, you thought you were safe and it turned out you were wrong. And guess what? You still don't, can't tell what people, if you're still not trustworthy or whatever, and being sober like a protective shield.

Pat W:

I mean I've, and you have to, we've seen very sick people, very obviously obviously sick people and we see those people and we say that is a very unsafe person, right? I am not going to be alone in a room with that. And then we feel sick.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And then we feel sick.

Pat W:

The really insidious ones.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That's where it really gets you.

Pat W:

I think my forgiveness comes into play where I do think he was very sick and I think he is very sick still. I don't know that he woke up and said those two boys over there, I'm going to hunt them down. It's going to take months and months and months and I'm going to try to do this to them. I don't know that he said that. I know that very a lot of the time very sick people are just along for the ride in the sick vessel and they might not have a lot of control over what they're doing. That is not forgiving him for what he's doing by any means.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I completely know what I mean. People are sick in different ways.

Pat W:

Totally. I still want him to burn in hell for an incredibly long amount of time, but I don't know. I don't believe his intention was to do that when we first started hanging out because I don't remember. Yeah, I don't.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But there's something about this idea that you can't trust yourself.

Pat W:

Totally. It's hard. It's hard. I've dated one person since then and I cared about her a lot and unfortunately, like right when I realized I had to move back to LA from Olympia, I was planning on staying up there forever. That was kind of the beginning of the end of the relationship. But, I'm sure this will change. This is one of the places where therapy and AA have a huge benefit, like talking about this stuff to my therapist on a weekly basis and talking to people in AA on a weekly basis, kind of integrating both methods of healing and growth have a tremendous effect on this.

Pat W:

I mean it's, it's interesting like I haven't been interested in dating at all.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Why?

Pat W:

since I don't know if it's an unsafe thing. I don't know if I just moved back and I'm still trying to kind of integrate back into LA on an emotional level. I don't-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But you haven't been interested in dating-

Pat W:

Anybody.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... for a long time, is what you're saying?

Pat W:

Yeah. So that relationship ended, it hurt a lot. I ended it because I just had to move back to LA. It feels like a lot of things join together to make, and I'm sure this will change. I'm sure it'll be open to it, but it's just, I'm just kind of naming the effects of all of those things happening. I do think that a lot of it probably has to do with the feeling that like I feel really safe with friends, and again, like I said before, I'm a really, really good big brother to people that are actually my sister or not, or women that aren't. But I don't know that I have any interest in dating anybody. And it's really interesting to see the correlation between that, because I was never that before this happened. I mean, maybe I'm totally wrong, I'm wrong all the time. This is just my perception.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It does have an effect. And I think I mean unfortunately it's a very real part of the whole me too movement. It's a very real part of what goes on.

Pat W:

It is.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And I think that women are in some ways more conditioned to deal with it and to know what's going to happen and we're always afraid. We're raised to not go in dark places that little boys can. It's just a very different experience. And so when something like that happens, it was like, oh, that's enough. It's almost inevitable. I mean it's a sad thing to say.

Pat W:

It is. It makes me really sad to hear this whenever I hear it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

It's a sad thing to say, but if you were to ask any woman about lany about what they do when they're around walk to the car, walk to like any, like you are constantly aware that you can be prayed on that is just something you understand intrinsically.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

And so when something happens, there's an understanding that that happened and it... Like that thing I was preparing for.

Pat W:

That's true.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That thing I was preparing for that thing-

Pat W:

That's true.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

... I knew could happen. That thing, like it's part of our narrative, when it happens-

Pat W:

It was not a part of my narrative.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Exactly. And so the men, I know where that's happened, it's like it's not a part of their narrative. It's so groundbreaking. It's so shocking. It changes everything. It doesn't change everything in our world in the same way. I mean, it changes things but not that we knew. You had no idea. Its brutal realization and it does change you. But I think that for men, you didn't realize you were [crosstalk 01:19:54]

Pat W:

That was a really good way to look at it. I appreciate you saying that. I'm always interested in gathering kind of, I do some context about this because I do, I mean I do think most of is moving back to LA, the not wanting to date and moving's emotional. But I do feel alone in my experience because there's not a lot of guys that like to talk about this out loud. Right.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Which part?

