How I stay sober #18

I’ve been looking everywhere for my 24 hour chip that John gave me. I’m over five years sober, but the bronze chip is what I like to carry in my pocket. The chip reminds me that I only have to stay sober today.

And today I am going to a barbeque with old friends that I haven’t seen in decades or since I’ve been sober. It’s a spiritually based gathering so no alcohol around, and I am taking my own unsweet tea either way. I have the option of meeting at a church, then going as a group however driving my own vehicle is the safest for me.

So I have my tea, vehicle and chip, what could go wrong?

I know today my motives are clear, my sobriety is strong and my desire to stay sober is that strongest that it has ever been. But most of all, I feel calm about going, compared to anxious. I feel that I am doing the right. The most important part for me is, being in my own car, to leave if I feel uncomfortable.

That’s one-way I stay sober.

 

Triggers: Here’s the Solution

What’s your trigger?

I’m still learning my triggers to alcohol and drugs. What exactly it is, that grabs my attention and sets my mind and heart rate into a false reality. Then it prompts me to think, “it was fun” and it would “surely be different,” this time if I use and drink. The trigger or a trigger, basically sets my focus back to time when I was using and drinking. And it can be literally anything that sets it off, like a song, a smell, the morning dusk, or the darkness of night. For me, a couple of nights ago, it was a scene in a movie.

It was around dinner time and my wife’s sisters and mother were over for the usual after work meal. I’ve been practicing lately not watching television, because I’m trying to Knick away piece-by-piece at a school project. One of the biggest challenges for the project is the finding the time to write. So I few nights a week, just for fifteen minutes I elect to write instead of watching television. That day was no different, but I was home early from work so I fell into a patch of time that allowed me to relax on the couch.

I’m watching what my family has on…(you see there, I’m already assigning blame!), and it’s movie where the boss of a company throws this “end of the world” epic Christmas Party. I’m laughing and enjoying it. The water coolers filled with tequila and the DJ spinning records along with all the employees in a drunken stupor don’t bother me. But what happens next, does.

The boss gets into a huge fight, and leaves the party. The scene is now where he is at on a downtown sidewalk, drunk and high, and someone who he does not know, screams from a car, “hey you wanna go party?”

The next scene shows him now at a underground shady-dark club, sitting on the couch drinking and doing lines of cocaine. There is music and club-goers, (ha..I’ve never used that word, “club-goers” im getting old!) all around and he has know idea where he is at, and doesn’t really care.

That was a gut check. I didn’t see it coming. That scene triggered me into a frame of reference like it happened yesterday. I felt as I was 1 day sober, instead of the 5 years that I am. My heart raced making my body warm, which caused my palms to sweat. The uncomfortableness caused me to fidgeted my body. My mind spun off, and for a split second I was in the club. Shaking the moment off, was no problem. My son was there, my daughter and wife were there along with her family. And just to note, this why we are told not to have alcohol or drugs in the house or hang-out with old friends in old places when we are getting sober. For moments like these. If I was at bar watching that movie, or with my old friends, this might be another blog topic.

So I went to a meeting. No, I’m not that Super AA person, It just happened to be meeting night at my home group. So I shook-it-off, grabbed my 12&12 and left. When I a came home it happened again, the one-two punch. I went to the bedroom to find my wife watching some movie. And like always, I got ready for bed and because I’m trying to have boundaries with Facebook, I start watching the movie instead of grabbing my cell phone. And this was this scene I fell into:

A romantic night, in a fancy hotel room and the lavishly dressed girl, downs an orange juice and vodka in front of her date. The guy said, , “Whoa, slow down.” The girl then grabs his drink and downs it the same. The she said, “what, that’s how I drink!”

So that just hit me square in the jaw. Same symptoms, accelerated heart, sweating palms, my mouth salivating and my mind inside the glass licking the ice cubes with my tongue.

(Deep Breath…..)

Here’s the solution:

I pointed out to myself why did I stop there? Why do I allow my mind to play the first half of the fantasy only. I never went to a party where drugs were free and everywhere, then I realize it’s 11:30, so I shoot for the door, and pick up something to eat on the way home and I wake up on time for work in the morning and have a fun memory to share of the night before. That never happened.

