Walk Towards the Cheers: The Battle with Social Anxiety

Season Opener vs UNM, Sept. 1st, Dreamstyle Stadium

 

Dreamstyle Stadium

I had no idea what to except. I had not been to a practice all summer. And If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to broadcast this season. I wanted to spend my Saturday’s with Jax. However, the trade for broadcasting college football in exchange for free grad school I still could not pass up.
The charter flight left Friday. I bought my own ticket to fly out Saturday morning due to a work conflict. My new job doesn’t allow the luxury of making my own schedule like last season. After I switched planes, I arrived at my destination. I used my phone to order a Lyft. The driver had a welcoming setup in the backseat. A tray of mints sat in the middle of the backseat, (I took advantage of the butterscotch). Hand sanitizer and tissue were a arm lengths away. The little trash can kept the floorboard clean of wrappers. The driver worked at Car Wash and was let off early due to the weather. He had been driving Lyft for 3 weeks. Instead of taking the clouds that covered the surrounding mountain view, I contemplated leaving a tip.
Brian was sitting in the lobby. He was surrounded by his wife and probably parents of the players would be my guess. It was good to see him. It was even better that he asked,
“Hey, you’re flying back with us, right?”
That told me Cari, who is the knew Zach, was on it, as far as communicating information.

Field

I ran into coach going up the elevator. I asked him about his emotions going into his first colligate game as a head coach as if I was doing an assessment on a client. Coach his “Rocky” face on. Something told me coach’s mind was racing.
As I walked into the hotel room I threw my bags on the bed closest to the door. Chris was checking the football scores. I order an overpriced burger (which was worth every penny,) from room service and Chris and I talked about this year’s team. Three o’clock came around and we met the team in the back of the hotel to depart to the stadium.
Down stairs, a hallway leading to the back door led us to three buses. The buzz of opening season danced in harmony throughout the narrow hallway. I gave a nod to the “new Zach,” to let her know I was there and she nodded back as if to communicate to me: I know you’re here, I obviously see you. I saw coach. He poured himself a cup water, from a table that clearly stated break staff only. As I watched everyone buzz with excitement for the game, my feet back peddled inch-by-inch until my backpack leaned against the wall. Brian was talking and smiling with a group of alumni. Cari was walking around with a note pad, as if she had a list of small tasks to do before we departed for Dreamstyle Stadium. The camera guy, who should have been Anthony, (but that’ an entirely different story.) was strolling around like he was back in the hood. But at least he was comfortable. Chris saved me by asking if I wanted to go save our seats on the bus.

Broadcast Ready!

One of the first things I love to do when I get to a stadium is set foot on the field. It’s like a safe space. I take a few steps on the synthetic blades of grass and took a 360 view of the stadium. There is just something about being on the field. It just feels right. Much like the press box, which literally a hamster aquarium. You have your privacy, but the walls are all glass. In every direction you are visible to the other teams’ staff. The IT and SID are always cool. My counterpart asked for name pronunciations for some of our players. I nodded my head a lot. I had no idea if he was pronouncing the names correctly.

Crossing the line

A friend was sharing when he believes he crossed the line in addiction. I thought it was an interesting phrase to use. Crossing the line is not “hitting your bottom,” or realizing that you have a problem. It is more doing something that you thought you would never do.

Here are a few examples that I experienced where I believe I crossed the line.

One time I was so desperate to get money for drugs I gathered my desktop computer, monitor, key boards and mouse in effort to go pawn. The only thing was that every component was a different brand. The computer a HP, the keyboard Del, etc. The pawn shop guy looked at me like I was crazy. To his point, he was correct. I was so upset that he rejected my stuff. Pawning stuff for me was definitely crossing the line. 

Another example is when I needed a few bucks for beer. I felt like I was going to die if I didn’t get some kind of substance in my body. My daughter who was in elementary school at the time, had a piggy bank that I raided for change. Come to think of it, I believe I owe her a few bucks. But stealing from my daughters piggy bank for me, was crossing the line.

Knowing at the time, that I was doing something that I thought I would never do still did not get my to stop using and drinking. It actually gave me shame that fueled my use. But today, I don’t even get anywhere close to that line.

What are some times that you felt you “crossed the line in your addiction? Please share!!

#crossingTheLine

Using your job as a recovery program

I can’t remember the last time I went to a meeting. If I was being nice to myself I would say about a month. And I did text my sponsor last week. But yeah, it’s been awhile. I got caught off guard while doing a process group last week. I don’t announce that I am in recovery, because my journey has nothing to do with someone else’s sobriety unless I’m sharing my story which in that case it would be to give my experience, strength, and hope. As a counselor, my recovery should not be a tool for me to use. It’s unethical and unprofessional. But when clients ask, it’s a quick yes and I change the subject. However you tell one person, and the entire campus will know. My mistake.

