Chris Grosso – Dying and Coming Back to be The Indie Spiritualist

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Chris Grosso. is an author and speaker best known for his book “Dead Set on Living” which is revered as one of the top 5 addiction books of all time. and I love the sub title “on making the difficult but beautiful journey from fucking up to waking up.”


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With me today is the indie spiritualist Chris Grosso.

He’s an author speaker best known for his book dead set on living, which is actually revered as One of the top five addiction books of all time in Chris I love the subtitle on making the difficult but beautiful journey from fucking up to waking up

story of my life which is still very much ongoing.

So you want to give us a little background on how you came up with the subtitle I love that.

Yeah, I mean, it’s my third book. My first book was indie, spiritualist, which that and everything mine came out in 2014 and 2015 everything mine was my second book. And they were like part autobiographical, but also trying to distill these teachings from a lot of Eastern philosophy and you know, things that younger people because that’s a large demographic I work with may not otherwise be interested in. So I’m trying to distill it in a way that makes it more accessible. Well, you know, keeping it interesting with my own journey and I only mentioned That’s not a plug I mentioned that because so I have these two books out that do really well there with major publishers and I’m traveling and speaking at conferences and you know, front of thousands of people and you know, just very well known for in the recovery community, and I end up relapsing. And not only relaxing, but I was literally like dead. They, it was a 24 hour relapse and ended up in a hospital bed. And I was intubated because I couldn’t breathe on my own. So I had one tube in my lungs breathing for me. I had one in my stomach. They were just trying to suck out like, because I was incoherent by the time I got to the hospital, thank goodness, my parents got me there when they did, because the doctor said and no scare tactic. Like they were like, if you were here, five minutes later, even if you survived, you would have been brain dead. Because I was just I wasn’t breathing. So that it was after that That, within about three weeks, I had bounced back pretty quickly from that, and I was out for a run. I love jogging. That’s a very important part of my recovery that an exercise and But anyways, it just kind of hit me like while I was out running like the whole title and subtitle just like, you know, and most of my first two books with the exception that said I’m living were written while I was out running is very odd. But like, once I hit that four or five mile mark, it’s like my mind is clear. And I would usually run eight to 12 miles. And I would you know, I’d have these ideas popped into my head, I’d get home and I and I wrote those books like literally, I’d be sweating because I wouldn’t even take a shower. I’m like, I need to write this right away and I’m sweating all over my keyboard but so dead set was that’s about the title and subtitle. It’s a completely different approach, you know, where it’s like, all right, I’ve written two books. And you know, I was sober for like, I think over around five years. or something like that, at that point after numerous relapses, even prior to that, but for me, like I always would get like a year, two years, three years. So, like, 95% of my time in this 20 year journey has been sober. But I had these relapses. And anyways, so that’s why I took a different approach with this book, where each chapter is a narrative conversation with neuroscientists teacher, you know, spiritual teachers, addiction experts, you know, I wanted to get this all encompassing view with the underlying theme being Why do we return to self destructive behaviors, even when we know better, because at this point, it’s like, all right, I’ve already written two books about what’s worked for me, and obviously, I still fell off. So it’s time for me to turn and talk to other people and get a very literally holistic, like all different viewpoints chiming in on these different, you know, their different perspective. So sorry for the long winded Answer. But that’s how the subtitle came about and a whole lot of info that you didn’t ask for.

Well, I mean, that’s the whole, the whole idea behind, you know, getting behind what’s going on in your mind at that time. Because I mean, you know, and writing the book, did you go in a different direction than when you initially started when you were doing your research and going through? Or was it pretty much start to finish? You knew how it was going to be?

Yeah, with with the third book, I absolutely knew the first two books were different. They were intentionally written kind of in a way where they’re shorter vignettes. And you you don’t have to read it in order. It’s not like a chapter by chapter book. Whereas dead seven living is, I mean, you could also with dead set, pick it up and read. It doesn’t have to be read cover to cover, but we did try to set some kind of a thread for it. So that It was pretty much I had the vision. Whereas the first two books, the first book, actually, I remember, I was joking half joking with my editor. She was like, you know, I’m thinking about maybe just taking each vignette title, putting it up on a cork board, and throwing darts at it. And we’re just going to decide the order from there. And we could have done that, and it still would have worked. But yeah, with that said, it definitely was more intentional.

