Where to Draw the Line

I just got off the phone with a friend in the program. We have mutual friend that has relapsed.

     “Where do I draw the line?” she ask, referring to when does caring turn into enabling.

I learned this lesson early in sobriety. About three months early. I was running a sober home and one of the renters relapsed and got kicked out. And there I was to the rescue, with hotel money to save the day! I went to the hotel in the morning to take the guy to a meeting and try to find him another sober home and he was completely wasted.

Even though we don’t really know the person sitting next to us at a meeting, there is some type of emotional attachment. Probably because we see ourselves. Also, creating new relationships involves ‘s “disclosing” of personal information with one another. And that’s exactly what we do in meetings, we talk about personal stuff that we would not talk about anywhere else. So I understand the attachment to someone else’s sobriety.

I would suggest sticking out your arm, and drawing-the-line there. Do what you have to do to stay sober, and allow people to navigate their own personal journey of recovery.

 

-Walk Towards the Cheers

Racing Thoughts: The Battle in your Head

On a good day, the “racing thoughts” come and go. On a bad day, they marinate a narrative in my mind that tell me I’m not good enough, smart enough, or I should be doing more. For me, that leads to some general anxiety and depression. When I’m in that spot in my head, there is nothing that can change the feeling. It’s just bad place for me to be in, and I know this today.

“It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks.”

The “clicks” on social media or purchases on Amazon don’t work anymore or bring little shots of joy. It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks. The only choice I have is to sit with the emotions. Or, take action.

Here are few things I do when I’m stuck in my head. I would like to add that alcohol and drugs are no longer an option for me to solve my emotional issues. That’s amazing. But I’m still left with myself, minus my number one coping skill. I once read, “You can make the leaves fall off the tree by shaking it, but the leaves will grow back, unless you get to the root.”

  1. Gratitude List. So I am five years sober, and just started practicing writing down a list of what I am grateful for. I always advise my clients and sober peers to write a gratitude list, but never have practiced myself. However when I wrote one last week, I felt better. I started with everything that I felt was wrong with my life. Then I wrote what I’m grateful for, then I wrote how I felt at that very moment and how silly my thoughts had seemed now that I was grateful.
  2. Thoughts are just thoughts. I heard in a meeting, “the voices in your head is not your higher power, it’s your Schizophrenia.” That made so much sense to me! This disease of addiction is truly originated in the mind. My best decisions listening to myself got me into treatment and other unhealthy situations and places. So, on a good day, the thoughts come, and let them ride right through.
  3. Take Action. There is nothing like taking physical action and doing something to get myself out of my head. It can be taking out the trash or blogging. If I get out of my own way, and do something productive no matter how small or big, it makes me feel better and calm my mind.
  4. Sit with your emotions. This one is tricky but I love practicing. I could have never done this is early sobriety or the first few years at that matter. But when I am able to sit with the feeling and emotions that my thoughts are causing, I can let them pass or I can dig deep and search for the root of why the thoughts are making me feel a certain way. It’s more like mediation, but when you are in the middle of a meeting or in front of large crowds, it’s a little hard to meditate.

I would love to hear your thoughts..lol..and some things you do to quite the noise in your head.

 Walk Towards the Cheers…

Waking up Sober the Monday after Super Bowl

 

Grrrrrrr..!

I use to be the “guy” who never missed a game no matter what. Some of it was a true and innocent passion for the “big-game” storylines and hype, while a big part of it was an excuse to drink and use. When I got sober, I stopped watching sports for the first 2 years for several reasons. First, I associated watching sports with using and drinking, second I couldn’t handle the emotional rollercoaster ride of my team barley squeezing out a win, or not winning at all. Third I didn’t like they way sports controlled me as far contributing 3 to 6 hours of watching any random day. Even though I haven’t watched a complete NFL game the entire season, (thank goodness), and my favorite team was completely horrible, (not the Browns), it doesn’t take a “super-fan” to realize what Super Bowl Fifty-two, (I think?), is all about.

The number one storyline going into the “Big-Game” this Sunday is, Who do you hate more, Tom Brady or Eagle Fans? It’s really that simple. For me, I’m a Brady fan. If the Patriots win, to me Tom will be the best-ever, (whatever that means!). I like Carson Wentz, because I broadcasted one his game while he was in North Dakota State as my university played against him, and lost against him FYI. I know Wentz isn’t playing, however through recovery it’s important for me not to take this game to seriously, no matter who wins.

