Getting in my head, is still a dangerous place for me.

I felt weird when I walked out Dan’s office. It was one of those, I shouldn’t have said anything moments. As I walked down the steps, my mind went into default conspiracy theory mode.

What are they planning? What’s my next move? I better start looking for a job!

All he asked me was one simple question. By the time I got to my office I considered texting a colleague to see if any oppurtunities were available. Dan just has this way, of stating like two sentences and making a person reevaluate their entire existence. My insecurities flare up, and brain goes into spin cycle. I then become the CSI expert. What was his demeanor when he asked the question, and why was he peeling an orange while he asked it? I tell myself, everything is fine. Breathe. Literally nothing has changed since the time I walked to his office, and then back to mine. I breathe some more. The second question, “what are priorities?” was a left hook. I quickly fumbled for an answer as if on a game show with the clock expiring.

“Family, work, and that’s it,” I blurt out.

“What about recovery?”

“That’s implied,” I say.

“No it’s not,” he says.

I know it’s not. I tell my clients the same thing when they give the same generic answers for their discharge plan. However as I sit and wait for lunch, I still fill as I set the ball in motion for some kind of career change.

Getting in my head is still a dangerous place for me to be. I can make fascinating stories of being wronged or victimized, which unfolds a number of events of me once again having to walk through a challenge of my own making. I don’t know if that is ever going to go away. But I think idneitfying, and coping with it in a healthy, realistic manner is forward progress.

And after writing about this moment, I feel better.

Breathe, talk, pray and stay sober another day.

There is a feeling that matches the action of making the wrong decision. In addiction, that feeling is masked with drugs and alcohol. In sobriety, there is no hiding from the from the emotion. I can deal with making a bad decision. That’s one of things that sobriety is all about. Not using or drinking over life’s little and big problems. However when I make a bad decision with a client or their family members, Its stings a little deeper.

My bad decision comes in the form of a “lack of empathy” for the people I am committed to helping. Compassion fatigue can play a huge role. However when it comes down to it, the lack of empathy for me, is received as not caring to a client or their family member.

Just because I am sober, and a licensed counselor, does not make me perfect. But sometime I feel like it should. It’s the overwhelming emotional wave of failure that seems to stay stagnant in my chest restricting my every breath, which signifies I need a break. Once identified the answer is simple. Breathe, talk, pray, and stay sober another day.

Raising a Child in Sobriety by J.R. Valdes

Jaxson has discovered pens. And crayons. In a room full of plastic-colorful building blocks he can spot a green pen buried beneath a mountain of toys. He remembers the exact spot he stashed it. He will search for paper and scribble his thoughts. He stands on his tippy-toes while reaching over his head and grabbing whatever his 18-month year-old little hand touches.

Jaxson understands the word “no.” My wife and I say “no” at least one thousand times a day it seems like. And just like how he picked up on the word “no,” I’ve picked up on when he is quietly walking away from me, it usually means he has something that he knows he is not suppose to have. Like a pen.

At eighteen-months old, despite my son understanding the word “no,” he consciously does it anyway. When I hold my son, and look into his big-brown eyes, I ask myself, how does any beautiful child born pure and innocent end up addicted to drugs?

I deal with twenty-something year-old kids everyday who are addicted to heroin, meth, alcohol or “whatever-you-got.”  I see my son, born pure an innocent. However with me being an addict, I lose sleep on his future.

 

Six Years Sober: The By-Product of working a Program is Happiness

Upon the New Year, I am not one to reflect on the past 365 days. Reflection for me, comes 13 days after. Six years ago, I was at my parents house, on the couch, slamming beers so I could come down off meth. I had $82 in my pocket,  but nobody would answer their phone. Three beers were left, and I was coming in and out of consciousness. To put it bluntly, I fucked up again. With the seconds it took to hit a pipe, my life went straight back to were it had lived for the past two decades. My wife left me, again. The little job I had only worked one day at, I lost. And the insanity in my mind once again, woke.

I didn’t want to go back to treatment. But no one would take my call. Even drug dealers wanted nothing to do with me.

“You need help,” one said.

I even had to lie, to buy drugs. I had to convince one,  that the drugs were for someone else. My options were this: 1) Die, 2) Go back to treatment. By the way, nobody should be in a place in their life where those are your only two options. That’s not normal. And yes, I actually showed up to treatment with $82 in my pocket, and three beers left in the fridge. (that’s the real tragedy!)

I hated treatment. I hated sober living. It was not fun going back. I was miserable. Again I had two options: 1) Die, 2) Work a program. So I gave it a shot.

I want to make something clear. I just didn’t wake up six years later, and have a family, career, education, sports broadcasting opportunities and most of all a life. Today my family and the people I have in my life along with the success Ive had at a career and education, are by-products of hard work in sobriety. Some days, I am so excited to go sleep, because I am so excited for the next day. Or, some days I want to stab my eye with a pencil. However, whatever kind of day it is, drinking and using are not an option. I woke up six years sober today, and I’m fucking proud of it! #stillSober

 

 

Ending Sunday Night

I’m watching the game and I’m watching my son. I had to run outside really quick to shut off the pump to the pool and when I got back my kid had plastic chair over him. I..don’t know what happen, other than I wasn’t there. Colt keeps jumping the fence. I don’t know from where, but he consistently jumps at least three times a day. He’s chipped and has tags, plus our address is written on his red collar. So at least one time a day my wife gets a call from a stranger telling her they have Colt in their car, if she can meet them to pick him up. I’m grateful for such nice people, personally I wouldn’t stop and put a dog in my car. But some people will, and that’s great. I wondering what I will walk into at work tomorrow. Coming off the weekend, our 9am staff meeting will have enough weekend staff reports that will take two hours to go over every client. I have a game tomorrow night, Friday career day and a game, and some time during the week I have to get a new drivers license since I lost mine. I’m making progress on my manuscript which is a good feeling. And now my wife is yelling, “go with daddy,” to Jaxson.

I’m tired of working hard for others.

Finally a second to breathe! I turned in my “final paper” last night and am done with class for this semester. There was a time, early in recovery where I was working hard as an employee and a student. Always feeling like I had to prove myself. Saying “yes” to everything even if that meant saying “no” to my family. Yeah there was a sense of, I am working hard for my family, but when does that end and turn into just not being around. It’s hard being mindful of that today, however I have learned to say “no,” I don’t want to do that extra thing at work or school. I don’t want to be away from my family when I don’t have too. Today, I don’t have to validate my self-worth, I am worthy today, no matter how the day unfolds.

Maybe it’s just life

This is how I feel today.

I can’t tell the difference sometimes. I feel like when I have a lot going on, all of my choosing, I not only feel like it’s too much, I feel like I’m failing at life. It’s like I have work, school, other work, family and personal hobbies and they all come at me at once and I fail at all of them. I had the thought of quitting everything this week, other than my job. Then it gets dark. Internal. It gets so dark I can physically feel the weight on my upper chest and arm. It’s like I am sore, however I haven’t worked out in over a week. I feel like yelling or crying. I use to get this feeling in addiction. However, with it, a tornado of horrible choices and reaction. Today I just sit with the feeling, knowing I have to hold it together. Maybe it’s just life. Maybe this is what every other person who is doing the right thing goes through. It’s almost like nothing brings me joy, with the exception of walking into my house full of family, that always perks me up. But I don’t see the reason for the in-between depression of life and going back home. I’m literally at work, wearing a storm jacket, and it’s 90 degrees out.

Maybe it’s time for a gratitude list.