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The Nameless Recovery Show
Episode #2 Aiden Fishbein

In this episode, Aiden Fishbein and Estil Wallace have an open discussion on several recovery topics including staying sober during the pandemic era.

Estil Wallace:
The purpose is to talk about addiction, recovery and stigma. The idea is to reduce the stigma. There are tens of thousands, maybe more than 100,000 people that did not get sober last year, who needed treatment. Whatever that’s called, 12 step, detox, whatever you want to call it.

Estil Wallace:
But they didn’t get treatment of any kind, specifically, because of stigma. They were afraid of how it would look. And …

Aiden Fishbein:
And that could be internal or their societal surroundings.

Estil Wallace:
Yes.

Aiden Fishbein:
It could be imagined or very real stigma.

Estil Wallace:
Right. I think the idea is really for myself and whoever I talk to on here to just have an honest conversation about addiction and recovery so that anybody that listens to it might nod their head and go, “Fuck yeah, man.”

Estil Wallace:
Somebody else gets it. Somebody else has been where I’ve been and can actually get out of this thing.

Aiden Fishbein:
I think I get it.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah. There’s only one real rule and that is because we’re talking about recovery, we want to respect the hallowed halls of our 12 step fellowships, we are not going to claim membership to any of those.

Aiden Fishbein:
Praise thee.

Estil Wallace:
Other than that, it’s free rein. Going to use our first and last names, we’re going to talk about addiction, recovery, anything really under the sun. There’s a lot of stuff going on right now, with all this COVID, so that might be interesting to talk about, we might want to talk about what recoveries look like in a pandemic era.

Aiden Fishbein:
It’s been different. What’s strange about it is a lot of the tele, the Zoom conferencing, stuff like that, has been strangely viable. Really has been … I mean, it’s obviously never going to be the same as the comradery and fellowship that you get from going to a meeting but it does feel like a meeting.

Estil Wallace:
It kind of does. I think to the seasoned recovery person, I think it feels good enough.

Aiden Fishbein:
Enough, yeah.

Estil Wallace:
Well, officially, welcome to The Nameless Recovery Show, my name’s Estil Wallace. Today’s guest is Aiden Fishbein.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, thanks for having me, man.

Estil Wallace:
Aiden’s had a great career in marketing, is a jack of many trades when it comes to all things digital/creative.

Aiden Fishbein:
Most of the trades.

Estil Wallace:
Better than me on a lot of fronts. And also long time recovery advocate so I’d love to just pick your brain on a bunch of shit.

Aiden Fishbein:
Please.

Estil Wallace:
And have fun.

Aiden Fishbein:
It’s itchy so go ahead and scratch.

Estil Wallace:
Recovery during a pandemic era. It has been a little weird. What have you been doing to engage in recovery? You been catching meetings on Zoom and shit like that?

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah. I mean, for me, I was kind of blessed in that my service positions put me right at the crux of the purpose, so I was really involved in some fellowships, getting the infrastructure set up. Having the first digital meeting, that was emergency committees put together so we can figure out how to teach the rest of these meetings to do this, how to put the list together and get it online and stuff like that.

Aiden Fishbein:
For me, it was plugged in and I felt useful right away and that was super good for me. And the goal is how to get other people to feel kind of plugged in that way, with that same purpose because without connection, sometimes you get a little bit lost as far as what is the stuff that’s really feeling good, that’s keeping me centered, that’s keeping me connected and mission-oriented stuff, purpose-oriented stuff, giving back. It’s always, well, it’s done it for me.

Aiden Fishbein:
That was really useful in the beginning.

Estil Wallace:
I’ve been to quite a few meetings on Zoom and I’m fortune to work in recovery so I get to work with newcomers pretty much every day, which has been nice. I got a couple guys I’m working with, over at other treatment centers, a lot of that’s been over the phone because they won’t let people in.

Aiden Fishbein:
Text the step work to each other and then have the phone call.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah. I worked with one guy for a while and finally he got out of treatment, into sober living, where there were just a lot more freedoms and I’d been … And we finally met each other face-to-face, I picked him up.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, there you go.

Estil Wallace:
Didn’t go to a restaurant or meeting. Just picked him up and drove around and talked. Talked …

Aiden Fishbein:
A little human contact.

Estil Wallace:
… [crosstalk 00:04:19] for a couple of hours. It has been a strange time. I feel for all the guys and gals out there that are getting sober and don’t have access to regular 12 step fellowships because that’s been such a big part of so many people’s recovery and there’s people getting sober right now, let’s say, in treatment, where at home they’re getting out of detox and it’s like, what do I do now?

Estil Wallace:
And I think, and literally since the 30s up until two months ago, you could just-

Aiden Fishbein:
Go somewhere.

Estil Wallace:
Go somewhere and find other people that were newly sober and been sober a long time and you get the whole thing and they go, “Hey, man, let’s get coffee,” and all that kind of thing and that has basically disappeared, which is a little strange.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah. It has been and you’re right, it’s strangest for the people that don’t even understand why it’s strange. And for those people, it’s probably the most harmful that it’s strange to them because for us, it’s like, “Oh this is super weird,” but we’ve got skills to cope now. We’ve got skills to deal with life and curve balls and all that. For these people, that are kind of coming out of the detox and they’re like, “I thought isolation was an unhealthy habit that I was trying to break.”

