Thanks to Russell Brand, I’m Coming out as Spiritual Again
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Thanks to Russell Brand, I’m Coming out as Spiritual Again


Mention that you incorporate spirituality into your recovery program and you may get some feedback you don’t like. That’s what I learned anyway and, as a result, I’ve been a little gun shy. Since that experience, I’ve essentially avoided making any big noises about the fact that I have a Higher Power or consciousness or whatever you wish to call it in my life.

It Takes One to Know One

And then I saw this. It’s a compilation of clips of interviews that Russell Brand did where he’s talking about spirituality and how he incorporates it into his life. I’m aware that some think Brand is nuts. I, however, am drawn to his perceived insanity because what I hear from him is truth. Which makes me wonder: does everyone think I’m nuts too? (Probably and I’m cool with that.)

I’ve been a fan of Brand’s since, well, forever. Even in his using days, when he hosted shows on British television and did stand-up comedy, I was fascinated by how he just said whatever was in his head. Does it sound like I’m in love with him? Okay, maybe I am. Just a little bit. And yes I have a slight resentment towards Katy Perry. However, there is still nothing like a man who can see the ridiculousness of our fickle human experience and still accept himself and live life anyway. Arguably, the fact that he is famous and rich and successful helps in his quest for enlightenment since there’s nothing like worrying about where your next meal is coming from or how you will pay your rent to distract you from such matters. But still, he uses that to talk about reality—not the reality we see but the stuff we can’t see.

Beyond the Six Senses

And for me, that’s exactly what my recovery is all about. During my drinking and using days, it appeared— to those who didn’t know me well—as if I had it all. Nice house, handsome husband, big car, pretty clothes—you know, all the stuff that’s in the “realm of the physical senses” that Brand talks about. I was unaware of anything that was real. Life was supposed to be all packaged up in beauty and acceptability and I thought I was doing a great job. Until it all fell to shit—me along with it.

Once upon a time, when I was an innocent and free little girl, I thought like Brand did. All those years ago, if I’d heard what he speaks about in that video, I know I would have understood him. I comprehended then that I was just a part of something bigger without ever being told as much. And I didn’t question it. It was just there. Every living thing was equal so I treated it all with reverence and respect and expected to be treated the same. But very soon I realized that life is just not like that. I became angry by the way others treated both me and nature. I learned that the “realm of the physical senses” possesses people like an evil spirit and that we forget about the reality that we cannot see. Like magpies, we become distracted by all the shiny stuff that brings us instant gratification.

The Many Faces of God

Growing up in Ireland when Catholicism was a powerful entity didn’t help to nurture my freedom of thought. In fact, it led me to believe that all I felt was wicked and wrong. I went to a Catholic school where I was thrown out of every religion class for basic blasphemy and insulting anything that even remotely looked like a nun or a priest. I became confused because what I was being taught did not correlate correctly to what I felt. Seemingly God was waiting around every corner to strike me down and punish me. Sex was also a big no-no and I lost my virginity at age 14 so I felt like the ultimate Catholic schoolgirl rebel. But my instinctual understanding was that God was loving and nurturing and not in fact hoping to send people to hell at every opportune moment.

As far as I was concerned, life was just a crock of shit and if I couldn’t beat the inhabitants of this world, I may as well join them. And so began my journey on the path of destruction. Alcohol, drugs, sex and anything else that could give me a sense of power and euphoria became my new God. Drunk and high was my spirituality and I loved it. The child that was once all about love and acceptance became a teen and adult that was all about herself and getting even with the world. And yet, way back in the depths of my inebriated consciousness, there was that flicker of truth burning away silently and patiently, telling me what real life was about. It knew eventually I’d exhaust myself and come looking for it again to light my way. And so I did.

The High of Energy

Much like Brand, I too am not much different than I was as a child. Fundamentally, my essence hasn’t changed. I just have a big fat bag of experiences I’ve collected along the way to adulthood—some good but many bad. Now that I’m done with all that surface living I did for 23 years, I’m finally free to go back to the calmness of who I really am. I’ve learned that no drug or other physical entity can make life meaningful for me. My understanding of a spiritual experience is that it is a connection with an energy I cannot see but can feel. It reaches me on an intellectual level that no book or teacher can transfer to me. It’s already there, I believe—in all of us, even the people that write nasty comments under articles where people share about it. They just might not know it yet.

Photo Courtesy of D B Young from London (Russell Brand London Revolution Protest) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

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About Author

Nicola O’Hanlon is part of the blogging community for the recovery website You can see her blogs on She was born and still lives in Wexford, Ireland.