In process group, silence and can be a tool, it also can work against you. I like the silence when nobody wants to share. It’s gets the group uncomfortable, and forces the unsettling idea that they have to sit with their feelings without using and drinking over them. It’s just a matter of time, until the emotion is translated into words. However, when the group ends early, and there is an extra ten minutes or so, I hate reaching. For the sake of time, I don’t try to drag something out of someone. If groups over, its over. No need to force something for the sake of time. And that’s when the small talk comes out. And that’s when they asked me,

“Sir, when’s the last time you went to a meeting?”

“uhh”

“I don’t remember,” I mutter. And dam, as soon the “R” left my lips I knew I was toast. The group roared in unison, “what!”

“Hey guys, my recovery’s not perfect, the only thing I need to do perfect is not drink or use today.”

Yeah they saw right through that bullshit and let me have it. It was all good, I probably needed it. But I did start thinking:

What the fuck, people who say you can’t use your job as your recovery program are full of it, so my disease says! I know, I was just trying to justify my lack of meetings. I mean I know my job isn’t my recovery program but dam if I haven’t worked with people like me for the past four years! And the last thing I want to do is go to a meeting when I get home from my 1 hour drive from work! (That’s my disease talking again!) Ugh…I’m just not feeling the meetings this summer I guess.

But honestly, If it weren’t for my job I don’t know if I’d be sober, seriously.

Ok, that was my disease again!

Sigh……

Ben checks into treatment for the third time

Affleck’s ex, stages intervention

TMZ reports actress Jennifer Garner, ex-wife of actor Ben Affleck staged an intervention Wednesday leading to Affleck’s third treatment attempt for alcohol.

Picture taken from The Blast

Every time a celebrity is in the news for checking into rehab it can’t be more clear, addiction affects everyone. However I wonder what celebrity rehab is like? I’m pretty sure they have their own room, but do you think they make them do chores, make their bed or allow them to have electronics?

Best wished to Ben and his loved ones, addiction is the hardest battle he’ll face.

Treatment Goals: 3 Things

It’s challenging as a clinician and someone in recovery when working with clients in a treatment facility. My personal story of recovery from drugs and alcohol should not be a tool I use to treat clients. Even though it’s my fallback if I feel a group or session is going not well. It’s hard some times. I want a client to be exactly where I am at spiritually, emotionally and mentally, however I forget that sobriety and recovery is a process, not a race. With that being said, what are a few treatment goals that are realistic and effective when one goes into treatment? Keep in mind treatment is just the first step in a life-long journey of self-discovery.

  1. To get physically and mentally well. The streets are brutal. Even if a person did not literally come from the streets, the body and mind need a break. Detox starts the process of physically healing. We don’t realize the amount of stress we put on our mind until we stop using. The goal should be clear up you mind and get some healthy food in your body.
  2. Another goal is to realize that the life you are living on drugs and alcohol, is not a normal and healthy life. Someone should be able to identify and accept, “hey, I do have a problem,” even though they are not ready to get sober, at least they admitted it. If you are lucky, this might take the entire treatment to accept. For some it takes decades.
  3. Realizing that some sort of change is needed. If a person who is in addiction can be willing to admit that something in their life needs to change, that’s a deep emotional acceptance that could very well be the start of their recovery.

Of course, these are just examples that I came up with, their not right or wrong, they’re just simple but effective goals or starting points for someone in treatment for substance use disorder.

Come up with a few treatment goals yourself and post them in the comment section.

The Morning After…

It’s a humbling feeling when you wake up in the morning after failing the day before. My failures today are not what they use to be, and the coping skill is 100% better than what it use to be as well. But failing for me today, is actually peaceful, if that makes sense. It’s like, yeah probably shouldn’t have high expectations in the first place, and I did do the best I could with the surrounding circumstances; and the reality is that my life is exactly the same as it was yesterday, which is amazing.

But it’s something in my chest that feels weird today. It’s not bad nor great. It’s just there. Calm, maybe. It feels like I failed and accepted rather than be in denial. I don’t know…

It was just a class. And I actually didn’t fail the class, but completely bombed my final. I was frustrated last night. One thing I did was when my professor asked if I wanted to work on my project some more and turn it in later this week, I declined. After a summer of two grad classes and work, I told her  when I walk out of class today, I’m done, I accept any grade she gives me. Which, I have an A, so at worst it will drop to a B.

I’m just tired, it’s been a rough week. But as long as I stay sober, it’s all good.

