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    Following My Heart, Trusting My Gut, Using My Head, & Hearing My Angels

    The options of where to go for recovery these days is mind boggling. When I first realized I needed serious help with depression back in January, I researched the crap out of what place would be best for me. I looked into about a dozen different facilities and spoke to as many people as I could who had experience with treatment. I did my due diligence. My intellect and tenacity served me well. I gathered and synthesized about as much information as I could handle. I didn't want to get into analysis paralysis (something I can be guilty of and something I can be really good at), but I wanted to make an informed decision.

     So after I had done all the research, this one place kept pulling me towards it. More precisely, this place was pulling my heart, and my gut was telling me "This is where you belong right now". So I followed my heart and my gut to a place called Sierra Tucson. Even though it meant I had to pay out of pocket, while there were plenty of other options that my insurance would have completely covered. I was fortunate and blessed to have the resources to go anyplace. And I knew that, because I had the means, when it came to saving my life, there could not be a price tag.

    After my 5 weeks in residential treatment at Sierra Tucson, I had to choose where to go next for my Intensive Outpatient treatment, the next step in my recovery from depression. I once again did my research. As is the case in the wacky world of insurance coverage, I had choices that would have cost me next to nothing. But my heart and my gut, once again, were telling me where to go. And, just as importantly, I trusted my primary therapist at Sierra Tucson. She was the best therapist I ever had, and I love her dearly. So I chose The Camden Center in Los Angeles. Once again, it was the right place for me.

    When I got back to Boston and relapsed into a sea of alcohol, I knew I needed more help. Some dear and precious friends came to my aid, and I am forever grateful. However, this time, in my compromised state, I made an impulsive decision and ended up going to a facility in California. It was a great place. Wonderful people, amazing group of recovering addicts, and I have nothing bad to say about it. But it just didn't feel like the right place for me at that time. I was in a really bad place. I cried a lot, got on my knees many times, asked my Spirit Guides and my Angels for help, and meditated on what to do. There was a reunion for Sierra Tucson alumni starting in just a few days that was yanking at my heart and hitting the hot spots in my gut, activating my instinct. So I left that place in California, against clinical advice, and went to the reunion. 

    The reunion was the best place I could have been, the best thing I could have done, and the best move I had made for myself since I had left treatment in August. One again, my heart and my gut led me where I needed to be. And I listened to my Angels and to my Spirit Guides.

    Continuing the broken record theme, when I relapsed once again when I went to Phoenix after the reunion, I knew I needed another detox facility to clean up. And once again, the options were many. I reached out to my sister Cheryl (I don't know where I'd be without her), and found a sponsor named Angel (coincidence? No fuckin' way). And once again, my insides were guiding me to a particular place. So that's where I went. That's where I am now. And it's exactly where I need to be.

    I believe in higher planes, higher powers, and the spirit of the divine, My Spirit Guides made themselves known to me. I've realized that I've got Angels in my corner. I've always had Angels in my corner. I just never fully accepted that. My ego and my ignorance got in my way. My Angels have been silently, and not so silently, guiding me just as much as anything else.

    I keep having to learn this lesson over and over again: My mind, my powerful intellect, is but a tool. And, potentially, a dangerous Weapon Of Mass Self Destruction. 

    My mind, like any tool, when properly applied, is useful in getting the job done. But it isn't actually doing the work. I am doing the work. And I am not my mind. I am not my intellect. 

    Using just my mind to make decisions is like this is like building a house by just researching what the best hammer is, buying that hammer, but not using it properly. You need so much more. You need your body to take action. You need your heart to fire your passion to create the house. You need your gut to guide you on the many decisions you have to make. You need your Angels, your Spirit Guides, to counsel you to make the whole process a divine experience. 

    "The Great I Am", as they call it in 12 step programs, can not do this alone. I need a community. I need other people. I knew that when I was in treatment, but quickly forgot that once I got home. I've come to know that when I synthesize my head, my heart, my gut, and trust My Angels and my Spirit Guides, ask for help from the people I love and reach out to my tribe, that I find peace and clarity in the middle of a shit storm. I find that I move ahead in life. I find that I follow the path I was meant to travel.