Aiden Fishbein:
Here I am trying to make … It’s just one extra hurdle and there’s been all sorts of really interesting kind of sideline methodologies to get these people a little more connected and there’s still some meeting halls that stay open for the newcomer.

Estil Wallace:
I’ve heard of a couple.

Aiden Fishbein:
To get them funneled.

Estil Wallace:
I’ve heard of a couple in town. I happen to know of a very small five, six person meeting that’s been happening in someone’s backyard. May or may not have attended a couple of times, whatever.

Aiden Fishbein:
And even for the meeting halls, the way … And I think this is, okay, I mean, the truth is, there are things that we are all wondering if we’re going to die from. But there’s a couple of things that we’re all pretty sure we’re going to die from, that we have. People are still dropping like flies and so, for the meeting halls, not to condone unsafe whatever for states. Anyway, that’s a whole different topic. The truth is, these meeting halls with some home group members, just being there to receive the newcomer and to explain, “Hey, so there’s this thing called Zoom, here’s the link.” And to provide that, to be there to receive people like that and give them just the little bit of bridge to the digital world, where otherwise they’d be like, “Yeah, I tried every meeting hall that I ever knew of the last time I was sober, I’m trying to get sober again and they’re all closed. Okay, tried. There I go.”

Estil Wallace:
And I read reports that alcohol sales are way up. Way up.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah and I’m getting calls from people that are from my past, that weren’t even drug addicts, just discussing and dealing with their emotional issues, just kind of from …

Estil Wallace:
That’s true. A lot of people’s mental health has been affected by the isolation and the lack of human interaction. I know that there are plenty of isolationists out there that are like …

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, this is cool.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah. They love it, but on the same … I think it’s also different when somebody chooses to isolate but they can always reconnect if/when they want to.

Aiden Fishbein:
The option’s there.

Estil Wallace:
Versus this has been much more restricted.

Aiden Fishbein:
Sure. Yeah and there’s another whole layer of, well, what does that mean? Because now we’re dealing with, if you’re anything like me, I’ve got authority issues. Bad. I’ll isolate if I want to but don’t tell me to. There’s another whole layer.

Estil Wallace:
Well and I think here in Arizona, we’ve been, not to get political or weird … I think in Arizona, we’ve been fortunate enough that we haven’t been hit as hard as some states have. And there hasn’t been a lot of social distancing enforcement.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, not militaristic.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah, you see people in the park working out, not in big gatherings but I mean, I’ve seen soccer moms out with their wine in cups. Sitting six feet apart in lawn chairs, in groups of 10 or 12. Hanging out at dusk. That’s cool, man, I get it. And nobody’s really come down too hard.

Aiden Fishbein:
No, and there’s also been just plenty of people that are doing what they think they need to do, without being whipped to do it. And that’s one of the things that alcoholics are not great at. We see the rest of society kind of exercising good, healthy reactions to dramatic incidents, but the drug addicts, alcoholics, we have a hard time figuring out what’s true even.

Aiden Fishbein:
And so, for many of these people coming in, they don’t know that this level, this extra layer of isolation, they’re going to be much deeper into a binge before they realize that there’s anything wrong because they haven’t had to put pants on for a week.

Estil Wallace:
You’re speaking the truth because I got to tell you, I work with a lot of newcomers, just in treatment and most of these dudes, COVID is the last fucking thing on their minds, they were shooting dope in a bathroom a couple of days ago. They’re like, “Why is everybody wearing masks?”

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, exactly.

Estil Wallace:
You got to catch them up. They don’t even really understand what’s been … And they’re not watching the news, they’re not …

Aiden Fishbein:
No. Yeah, I mean, they’re barely plugging into …

Estil Wallace:
They’re like, “Dude, I was at Walmart the other day, it was fucking weird.” You’re like, “Yeah, it’s been weird for two months, bro.”

Aiden Fishbein:
And that’s the thing, they’re coming out of a cave but they’re just going into another cave. I mean, there’s barely maybe a little bit of sunlight in between caves but I mean, it is like that. But it has been actually kind of interesting.

Estil Wallace:
It was like for me. I mean, getting into recovery, I wasn’t up to date on current events. It had to be super high level for me to even have heard of it, it was probably with a lot of latency. I wasn’t up to date.

Aiden Fishbein:
And it was all telephone games, so it was all very strange by the time it reached you.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah, I was definitely not up to date on current events, when I got sober.

Aiden Fishbein:
And that’s not a necessary thing to happen when you get sober but it’s … The goal of all what we’re trying to do is get back into the mainstream of life. And whether or not it’s because idle hands are the devil’s work and it’s good to be busy and it’s good to have community so you don’t think about getting high for that little while, where it’s really that grace period, if you believe in that. But the truth is, is there’s a whole aspect of what we suggest and what we do that’s off the table right now. We’re totally different.

