Five men had the greatest influence on my spiritual/transformative life, in my first years clean off meth 

(more on that in a minute)

But first: Do you ever feel you’ve been cursed with a certain personality trait?

Impulsiveness, impatience, impertinence…any number of “im-s”?

My resentful nature cursed me

If you treated me poorly, I resented you…

If you treated me well, I resented you even more! 

Because at a core level, I believed you were out to get me, or had some ulterior motive…or at the very least, that you were stupid

Because I knew the real me! And why would you treat well the real me, for reasons genuine or good?

Resentments drove me to abandon the wonderful living situation that presented itself soon after I got clean from meth, in 2007

A bedroom in a wood-frame house on a tree-lined street…among my roommates, two happy dogs

Every Saturday morning, Giles—the homeowner—hosted an AA meeting in the living room

Giles served scrambled eggs from a giant glass plate…one of the regulars brought a pink cardboard box chock full of donuts…there was a massive steel urn of my beloved coffee

Yet I resented it all! Why would the Universe deliver circumstances this good, to someone as pathetic as I…it must be a trick!

One evening when Giles returned from dog-walking, I spun him some lie about my job transferring me to Pennsylvania…

I moved into a bedbug-infested single-room-occupancy hotel, where I’d find human feces in the hallway

To escape it all, I’d venture to the Bay Club, San Francisco’s high-end health club

There I ran into Bryan, a friend from college, on the hardwood basketball court

I was heavy into fitness, but Bryan’s level of conditioning made me look like one of my hotel’s belly-up bedbugs

(Bryan’s girlfriend Haley was (and is) a true fitness Champion…she made us both look like senior citizens snoozing poolside)

Of the 5 men mentioned above, Bryan is one…he believed in my power to turn my life around, even if I couldn’t at the time…his faith in me, instilled faith in myself

Bryan introduced me to another of the 5—Marx

Marx became my mentor and spiritual benefactor—inspiring me, almost above all others, to keep delivering value to the world

Marx embodies selflessness, courage, and a forthright nature

If you want to read more about him, there’s an amazing, fantastic memoir called Runaway Girl, by Carissa Phelps

In which she writes about how Marx mentored her, too…how he inspired her to be forthcoming about her history as a victim of sex trafficking

And as a result Carissa inspires people like me

If I hadn’t learned to be forthcoming about my history of addiction and mental health challenges, I don’t know my relationship with the Spirit would be as meaningful as it is

Or that I would’ve written my own memoir (albeit less amazing than Carissa’s)

Marx was the first African American stock broker at E.F. Hutton, and Head of the Small Business Administration under President Jimmy Carter

After Bryan introduced us, Marx wasted no time inviting me to meet him at the Four Seasons Hotel

On a carpeted-checkerboard floor, in a walnut-paneled room, we sat in plush chairs above the lumbering buses and homeless denizens of Market Street

Maybe during our first meeting, Marx saw before him the truth—a mostly ungrateful, privileged Caucasian guy—who’d had many opportunities to bring value to the world

Via my college education, professional career, home ownership…to name just a few

But instead I snorted them through a dollar bill, put them in a glass pipe and smoked them away

Yet thanks to those 5 men…and others (there were women, too, of course…Haley, for example)…I became determined—gradually, more and more so as the years passed—to abandon pursuit of six-figured salaries, four-wheeled vehicles, and the like

To seek to arrive at a place when, if I meet the Spirit, I’ll have something to show for my life

Marx found a true spiritual solution to problems I’d never faced: racism, prejudice 

He passed along his solution to me…so that I could overcome my self-imposed obstacles…further instilling in me a belief in a God that could and would solve my own problems

He piloted his black Mercedes (Marx, not God, drove a Mercedes) away from any number of other appointments he had the option of taking, to meet me for lunch

Allowing me to choose the restaurant, picking up the tab

Doing much of the talking, smiling a lot..not letting the conversation end without reminding me I was helping him, too

While we all have faults, Marx showed me how a true Spirit overshadows faults…rather than Faults revealing what the true “spirit” lacks

If he didn’t have as much time to spend with me as I might’ve wanted? The time we did spend, he focused on giving me his gifts

One Saturday afternoon, at another Four Seasons Hotel—this one in New Orleans—Marx and I spent a Saturday afternoon

Bryan and Haley had gotten married the day before

It was the first wedding I’d attended in fifteen years…in my meth-addicted days, five couples had gotten married—ten of my closest friends

I’d missed every wedding

(one couple had asked me to serve as their Best Man)

Instead I did things like stand before a judge

Who sentenced me to sixty days in county jail…where one day I padded in my jail-issue orange slippers across the crumbling cement floor, past where my fellow incarcerated men hunched over peeling plastic dinner trays of reconstituted food

A stainless-steel pay phone hung like a General’s Hotline to a nuclear missile site

I called my mother collect and told her I loved her…for the first time in maybe twenty-five years

Soon after Marx began mentoring me, I told him I loved him

That Saturday afternoon in New Orleans, a Four Seasons buffet table stood laden with gumbo, rice & beans, cajun delicacies

Marx and I talked the afternoon away…I made repeated trips to the buffet

(some habits die hard)

And maybe I got a little closer to divorcing my resentments, and being married to my search for spiritual meaning

There aren’t a lot of people I encounter who lead lives like a life I’d like to lead

Marx is one of them

Marx made me realize…people who treat me well, realize there’s something good within me…he (and others) led me to find that good within myself

Of the five men I mentioned, the others are Michael Disend, Joe Alioto, and Pat Maguire

And do you know what? I never would’ve met (or re-met, in Bryan’s case) any of the five, if my resentful nature hadn’t driven me to move out of Giles’ wood-frame house

Whatever led you to your current situation…be it factors of, or outside of, your own personality—or something different entirely

You can search for your own form of the Spirit, whomever or whatever form it may take

The Spirit for you may be a Supreme Being, or a Higher Power…

Or the practice of gratitude, service to others, or something else entirely

Whatever the Spirit may or may not be for you, your search for the Spirit

Might end you up looking back, years from now, upon your greatest curse, as leading you to your greatest blessing

Resources For You

If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction

Simply go to my website, and hit the “Download PDF Now” button in the lower right. When you enter your email, you’ll be signed up for my weekly newsletter, Meditations on Meth. Feel free to unsubscribe if you don’t want it.

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