So you were talking about how we return to self destructive behaviors, and what would you say are probably one or two biggest reasons why people do return to self destructive behaviors.

So, you know, oddly, a therapist helped me after all these years, you know, I still see a therapist weekly because I’m still a very fucked up individual. I am a much more productive member of society and I’m grateful for that and but I you know, I still dropped the ball in every possible way that I can and I’ve been transparent about that, since my first book, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do was show the humanity in this journey of, of healing, regardless of its drugs or alcohol, whatever, we’re all healing from something. And, you know, I’ve read books where it’s like the teachers almost come off is perfect. And it’s like they’re setting these unrealistic expectations. And I wanted to be the polar opposite of that. So

anyways, But to answer your question for me, I say that because therapist I was seeing, I’m seeing a different therapist now. But this was after the relapse, and they had helped me to understand that, as weird as this will sound, or as counterintuitive as this may sound, going back to those self defeating behaviors, not that is an excuse, but was actually an act of compassion for myself. And the reason he explained that was that we have these deeply ingrained neural pathways in our brain. And if we’re not taking care of ourselves and doing what we know we need to do in our recovery or healing journey, then those neural pathways start to get stronger again. And even though those behaviors like in my case, alcohol or drugs that could ultimately ended my death, there is my you know, the limbic brain, we have this train brain which consists of three parts. And when we are in a relapse mode, which as I’m sure you know, happens well before we pick up the drug or the drink, we start, you know, engaging in behaviors that are not self serving. And once we do pick up the drug or the drink, we go back into our limbic brain, which is the oldest part of our brain that are or I’m sorry, a reptilian brain. Its associated with caveman and, you know, survival fight or flight and then also our midbrain, which is emotions. And even though consciously our neocortex, which is the part of our brain, where does the conscious rational thinking is still there, were controlled by that those two old, you know, the reptilian brain in the midbrain. And, and so it’s that act of survival and that when you use that word compassion and remember just being like, how is that possible, but as you explained, like, that’s what’s ingrained that survival mechanism, like that’s what you’re resorting back to. And that’s why when you see people using like, they will literally use to their death unless they get help or some kind of intervention. So that’s one thing that I recognize or he helped me shine the light on and so again, I’m not saying that’s an excuse to go use. It’s just that he I had a lot of shame and guilt around relaxing, especially after having so much sobriety and writing books. And you know, he was not a therapist, I never get involved with therapists that are Yes, men or women, it’s like, you know, call me on my shit, otherwise, it’s not going to help me and he very much would, but I really appreciated him making that distinction from Me. But again, if you know that to beat a dead horse, but not an excuse, just helping me to understand. So for me the second part because I think you said like, what are two things? The biggest thing for me was that through all those years, and even though I was doing therapy, and I was doing 12 step meetings and various other kind of recovery meetings and exercising and eating well, and essentially doing everything you’re taught to do, you know, to, to engage in a very full spirited recovery. There was still some very deep underlying stuff there. And even though I would write on steps and do this and do that and do a lot of what the 12 steps suggests, and I’m neither pro nor anti I anything I want to be very clear that I am pro find what works for you and go that route, whatever it is, that’s all I care about. But what made a huge difference made like in a life changing difference was I started with with trauma based therapy, and that has allowed me to go into those very dark, often unconscious places that I wasn’t even aware of, you know, heads unconscious like that material that I had just shoved down Swiss psychologist probably on calls that shadow material. And this allowed me to start connecting dots to emotional attachments I had to certain memories, or even if the memories weren’t there still just that, you know, you may have heard the same the issues are in the tissues. So even if we don’t remember specific occurrences in our lives, that trauma is still held within the tissues. So two examples of the therapy one is EMDR and it’s like I am movement de sensitization something you can look it up EMSM Michael Diaz and David ours and Robert, and now I do a form of therapy that was born out of that called ART which is accelerated resolution therapy. And that has been, like I said, life changing for me, because it takes me to those parts where I’m up routing, reopening and re integrating the shadow material that would bring me back to that place of relapse. So we’re all unique individuals and just like I don’t advocate for 112 step over another or 12 steps in general. Same with therapy. I’m just sharing from me what’s literally changed my life.

