Sooooo, I posted my first piece for PI in late June of last year (2017). Here we are at just about eight months later and it’s been a real blessing to see it take shape and grow. I guess I just wanted to give a little bit of the where, why, and how I found my purpose and some of the what’s going on now. Here goes:
Because I was a fixture in like every bar in my town, it was pretty common knowledge that I’d been shipped off to rehab and what not. When I came back after four months and feebly attempted controlled drinking, it was both good and bad to see everyone. I saw all the same people in all the same places doing all the same things. Nothing had changed, no one had changed. When I finally actually quit drinking, the subtle cycle of ain’t-bout-shit that I’d been in became more apparent. Change/growth was impossible for me because I was perpetually coming off last night and preparing for tonight.
I’d had conversations with many of my friends at different times about how much and how often we drank. We’d acknowledge that we weren’t accomplishing nearly what we could be if we just ‘slowed down.’ We would even commit to making some changes...and then we took another shot. The hardest part for me was having zero knowledge of what life would be like without the bar and it’s attendees as a part my life. Everything I did included drinking so if I stopped, where would I go, who would I hang out with, what would I do? With no acceptable answers the quitting option was never a viable one; so I could totally understand anyone else's reluctance or refusal.
I shared milestones in my recovery because I was proud of them but mostly to show that there was life after the bar. What started with mini-posts on Facebook quickly turned into longer more detailed accounts of happenings within my recovery. The support was really awesome as was shown via ‘likes’ reaching 300+ at times. Then people started reaching out. I got random calls, texts, and messages from people wanting to ask questions about my drinking situation or discuss theirs. I told a friend about the responses and post communication I was getting and he suggested I create my own platform to share my journey: start a blog.
Honestly, I knew what a blog was in theory but I certainly don’t think I’d ever read one. I thought I needed to be some sort of certified professional to produce one. I waited two months after the initial conversation to buy a domain and then worked two (straight) weeks to build a page. I’d just finished reading a book called ‘The Spirituality of Imperfection’ that totally opened my eyes to my natural human condition of being flawed and that it’s okay. It explained, among many other things, how my only job is to always be pursuing growth. I knew I didn’t want to have a recovery blog though I don’t shy away from the fact that I’m an alcoholic in any of my writing. Being in recovery was the catalyst for my shift in thinking. Everyone isn’t an alcoholic but I believe we all could use shifts in our current way of thinking. And with that, I had a theme for my blog and I was set to go...it took me another week to post for the first time.
The plan was to share my truths as I learned and embraced them throughout my journey. The hope was that by exposing those things deemed embarrassing and shameful, just my whole self, that it would inspire people to look at those things they avoided or buried and see that they were worthy of more. I knew that a lot of my stagnation was rooted in feelings of worthlessness. I’d done X to Y, failed at this, said that… My built-in forgetter allowed me not to negatively wallow, but because I had all these unresolved issues I was making decisions, accepting circumstances, a building relationships as a person of (perceived) diminished value. No one should have to live like that.
As I’m writing with the intent of inspiring introspection and growth in others, I wound up learning so much about myself. I wrote a piece on Honesty (for www.thisislivinghope.com, it's also somewhere on my site) where I finally told my entire truth to the interworld. The biggest weights hindering my self-love and respect. Everything from my kids to my suicide attempt and essentially the root of my alcoholism. This was the turning point for me, my growth, and my writing. I’d found self-love in spite of all the ugly things I’d said and believed about myself and now I was free. Free to grow, free to lead, free to fuck up, and free to try and fail with minimal shame; largely because everything in the world paled in comparison to the stuff I’d been harboring. The external result was a growth in readership.
