I have 40 clients that would think so…
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!!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
I went to a wedding this weekend and realized I’ve never danced sober. I really wanted to take my wife out and have a good time and we did. But what I realized was so much more than never danced sober before.
We got there early. We were actually the first guest there. We’re always the first one’s there. One of my pet-peeves in sobriety is punctuality. I always think I’m going to be late, thus I always end up being super early, no matter the occasion.
Out of all the empty chairs, we choose the two in the very back row. I took a moment to breathe in the beautiful country landscape. The huge Live Oak tree stretched it’s arm over and above the rug that would soon be stood on by the bride and groom.
An acoustic guitar played behind us. The light wind carried the harmony across the small meadow. The feeling shot though me like a flash of lighting, I was exactly were I was suppose to be, in my life.
New friends, new conversations and new laughs followed at the reception. A new crew. I felt good. I wasn’t there wondering about the after-party or watching the bar to make sure they we’re still serving. I didn’t have to try to be the drunk center of attention. I wasn’t making plans to “score dope” the second I left. I knew for sure I was going to get my wife and I home safe. I knew I was going to wake up for work in the morning. I new choosing n0t to drink or use, at least for that night, was the right decision.
I realized that even though my life’s purpose got side track for over two decades, that in the end, I will still end up where ever I suppose to be.
So finally a day off, (huge exhale!). I guess my plan going into the hot summer days of the South Texas heat had always been to “grind-it-out.” However working 12 hours days, five in a week, gave new meaning to my phrase “the grinding summer.” I am not sure if it’s my addiction why I am working so much. You know, the whole, “take everything to the extreme” because I am a true addict or maybe I feel all the wasted summers of me not working needs to be somehow “made-up” in three months. Whatever the case, I do feel spiritually connected not only to the bright clear night sky that host the stars that shine upon the Texas Hill Country treatment center, but God’s creatures that run the drug and alcohol rehab, when the sun sets.
As the classes are done for the day, and groups are all out. I can count on Jim and Terry to be sitting by the pond, which sits next to the main entrance. I try to sneak up on them, driving my little golf cart off-road and barley touching the peddle to slowly creep up. The tires snapping every inch of dry grass and twigs, Jim spots me, “a mile away, he says with a smirk. Jim told me about the Coy fish that lives in the nearly dried out pond. I didn’t believe him at first. I mean the pond looks perfectly placed on the treatment center website, however up close, we probably could be sued for false adverting. (That’s Sarcasm!) I was sure nothing but minnows and the turtle I found about 3 weeks ago wobbling across the parking lot, were the only creatures that could survive the water. As Jim throws cat food into the pond to attract the Coy, Terry sits in a smoke-shack chair right next to Jim, staring aimlessly into the algae that sits atop. Terry, about 20 years older than Jim, comes to the pond every night. Just to stare. Into what, I have no idea.
Jim grabs a handful of cat food from the nurses station cat bowl. Which, lately a doe comes up all the way to the side walk every night. Right about the time the Coy fish waves his white tale so just the tip clips the water surface to prove me wrong, the doe comes and eats the cat food out the of the bowl. The white cat with the Chinese eyes, always politely sits a waits for the doe to finish. By the time the doe finishes, I make my way to the cat food bag and refill the bowl for Chinese eyes.
At first I thought the doe might have been “Daisy,” which was the detox deer that would come up and eat right out of our hands. Daisy was lost from her mother, and with a scar on her stout. Maybe from getting caught on barbed wire would be my guess. But like clock work, Daisy would be at the detox fence line every morning to eat an apple or cereal, whatever I could find really, and ate it right out of my hand.
As the night sets in, and the animals are all fed, the two “twin” foxes come out and play in the field. With my flash light I catch their eyes only. I spot one, then about 20 feet away I catch the other. Then they play this game of stop-in-go, or freeze tag all through the open field between detox and residential.
At last, I go and find the newest person on campus. They’re easy to find. They’re usually the ones that are walking around were they are not suppose to be walking around. Always by themselves. Always with a heavy mind. How did I end up here? After I instruct them where not to walk, I tell them one more things:
Don’t forget to look up tonight.
Hey everyone, hope all is well and sober going into this beautiful weekend! I created a quick survey, that will literally take you 30 seconds to complete, so I can write better content that you will truly value!
Happy Friday-Keeping It Sober
So it’s been a really great year in all aspects of my life. I started 2015 off amazing with losing 20 pounds, starting a new
job and creating my first podcast and website. I also tried somethings for the first time like “drum lessons” and mountain bike trail riding with my brother-in-law. Although I’m horrible at drums, at least I gave myself the opportunity to try something I’ve always wanted to try. And for me, and hopefully you, that’s what recovery is all about, picking up where we left off!
So here are few things I learned in 2015:
- Not just recovery & sobriety are a process, all aspects of life is a process.
- Sometimes you just got to work with what you got, instead waiting for the perfect moment or thing.