 

The Bridge Between Addcition and Recovery

It’s challenging when working with someone who is a couple of days clean from drugs and alcohol. That’s when the disease of addcition is most powerful. When someone is actively using and drinking, the disease doesn’t have to work hard. But when we collect a few days clean the mind will make up any excuse to rationalize a reason to use. Feelings and emotions begin to rise. The same feelings and emotions we use and drink over to cope. We have to get to the point to where we can sit with those feelings so we can make a choice. The choice is to use, or to get help. And that’s a decision that no one can make but the addict. I believe most addicts do not even reach that point. They feel uncomfortable in their own skin which someone once told me, “I feel like unzipping my skin from my body.” Which leads them back to rationalizing or justify return to use. Furthermore, when someone stops using and drinking, those feelings they use over don’t go away either, we just learn healthier ways to cope, rather than drink and use.

I remember when I got to that point. The feeling of misery and failure hit me hard. I was over 30 days clean and would rather stab my eye with a pencil than go to one more freak ‘in AA meeting. But for some reason that night, driving on I35 North I had enough and I battled with God.

I yelled, “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME, I CANT TAKE ANYMORE!”

Suddenly night broke, and the Sun came with such force the ground began to shake!! So, that didn’t really happen, but I did go to a meeting and get a sponsor and have been sober ever since. But I needed to get to that point. And in addiction, family can take away or stop enabling which will help someone get to that experience, but the choice is still ours. There’s no “quote” I can read, or story I can share that will wake someone’s spirit. And even if there was, and even if they were ready for recovery, it’s just the first step, which is the most important step of all, at least in my recovery.

The House Next Door

I dreamt again about the house next door. In addiction, the house next door was reoccurring dream. When I got sober, it abruptly stopped. Now five years later, the dream is back. In my dream last night, I asked the owner if I could take a look inside, since he was selling. The house was in shambles. There were rooms, with two or three additional rooms added on to them. The hallway was long and narrow. The walls were painted a dark blue. The two of the rooms were not connected as one. The master bedroom had additional showers. Inside, the house next door looked nothing like how I remembered it.

Why I drink and use.

I remember one time while in active addiction I had some how managed to get hired for two jobs. I have no idea how I passed the drug test. I did drugs the night before and part of the interview process for the second job was an onsite drug test. So I passed the test, got hired and from no job, went to having two jobs. I guess I as reflect back, in a weird way, I was always trying to get my life together. But I didn’t stand a chance against the forces of addiction. That night, I went out and celebrated and bragged to all my friends that I had two jobs! And I celebrated by drinking, then which led to a 3 day cocaine binge. Needless to say, I lost both jobs that night. My senior year of college I could not find a job anywhere. I even applied at fast-food places and didn’t even get called for an interview. I’m assuming it was because of my arrest record. The only job I could find that summer was washing cars on commission. The anger built up inside was like a volcano getting ready to erupt. It drove me insane. I drank over that feeling. A lot.

I only bring this up because for the first time in my life, I am employable and company’s have sought out my employment. And that feels good. Waking up and feeling ok with life, to waking up and feeling good with life, is the by-product of hard work in recovery. But the real challenge is to just sit with the “good-feeling.” Not to feel guilty or overconfidence. Not to try to enhance the feeling by purchasing or eating. Just sit with the feeling until it passes. I believe

I drank and used to cope with my feelings and emotions.

Three myths that Family members believe that can hurt their loved one’s recovery.

So I’m writing this on the fly, I have a ninety-second presentation due tomorrow for Comm Skills class and of course I just started creating the outline. I started with a new company and still technically with my old company, so my schedule is freak’in crazy right now. (However, I do my best work in chaos!) Anyway,  coming off facilitating a “Family Day,” last Saturday where clients invite their loved ones to spend the day at treatment, I came up with this idea for class, as I would present this to family of someone suffering from Substance Use Disorder/Addiction.

Three myths that Family members believe, that can hurt their loved one’s recovery.

  1. The Happily Ever After Myth: Families get the impression that their loved one is going to be fixed and the end of 30 days in rehab and when they get home, life will be perfect! Not to discourage anyone, but that’s not the case. Recovery is a long-term, life process commitment. And yes, as long as your loved one stays sober one-day-at-a-time life gets really good. But it’s a process, and just like addiction didn’t happen over night, recovery does not either.
  2. The “I’m not the one with a problem” Myth: I often get a surprise reaction when I encourage meetings not only for the client, but for family as well. And here’s the thing, yes addcition is a family disease. It could be in the form of enabling, co-dependency, or just in the way “we” live around someone in their active disease and how we tolerate things that pushes our moral compass, just to keep the peace.
  3. The Myth that it’s “our fault” are loved one is addicted: This one unfortunately comes up a lot. Family honestly feel they are at fault and they caused their loved one to become an addict. This is absolutely not true. “We” are not that powerful to make someone become an addict. And on the same token, “we” can’t get anyone sober either.

I’ve been doing this for awhile. The more support in the form of family, groups, sober communities, peers, and professionals, the greater a chance for your loved one to get and stay sober.

So whether your addicted loved one chooses to stay sober or go back and use, you can still have great amazing life in your own recovery.