Here’s my logic. If I truly believe in and accepted Step 1, then I will do things throughout my day to help my stay sober. A person like me, can not afford to get emotionally invested in something so meaningless, like the Super Bowl. I can’t watch with a bunch of people who are drinking, or skip a meeting to watch. I can’t argue about a player, team or game. Other people can, I can’t. Reason being my old coping skill for handling uncomfortable emotions was drinking. Even though this will be my fifth sober Super Bowl, and I have new kick-ass skills to deal or sit with my emotions, I’d rather not test my sobriety, no need to.

If you are concerned watching the Super Bowl because you are on “day 1,” or maybe “year 10” here is a few things to make sure you wake up sober the following Monday.

  1. Host. You can’t control what other people do at their house, but you can control the invite list and the “no alcohol” rule at your own.
  2. If you absolutely must attend, maybe your up for that promotion at work and your boss invited you to his Super Bowl Party that’s is suppose to be epic, (which I would strongly suggest don’t go even if you don’t get that promotion), go with someone that is in recovery and have an escape plan if things get uncomfortable. “My neighbor called, and my dog jumped the fence or my house is on fire,” whatever works best!
  3. Go to your local recovery club or treatment center, someone will be hosting.
  4. Watch by yourself. That’s what I love to do. Pull out the old social media account and start analyzing every play from you smart phone, that will get the conversation going so you are not completely by yourself!
  5. My favorite, go to a meeting, don’t watch or DVR it for later.

No matter what you choose, remember this is not about Tom Brady or the Eagles, this about our recovery and staying sober.

Walk Towards the Cheers…

 

 

 

Don’t like what you see, change the view!

Our normal view!

I drive myself crazy trying to control and change everyone and everything around me. Even in recovery, trying to change the world around you can get exhausting, not to mention dangerous for us in recovery. The stress of trying to control others action but not being able to can lead us to relapse. However like everything in my life, I finally got tired of it and took action.

I finally realized that I cant control anyone but me, and controlling is a huge part of my addictive behavior. So instead of wasting God’s pure energy that he gave us on trying to change everything and everyone, I simply started to change my perception of things by taking another view.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Here’s an example. I don’t know why, but it drives me crazy when I see the recycle bin in our house overfilled. It’s like I’m the recycle bin police and my job is to make sure not an inch of recyclables better cross that fill line or else!!! So finally getting tired of wasting my limited precious moments of the day on stress, aggravation and control I decided to change my view of things. So now instead of being upset that my household does not revolve around my recycle bin morals, I look at the bin and tell myself, “how nice it is to have a family who is mindful of our environment and loves to recycle.” Or, “my family did their job in recycling, now I get to help out by taking it to the outside recycle bin.”

Our new view!!!!!!!

This is just a small example of how to look at things with a different perspective in effort to having a better overall day. However imagine the many “big things” we can change our view on to make difference in other people’s lives as well.

I would love to hear your thoughts!!!

Podcast Episode #34- Early Recovery, Depression and Autoimmune Disease w/ Ashlee Whittemore

This was probably one of my favorite podcast! I traveled to Austin, Texas to interview Ashlee Whittemore. Ashlee is an amazing individual who shared some really personal experiences all in effort to help other people! Thanks for listening!!

 

 

Recharge Your Sobriety- Podcast #33

If you are like me, then sometimes you need a little motivation in sobriety. It’s easy can common to let our guard down when life is good due to our recovery from drugs and alcohol. However, it is very important to be mindful of how important your sobriety is to your well-being. In podcast #33, I give you 8 questions to help you get your sobriety back on track!

I Am Ok With Just Being, Ok

coffeeLately it’s felt like groundhog day, the same daily grind from the second I wake up. It’s like I got sober to do the same thing over and over again. Maybe that’s what we do, repetition without reservations. How quickly the dark days hide now that the sun is shining bright. Not sure if the overcast is gone or just hidden by layers and layers of strong solid sobriety.

I heard a kid speak the other day. Complete millennial. I forgot what I had mentioned in group, but he was like, “dude, I wasn’t even born yet in ’85.” Geeze, thanks buddy! The kid with sandy hair looking like he carries his pillow on every Uber ride he goes on cashed in on some pretty good stuff. He said, “I wake up and I’m ok. I’m not happy, I’m not thrilled to be here, but just ok. But today, I’m ok with just being ok. Compared to the dark place I use to live for the past four years.” That makes perfect sense, to me and him at least. What doesn’t make sense to me is the Frisbee Golf league he’s in, that will never make sense. Millennias.