Never, have I had only two drinks, like the girl in the movie. I’m just not that person that can have half-a-glass of wine, bite into my medium-well steak, while enjoying the spring breeze off my balcony in the hill country. For me it was always, two-drinks, phone call to my drug dealer and disappear for three days.

I never went to a party and went home any earlier than 3 days. It was never a fun and clever night of jousting between parties and people only to end up all with a big laugh, when the night is done. It just doesn’t happen like that for me.

So when good memories of you drinking and using pop-up, play the entire night out, and see where you end up. Because, well, that’s where you end up.

Staying Sober On My Day Off

Keeping it Sober
The only thing you have to do is change your entire life, one moment at a time!

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.

Keeping it Sober
Is that cat food?

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.

Keeping it Sober
Get your free guide!

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.

Keeping it Sober
Found this guy walking the streets!

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.

 

Don’t Apologize For Winning

So safe_image.phpmy wife bought one of those do-it-all coffee bars for our anniversary last month. And it’s really cool because now I can grind and brew my own coffee creation! Today I tried, “iced-coffee.” I usually drink my coffee black because a few years ago I started gaining so much weight with the creamers and sugar that I had to slowly wing off until I was just drinking it black. (I swear I take everything to the extreme! #trueaddict) But yeah the iced-coffee came out pretty good and stays nice and cool in my Yeti that my kid bought me awhile back.

It’s been a weird past few days. I’ve been off work since Friday and don’t go back until Wednesday. I’ve never had 3 days off, however to have 5 days off work and all in a row is like Christmas morning! I just don’t know what I am going to do with all the time. Let’s see, so I played golf with my Dad, which was actually him showing me how to swing. Spent one of the days with my family. I got some work done on the keepingitsober.org website and I completed “List Builder’s Lab” which is an online course on how to build your email list. I know, “sober problems” it doesn’t rain, it pours! But a friend told me long ago, “don’t apologize for winning!”

PBOOK008
Free Guide!

So back to the course real quick. I purchased the List Builders Lab, an online course on how to build your email list, by Amy Porterfield. And I don’t mind giving her a “shout-out” she has an awesome knack for not only teaching you how to create, but taking action. Her course allowed me to create this really cool free guide for you, check it out! I found her podcast, which now by the way is my favorite, while listening to Pat Flynn, another online marketer, which whom I learned how to podcast from. And while I’m giving praises, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger rounds off my “Big 3” when it comes to online marketing podcasters.

Speaking of podcasters, I just released Keeping it Sober Podcast Episode #18 What is the ultimate goal in recovery with Dr. Dean Robb, from nextstagerecovey.com. I love insightful podcast interviews where you can tell yourself, “oh yeah, that makes perfect sense.” And this is one of those interviews. Dr. Robb talks about not only our ultimate goal in recovery is, but in life as well. He talks about finding out who we really are, being that we’ve hidden ourselves with all the layers and layers of addiction. I even realized why I choose to live in the house, literally right next door to the house I grew up in. To listen to the full episode click here!

Oh yeah, and by the way, I updated my bio’s on my social media accounts so if you are following me or you haven’t followed me yet, (shame on you!), go check it out!

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

..and I’m off to a much needed meeting!

 

The Essentials of Early Sobriety

By Rose Lockinger

core concepts in wood typeThe choice to get sober can be the most frightening decision an alcoholic makes. There are so many unknowns and the fear of withdrawal is enough to keep many alcoholics in bondage long after they need to be. I know it was like that for me. I was petrified to get sober. I didn’t really know what a sober life would look like. All that I knew, when I finally took the leap of faith, is that my life was no longer working and that if I continued on the way that I was going I would dead within the next year.

What finally got me sober…click here for full article!

 

Dealing With Family We Have Hurt In Addiction

I’ve got a brutal work schedule the last week or so. Working 6 out of  7 twelve hour days has got my mind in shock! So our kid is home after graduating from the Marines. It was an awesome experience to be a part of, and I am so proud of her. We have had our battles, (me and her) and she has definitely and literally seen the worst in me and my addiction. I would say out of the 3 girls, she got the worst of it. Not that the other 2 didn’t suffer any neglect. My youngest I lost at a carnival when she was like 4, she will probably be scarred for life, and even though she is just 11, she is like her mother, doesn’t forget anything, especially if it’s of my decision making. The middle kid, well I was just flat out was never there for her. No excuses, I was never there. I’m still not there for her. My goal is to stay sober and be ready if she ever needs me for anything. But the truth is, there are a lot of people she can call if she needs something, before she calls me. And that’s something I’ve accepted.