I think it’s important that you establish to that like, what works for you, is what works for you. And just because it only works for Chris, like what works for you is not what works for Andrew. And neither of us is right or wrong, insane. works for us works or doesn’t work, because if it works, then who are you to say that it’s not working? I think we just get so we get this snowflake I idea that if we, if we have success in one thing, then everybody needs to do that, like we we have an eight month old, and every parent, here is how you solve this problem. And you see what, even within families, children that were literally brought up by the exact same parents that are just completely opposite people, and it’s trying to apply here as a solution that worked in this vacuum. And assuming that it’s always going to work, I do think you need to find what works for you and to stay open minded. Yeah, a lot of times they’ll they’ll be people in 12 step recovery, you know, very, very much. You have to do 12 step recovery, otherwise, your life is terrible, and right. I had believed that for a long time until and I’m, I am personally pro 12 step but at the same time, like you You’re sitting here, well, like vit virtually across from me saying you’re happy without it. So who who are those people to say that you’re not happy? Like, right happy? Is it working for you?

And so amen to that. And and that’s the thing that you know, I still to be transparent will attend 12 step fellowship meetings from time to time. I don’t nearly as much as I used to I currently don’t have a sponsor. I don’t, I’m not actively writing on steps but happy and I’m miserable and No, I mean, but that’s the thing like I know people that have, so like over 1020 years in recovery that never did a 12 step program and they are not white knuckling it or grumpy they found their healing and their recovery in meditation or yoga, or a lot of people like myself will integrate and do 12 steps and this and it always bothered me that like, you know, I preferred one fellowship over another, but I found benefit in both. And I would read the literature from both because I think there was a wealth of information. And regardless, if people aren’t in recovery, I my mom, for example, has read both of the major texts from each fellowship and she’s not in recovery. But they’ve just like, changed, not changed our life but really opened our eyes to, you know, life and she’s like, everyone should read these books, and I agree, but what I was gonna say was, I found it so petty that like, this fellowship is the one to go to, and that one’s not and, and same with like spirituality. It’s like, hey, if it’s working for you, awesome, like, just live and let live, you know, like, as long as you’re not harming yourself or anyone else, who cares what the other person is doing, if they’re, you know, happy and helping others and being you know, well to themselves. At the end of the day, that is all that matters as far as I’m concerned. And, you know, like inside, it’s not about outsides like, that’s, that’s what I, so I connect with people and I don’t look at, I don’t care what they listen to or watch or look like. I mean, like, sure it’s cool if we have stuff in common, but where is your heart and like, What? What are you passionate about? What are you doing in this world to make it a better place? That’s what I care about. And I, you know, I just wish more well know there are a lot of people that have that attitude. I just wish there were more and that’s why it’s a pleasure speaking with someone like yourself who you know, is involved in the fellowship but can be open minded and recognize there are other ways that work is well this just happens to be what works for me and and i will say, I know tons of people as well, that are very happy in the fellowships, and live a wonderful life. So in no way am I I wanted to be clear, I’m not anti at all like Dave, early on in my recovery. I owe them so much and I still do because they laid a foundation. It was just that for me. I needed that extra. Like the one thing I will say I interviewed addiction expert gobbler Mati, who’s in the second chapter of my book and he is very world renowned and can be controversial because he is very much Pro, if it’s for you, the use of things like iOS done plant medicines and healing, which I know in 12 steps is a very taboo subject. But gab or had said that shit, where was I going with that?

I lost my train of thought and there was a good point to

one or the other.

