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Today we have Stephen Girard joining us on The SHAIR Podcast. Stephen is an accomplished percussionist who works with unusual sound sources, including self-made instruments and found objects. Recently, he launched a podcast called Real Deal Recovery that centers around relapse prevention with an emphasis on emotional sobriety and recovery.
Stephen Girard is 32 years clean and sober, a Nationally Certified Recovery Coach, has 25 years coaching and consulting experience and clients include high-profile musicians and actors. He is a Recording Artist (20+ releases), Author, Music Educator and he was also a former Monk in Thailand. He has an amazing story, you’re going to love it.
Stephan offers additional support, guidance, and motivation to alcoholics and addicts in all phases of recovery. His approach is action oriented, and provides a solid foundation for long-term emotional and physical sobriety offering two different 8-week programs, and ongoing consulting for those who qualify.
So let’s dive into Stephen’s story now!
Clean Date June 1, 1984
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Omar: Stephen, let’s jump right into your story now. Tell us a little bit about what your life is like today. Give us an idea of what your normal daily routine looks like.
Stephen: My normal daily routine? Okay. Well, I usually get up around 6 am and I do my normal stuff around the house. To be honest, I then meditate for 20 minutes and then I pray. Then, I have a studio in Times Square where I work on percussion and I compose every morning. I have a ritual where even though I pray and meditate at home, I get the express train and I say a prayer, one specific prayer to the 72nd stop as a mantra. Then I say another prayer to Times Square. Then I usually spend at least 2 hours in my studio composing, working with percussion.
For example, today, then I went to a school and I teach reading, writing and arithmetic students, teens and adults. Then I might come back home after I get done teaching and work on music or perhaps teach private students after that. It’s kind of a typical day. I try to … Even though I’ve been clean and sober for quite some time, I do endeavor to plan each day around a meeting. My meeting around the day. I try to figure out … Do that the night before. I’m really … I love going to meetings still. That’s a big part of my day as well.
Omar: Tell us what is your clean date, and how much clean time do you have?
Stephen: My clean date is June 1, 1984. At the end of this month, I’ll have 32 years.
Omar: Oh my god.
Omar: And still making … How many meetings a week do you do on average?
Stephen: I go to about 5, 6 meetings a week.
Omar: Oh my god.
Omar: You can’t see my right now, but I’ve got my hands in my head right now, because I’m going oh my god. I mean, you’re putting me to shame here.
Stephen: I love, I love, I love the meetings. I love the people. I’ll tell you one thing. My recovery has not been boring, and the reason why it hasn’t been boring is because I’ve stuck close to the pack. It just gives me a lot of energy. A lot of perspective. Everything I have is the program’s stamped on it.
Omar: Dude. That is just beautiful. I love it. I needed to hear that really. I have been slacking severely on my meeting attendance. I was one of those guys that had a very strict 4 meeting a week ritual. I had 2 morning meetings that I had easy access to, and then 1 night meeting and a Saturday morning meeting. That was just my staple. Since I started doing the podcasts, I’ve gotten so busy with the podcasts. Plus I do interviews. Then, I’ve just gotten to that point where, oh well I could go to the meeting but I got to edit this audio. I have this interview and we’re going to be talking about recovery anyway. But man, that is really inspirational. You sound really connected. I can feel your energy through the mic. It just sounds like … Well, based on what you’re doing, you must be practically levitating on a daily basis.
Stephen: You know, the longer I’ve been clean and sober, the more important being of service has become in my life. I attribute my happiness to being of service. You know, it’s so far removed from the person that came into the rooms 32 years ago. In many respects, I’ve changed in spite of myself, and I believe the reason why I’ve changed is, in the 12 step, having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, well a spiritual awakening is oftentimes described as a psychic change. One of the things they told me when I came in was they said, “look, don’t worry about working these steps to perfection because you’re going to be working them the rest of your life anyways.” As a result of going through all 12 steps, over the years continuously, I’ve had a number of psychic changes. These psychic changes have given me so much inspiration to keep with this process.