- I stopped looking for excuses to start every little endeavor over and instead, pushed through!
A few things I accomplished:
- My Keeping it Sober Podcast. This was super exciting. Creating something from start to finish and have full control of the music beds, (I actually created my own intro music), content, cover art, editing, producing, promoting and seeing my product available on ITunes and about 5 other audio platforms was truly amazing!
- My Keeping it Sober website. I literally own about 15 different domain names, all bought with the brilliant intentions of creating the world’s next million dollar website! And it didn’t turn out that way for any of them. However, keepingitsober.org I actually completed and published on the web!
- I’m nearly a year and counting working at a treatment center in South Texas. This is huge for a person who is constantly changing their racing thought filled mind on what I want to do in life. And really just having that option is a true miracle!
Here a few things I did not accomplish in 2015:
- My manuscript, still trudging it out!
- My eBook, I keep changing topics and titles!
- My health, I gained the 20 pounds back!
Here are a few things I will accomplish in 2016:
- Create my first eBook, ( and I have the perfect name & story!).
- Start a daily routine of health & meditation, again!
- Provide content of true value to you, through blog and podcast.
Narrowing Down My Niche
When this entire blog and podcast started, I wasn’t sure who I was talking to and which my part of my experiences I shared, would be of true value. However today my challenge has narrowed into a more of a “learning to live sober, in an unsober world! Because that’s what happened to me. After 23 years of using and drinking, it wasn’t enough to just not drink or use, I had to learn how to live and function in today society and that’s one of my my main focus now of keepingitsober.org!
One More Quick Thing
Be looking out for my new website as well as a huge announcement coming out on January 13th!
Today looking back at 2015, I can honestly say that I have learned, experience and have grown so much in my sobriety that I can see the distance between the person that was active in drugs and alcohol to a brand new person who has let go and moved on. And that’s freakin’ exciting!
Jaime Valdes-Keeping it Sober
P.S. To sign up for my monthly newsletter for go to keepingitsober.org and sign up for free!!
Super quick, please fill out my 6 question survey that will help me provide better content for you in 2016!
This week instead of writing just one blog, I though I’d post my “drafts” from the entire week!
You got me.
I actually was driving myself crazy on what to write so I took 3 post I started (but didn’t finish) and fed them to you like high dollar steak!! HAHAHA!!! 🙂
So I was working on my website last night, by the way I have a “new look” site coming out in the new year, and started thinking. (Very RARE!) And I thought to myself, behind the podcast, blog and websites; through my weekly routines and schedules; and everyday responsibilities to the my household and family, that I am finally sober. And that’s all the really matters.
I coming up on 3 years next month, and unlike previous years I able to truly look back and see the addicted person that I am so far detached from. Everything from my thought process, to new friends and relationships have all completely changed.
I’m sleeping better. I mean way, way better. Im sleeping solid through the nights and doing something I have never ever done before. Sleep in. It’s really a beautiful thing when your mind is clear and not keeping you awake for every little thing.
This “new life” or “new me” is much more confident and proud. My motto of sobriety first…allows every aspect of my life to fall in place in random order, however nothing is above anything else.
For the first time ever this week, the thought of using disgusted me. That’s huge. Like really, really huge.
I think I’ve almost seen everything as far as items brought into treatment that are not allowed. And sure some things have merit and seem silly not to be allowed. And there is a huge “grey area,” because rehab is not a lock down facility and people pay to be there. But just in case your item or items falls in that little grey area, I wanted to definitely make absolutely clear that these certain items that I’ve personally have come across as people admit to the center, are not allowed at rehab:
- Pills hidden in your passport. (Always a big NO!)
- Syringes for the little baggie of cocaine you brought in.
- The little baggie of cocaine, itself and the cocaine.
- The beer, bottle or wine you drank on the way in to rehab.
- Duct Tape.
- A picture of your ex. From high school. And your 40.
- A T-shirt that reads, “Rehab is for quitters.”
- Your 15 purses and make-up bags.
- 23 different colored sunglasses.
- A BB gun.
- The lead guitarist for your “cover-alt band.”
Two mornings ago I got the call. It was truly unexpected. Unlike when JJ, hung himself and my parents drove 4 hours to prison to tell me. I sensed something was wrong when the guard yelled my name for visit, “Valdes!” My parents had just came to visit the weekend before. I felt it in my gut when I saw their faces sitting at the table, waiting for me as I sat down in front of them. Just like how I felt it when Richard was killed on New Year’s Eve and I got the “knock at the door” that Richard was missing, then later “the call.” It’s a feeling I get, all in the gut when something is horribly wrong.
However, when my wife called me back two morning ago, while I was driving back into town and even though I just hung up with her, I felt nothing when the call came in.
But then I heard her voice.
A voice I hate passionately. A voice I probably caused once or twice. A voice underneath tears. A voice that when I hear it, I brace myself for the next few words…