My head hurt. I had staples in my forehead, dried blood above my eyebrow. I had a bike with a flat tire, one suitcase of clothes. That’s it.
Did I turn to God? Did I get a sponsor? Did I go to a meeting? No, not on that first day. God I would find on day thirty. The sponsor I would find on day seven. I went to a meeting on day two. On day one, I turned to music.
On day one, I saw an article about a new band, Augustines. They just realized their first single that day. An album was coming in a few months. Augustines’ lead singer is Billy McCarthy. Billy wrote an entire album for his brother, a man who’d recently died as a result of addiction.
Their single, “Book of James,” was released on my sobriety date. It set ablaze a chain of events that brought two strangers together, sent two mens’ lives soaring, and become the spark in my quest for long-term sobriety.
I Guess You’re Either Headin’ Somewhere or Endin’ Up Somewhere
“I tried the bible, tried the bottle, tried the needle, tried to love people in the end”
Maybe it was that first day when I found God. Billy’s lyrics hit me hard. I had nothing. No friends, my family didn’t want to talk to me, and my work was half a second from firing me. Still, this stranger seemed to know me better than anyone. So, what did I do? I e-mailed him.
I told Billy of my decade long struggle. I told him how much his music meant to me. He responded within a day, telling me how he was trying again to make it in the music industry, in the wake of his brother’s death. We were both fighting uphill battles. At the end of his e-mail, Billy wrote
“I won’t give up, if you don’t. Onward!”
He Had One Song And I Had One Day
Augustines’ released their album several months later. It gave me a never-ending supply of motivation.
There were lyrics that explained how I felt after my relapse –
I’m a bowl of bruised fruit inside a chapel of shiny apples
Lyrics that told me to look toward the future –
Tear up the photograph ’cause it’s a bright blue sky
Lyrics that inspired me to work harder –
Keep your head up kid, I know you can swim, But ya gotta move your legs
And a haunting reminder of a brother’s love –
Well call the police, go ahead call your shrink
Call whoever you want but I won’t stop the car
Well call the police, go ahead call your priest
Call whoever you want, call in the National Guard
These Songs Kept Me Going and Billy’s Promise Kept Me Moving
I went to a meeting everyday. I got a sponsor. I worked the steps. I made amends. I got my family back. I sponsored other people. I got a used car. I got a new car. I bought a home. I fell in love. I found my best friend. I was blessed with three more small best friends. I found God in my life.
And Billy? He kept in touch, always e-mailing back. He kept his promise.
From One Song to Letterman
The Augustines performed “Chapel Song” live on Letterman. I was so proud, so impressed. In the middle of the performance, Billy gave Eric a great big smile. Just for a moment, all the demons and the memories of the past faded. He made it.
Now, the band is set to release their second full-length album. The new songs continue to build on their promise of hope, the promise proclaimed by their first album, titled “Rise Ye Sunkin’ Ships”
Last night, I got to see The Augustines perform. I finally got to meet Billy. He told me he was proud of me. I thanked him for everything. I met Rob and Eric. They all men seemed so excited to meet me! The energy, the passion, the music…was unbelievable. Before the band played their last song of the night, Billy yelled
“This next song is for my friend Tim. Keep up the good work buddy!”
He then launched into “Book of James.”
Listen, it doesn’t matter where your motivation comes from. It doesn’t matter what it takes to get into recovery. It doesn’t matter if it’s a song, a painting, a poem, a friend, a brother. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how you get to this world, just get here and you’ll be amazed at the wonderful people you meet along the way.
If you don’t give up, we won’t. Onward!