Oh, yeah. So what cardboard said was the one thing with the 12 steps that he feels is lacking is the any either fellowship is the focus on trauma. So you know that you you write on the 12 steps, and that’s awesome. And I have in both fellowships, and like I said, they were a great foundation. But in that conversation I had with him for a dead set. You know, we talked about that and I went back and I looked He’s right. You know, there is a lack of trauma based approach. And for me, that was what kept leading me back to relapse. Now, like I said, I know plenty of people that do the programs and don’t relapse and have many, many years sober and that’s incredible. But for some people like me, you need a little more. And then just a quick, interesting aside, regarding one fellowship, I do find it interesting that the older of the eldest of the fellowship, so while respecting anonymity here, but after a certain to creator of the eldest fellowships passed away, and I’ve seen these with my own eyes, and you can find them online if you do enough digging. There were early pamphlets and I believe it was the 14th written before certain literature was released, where one of the CO two co founders of this fellowship wrote about the positive aspects of things like hallucinogenic and your recovery. He also wrote about Buddhism and meditation and You won’t find that anywhere in the appropriated literature today. But I’ve seen, you know, with my own eyes like early on there, it was there. And once this gentleman passed away, it kind of got swept into the rug, like a lot of major religions, like they started out as this beautiful thing. And the mystic elements are still wonderful. But then when they become like man made and they become ego, and let’s make it fit our mold and our model, and it has to be our way and it just distorts. And so I’m not saying that the fellowships are distorted. I’m just saying, one of them particularly is lacking and in certain areas and kind of, you know, disregarded some very important information. But that’s like a whole nother show.

Yeah, I’ve, I’ve done a lot of research on the the origins of 12 step recovery, and you’re absolutely right, like, the way that it’s taught today is very, very different. Yeah. And the way that It originally was and the way that it used to be had a much higher success rate than the way that it currently does. But the people who are successful in it today, they are the ones that are carrying on the message of this is how it’s supposed to be done right as our minority is those that are successful in it and if you falter, it is your fault, even though that’s not how it initially was no, at all. It is very, it’s very interesting to see how its evolved over the years and how it’s kind of become a 80 year long game of telephone, even though there are they’re very clear instructions on how and what to do but each person puts their own spin on it and everyone kind of it is what it is like you said it’s it’s a huge rabbit hole. But I’m curious on on this stint of sobriety because like you said, You’ve been in and out for years majority of it in, well, what would you say is different this time versus all the other attempts that you’ve had at sobriety?

Yeah. So the major one, which I mentioned was the the trauma based therapy, that was something I had never done and I lead at least three to four times a month I lead workshops. I live in Connecticut, with teenagers that are in a residential, they’re about 13 to 18 years old. And it’s, I mean, it’s nothing like any of the rehabs that I went to like the ones I went to were like a step above the jail cells I’ve been in you know, like, I got what I needed, but these are very beautiful settings, a wonderful approach. They have like equine therapy, they have yoga come in, I go in and like I said, do three or four workshops a month and they also offer end Our therapy there, which is incredible. And that it’s actually the owner, the gentleman who started those. There’s a few of them throughout the country. He was the one who suggested em Dr. To me. And I’d heard about it and I’d heard good things, but I’d never heard or never tried it. And so as once I started to do that. Really, like I said, I feel like the best example I can give was prior to that, it’s like when you’re weeding a garden, like if you’re just cutting the weed, it’s going to grow back versus, with this trauma based therapy. I’m actually pulling it out by the route. So that these things like that I was thought I was healing through and some of them I did. weren’t fully healed. And like I said earlier, weren’t fully reopened and reintegrated. And another thing that I’m doing differently is that I don’t like count a sobriety date. People are always like how long you been sober and it’s like, I have no idea. I love the Just for today, I know it’s cliche, but some people are like, you know, if you woke up earlier than me today, you’re you’re sober longer. I used to kind of snark at that. But you know, now I’m like, you know what? Yes. And the reason I say that is because it’s it’s a mental disorder, you know, it’s this obsessive compulsive thought disorder. And the drugs and the alcohol are just symptoms. That’s not the actual problem. So I will catch myself even though I haven’t touched drugs and alcohol in a while, it’s you know, I’ve had a good run, I will still catch myself, at times, maybe eating the same exact way that I would when I was actively using drugs or alcohol. So like, even though I’m not hungry, I’m just like, going back and forth to the kitchen just eating like junk food, like, and it’s doing the same thing. It’s like masking something I don’t want to feel or numbing something. And so even though it’s not, again, a drink or a drug, it’s the same exact behavior. So, to me, even though I guess I’m quotes sober because I’m not under the influence of you know this or that still like chocolate and sugar changes your brain chemistry. So I like I am at that point where I’m that nitpicky with myself about it. So it’s like, I it’s why I don’t bother to me. It’s it’s, it’s not one thing or another it’s it’s our actions and our behaviors. So, and that’s why you’ll also see people that get sober and are just miserable because they don’t, you know, they’re white knuckling and they don’t take the time to really heal so.

