Episode 32: Rayya Elias

[First: be patient with the sound in parts, please. We were so excited we forgot to tell Rayya to wear her headphones, so there's some feedback here and there.]

Okay, so...you guys. Today's episode is so, so special. I read Rayya's book, Harley Loco, in the winter of 2013, when I was occupying that particular hell that is drinking when you know you shouldn't be drinking anymore. I'd been in and out of AA, had skidded along the bottom for many months, couldn't stay sober for more than a few days, had just totaled my car, lost my license, and had a pile of unopened mail that included court dates and collection notices and a four year-old daughter that needed her mama. 

I discovered the book while laying in my bed, hungover again, and desperately depressed. Elizabeth Gilbert posted about it on her Facebook page (Liz and Rayya are kindreds; Liz writes the forward in the book), I downloaded it and read it over the course of that weekend.

The whole book is a brave and beautiful,  but one line changed things for me. She writes this after waking up from her last bender, the end of a twenty year struggle that brought her to jail, the streets, death (more than once) and immeasurable pain.

I could be free. The edge on life that I'd been looking for all along could be mine now: my work, my goal, my pride, and my dream. It seemed easy and obvious and like the only conceivable choice. All I had to do was be clean, that was the edge.

"That was the edge..."

All along I'd thought of sobriety as a death sentence; a dull-out; a B-version of life without colors and edges and...life. Rayya told me differently and I believed her, right then. I believed that maybe this was my edge, too. I didn't get sober right away--it would take another year or more--but I never forgot these words, or her, and that's the magic of this whole, perfect, miraculous system.

So, here you are, my lovelies. Rayya Elias.


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Laura McKowen

Laura McKowen, PO Box 315 , Swampscott, MA, 01907