Estil Wallace:
It really is a strange time. Strange time for people to get sober. Strange time all the way around. But particularly for the newly sober alcoholic addict. Let me ask you a question. You’ve been sober a lot of years, prior to getting sober, did you have a picture in your mind of what a drug addict looked like?

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah.

Estil Wallace:
What did it look like?

Aiden Fishbein:
It didn’t look like me. I couldn’t look in the mirror and say that was me.

Estil Wallace:
Definitely not. What did they look like?

Aiden Fishbein:
Drug addicts, to me, looked like what I now see as people with schizophrenic conditions. And that was one of the weird things, couple of years in sobriety and I realize that there’s hope for me, there’s a solution for me but for me, it was really low bottom people. And I was pretty low bottom but it didn’t look like me.

Aiden Fishbein:
And then I get sober and it’s everybody just looks like me. Everybody just looks like real world people.

Estil Wallace:
It’s eerie, right?

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah. And I remember that revelation. It was pretty solid.

Estil Wallace:
Drug addicts are clearly mentally ill people, until you realize that you’re one too and then you realize that they look like everybody.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah. They’re no different. It’s an interesting thing to try … It only takes a couple of months for your clothes to be new again. And as soon as your clothes are new, that’s 80% of your appearance. And then if you’re acting halfway normal because you haven’t been on drugs for a month, people are mind-blown that you are a drug addict.

Aiden Fishbein:
And so, you get … I mean, this is not everybody’s story but for a lot of people, it’s a funny … The anonymous aspect of this, it’s easy to go incognito into the rest of the world and that’s your choice, definitely, but it is easy that they are us, we are them. Muggles. Normal people, the people who are not the wizards and witches of the underground.

Estil Wallace:
You blend into the muggle world.

Aiden Fishbein:
And the reason we blend is because we’re not different. We’re all the same.

Estil Wallace:
Just like you can’t tell who’s got heart disease of Type 1 diabetes, by looking at them. And that was my experience too. I had a real epiphany when I finally came to terms with my own addiction. I had the same experience, where I had a picture in my mind, that was something sub-human, something zombie-esque.

Aiden Fishbein:
Green and gray.

Estil Wallace:
Post apocalypse. Green and gray. I thought I could pick them out and then, as I got older, that got more and more pixelated till it was, yeah, it’s a metric shit ton of people.

Aiden Fishbein:
And it’s almost, it’s weird, sometimes I wonder back when Alcoholics Anonymous was starting, historically speaking, anybody that came through the doors, only came through the doors when they were real low down, so they were easy to spot. But as we progressed and as every fill in the blank A started their thing, it reached more people, that’s what we’re trying to do now so there’s been incremental access to people with, quote unquote, higher bottoms.

Aiden Fishbein:
Now, we all know that bottoms come in all shapes and sizes, there’s emotional, mental anguish that people can go through on the inside, that do not touch the external circumstances. Sometimes those are the worst because those people just leave our lives suddenly because nobody knew anything was wrong.

Estil Wallace:
Even the two co-founders of the original 12 step fellowship, they were a surgeon and a stockbroker, so these guys weren’t prison tattoos on the face, war stories of fucking gang violence. I mean, and that’s a weird thing too, I think it’s human nature to have a blood lust around war stories, like how bad was it? How bad are you? I mean, I think anybody who’s wrestled, struggled with the heartbreak of addiction and the annihilation of good things in their lives, just to get fucked up another day, has plenty of stories of heartache. Plenty of stories that would make anybody …

Aiden Fishbein:
And those are good, man.

Estil Wallace:
[crosstalk 00:15:21]. It’s good to have that. It’s healthy, that’s a natural response, when you hear about some of these things and it has a lot less to do with the external. And I think that’s important. There’s this, I think that’s part of the stigma, is people … Not everybody but many people think that a drug addict looks a certain way or meets a certain social-economic class and it’s like, no. Actually I’m giving a lecture at a medical school here, next month, hopefully it’s not on Zoom. Hopefully we can do this in person but it’s called the …

Estil Wallace:
Excuse me. It’s called the Addict with a Thousand Faces. I think I inhaled some of my own saliva. The Addict with a Thousand Faces and we go in-depth into all the demographics, all the demographic cohorts where addiction is represented. It’s represented across every …

Aiden Fishbein:
All of them.

Estil Wallace:
Every major demographic cohort you can think of.

Aiden Fishbein:
And also, I mean, this is a little different but what is one of the beautiful things is, when I got sober, the people I hung around with was just the weirdest, low motley crew of people. And it’s so beautiful because I mean, the age gaps were 20 years in each direction. I was 18, when I got sober so I was this baby.

Estil Wallace:
Super young.