Pat W:

About the sexual assault and stuff like that. I have George, that's why I say that George had the same experience and we talk often about it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Do you think it's why you drank again? Oh, that's a good question. It did come up immediately after I started meditating. You are not going to acknowledge it and therefore something that had to shake your world and cause you to restart had to happen in order for you to dig deep enough to get this thing out.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

That was maybe, you know? Yeah, that's a really, that's a really good way to put that. I don't know that there's any one thing that makes any alcoholic, you know what I mean? I mean, we like to drink, so that's you're right, right. Yeah, it makes sense when you put it like that, it makes a lot of sense. That's what I would say. It was definitely one of the reasons now that you look at that in that context, that's a really cool way to look at it. I mean, time takes time and healing takes time and this is a progressive thing and we've talked earlier about how like recovery takes time and in my experience the combination of recovery and therapy definitely strengthens and speeds up that process. So I do like on a daily basis, I do feel myself more interested in kind of like coming out or like my hermit shell and, and, and like dating and kind of integrating because I am missing out.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I am missing out on a shared experience of love that you can only get from dating. Right? I think, right? Like I love my friends a lot. I love my parents a lot. I love my family a lot. But the bond that you can have with somebody that you fall in love with is super special, really, really beautiful and really special. And I do feel myself often walking more towards that. The longer I'm in Los Angeles and the longer that I have that my foundation in Los Angeles is built. Because I've only been back since June.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Moving-

Pat W:

well that's one of the reasons that made me drink also is moving up to Olympia cause there's only a few months. Yeah. There were a lot of reasons that made that happen.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

But what is your recovery look like now?

Pat W:

I do my best to go to a meeting every single day. I have two years next month and I just don't see a reason to not chase this the way that I did like the day when it got back to Olympia and I was scared and shaking the in the meetings. You know what I mean? Like I don't, there's no reason to, you know, again, I'm a single guy that lives in his parents' house. You know, I don't do a whole lot of like super wild, awesome fun. I, you know, my life is very calm. I work at, I've worked at bookstores.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh, you're, are you back at the same...

Pat W:

no, no. I wasn't from and I'm over at book soup now. Okay. It's the same company, but I'm over in West Hollywood.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Remember, I always remember that, that you had your bike and that you and yeah. It's like every time I think of you, I think of of your bike.

Pat W:

Yeah. That's cool. I like that. I like that. Yeah. So I, my life, I go to a meeting often on my days off. Sometimes I go to too. I don't really have a good reason not to. I,

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

okay. So seriously, you're describing this like, like living at home with your parents. So dope.

Pat W:

That's really good. I love it.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Ride bikes in LA.

Pat W:

I used to make so much fun of it and like work in a bookstore and go to meetings. I'm like-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

that's fantastic. Sign me up. It's like when I go on vacation, like vacation air quotes, usually that's like kind of what that looks like. I'm hanging out with my parents, going to meetings, reading books and hiking. Good.

Pat W:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, I, you know, one of the ways that I meditate is I exercise a lot. I think like physical movement is how we can learn a lot about our bodies. How I hold my muscles when I run tells me a lot about what I like. If I'm anxious and I'm not willing to feel it emotionally, my body will tell me that a lot of the time. So I run a lot. I ride bikes pretty often. I'm getting them. I just got my college diploma in the mail maybe like, yeah, it's awesome. It's a, it's amazing if you can wait, go to school when you're old. It's wonderful. You're just as old as your teachers. I, I was just as old as my teachers and so we just became friends. It was amazing. Oh my God. It's great. I'm getting no masters in teaching program.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Oh cool.

Pat W:

I'm going to start applying in LA soon. I'm still a resident here, so I get cheap school at certain schools is great. So I can teach high school English, take that book, nerdiness to another level, you know? Yeah. My, I mean, my life and my existence right now looks like the entire foundation of my life is just recovery in every way possible. Yeah. I just, and, and it's not graceful and it's not fun all the time. It's super sloppy, you know? And it's definitely not perfect. I love it when people at meetings like, I don't do this perfectly. It's like, well, yeah, you're this the, you're literally the book that tells us how to recover from alcoholism literally says you're not going to do this perfectly. Right. So you are doing it perfectly by not doing it perfectly. You know what I mean?

Pat W:

Yeah. I'm very resistant to a lot of things, but you know, that phrase again, it keeps coming up. It's like, let the bridges, we burned light away. Like it's not really about me and how I feel about, do I want to do these things that helped me recover and help me exist in this space of communal growth. It's not about do I want to do them, you know what I mean? It's about like, I don't want to be on that train again. You know? I don't want to have those last few days again. You know, I don't want to do that a lot more than, I don't want to like sit quietly for 10 minutes. So just cranky baby, something. I don't want to sit quietly, like when I'm working and doing things like I don't want to do this. I want to do anything but this right now.