So a funny thing about that coffee cup. When I order coffee it’s has to sit for awhile before I drink it. I can’t drink steaming tongue burning coffee, that just doesn’t make any sense in my world. So when I buy coffee somewhere it is usually because I am driving a long way and such. So I buy coffee, eat, then I’m on my way out with the full cup. I’m about to push the door open, and I drop my cup. As I drop my cup, a guy walks in. The guy had absolutely no part of me dropping the cup. So I go up to the cashier, tell the kid sorry for the mess, can I buy another cup. The kid responds, that the guy just bought you one. I was like “wha what??” Told the guy thanks, he said no problem and as I walked to my car, I had this profound moment. YES! That’s what we need! Whatever “that” just was, I need to bottle it and give it to every American, so we can get a long, and have better days. This was amazing! Literally five seconds later I was honking and yelling at the truck in front of me who blocking my exit while he stood in line at the drive in. Fucking addicts. I am so screwed up in the head, I really just need to stay with the grind and coffee and mind my own business sometimes.

radioSomething really cool though, at least for me. I finally got my Internet radio station hooked up. I got in to Internet radio in college and when I graduated in 2009 it was my goal to create my own home studio. Well, didn’t work for obvious reasons, however last week, or 8 years later, its finished. It’s pretty cool. I can host live shows, have people call in, have in studio guest and it records all the shows as well. It’s probably now just going to sit there but at least it’s finally done, mission accomplished, I can go on with my life now!!! #keepingitsober

j

Hey everyone, don’t forget to check out the Podcast at keepingitsober.org

…does it need to be said, does it need to be said now and does it need to be said by me?

Does it need to be said, does it need to be said now, does it need to be said by me?
Does it need to be said, does it need to be said now, does it need to be said by me?

This morning I wanted to open the email flood gates and let loose my manifesto of what my work environment should be…too much of this, not enough of that, why can’t we do things this way, that’s dumb because it wasn’t my idea and ME, ME, ME, to my boss.

I actually struggled with this last night. And brought it with me this morning. I had the email drafted in my head, with almost threat like demands! I tried be rational, realistic and worthy. Maybe I should go straight to the top, or maybe I should start directly with my supervisor. Then for the first in my life time I took a step-back.
A client once told me that his counselor told him:
…does it need to be said, does it need to be said now and does it need to be said by me?
The answer to those questions for me and my situation was no. However,  my finger was on that email trigger rubbing, teasing, tasting and feeding my compulsion to create some kind of chaos to fill a personal need of control. I need to feel important and I need to feel important now.
I don’t know what to replace that need with today, but I will not feed into. So instead of starting a rash of emails to feed my character defects, I will do nothing. Today I will leave my emptiness open for it be filled by my higher power and not my compulsion for extreme chaos.

If you like my blog, please join me on my Private Facebook Group:

JR Valdes

I Learned That…

I thought it was some weird animal!
I thought it was some weird animal!

I am blogging about this today, because I know I won’t have time tomorrow. If I stay sober through tonight, Ill hit four years of being clean and sober. I have learned a lot, in life as well as sobriety. Countless life lessons mostly insightful and answering a question from the past that may baffled me for decades.

“Oh, the x-ing sign means watch for Deer Crossing, not Deer Xing.” Which for someone reason I always pronounced with a Z, for Zinging! Yeah so I did a lot dope.

I don’t know, maybe this was the year that I finally understood that it really isn’t all about me. I’m not special or perfect or a leader or important what-so-ever. Which is fine. I learned that it really doesn’t matter how much money I have. My bank account can be loaded or not, I’m going to have the same fucked up day either way. Or the same amazing day, either way. It’s all in the piece of mind of  paying my bills, having a small savings, and knowing more money is coming, because I am employed. I learned that my parents are not going to live forever, no one is.  I learned that I am not really sterile and I can make babies! I learned this year that nobody cares if I am in recovery or not. I learned that nearly all of my previous friendships were built on drugs and drinking. Which is know one’s fault. I learned I can make new friends, and they can be just as annoying as my “old friends.” I learned that life isn’t fair a times to everyone, not just me. I learned that part of recovery is growing up and carrying myself like a normal adult, which can be fun. I’m never going to finish my manuscript or be a radio host. I learned that I love my wife and girls and “the boys,” even though with this baby comes he’s going to rock our world! I learned that I only have one day of sobriety at a time, and that all I pray for is that God give me the option to choose, weather I want to drink or use today.

-jaime