South Carollina 072   In recovery I’ve realized that for somethings I can never make up. In some people’s eyes, I may never be a good father, son, brother, husband or friend. I may have done to much or to little. But I have also learned that even though I have accepted that, I don’t have to dwell or live in it. I can only move forward, make amends when I can and most of all stay and live sober to be ready for when someone I’ve hurt while in my addiction, may need a hand.

Happy Thursday!

So my schedule is a little bit spun around now that I’ve moved to days. I constantly check my phone to remind myself which days we are on! However now that I have more time to do stuff on my days off, I do have less time to blog if that makes sense. So here’s a quick reminder of why we do the things we do!

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The movie Spun, Chris Isaak and my 3 year chip walk into a bar…(coffee)

thAbout a week ago I was sitting at Starbucks with the one person who showed up to my once a month, “How to create a podcast” group, ( I know, my life is so freakin exciting that your literally foaming at the mouth word by word), when the “Love Song” by the Cure, cover song came on. No, I’m sorry it was a Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game” cover song that came on, (I know, I can’t believe you’re following me either) and it immediately triggered my mind to find the girl who was singing it. I was like OMG, that sounds so good! So while I was ignoring the only member of the group babble on, a familiar hot flash came over me as I was searching the gallows of Itunes. 206d32ba0ba62cafad46c412791e136dThe obsession of desiring and seeking a song that would somehow make my life perfect merged with the obsession to drink and use just one more time. The taste of that “dark freedom” took my current reality back to a time where the only responsibility was no responsibility. The innocent moment of searching for a pretty cool song, quickly vaporized into a feeling of extreme urgency to watch the movie “Spun”, which for the 3 days prior to my last relapse in 2012, I obsessionally watched over and over. And over. This all happened in a period less than about 3 minutes, however it felt as if I took a trip for years.

Back in Starbucks I realized where my mind was, and where my feet actually were. Then I weighed my options. 1. I could ride the wave of old memories being that well, all they really are is thoughts. 2. I could blow off the entire ordeal and act as if nothing happened. 3. I could take action.

3 year chipI picked 3, and I texted a few members in my recovery program. At over 3 years sober, I actually had to tell someone I was in a bad place emotionally as if I was back on day 1. And for that I stayed sober another day. The morale of the story, which should really be, “Don’t go to Starbucks and listen to cover songs from Chris Isaak,” is no matter how far along you are sober, picking up the phone and calling or texting someone when your life feels a little weird can save your sobriety. And your life.

-Jaime

 

 

Watching March Madness in sobriety

So I felt a little weird and squirly this morning. Today starts my weekend actually. And it’s a little challenging coming off four straight twelve-hour overnight shifts. On my last night, I come home and sleep a good 18 hours till the next morning, which is today. now that your sober you only roll two deep for march madness!-1

But I did wake a little early, five in the morning early, so I decided to go to the gym.  As I walked outside to the car, the fresh, cool-damp morning gave me the chills. Especially the bird chirping her morning ritual that use to be the “sound of death” when I was using.

Driving down the dark street and watching the police cars roll by, I started to change my course of direction in my head until I said, wait, I’m not doing anything wrong. Old habit.

When I got home I tapped my key board so my monitor lights up, and it’s March Madness everywhere. Three years ago I would of known that. I would of quit my job (if I had one) to watch the games. Or maybe I was just quitting to drink and use.

Today being the avid sports fan, there is a lot going on. And it’s definitely a different vibe, maybe is even going to take some getting use to. But I’m actually hyped to watch March Madness and here a few things on how to watch the games, sober:

  1. Stay at home. I’m watching the games at home, no reason to set myself up at a bar.
  2. Watching the games by myself. It’s really how I watch the games anyway, no need to have a bunch of people over, they probably work today anyway.
  3. Hit a noon meeting. I’m not betting, there is no reason why I can’t hit a meeting and take an hour away from the television.
  4. Remember, it’s about having fun and enjoy the tournament, if I can’t do that then why am I watching.
  5. Stay connected. I’m planning to text a sober friend during the games about the games. That keeps me accountable.

My lifestyle is about sobriety now. Sure I think some of these things are silly but when I thing back about how my life use to be ill take “silly” every single day of the week and twice on Sunday.