Omar: What was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Stephen: Shame. I’ll tell you what, shame, because I had so much guilt about everything I was doing to myself. I had guilt about trying to kill myself. I had guilt about the things that I did that were dishonest. I also had it as a moral issue. When I went into that treatment center and they said “Look, this is a disease.” I felt like a 300 pound weight had come off my shoulder. I didn’t even really know it until I had gotten to that treatment center.
Omar: There was a time where you actually tried to kill yourself?
Stephen: Well, you know, when I got clean, low self-esteem would’ve been a step up, because if you’re taking … check this out. If you’re taking so much drugs and you’re boozing on top of all those drugs, and you look at those drugs and you tell yourself I don’t know if I’m going to wake up, and I don’t care, that is a form of suicide.
Stephen: That’s where I was. I had low self-esteem. That’s what the steps are going to do. The steps are going to build up your self-esteem so you’re not going to want to use. Why would you want to do that if you love yourself?
Omar: It’s true. It’s 100% true.
Stephen: You’re going to want to move on, man. You’re going to want to do something.
Omar: Beautiful. I love it. All right. Then, tell us, Stephen at what point did you have that spiritual awakening? That aha moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Stephen: I don’t know if I had the hope that I could recover, but I will say when I picked up that phone and I told my dad’s friend “You got to lock me up somewhere.” I felt the presence of a higher power telling me that I could stop. I think that was the aha moment. The other aha moment was when I realized that I made a decision that I was going to go to any length when I got out of that hospital. That was an aha moment. You know, you got … We have the ability, I mentioned this earlier, to make choices. Well, you know, you can make a decision to change your life, and that’s what I did when I got out of that hospital and I said “I’m going to dig in. I’m going to dig deep. I’m going to go to any length.” That’s pretty much what I had to do.
Omar: Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a new comer you read in early recovery? Or one that you’re currently reading?
Stephen: No. What I have is a recording by John Coltrane called A Love Supreme. I recommend that everyone listen to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. John Coltrane recorded that record in, I think it was 1958, when he got off drugs and alcohol. The vibrations on that record, man, I mean, we’re all familiar with … I can suggest literature, but they can find that out on their own. What they really need to do is get ahold of A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.
Omar: All right. Let me just go to YouTube right now. I’ll be listening to that right … As a matter of fact …
Stephen: But preferably … Oh man. Not in mp3. No. You got to get the disc, because the mp3 is only going to have about 30% of the vibrations. You have to get the CD to get all the sound. When you have an mp3, you’re not getting the full amount of sound. For a recording like A Love Supreme, which is just an amazing … It’s not a bee bop record. It’s not a swing record. It’s a whole other thing. It’s a meditation. You need to get the CD, not an mp3 or a digital download.
Omar: All right. Some of our listeners are just not going to go out and get the CD.
Stephen: Okay. Okay. Well, you know what? They can check it out on YouTube or whatever, but go buy it then after that.
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
Omar: All right. Exactly. For us, it’s all about the steps.
Omar: I love it. I love it.
Stephen: I have been accused of being a little bit fanatical.
Omar: You’re a music snob.
Stephen: No I’m not. I love the Ramones just as much man. But hey …
Omar: It’s okay to be a little bit of a music snob.
Stephen: Well I am … I may be a little bit.
Omar: What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Stephen: I think the best suggestion I ever received was do not worry about working the steps to perfection because you’re going to be working them the rest of your life anyway. Be as honest as you’re capable of being. I think that was the best advice that I ever got.
Omar: If you could give our newcomers only 1 suggestion, what would that be?
Stephen: I think asking for help and learning to ask for help is crucial to refraining from a relapse.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“…asking for help and learning to ask for help is crucial to refraining from a relapse.”
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Stephan!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.