I would go out and run into people that, while drunk, wanted to have sit downs and they’d unload everything. Tell me which piece they’d read and how it was impacting them at that time (really weird timing but totally welcomed). Having lunch alone I’ve been approached by strangers like “Hey, you’re the guy from that blog.” (Granted I live in a town the size of a community college campus). I was at work and was talking to a guy who shared with me that he’d gotten a DUI recently. This guy had printouts of two of my blogs given to him by the courts. It wasn’t long before I had subscribers that weren’t my facebook friends, people were sharing my writings! I try to avoid looking at the numbers now because I found myself impacted as they varied, and boy do they vary, which then affected my writing. My point here is that I saw where I could try and be of service and I put in the work. I don’t get paid for what I do though I do spend money to do it. It delights my soul to no end when I find out it’s reaching beyond my purview and people are actually being helped. That is fulfillment and I have honestly never been happier...giving.
I never saw myself as a writer, until I became one. My soul rejoices when I get to give myself to you guys because there is growth in it for us all. I know everything I write won’t mean something to everyone that reads it but the one person that it does, that person is the why to my effort. I’m not trying to swell myself as some altruistic patron saint. What I am trying to show here is that for once in my life I stepped away from selfish motives and are just following what appears to be my purpose. I’m still a server in a restaurant half the week, cell phone salesman the other half, and doing the work to learn and grow myself in my down time. I’m okay with that until the next opportunity is there to take…and then opportunity came.
Early February I got an email out of Oklahoma from a developing website asking me to write a test piece for them. This was for the opportunity to be a paid contributing writer for this site. The opportunity was huge and to have it happen so soon in my writing career was nothing short of a miracle. I was given topic options and after a week of freaking out, I wrote. Submitted the piece and waited patiently. I didn’t tell you guys about it because I was fearful of not getting it. Well, this morning I found out I didn’t get it lolol. Not because my piece wasn’t approved but some fairly crazy things on their end were going on fucking with site development. More of a ‘not now’ I guess.
Because I didn’t do PI with the intent of writing for another website, the disappointment begins and ends with just not having not gotten the gig. It would’ve been really really cool had it worked out but I’m okay that it didn’t. This positive acceptance is what I presume to be an example of doing the work because I love the work. I don’t not want to write anymore, I don’t feel slighted, I don’t feel like maybe this isn’t for me because this one thing didn’t work out...it just is. There’s a lesson in the experience and in every experience, therein lies growth.
That being said, I also got a Facebook message this morning with an inquiry about licensing PI apparel for an online store. Another opportunity! The logistics, upon our initial conversation are favorable and the requirements on my end are fairly minimal. I reckon I should probably get those new designs finished now lol. So now I’m off to do research on trademarking and blah but the bottom line is, another experience is nothing but another opportunity for growth regardless of the outcome.
Fun fact: I make (fairly crappy) music from time to time. But one of the lines in a song says “I was king of the Hill and under my reign(rain) I poured vodka till a town got wet - I tainted brains to stay the same till I changed my name to a dot net (www.bengear.net). For the first time in my life I’m actually actively attempting to put good into a universe that I only took from. I mean, the online store dude called me a “thought leader”, how frikin cool is that?! I’ve been called many things in my life but thought leader has certainly never been one of them. Though it’s accuracy may be embellished it serves as confirmation that I’m doing some good and that good is reaching people. That’s all I ever wanted. Within those efforts I am getting experiences and opportunities that I never would have imagined. My clothes may never be on the racks of Macy’s, my writings may never be mentioned by great speakers. But when all is said and done, SOMEone will be able to say I’ve touched and enriched their life and that's pretty frikin awesome.
I keep belaboring this purpose point because it is so crucial! There is a whole nother life to be experienced waiting on the other side of our comfort zone and buried within our purpose. That other life is full of highs and lows, peace and stressors, success and failures but all of those things are enveloped in fulfillment and fulfillment can only come within purpose. I swear to you there is no greater joy, unexplainably tremendous joy, than feeling like you’re living for something rather than through it. Every single one of you are excellence, you are amazing, you are great, and infinitely more than your right now...go be it!
I’ll leave you with this: “The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenge’s you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion” ~ Terry Orlick