-Keeping it Sober

I Felt Like Drinking, And How I Stayed Sober

I felt like drinking a beer yesterday. It was the perfect storm brewing for the past 2 days or so. A combination of random irritability, a severe pain on the roof of my mouth and maybe some hunger from starting a new diet set the stage, however yesterday morning was my tipping point.

I would not recommend sleeping 16 hours, however maybe if I wasn’t woken up every other hour by a dog barking or a wife yelling I could honestly say I slept the full 16 straight. But I didn’t. When the “Beastie Boys” alarm set,  kicked off at 4:30am on my iPhone it was a struggle to get up, but thoughts of a brand new day with coffee motivated me to sleepwalk to the shower.

So I’m all set in the driveway of my house. Car running and heat going. Warming up my hands by rubbing them together and then blowing a fresh breath of non-alcohol Listerine.

So I reach for my iPhone to scan my list of podcasters but my phone isn’t there, dam! Counter top table. The same table where 4 years ago my wife walked into the house and was surprised to see that Doug was about to set a “Texas Longhorn logo”, custom made from tile, right on the center of her table counter. (Whole another story!)

To explain, the entire “operation-forgotten iPhone” saga, which for me is to shut of my car, walk to the front door, fight with broken lock on the screen door, go inside, put on my “night vision goggles,” because my wife insists on every energy of light being off in the house at all times and then recover my device is like getting my two back wisdom teeth pulled, in the Texas Department of Corrections, and only given Tylenol for the pain. (Again, whole other story.)

So off to the place where for the past three visits my orders have some how translated from, “hot carmel mocha” to “cold mocha frappachino.” But, its a new day right, let the past go and focus on the new “hot mocha” present. I explain my order clearly, pull up to the “second” window, not the “first” or “third” but the “second” window and give the gal my card.

That I drop.

My card slides off my fingers, does a slow motion 360 and falls perfect between my seat and center console, into the Bermuda Triangle of cars. If you paid me one million dollars, on my life, I could not repeat the process if my life depended on it.

Breath.

Why I try to stick my hand in between a one centimeter slot, I have know idea other than I love mental pain. So I open my door only to realize I’m trapped in my car because I parked to close to the wall.  Water begins filling in my car, and within seconds I drown in the parking lot of a  fast food drive-thru. Or at least that’s what it feels like.

I move the car up, back, a little slant, up again and finally I can open the my door and begin the search for the Lost Ark. What feels like a few house later, I move my car up, back, a little slant and I’m back at the window. Finally, I hand the gal my card  to pay my $3.65 tab. She slides my card and presses a button. She pause’s. She presses another button. Pauses. Then she makes a upper body jester one would make who just lost a horse race by seconds.

A manger is beckoned.

My chin drops to my chest. I instantly calculate the repercussions of stabbing myself with a pen that I actually ordered in bulk with my health website name on it. Probably not good for marketing I decide.

15 hours later. (Or maybe just 2.5 minutes.)

After I kill the pain in my mouth with a burn of scorching hot mocha, I’m off for my seventy-five minute drive to work.

As I finally pull up, my focus is not to take out my frustrations on my clients or coworkers. I succeed, I think. However then the 5000 question survey come’s in via text from my wife. Really bad idea on her part, trying to communicate with me at 7:15am with only 1 cup in me, the nerve.

I’m not sure which text it was that ignited an internal flame of self-destruction while trying to maintain a smile for good reflection, but if had to choose, it might be the, “I don’t know why we’re together, you don’t do sh*$ around here,” text, but I could be wrong. And I learned the worst thing you can do, is reply with a one word agreement:

“Ok.”

So my day moves on. Nearing the clock-out hour, a “drink” pops in my head. Then a “meeting”, then a “drink” again. I knew what I had to do, and I didn’t really want to do it. It had nothing to do with swallowing my pride, or apologizing for my part, but for the first time, I looked at my situation as, what the right the thing to do is, so I won’t drink or use later, or at least for that day. And for me, that’s what its all about, doing what I have to do, to stay sober for another 24 hours.

So I called my wife on the way home from work. Made sure we were square and she wasn’t tripp’in anymore, and instead of ending my life once again with a drink, I went home and stayed sober.

Keep it Sober my friends,

-JR Valdes