Pat W:

Like, like when I'm doing things that I have to do, like responsibilities and then I'm offered like, okay, it's time to sit and meditate quietly and not do that stuff that you just said you don't want to do. I don't want to do that, you know? That'd be go King baby sometimes. But yeah, just accepting all of that. You know, like Melanie Beattie is somebody that I read a lot about the gifts of imperfection and I think that should be, honestly, I think that should be basic basic literature for any sort of community of growth. Any sort of 12 step, however many steps. I don't really care any group of people that are trying to grow, like learn how to do it in the naturally flawed way that we're just supposed to exist here. You know? And it's hard like when I am not talking about it right now, when I get in my car and go eat or go to traffic and go hang out with my friends and my parents, like I'm going to be back in a real world where it's not glamorous to tell these stories and it's not fun, it's not exciting and, and it's going to get really, really real.

Pat W:

And I feel really happy when I'm sharing my experiences in situations like this right now. But the best that it'll ever get me is to the status of a normal human being. You know what I mean? Like it doesn't make me special or more equipped to deal with life than a normal person. It'll get me to a normal person. Right. And then what that normal person, what I deal with at that normal person level is, you know, all feelings. I have access to all feelings at that point. That's the best situation. You know what I mean? That's what I'm talking about when I'm talking about eternal growth in love and compassion. But the access to that for us is so different than anything that we've experienced. So for us it feels like it is wild blessings that we get. Right. So what I'm saying is I'll go out and I'll be happy and sad and angry at certain people on, you know, exhausted cause I've been driving too much and all and all this stuff.

Pat W:

Yeah. Right. So much traffic. Oh my God. Two years. I didn't know it could grow that much in two years. It's crazy. But yeah, I, yeah, that my life is awesome and I forget that some times, but it's really, really, really special. You know, I've had a lot of experiences that I wouldn't have been able to experience where I sober or where I, not sober, I should say. You know, and I have a lot of groups of friends. I have friendships in Los Angeles, I have friends that I've known since I was four years old. I'm 38 years old. It's crazy. And I get to hang out with these people and share these big grand narratives.

Pat W:

I like the idea of having a grand new, like I have a grand narrative with alcoholics anonymous. You know, I have experience in all avenues of alcoholics anonymous at this point and it's a pretty cool thing to not have questions about what happens if this happens? You know? I don't know that I know how to help people through that. Cause it's not like knowledge. It's not like reading a book and learning calculus, you know what I mean? Yeah. It's like having experiences and just trying not to crush the ship into the emotional rocks. You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah. It's cool. It's a good, it's a good deal. I mean,

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean, it's amazing like the things you've been through and the coming back in a day, getting taken apart, put back together. Your fear, is that on the list?

Pat W:

Oh yeah. This is a good. I had the surgery when I was 26 I had six years sober and I had an underbite right. We're going to take my face apart and put it back together, rebuild my whole jaw structure because it was causing arthritis and TMJ.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

You're giving me a heart attack. My son has an underbite.

Pat W:

What happened to me is that, I mean the I did it and it was crazy and it was scary. My whole heads. I was on morphine, pure morphine drip for three days in the hospital. It sounds amazing. It was not. It was so-

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

no, you're right because it did exactly what it's supposed to do and it does it really well.

Pat W:

No, it's very effective. Yeah. But it doesn't get you out if you're in pain. I was a little bit disappointed with that and, and I was on a lot of codeine for awhile and my whole head was swollen. It looked like I had a fat suit from my eyeballs down and the swelling went less and less and less. But it went into a face that it didn't recognize because it's a whole new jaw structure. So there's a whole new rebuilding of a physical identity that way. And I was very insecure about how I talked before I had a list and I noticed it. There's so much that just happens over time.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

I mean life happens.

Pat W:

Yeah. And the only way that I have any ability to deal with it is by seeking some sort of growth, be it therapy, spirituality, AA recovery or all a mix of all of it together, which is pretty much the best thing for me. Diversify for this jackass. It's pretty much the best mix, I think.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Well, we're so grateful that you came and talked to us and yeah, it was really good. I'm sure that there are people out there who are going to relate to all aspects of your-

Pat W:

I hope so. There's a safe space for all of you hearing this, I guess. That's what I would want to say.

Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

Absolutely. Thank you so much for being here. Courage To Change a recovery podcast would like to thank our sponsor, Lion Rock Recovery for their support. Lion Rock Recovery provides online substance abuse counseling where you can get help from the privacy of your own home. For more information, visit www.lionrockrecovery/podcast. Subscribe and join our podcast community to hear amazing stories of courage and transformation. We are so grateful to our listeners and hope that you will engage with us. Please email us comments, questions, anything you want to share with us, how this podcast is affected you. Our email address is podcast@lionrockrecovery.com. We want to hear from you.