    This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. As I've said, I can be guilty of having one hard fuckin' head. I have a strong will, but I also have a strong won't. Those must be stringently tempered by higher, wiser, more enlightened, more ethereal elements that exist not only inside of me but outside of me, on a much higher plane. 

    My will and my won't can't run the show on their own.

    Been there. Done that. It don't work.


    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved


    Jasmine (The Art of Kissing part 3)

    I've been with a call girl just once in my life, back when I was 24. It happened the night before one of my best friend's wedding. 

    The groom to be and three of his lead trouble makers were hanging at a buddy's house, whooping it up the eve before the big day. Unbeknownst to the soon to be husband, we hired an escort through the yellow pages (this was years before Google). We wanted to get our pal laid by another woman the night before his wedding. 

    It was a completely baked idea, which wasn't surprising, because by the time we hatched the plan, we were all completely baked. The three of us knew there was no way the upcoming groom, was gonna go for this. But, there was, at that naive age, a certain powerful sense of perverse male duty; as in "This is what you're supposed to do for your buddy as a 'Goodbye to Freedom' ritual the night before the ball and chain of marriage got impaled to your ankle.". We saw the opportunity for him to be with just one more girl before monogamy as a great gift. Maybe we even felt it to be some sort of Right of Passage into Marriage.

    Sound ridiculous? Sure. But again, what the fuck did we know? We were 24 year old dudes. Hormone Raging, Egotistical, Self-Centered, Unenlightened, Pig Headed, Know-It-All-Ocasional-Assholes.

    Plus, frankly, none of us liked his bride to be. In fact, we couldn't fuckin' stand her. Neither could any of his other friends, male or female. His family didn't like her either. Nobody could figure out what the hell he saw in her. Many of us had had talks with him, trying to dissuade him from taking this high dive into what he saw as a deep, smooth pool of connubial blissful turquoise water. In actuality, it was clearly a shallow, rocky, turbulent cesspool of sure as shit divorce misery. But nobody could get through to him on that.

    Maybe our little posse that night figured getting him laid right before his wedding would be our ultimate inside joke on her; a silent, passive aggressive dagger in her back.

    I'm not proud about trying to take prevenge on his soon to be wife. It was immature. Mean. Stupid. Morally Bankrupt. But, we loved our friend, and thought he was making the biggest mistake of his life. "Maybe she'll find out about this and call off the wedding!", we fantasized in our compromised mental condition. Our intent, as misguided as it was, was that we were trying to save his ass. We had all seen, for years, what a disaster the relationship already was. And by the time we called the escort service, we were stoned, pretty hammered, and had plenty of the devil's dandruff up our noses; a combo that leads to less than stellar thinking.

    After much anticipation, Miss Jasmine arrives. Beautiful little blonde in her mid-twenties. Our friend, tomorrow's groom, wants nothing to do with this. But she's made the trek, along with her gigantic bodyguard just outside the door, and she's getting paid, no matter what. And if we had to pay her, well, one of us was gonna get our rocks off, damn it. I happen to have the money, and had never been with a call girl. Plus, I was horny, and found this girl very attractive. So upstairs we went.

    We were hanging at the house of our friend. I'll call him Biff. Biff's parents were out of town, so us knuckleheads had the run of the place. "Where do I take this girl?", I wondered? Why, the parent's Master Bedroom, of course! Why screw around with a double bed when you can go at it on a king size job? It was a no-brainer, even to me, who wasn't using much of his brain at that point.

    Having never been with a call girl, but having been with girls, after we removed our clothes, I went in for a kiss. "No kissing", Jasmine said to me. "What?", I replied, completely startled. "I'm paying you $125 and I can't kiss you?". "Nope. No kissing, sweetie. At least not on the lips or on the face".

    This was dumbfounding. I loved to kiss. I had kissed way more than I had been to second or third base, and certainly more than I had been laid. I had far more experience and confidence in the art of kissing than any other physically intimate act. And I was a great kisser. Now, that, my most valuable asset, was being liquidated from my sexual portfolio.

    It got worse. I knew that when I'm being sexually intimate with a partner, I have an oral fixation: my mouth has gotta be doing something; it's gotta have something on it or in it; your lips, your tongue, your mouth, your neck, your shoulder, your thighs, your ruby fruit jungle, your feet, a gag. Something. But with the no mouth kissing rule, I had to get resourceful and just go after her neck or someplace else.