Aiden Fishbein:
But there’s some people with the prison tats, there’s some people that have still got their high level CTO position for a Seattle tech company and then there’s the bicycle hipsters and then there’s the other grungy kids and everybody …

Aiden Fishbein:
And what was really important to me, when we were all getting sober, we were in this little cohort of people that thought they knew everything, it was really informationally elite kind of … So we thought. And what was interesting is it became, from our mentors and from our elders, elder folk, people that came before us, it was really important for them to teach us how to relate to people and to be able to articulate the emotional and spiritual and mental depths that our bottom constituted so that we didn’t get wrapped up in the differences of the specific circumstances.

Aiden Fishbein:
When did that, that’s what bonded us so tightly. Sure, we had interesting, fun stories about the actual escapades, the external escapades but when it really came down to it, the cement that bonded us in the beginning was that we knew how to articulate that specific romantic despair. That, for me, it was heroin, there was a whole weird, artsy, creative despair that goes hand in hand with this heroin addict and for us, it was really important for us to establish that and that gave us all this weird comradery, that enabled us to move forward towards a solution.

Aiden Fishbein:
And then when we had that common, it says it in some of the text but that common bringing together and then that common mission forwards, brought us super close together in the beginning and kept us together for the whole mission, forever onwards.

Estil Wallace:
And I appreciate that bond in the fellowship, and for me, I wasn’t part of that particular clique but I got sober in a central city halfway house, I know you’re familiar with the place. And I did have a little group of people that I hung out with and that sort of morphed as I went to more meetings and expanded into the fellowship and started to see people that had what I wanted but …

Estil Wallace:
Yeah, I guess there was a group of guys that I was coming up with in the first six months or year, that I hung around with a lot.

Aiden Fishbein:
That’s all it takes because you get your momentum going and you’re good. You get through the steps that first time and then … A lot of time you take a look at the friend group and you’re like, “I’m glad you brought me here but we’re going to make some changes.” Because this program requires a lot of uncomfortable stuff and not everybody’s willing to do it.

Estil Wallace:
It’s true. To that end, there’s something I’ve noticed and I think is worth talking about or at least asking you about. I see people, over the last 16 years that I’ve been around, I’ve seen people do enough work to reach the high watermark of sanity. I can think about drinking and doing drugs and not do them anymore.

Estil Wallace:
They reach that point, they have that level of spiritual awakening, psychic change, whatever you want to call it. But then they sort of just camp out at that spot and don’t really push beyond those barriers. Whereas, the people that I found myself gravitated to and still find myself gravitated to, are the people that push beyond that and really it’s not, that momentum just keeps rolling and keeps snowballing and it’s not just about staying sober, it’s not just about not doing drugs and drinking, it becomes about how far …

Estil Wallace:
I was stuck under this low ceiling that was false, for so long.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, so limiting.

Estil Wallace:
And I’d break past it and it’s like, what other low ceilings am I living under that are totally artificial? And continue to break these barriers and find more depth of experience in life. And you’re one of those people, that’s why I’ve always liked being around you. What do you think, what is it for you that’s urged you or pulled you or pushed you to keep going?

Aiden Fishbein:
I don’t know if I’ve ever been asked that question and it’s a really important question. And I take that super seriously with the guys that I work with too, because it’s really my job to let them know that this is the beginning. We’re just talking about building a foundation here, a cornerstone, if you will.

Aiden Fishbein:
But as far as what made me do that, I don’t know. There was a combination … There was definitely a pretty intense revelation, when I realized how skeptical I was about what was there for me. What kind of opportunity it was. And I think everybody can relate to being strung out on whatever you get strung out on and being convinced that this is all there was. And setting your bar low and just wanting to get the next little fix, to get to the next day, to get the feel, to get the fix, to go to sleep, wake up, do it again.

Aiden Fishbein:
And I had made peace with that and then I broke through that ceiling and I think what it was is kind of like what I was saying, is that there were other people around me, that were seeing the potential in me. I wasn’t seeing it. And I had learned how to take some suggestion and I’d learned the value of feeling good about being useful, like we were talking about earlier. And it was people like you, it was people that were doing some exciting things, that were saying you have the skills to do this and you have all of that garbage cleared away that used to block you, let’s see how we can develop you.

Aiden Fishbein:
And so, it was in addition to the spiritual advisors and the mentors, the people in my life that were in that front row, some of the people that didn’t really dig on that development, some of those took a back seat and I replaced some of those people with other people that I wanted to emulate. Over time, I accomplished certain things and I can’t really be any more complex than say, I like feeling good and I’m good at getting more of the stuff that makes me feel good.

Aiden Fishbein:
And I think the only thing that changed, because that’s the lifelong story, that’s why the drugs and the drink worked so well for me is they felt good and I knew how to get more. But the added dimension was that aspect and that edge of usefulness and that weird positive feedback loop of, if you do good things, people appreciate it, you feel good about it, you get more resources in the form of money or support or appreciation and that fuels it forwards and then you can do more of it, you have more resources to do more of that and then the snowball just keeps rolling.

Aiden Fishbein:
It is an interesting thing to think about. I don’t think I have an answer other than, I’m glad to have been lucky to be around people that could see the potential in me that I couldn’t see and they did, they realized some potential in me that then it’s now my job to do that for other people, I think. Interesting question, man.

