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?”
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
So my 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!”
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!
The 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.
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.
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.
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!