    After I had my jollies rocked, I asked Jasmine "Why is kissing on the mouth not allowed?". She said "It's too intimate." I didn't know a whole lot about intimacy at 24, so I didn't get what the hell she was talking about. But, although the idea that I could have sex with you but not kiss you because kissing was too intimate didn't make a whole lotta sense to me, it certainly intrigued me. It felt counter-intuitive, even paradoxical. But hell, I had just heard it from a pro, so who was I to argue?

     I was a late bloomer, in many areas, especially sexually. But once I bloomed, I exploded. And if I applied my passion, my intelligence, my intuition, and my insatiable curiosity to a pursuit, I became a thermonuclear bomb of excited knowledge and eventual wisdom. This "Intimacy of Kissing" concept fascinated me. So I wanted to learn more about it. Both through books, and through field research. 

    I'll share more of what I've learned about kissing and intimacy in part 4.


    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.



    In Good Company

    Hubris. Ego. Machismo. Combine all that with a lot of success, and it can make you feel invincible. It certainly did that for me.

    When I returned to Boston from treatment, I felt like a rock star. Hell, in treatment, I was a rock star. Because I rocked it. I got it. I attacked the work; tenaciously; tirelessly, passionately, energetically; honestly; with integrity and courage and a smile on my face. Others looked to me for help, for support, and I was always there for them. I was told that I was an inspiration, a role model, a one of a kind character amongst characters. 

    I loved the people I shared my experience, our experience with, in treatment. I loved them with everything I had. And I felt their powerful love for me. I felt a sense of community, of family, of love and support that I had never experienced. I felt powerfully connected to my Spirit Guides, and spoke to them; and heard them speak back. 

    On top of all that, I was doing Yoga. Meditation. Working out. Writing. More of all that than I ever had.

    I felt the best I ever had in my life. 

    As soon as I got back to Boston in early August, it all crashed and burned. I felt like "Hey, I Got This!", and that's when my ego and my hubris and my bullshit lead me to believe I could coast for a while. So I stopped doing all those things that had made me so healthy. I had a clear aftercare plan in place, but I didn't execute it. I was like a Ferrari with no gas.  

    I got triggered by some old shit, temporarily forgot everything I had learned, everything I had absorbed, all that I had embodied, and started hitting the bottle. I didn't tell anybody I was having a hard time (there's my male macho "I can do this myself" bullshit), and I soon developed a bad case of the "Fuck Its": so I quit my anti-depresent meds cold turkey (an absolute unquantifiable No-No) and practically had a psychotic break down. 

    Put all of that together, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why I went through a full blown relapse.  

    Despite all the work I had done, there were a few pieces missing. The biggest piece was that I was in denial about my addiction to alcohol. I admitted that to myself about a month ago, but even after that, it's been a struggle to stay off the juice.

    So hello from detox, my third stint in six weeks, my fourth overall (first one was in February). I have no plans on ever being here again. Ever.

    I'm going to attack my sobriety as tenaciously, as seriously, with as much energy, passion, and excitement, as I did the work I did on my depression; as I did with my my work on my racing negative thoughts; as I did with my work on my often elusive sense of self love; as I did when I dealt with the traumas of my past. 

    When I accepted that I suffered from depression and stopped beating the crap out of myself for having it, I embraced the process of getting better. When I approach my addiction that way, I can not fail. I will not fail. 

    My shame around my addiction is gone. My hubris, my ego, my male macho bullshit around this shit, has been shattered. When that happened regarding my depression and my anxiety and my trauma, I hit the ground running and started to heal, immediately. I'm using that as my blue print for recovery from addiction.

    I've realized that most of the people who have made the greatest impact on my life, who have touched me the most, have (or had) addiction issues. For example, most of the therapists I had in residential and outpatient treatment are recovering addicts. Those people changed my life. Then there are the artists who have profoundly moved me, who have also changed my life: Steven Tyler. Tommy Lee. Eddie Van Halen. Robert Downey Junior. Stevie Nicks. Tchaikovsky. Ben Affleck. Elton John. James Bond. 

    I'm in good fuckin' company.


    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.