So yeah, it’s like, I’ll have a long stint word. I’m doing well with food and everything, but then I’ll have a day where I just fall off and I eat like garbage for a day or pardon me, I will like binge TV for like, four hours that happens rarely because I’m I work so much, but it happens and I recognize it. It’s the same exact thing, just a different quote unquote, substance. So that’s the other thing that I find is help because I don’t have this. I don’t feel the pressure of Like, I have this much amount of time and these, you know, this key chain or this coin and, and nothing wrong with that, because that to me going back 20 years for the first five plus years of intimate this journey, those meant so much to me like something to look forward to. And I understand and celebrate the importance of clean time and things of that nature, especially for those newer in recovery. You know, because those are like lifelines. And they gave me something to look for and work towards and and I’m so grateful for that. But again, 20 years later, it’s like been there done that now it’s just like one day at a time literally, and not counting days just I’ve got today if that because once we get off this call, like you know, I’ll be I have other stuff to do and I’ll be going out Who knows if I will get in a car x and not to be morbid, but you know, who knows? I already feel like I’m living on borrowed time. I actually had this conversation with my fiance not Not long ago, and, and again, not to sound morbid, but if I were to die today, I don’t want to die today and be very clear, I enjoy my life and it’s far from perfect. Like, you know, I could always be better at this or that or whatever. But if I were a dad today, I would still feel like it was a gift. Because I have lost so many people like countless to overdoses to suicides, drug deals gone bad things of that nature, you know, anyone in recovery can relate to that. But it’s to the point where I have literally lost count. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known over the years. And I used to say, I should have died because the way it was and I did you know, like I said earlier, like I to breathing for me, the way I live like I could have died so many times over. So I do deal with, like survivor’s guilt at times still and things of that nature. But it helps again, just not having that, you know, date for whatever reason Isn’t that it’s like an anti thing for me. I’m not I’m not anti date. It just it doesn’t like it adds like a certain semblance of stress in my life that, you know, it’s counterproductive for my well being. So

it’s a very interesting thought and you know, on the intake form for the show, you know, we say went into your current sobriety date, and you’d put in there that it’s just for today, there isn’t a date. And I think that’s a really cool way of looking at it. And again, it’s like a polar opposite of how I look at it. Yeah, but at the same time, if that works for you, then that’s all that matters. Like we are all humans and there isn’t a cookie cutter. This works for me, therefore it works for you. It should just be at this works for me, here is my experience. And that’s all I can speak on. And you were talking you know about, like getting help with the trauma in your life and how 12 steps doesn’t address that. And there are people though that believe I saw a meme earlier and it was like, oh well I’ve been sober for nine years. So that makes me an authority on your finances and your love life and your trauma and your history and what jobs you should be working in the right we we take this a narrow little ish will not little we take this tiny piece though of our lives and then just blow it up into well I can’t do this thing because I’m an alcoholic. And it’s like, I mean, it’s, it may not be but then again for some people it very well is everything all or nothing. And we just we just passed Halloween at the time of this recording. And I I hadn’t really pieced it together until you said but I’ve been eating a ton of chocolate recently because we just had leftovers and I just threw out the basket of it yesterday with a ton left. I was just I found myself every time I walk downstairs. It’s like I’ll just grab a piece of candy. Yeah, any but I hadn’t eaten candy in well probably since last Halloween and and I can tell that my head isn’t in this in a as good of spot as it usually is. And I was trying to figure it out this morning. What’s been different what’s been different and it was it was like I guess they candies probably and then you you mentioned it so I’ll take that as a firm the the sugar and chocolate you know these things that Yeah, take it to extremes. And like you said the the drugs and alcohol like that’s a symptom, right rid of the symptom and you still have the problem. Yes, that’s way way worse because if your life sucks, and then you take drugs or or a drink, and then it feels better, you know, even though on a scale of one to 10 Talking about this a lot like my life before as a baseline at a too short and then it was it was up to a five when I was using. So it would make sense that I’d want to keep hitting that five out of 10 because I wasn’t aware of 678 910 what any of that felt like because all I knew was I could get up to a five if I’m under the influence so you right away and now I’m just stuck at a two without any solution to anything you write done exactly like you said he just waited the garden by chopping off the top of the weed but it’s just going to come right back instead of Yeah, actually getting rid of it. I love that insight.