Estil Wallace:
It’s something that I’ve been scratching my head over lately.

Aiden Fishbein:
Not everybody does want to seek and strive.

Estil Wallace:
No, and I find it difficult, sometimes, to inspire someone to do that. I try to, when I introduce people to recovery, I try to make that part of the pitch. And I get the short sightedness of early … When you’re coming out of fucking hell …

Aiden Fishbein:
All you want is no more hell.

Estil Wallace:
Right. I remember, vividly, laying on my bunk in jail, thinking, man, if I could stay sober and have my own place and have a membership to Blockbuster video, dude, this would be another universe from where I live. I didn’t realize that it was going to blow completely past that, like an acid trip that never ends, into this whole other wonderland of, dude, if you’re truly free from the prison of alcohol and drugs, the need to get loaded …

Aiden Fishbein:
There’s nothing else that’ll stop you.

Estil Wallace:
No, you got the constraints of your own limiting beliefs, laws and the immutable laws of nature, basically. There’s a ton of stuff you can do.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah and it really was that. I had to have those illusions smashed for me, most of the time. Now, I think I am … It’s possible I’m still in this tiny world, next level I’m going to be like, “Look at the tiny world you thought you were living in.”

Estil Wallace:
I try to remind myself that I probably am.

Aiden Fishbein:
Probably. But still, at this stage, I think I’m asking myself that question, more than I ever have and so I think I’m doing at least as much revelation creation, that the other people were doing for me. But it had to start with other people.

Estil Wallace:
I’m going to hashtag that when I post this. Hashtag revelation creation.

Aiden Fishbein:
Revelation creation.

Estil Wallace:
Boom.

Aiden Fishbein:
It used to be only other people saying … And this has been going on a long time, back when I was wasting all my potential, people were like, “You’re wasting all your potential.”

Estil Wallace:
And you think that’s just noise, it’s just white noise ….

Aiden Fishbein:
It was like, “Let me get high.”

Estil Wallace:
That’s what everybody said. But it’s true.

Aiden Fishbein:
It’s true. And then I believed it, I got sober and then I was like, “Maybe they’re right and let’s try.” And so I tried and I was like, “Oh, I’m actually kind of good at some of these things.”

Estil Wallace:
Right. That “let’s try,” that little spark of intuition, that little bit of spark of human spirit that comes back alive and it’s like, fuck it, man, why not? What’s the worst that could happen if I try? I fail, it’s fine, I’m so used to failing.

Aiden Fishbein:
I think it’s so beautiful that we have some of these low bottoms too because we come in kind of knowing we’re not made of glass. We’re like cockroaches, we’re like, “You can’t kill us if you try.” I’ve been trying. I haven’t done it.

Estil Wallace:
Well, it’s probably why half these newcomers that I’ve been working with, aren’t scared of COVID.

Aiden Fishbein:
That’s true.

Estil Wallace:
They’re like, man, I just detoxed off of fentanyl.

Aiden Fishbein:
It’s not even looking for me, it’s scared of me.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah. And I guess I kind of felt that same way, I had, in a strange way, even though I had low esteem and I had a lot of limiting beliefs, as I started to try things, I kind of didn’t have anything to lose. It was like, well, if I fuck it up, who cares? Nobody’s watching. I suck at everything. And my track record’s terrible.

Aiden Fishbein:
It will not result in the worst case scenario that I’ve lived. It can’t.

Estil Wallace:
And on the off chance that I improve at something, cool. I had no idea I was going to keep improving at things.

Aiden Fishbein:
I know. And that’s, I think, what’s so beautiful about a lot of what the personal development structure, if you will, that we like so much is, it’s so clear cut and duplicatable and the feedback loops or the trials are so tight. You can try something really quickly and get results really quickly and if they’re good, do it again. Double down.

Aiden Fishbein:
And if they’re not so good, which hasn’t really been my experience, you can stop. That’s what I think was so attractive, is that … Because I’m a pretty risk averse person in general so it didn’t look like, okay, take a deep breath, wind up, get your life savings together and jump. It’s not like that. It’s like, here’s a really quick way to try to realize your potential, to see if you’ve got a skill, to see if you’re interested in other things. Take a class, go to community college, spend 200 bucks.

Aiden Fishbein:
And you’ve got this fellowship of people that are probably going to say, “Here’s 200 bucks, go try.” I try to do that, I try to push but it’s like you said, that first spark, that’s a hard thing. I don’t know and everybody, I think, gets it lit differently. And I’ve been successful less than I have tried. But every once in awhile, when you see that spark light and if you have anything to do with it, it’s just such a beautiful thing, even just to watch it on the sidelines.

Estil Wallace:
To be a fly on the wall and to watch somebody’s life go from just the mire to kind of good and then just get catapulted into bonkers good, is really neat. It’s neat to be a part of. It’s neat to watch.

Aiden Fishbein:
It happens a good amount.

Estil Wallace:
It happens many times in a year, in my experience, with the people I interact with.

Aiden Fishbein:
Totally.