    Chemistry (The Art of Kissing part 2)

    When I was a teenager, sex scared the crap out of me. Kissing, however, did not scare me at all. It seemed completely natural. No clothes had to be taken off. No blood had to be pumped anywhere special. You just had to move in close enough, and then take that risk. 

    The chemistry of kissing another person is like the chemistry of well, chemistry. It works, or it doesn't. When there is romantic, sexual chemistry between you and your lover, there is a magic, a je ne sais quoi; an undefinable, beautiful, almost mystical element. 

    Chemistry between two people can be cultivated, but it can't be created out of thin air. There's a reason it's called "Chemistry". 

    In the kind of chemistry we learned in high school, at least two elements come together, meeting in a beaker, or a test tube, or some other medium. Some of those elements interact with each other, creating colorful, beautiful, dynamic reactions. Other chemicals don't react with each other at all. They flatline. And there's nothing you do can about that. It’s just the way it is. Or isn’t.

    Someday, I’m going to do a video series on kissing, Of course, I’ll need a female partner who’s up for that, and it probably won’t happen until I’m with the woman I marry. But I would really like to do it because, well, it would be really fun. More importantly, I believe I can help people kiss better. Just like I believe I can help people have better sex lives. There are things I have learned, things I know, that may be of servitude to others. 

    "Passing It On" feels like a duty of our life wisdom. Our Life Wisdom is an amalgamated gift we learn through powerful experiences, our desire for knowledge and enlightenment, an unquenchable curiosity, and the school of hard knocks. My belief is that we all have some responsibility to pass that on, in the hopes that somebody else may benefit from it. It’s the same way I felt when I lived in The Purple House: “What good is paradise, what good is love, what good is anything, if you don’t share it?”. 

    When I kiss a woman, I bring all of Me. Just like I do when I play drums. Just like I do when I’m doing my best at life. When you kiss your lover, bring all of You to it. Don’t take it for granted. You have a special "thang" that no-one else has. So does your lover. If you both Bring It, if you both Bring Your Thang, you get to discover if you have that precious quality of chemistry. 

    We can learn something emotional and beautiful from the physics of elemental chemistry. In elemental chemistry, when two elements react, they don’t bring just a piece of themselves; they bring it all. And when they bring it all, and there's a reaction, something new gets created. When sodium reacts with chlorine, for example, it creates something else: salt. By themselves, sodium and chlorine are completely different. But when they react, they manifest a whole new entity.

    People do the same thing when they love each other. They create a relationship; they create something new, something special, something that can not exist on its own. It takes a joining. A connection. It takes the union of two separate, unique, one of a kind, creations. 

    Think of people like the naturally occurring elements on the periodic table. Except, instead of there being a limited number of unique, naturally occurring elements (92, from Hydrogen to Uranium), the number is unlimited. Because each person born is like a new, unique, element. Each person born adds something new and unique, to the chemistry of people. To the living of life. To this world. To finding others who you beautifully explode with.



    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLCm and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved. 


    Hard Head Huge Heart

    When I boxed in college, I never got knocked down. In one fight, my nose got broken so badly I looked like a cartoon character. I incurred black eyes, bloody lips, and gashes on my face. I could take a punch. Because, literally, I have a hard fuckin' head.

    That's an asset in fighting. Not so much anywhere else. In the figurative sense, I'm capable of having a hard head when I do life. I can be one resistant, stubborn mofo. Not proud of that, but at last coming to terms with it. Particularly around my struggles with substances. 

    At the same time, I have a huge heart. When I love you, I love you with all I have. When I love you, I'll take a bullet for you. 

    Sometimes, my hard head and huge heart are at odds with one another. My stone headedness comes from a place of fear, whilst my big heart comes from a place of love. The two don't mix well. They don't play well together. 

    I'm working on softening both. And strengthening both. At times, I don't have a clue how to do that. Really, my ultimate objective is to change the paradigm. To change the game. To raise my whole life to another level. To approach the whole challenge from someplace else. From a wiser, more enlightened place.

    I know I have that in me. I proved it to myself in treatment. I'm proving it to myself every day.

    I don't want it to feel like a war, anymore.

    I'm doing that one day, one hour, sometimes, one moment, at a time.


     ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red f Publishing. All rights reserved.