And I just want to say I love that scale idea because, like, I think of it as like it’s very similar like let’s say one is lowest tennis highest. You know, I I’m grateful that on most days I feel content most days you know without substances you said, you know, it takes five most days. Let’s again 10 is like bliss. Most days, I’m out of five, six. And that’s like contentment, that’s not like, things are great things are awesome. I’m feeling super happy. It’s like, I’m content. I’m at peace like it definitely it’s not, you know, always a five, sometimes it’s an eight, sometimes it’s a two, but it’s generally like a five or six. And I remember early on one of the first rehabs I went to, because our brain chemistry is do shift and we can heal but sometimes only to a certain extent, depending on the damage we’ve done, but one of the clinicians is like, what if you could only get to a certain point in your healing and recovery where you can’t get past this, you know, you whatever level of happiness that’s something you know, everyone should be aware of, because that might be the case. And I’m not saying that’s the case in my life. I just remember like that really stuck with me. But I’m so compared to where I was living like yourself like I was at like a negative to let alone a too, you know, and I would get up to maybe like a three with my use but like, I’m at a five, six. And, like, I make it clear when I tell people like, you know, it just because you are in recovery or again, if it’s not specifically recovery healing from because I work with people that are cutters or suicidal or have you know, various, just mental health issues. So they’re healing from something it might not be specifically substances, but getting to that line of contentment. It is such a world of difference from being at that two or that zero because it’s like, wow, you know, like just feeling a sense of ease it you know, if you’ve been to that, too, which I’m guessing most of your listeners have, and I know you have, like that five, like, I mean, eight icing on the cake, eight to 10, but like 567 That’s awesome. Like, I’m so grateful just to be content. And one other thing I wanted to say is, I appreciate that you’re saying like just because I have nine years or whatever like I’m the authority And everything like, I have three books out majorly published and I am the first person to say, I can only talk about my experience. I cannot tell you what to do in your life, I can share what has helped me. I can tell you pitfalls that I fallen in. Some of this might help you some of it might not. But all I can share is my experience. And I you know, I make that clear. When I do my workshops, I sit on the floor with the teenagers like, I don’t, you know, speak at major conferences. I understand I have to stand on a stage because there’s can be hundreds to thousands of people but that makes me feel uncomfortable because I don’t want to feel any different. I’m not any higher. Like I’m right there with you. You know, I’m in the trenches going through this with you just because I am not using today and I have some books out so what like, I don’t have any PhDs I didn’t finish. I was halfway through my internship for substance abuse counseling, too much paperwork I dropped out like So I would have had my degree in that and I don’t, you know, it’s just like, so, you know, people tend to think that like, I could see how easily having books published I could be that guy like, Well, I know this or that. No, I don’t know shit. I know that. I don’t know shit. That’s the one thing I do know. And, you know, I’ll share what I can that maybe will help but that’s the best I can do.

I think that’s a great perspective. And Chris, I want to be conscientious of your time. So in wrapping up, where can people find you online and your books?

Yeah, everything can be found at the website which is the indie spiritualist calm. It’s either indie spirituals or just indie spiritualist. I don’t know you can Google it, and it’ll come up my name or indie spiritualist. My name

is Andrew racialist. Thank you.

Yeah. Or Yeah,

so, but you can find my bonus.

Thank you, sir. But yeah, my social media accounts I think are attached to that and my books are all on Amazon and or you can find them at the website and yeah, thank you for asking. I’m I feel weird plugging stuff so I appreciate you.

Well, I’ll I’ll plug it in the show notes. If anybody’s interested. Feel free to reach out to me. We’ll have all the links in the show notes. Reach out to Chris is so great having you on self made and sober and guys, if you liked the episode, please rate and subscribe on iTunes. It helps us grow the show. And Chris, have a great day. Thank you.

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor.

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