Estil Wallace:
Which is strange because it is a … Being in the recovery world, both personally and, in my life, professionally, I get to see both the good fortune and misfortune to watch a lot of heartache and heartbreak and see people not make it. But then, regularly, I can tell stories that could be fucking Timelife movies, I see that shit twice a month. Shit that blows my mind.

Aiden Fishbein:
It’s so funny too because every once in a while, you’ll see one of those books, like A Million Little Pieces or Tweak or something come out and it’s this dark story, this rags to riches story and I’m like, not exciting.

Estil Wallace:
No.

Aiden Fishbein:
Not really that unique.

Estil Wallace:
No, I could rattle off a half dozen stories right now, from people I’ve known since the beginning of the year, that are just mind-blowing transformations.

Aiden Fishbein:
The darkness was darker and the catapult is further and all that.

Estil Wallace:
And it’s not that they were the biggest bad ass ever.

Aiden Fishbein:
No, they’re just like anybody else.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah, just like anybody else but their heartache and the pain was real and the burden they carried was fucking heavy. And it was gnarly. And to watch them, one circumstance at a time, set that down and have a reckoning with the world around them.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah and it’s all built on the foundation of ridding yourself of the obsession to get loaded and once you’ve done that, there is every other kind of way to develop yourself, that you want. You could do the entrepreneur stuff, you could do the spiritual guru thing. You could just be a really good person and a really good employee but all those paths are open. As soon as that foundation is intact and we’ve got this, a beautiful program that’s … We’re almost at 100 years now, we’re close, we’re getting close and it’s so fiercely duplicatable. And that’s what’s so cool about this, is that it’s such an easy process. It’s honestly very uncomfortable and we’re dealing with big deal stuff, that many people don’t ever change.

Aiden Fishbein:
But, in my experience, the people that do it, it works and they’ve got all sorts of different backgrounds and then these people, like you said, they go on to do all of their own weird unique things also. I mean, their catapult, it’s not like everybody that gets sober has a successful business, that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re just saying that every area of their life benefits and swings upward on this crazy trajectory, which is almost completely consistent.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah. It’s amazing, it’s an amazing thing to watch. I wish I could share those stories and I guess, that maybe that’s part of what we’re doing here, is we get to hear about your story a little bit. God, 18 is a young age to get sober. Why don’t you tell me about that? Getting sober so young, three years before you could even legally take a drink. So you’ve never taken a legal drink?

Aiden Fishbein:
Never. Well, that’s not true, I’ve been to Europe. I was in Europe when I was 16.

Estil Wallace:
Were you really?

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah.

Estil Wallace:
Okay. So you did take a legal drink outside of the US.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yes, I did.

Estil Wallace:
But you never even took a drink past the age of 18?

Aiden Fishbein:
Right, yeah.

Estil Wallace:
Lot of people don’t get into their heavy drinking until college age, until 19, 20, 21. What was that like growing up, going from adolescence and teenage years into adulthood, in recovery?

Aiden Fishbein:
I mean, it was interesting to be going because everybody came in emotionally stunted so it didn’t really feel like I was that young. Because all the 26, 27 year olds were acting like children anyway.

Estil Wallace:
That’s very true.

Aiden Fishbein:
So that wasn’t that different. But I think what was the strangest thing for me was, I didn’t battle as much as some of the sponsees that I had, some of the guys that I worked with had, with this idea of you didn’t get brought to your knees by alcohol. And when you’re young, you still want to party and I’m so grateful that the people I got sober with, knew how to party.

Aiden Fishbein:
And I’m so grateful that the people that I got sober with had a good, clean message, where I was able to actually find the bits and pieces, all the experience and evidence I needed to suggest that this was, across the board, out of control for me. I had enough experience with powerlessness across all the substances that really mattered, to prove to me that this was comprehensive.

Aiden Fishbein:
But … I had a pretty low bottom but obviously wasn’t drawn out, it was 13 to 18. I spiraled quick down but the longest jail sentence was nine days and I definitely had years left in me. And that’s the tough thing that I also wish I could figure out the way to do but the perfect dose of pain, opportunity and willingness because there were all three of those things, I didn’t create them, I didn’t manifest them but they were there and they just seemed to align. And I think for most people that I see, whenever they get sober forever, for the last time, which I’m still not sure if this is the case for me, we’ll see when I keel over.

Aiden Fishbein:
Hopefully many years from now. But that’s kind of a common concoction. There had to be some awful catastrophe, some pain. Now, it doesn’t need to be physical, it doesn’t need to be external, it could be internal but there’s some pain. It’s usually pretty profound and then there’s an opportunity, somebody’s extending the hand and then there’s you saying, “Okay. I’ll try.”

Estil Wallace:
That’s the word, “Okay.”

Aiden Fishbein:
“Okay.” Yeah. That’s a tough one, who knows how much pain you need. I know my pain was different than some people but there was pain.

Estil Wallace:
Here’s the flip side of that, is you got sober young enough that you could re slash co-create your own life, your own existence, with intention and have those extra years. Whereas, someone who sobers up later in life, I mean, they just don’t have as much time to re-create their experience here. And I’m working with a guy right now, he’s a youngster, and he’s telling me, “I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic, so I drank.”

