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Hip Sobriety School, Day 17

"I can show up during the during."

The message that Holly shared with this mantra was actually written the day after the inauguration, which wasn't my best day either but it was exponentially better than the day after the election. I couldn't believe the sun even came up—maybe the news was still a few light years away—or that Earth was still turning on its axis. I can't feel it move so for all I know, maybe it wasn't. The entire day I walked around in a kind of stupor like a trauma victim, feeling like my head was three feet from my shoulders and my heart was so heavy it had collapsed under it own weight. Any sense of higher spiritual perspective had been bombed out of the sky and vaporized into flames the moment it hit earth's atmosphere.

Definitely not a day or a week or even a month when I would have felt up to being anyone's inspiration, comfort, or wise teacher. It took some time, but eventually I remembered who is ultimately in charge and reclaimed a small but fragile sense of mental and emotional balance. At the very least, I could hold my mind on the image of Kali , not only as the essence of Divine Mother but also the destroyer of evil, the liberator. My favorite words from A Course in Miracles is the line: I don't know what this is for.

But Holly didn't have the luxury of grappling with her spiritual and existential crisis, she couldn't take time out to come to grips with the unfathomable. She was knee-deep in leading Hip Sobriety School and she had to show up during the during.

I used to want to hide the weak parts of me, to present this above-average tolerance for all of it, to be this soldier and this pillar of strength who didn't crack. And you know what that did? It made me a liar, and it made me inauthentic, and it make me sick, and it made this work impossible. And so I tried the other way. I started showing up with open wounds for people to see, realizing that my strength didn't come from presenting a facade of having it all together. My strength came from being a mess and letting people see that mess. My strength came from my perceived weakness. —​Holly Whitaker

I smile all over again every time I think of something Richard Dreyfuss said during an interview decades ago. It went something like this: I would love to write one of those confessional stories where celebrities reveal how messed up they were and how that changed and how incredible life is now, but I'm still in the messed up part.

Bar none, the most miraculous thing about AA for me was the deep dive into naked truth during those meetings. Some fellow would be relating a story about his darkest, most humiliating, bottomed-out shameful moment and all I could think was, "Oh God, I love him." The unvarnished truth straight from the heart has such irresistible beauty and depth and magnetism and unexplored mystery, it's hard to believe he's such an unpopular guy. But Holly is balls-on accurate, we feel so much more comfortable putting on that I'm Okay Mask and the I'm Strong Shield than we do speaking, hearing, and living Truth.

One of the most fascinating discoveries so far in my Hip Sobriety School journey has been learning more about Cognitive Dissonance—a guy who is way more confounding and chameleon than his black-and-white predictable cousin Denial. One is pure blindness to the truth. But the other is like trying to ride two horses we call Truth that are going in opposite directions and convincing ourselves that it's only one horse. My daughter Katie has been taking workshops from a gifted "teacher of healers" who has opened her eyes to the exponential power and peace that comes from having a Single Mind. What a concept, removing those deeply uncomfortable conflicts lodged in our own head—the things that keep us in turmoil and create situation after situation that never ends well.

So let's raise our glasses of flavored fizzy water and ching-ching to the Truth in all its wonder and beauty and holiness—to the Elixir of Wholeness it offers in both hands. Let's make an intention of living our Truth and paying attention to how that feels. It's so much easier to ride just one horse. We can keep moving forward and when the road gets rough, we can show up during the during without flinching or shying away or heading off in the opposite direction.

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