After having a seizure from stopping drinking cold turkey, I was going cold turkey again three weeks later, trying to make it through one night so I could ask my new friends from the Holy Ghost Tribe their opinion on what to do. Should I keep drinking until I could check myself into a detox facility, or should I try to ride it out on my own? I ended up riding it out, but it wasn’t pretty.
During the night I started twitching. My arms were drawn up across my chest and my hands were clenched in tight fists. Tremors passed through my body a few times and I broke out in a freezing cold sweat. It felt like I might go into a seizure any moment, but when the first light of day appeared, I was still conscious, lying rigid and wide awake on the thin mattress of my camper bed.
Because my bike was messed up, I started walking early, picked up a coffee at 7-eleven and then went out to the edge of the pier, looking down the beach to see if anyone was gathering at Tower 7 yet. It looked like a few characters were beginning to converge.
By the time I walked down the bike trail and out to the tower, the circle had taken shape. I noticed Santos talking to a woman and went over and waited for them to finish their conversation. He was glad to see that I’d returned and asked about my bike. I told him about the long wait time for a simple repair job, thanks to COVID, adding that this was the season where everything in my life seemed to be either breaking down or broken. He said that could be a good thing, as sometimes they have to be in order for change to take place.
Phil, one of the two hungry ghosts who’d invited me to join the group, had been acting as leader of the gathering the day before, but now it was another ghost opening and overseeing it. I came to understand that the Tribe had no permanent leaders, just volunteers who took turns filling the roles and commitments. I was not the only newcomer. When introductions were made, those of us who’d just found the circle were applauded like Super Bowl champions. Those who’d lost their way and were returning received the same response.
Most of the meeting was made up of sharing. Broken ghosts told the honest truth about how bad things had gotten for them on the Lower Plane. Overdoses. Prison terms. Divorces. Suicide attempts. Hospitals. Homelessness. There were just as many tales of recovery and hope, however, and a lot of laughter. Anyone with any length of time in the program of Hungry Ghosts Anonymous said the same thing. Coming to the gatherings was a good start, but in order to see the miracles come true in your life, you needed to find a guide to take you through the Twelve Awakenings.
If you weren’t a hungry ghost and you walked by, you might wonder what in the world had brought this eclectic bunch together. There were businessmen, truck drivers, hippie surfers, punk rockers, doctors, little old ladies, lowriders, housewives, teenagers, weightlifters, guitar players, homeless vets, teachers, gamblers, construction workers, you name it. Those sitting around the circle came from all walks of life. The one thing they had in common were addictions extreme enough to cause them to check out of the human race.
I was still wondering if I should drink some liquor to prevent having another seizure. The whole time sitting there I was detoxing, right in the sand, and it felt like I might pass out. By the time the gathering adjourned, I still hadn’t gotten around to asking my question and figured if I’d made it that far, I’d probably be all right. All I needed to do was to survive the next twenty-three more hours, then make it back to the magic circle.