Estil Wallace:
And I said, “Well, isn’t it funny that people who are wondering if they’re an alcoholic and they’ve decided that they’re not, the very first test is to go and drink.” It’s a little backwards. If I was going to convince myself, my family and the world around me that I’m not an alcoholic, the test would be to not drink.

Aiden Fishbein:
To try and not. Yeah.

Estil Wallace:
To not drink for an extended period, then the next test would probably be to try drinking in moderation. And over time, I could prove …

Aiden Fishbein:
I can live a normal life, blah, blah, blah.

Estil Wallace:
I don’t have to do all this recovery stuff. But time after time, people, “Ah, I think I might be an alcoholic. Maybe I should do something about it. Maybe I should go to some meetings. Maybe I should go to a rehab.” And then they decide, no I’m not, in fact, I’m going to prove it right now.

Aiden Fishbein:
By drinking as much as I can. Yeah, exactly.

Estil Wallace:
Isn’t that the old 12 step joke? If I could drink like a gentleman, I’d do it all the time.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, exactly. I’d be a gentleman every day. But it’s tough and it’s impossible to give somebody that experience.

Estil Wallace:
It takes what it takes.

Aiden Fishbein:
And even if they have the experience, it’s impossible to just imbue the understanding. I can sit here, with a guy that I’m like, “You’ve just told me your story, you’ve told me why you wanted to stop then you’ve told me that you started. Then you told me that you stopped again and you had all the reasons and the evidence that this was a bad idea to start, yet then you started again.”

Aiden Fishbein:
And you can go back and forth a bunch of times and you can have all the opportunity to say, “Yes, I’m an alcoholic because of these three things, these very clear things.” I can never diagnose somebody, but I can …. Well, I mean, I shouldn’t but it’s really clear sometimes and I can see it clearer than they can.

Estil Wallace:
A lot of the times you can see it from the fucking moon.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, exactly. And at the same time, if we don’t and aren’t ready to see it ourselves, nobody can show us.

Estil Wallace:
Nope. And that’s the sad truth. A lot of us don’t make it into the room’s recovery, whatever that looks like to them. A lot of us lead long, unproductive, lonely lives and die in hospitals, prisons, lone streets.

Aiden Fishbein:
Plenty.

Estil Wallace:
There are wealthy and famous celebrities that often die or there have been several in the last few years, pretty heartbreaking stories of guys that the public loved.

Aiden Fishbein:
Worshiped.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah, absolutely. They died alone and they had plenty of money and they died in a really nice home, in a really nice bathroom. And it’s …

Aiden Fishbein:
Just as sad as you were.

Estil Wallace:
It’s fucking heartbreaking.

Aiden Fishbein:
And the other thing is, sometimes the truth is very clear. Sometimes that knowledge that we are alcoholics is there. But there’s just not the opportunity and I think that’s kind of what we were talking about that there’s something else that’s keeping us from asking for the help or accepting the help.

Aiden Fishbein:
So we’ve got this clear picture, for example, that I can’t drink, I can’t do drugs. And there’s not an opportunity, I don’t know where the place is. That’s not much of an excuse anymore but sometimes there are people that are like, “I have never of …” There’s people out there that are like that. They’re getting fewer and whatever but the pain is there, the clarity is there but the opportunity isn’t. Or all of that’s there and just the willingness isn’t.

Aiden Fishbein:
And so that’s, like I said, it’s just a weird … I think they all three have to be there and I have no idea what quantity each one.

Estil Wallace:
No, it’s hard to discern.

Aiden Fishbein:
But yeah, we just hang out and we just wait. And for the guys, like you said, the young guys because I attract a lot of these guys. I attract a lot of these young guys that are hard drug users but haven’t had enough years drinking, to be convinced. And a lot of them need that experience, they need the experience going to the bar and figuring it out. And it’s …

Estil Wallace:
My 21st birthday was a shit show.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, I’m sure it was. I would like to have seen it.

Estil Wallace:
I got sober later than you did. I got sober at 26 but I mean, I was trying to get sober at 19. Yeah, my 21st birthday was a shit show. I wanted to go drink in a bar, me and my buddy went to some dive bar and we were smashed, blind drunk by noon. And I don’t know what happened the rest of the day. I did nothing of any consequence.

Estil Wallace:
And in fact, it wasn’t any different than many of the other days surrounding it. It’s just that it happened to be in a bar.

Aiden Fishbein:
And it just happened to be the day that you were born, however many years ago. 21 years ago. That many years ago.

Estil Wallace:
Yeah, nothing cool about it.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, it’s strange. And those stories have a lot of power like, I need to have a drink for my 21st birthday.

Estil Wallace:
I never went to Vegas until I got sober. I’ve been to Vegas quite a few times now and I just never went before recovery.

Aiden Fishbein:
I had an amazing experience in Vegas, not sober. Anyway, we won’t get into it too deep but I had these … A lot of the experiences, as an alcoholic, that I was able to draw on, was during this just drug-addled, actually it wasn’t drug-addled but it was alcohol-addled tour that I was in this weird band and Vegas was one of these experiences where I woke up with no recollection and I was like, “Oh, that’s about right.”

Aiden Fishbein:
And then later, I was able to look back at that experience and say, you know what …

Estil Wallace:
Strippers and gypsies around when you woke up?

Aiden Fishbein:
I don’t know. No, not when I woke up. Can’t speak to the night before. That was an important experience to have because I didn’t have an opportunity to have a lot of alcohol powerlessness experiences. And I’m really grateful for that because I have the experiences of stopping the hard drugs, starting the drinking and then the drugs start again. It’s the thing that’s the chink in the armor and I see that from many guys. Unfortunately.

Estil Wallace:
Wild. Let me ask you this. You travel a bit, what do you do to stay engaged in spirituality, recovery stuff, while you’re traveling?

Aiden Fishbein:
That’s a great question, man. I am a big fan, I love to explore fellowship in other countries. It’s so bizarre and it’s the same but it’s just a weird brand. It’s like drinking soda, in a different country. It’s not quite Sprite but it’s doing most of what Sprite’s supposed to do. I do travel plenty for work and plenty for fun and I’ve lived in a couple different states in sobriety, I’ve moved and it is a powerful … I mean, it’s just one of those things, you just make time for it.

Aiden Fishbein:
And it’s an enjoyable thing. There’s nothing about this that feels like a chore. Sometimes, deep service, committee service, feels like a chore. But going to a meeting doesn’t feel like a chore to me. I can see people that are like me.

Estil Wallace:
The detox you took me to kind of in the hood in Portland, was super fun.

Aiden Fishbein:
Totally, man, downtown De Paul, shout out.

Estil Wallace:
That was dope. I liked that a lot.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, well, most recently, in Amsterdam, I went to a 12 step meeting and it was really interesting, about half of the meeting was in Dutch and half of the meeting was in English.

Estil Wallace:
So they spoke some English for you?

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah. And I told them, please don’t on my account. That was a powerful experience because I almost felt like I could understand. I don’t know any Dutch but I knew what they were saying. It’s the same plot points, so you could see the energy of the room when they’re saying some things and I’m like, “I know what you’re talking about. I feel you. I understand that experience.”

Aiden Fishbein:
And then they’re talking about the jokes and I’m like, “You’re joking about something totally inappropriate right now.” Something that you talk to a normal person and they’re like, “How could you possibly joke about such a serious situation?” And we know this is what we do. Even though, it wasn’t in English, that was kind of a cool thing.

Aiden Fishbein:
But the other stuff is, everything comes with you. You’ve got your god with you, wherever you go. You’ve got your practice, all that stuff, it’s in your pocket.

Estil Wallace:
Meditation works in other countries.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, it does. Oddly enough. There’s not too much tear off. But there’s no excuse not to and, like I said, it’s not a chore. At this stage of my life, it’s so clear that it’s the most amazing thing in my life, that I just want more of it.

Aiden Fishbein:
And so there’s always balance but I’m never deterred from continuing my practice. Wherever I am.

Estil Wallace:
That’s good stuff. Here’s a deeper question. It’s my hope that there are people who will see this or listen to this and who are contemplating taking this step, getting into recovery, joining a 12 step fellowship, going to rehab, checking into a detox, just fucking asking somebody for help.

Estil Wallace:
To those people, that are listening to you and I talk right now, what would you say to them?

Aiden Fishbein:
You’re wasting your potential. Kind of. I mean, here’s the thing, it’s a cliché here but we like to say, we’ll refund your misery. It’s a cliché thing to say but it’s true, which is that, you don’t have anything to lose. This is not a commitment, this is an experiment.

Aiden Fishbein:
And what we promise you is we promise to let you have your own experience. We promise to show you what we’ve done and we promise to explain to you why it worked for us, as well as, show you how it worked for us. And if it doesn’t work, you’re where you are now.

Aiden Fishbein:
And in many cases, you won’t be worse off. There’s almost an impossibility for you to be worse off and it’s not about a pitch but it’s just about, I was really wrapped up in being right about stuff. And I could really face the fact that I was a hypocrite because I wouldn’t try things. And this was just one thing to try and that’s how I looked at it, when I got here and I tried it and it just so happened to yield some results. And so I decided to try more of it and that’s all I ever ask of anybody is to give it an honest shot, in little bits and pieces.

Aiden Fishbein:
And if it works, and you’re a good drug addict like me, you’ll probably want more and I won’t have to push you through this, you’ll want to do it. That’s the way I see it.

Estil Wallace:
That’s beautiful, man. Well, thank you, not only for the work you do in our community but the work you do individually, with new people that are suffering. And thank you for coming on here and letting me pick your brain and ask you some of this stuff.

Aiden Fishbein:
Yeah, no, it was good format, man.

Estil Wallace:
I appreciate you, man. Thank you.

Aiden Fishbein:
Thanks.