What Does Recovery Look Like to You?

#myRecoverypic

So I challenge you this week, to capture a picture of your personal recovery. If you snapped a photo of your recovery what would it look like? Would it be inside or out? At night or day? Would there be people in it or will it be filled with nature? Is it something you live for or experience every single day and moment? Or maybe it is still something you strive for. Whatever it, post a picture here or on our Facebook page and group, of “What Does Recovery Look Like to You?” #myRecoverypic

There is an Ocean of Oppurtunity in Sobriety!

Where the road ends, new life begins!

The first days in addiction I felt like my life had came to an end. It was like the road had ended. There was no where left to walk. That is why I struggled so much in early sobriety because I felt like my life was over, whether I got sober or not. That thinking made it so hard to want to get help.

However a few weeks later, even though my life and everything in it was still a mess, I began to see the bigger picture. The “what if” I gave this “sobriety thing” a chance thought, started to peek in my mind.

The idea of what opportunities I could possibly have if I lived a clean and sober life gave me just enough hope to give sobriety a try.

A few months later I was able to really see a clear picture of my what my life could be. I started to understand that my life wasn’t ending, it was just beginning.

There is an ocean of opportunity in Sobriety!

Today at a little over four years sober, I can still see the “big picture” and still strive for many goals. The amazing things about it, is that once you see all the opportunity your life has clean and sober, you will always see it. The main things is, if you early in sobriety, do not think of this as the end of the road, think of it as the beginning of an amazing new life!

Like always feel free to join me at the private Facebook Group, Keeping it Sober!

 

What’s your biggest fear for staying sober?

elevatorI don’t know how or why the question popped in my head. It’s really the first thing that came to mind as I opened up my laptop. It sounds crazy, someone being scared to stay sober but I think that may be big part of the challenge. Sobriety leaves us alone with ourselves. It’s that awkward moment of silence you share on an elevator  with someone like your boss or manager. You know them, but not really. Not enough to strike up a conversation, but enough that you know you should. We don’t know who exactly is under all the layers and layers of addiction we hide ourselves with. We have an idea, but we are not exactly sure. It’s just easier not to search, than to search and be disappointed. And that is why sobriety and recovery is a complete life change. And it can be scary however if you hold on, it can also be exciting and amazing! Imagine being in an elevator and the person next to you is the “sober you in five years.” What do they look like, where are they going, what do they say and is the elevator going up or down??

All comments are welcome and don’t forget to listen to our latest podcast!!

 

https://widget.spreaker.com/player?episode_id=9887413&theme=light&playlist=false&playlist-continuous=false&autoplay=false&live-autoplay=false&chapters-image=true

If You Had a Radio Show, What Would You Name it?

So at my little desk today at the Austin office acting like I am typing something of importance, while really I’m just blogging. Well I guess blogging is important, I mean if it were not for bloggers, how would I know who to vote for last week, yeah right!

My wife’s in Vegas for 25 days. And this is day 3. I hit two meetings in San Antonio and one today in Austin. I’m not going do the whole “25” in “25” however I though it would be a good idea kick-off the whole deal with some meetings.

Having a plan is a good idea when your significant other leaves out-of-town. I mean like a true addict and alcoholic, I had over three months to create some sort of “plan” when my wife left so I don’t relapse but file-nov-17-3-04-14-pmI put together something really quick, seconds after I dropped her off at the airport. Then today while eating Arby’s after my fifteen minute work-out at Planet Fitness, (where no one judges if you eat Arby’s afterward), oh by the way if you haven’t eaten Arby’s like in four years, its pretty dam good, I came up with my plan.

I’m going to start an Internet Radio Station! Well, not exactly. Well, that’s what I wanted to do, but then the thought hit me, start a live show first, then see if the financial support is there, and if it is, then move on that. Where this entire radio station came from was this past weekend my buddy wanted to broadcast a high school football game, but I didn’t want to go, but I was the one with the Internet audio stream. So I configured a way that he could call me from the press box and could grab his audio and convert it to a digital signal and pump that baby right into my Internet Radio IP address, so then to be listen to on the website. I know, genius!! And they say sobriety is boring!

No but seriously like it’s way cool you can call in and chat live, while being broadcasted over the net! So, a recovery radio show it is, just one problem,

what should I name it?????

jrv

By the way, don’t forget to check out my latest “Keeping it Sober” podcast Episode 24, Is Addiction a Disease??? on keepingitsober.org or iTunes

…just let it sink in!

So I made it out to Austin, Texas today. I was promoted at work and my new job has me visiting different locations in the South Texas area. While I was here, I set up a meeting to introduce myself to my new boss. I was walking into the restaurant we choose to meet at, when it hit me.

I honestly can not believe how far in life I have progressed since 2013. I mean, my life was over, done, zero, blown-to-pieces, hopeless, a lost soul, ka-put, game over, no time left, down 1-3, the Buffalo Bills x 4, the Cleveland Browns 0-9 season, The Miracle on Ice but in reverse, Hillary Clinton and the end of VHS tapes.

I mean seriously, I was done.

I just want to let that sink for a bit…

-jrv

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

A Long Sober Drive Home

The traffic isn’t bad on the drive home from work. I think the school district in the little South Texas cottage town I work in either starts really late or really early. The curvy roads that slash through the hill country have been awaken with a foggy mist lately, which frost the windows but soothes the drive. The morning sun always catches me directly square, then it switches and torments the left side of my face. But this morning the sun hides as the dark clouds hold strong. About a twenty-minute drive through Mayberry then I hit the interstate which heads south back to San Antonio. Back to home. By this time, I’ve had enough of my favorite podcaster yelling online business strategy’s in _Please Lord, please set the apartment complex on fire so we have to evacuate. Please._my ears, so I pull out my ear-buds and prepare to battle the gut wrenching whine that we know today as “the end of radio.” Five minutes in and the radio wins like always and it’s abruptly interrupted by my index finger pushing the “off” button.

Then the real chaos begins. Being alone with my mind.

I do not have this amazing, crazy-successful, super exciting life now that I’m sober. I remember what Jeff said three years ago. I was living in a small college town just north of San Antonio, east from where I work now. I was living in a sober home that replicated the frat house in the movie “Animal House.” I was two weeks out of treatment, the same center I work at now. And I was desperate enough to finally ask someone for help. This time my life, it felt over.

I never took to the idea of having a sponsor. It just felt creepy. I mean put me in the Texas Department of Corrections and it’s like a reunion. At a club or bar I felt invincible. In the bad part of town, in a run-down house with complete drug using strangers, and I’ll spill my life story. But with some guy they call a “sponsor?” It’s just plain creepy.My first ever sponsor was Mario. And I was really uncomfortable. He had invited me to his apartment to go over the “Big Book” and when I showed up him and his wife were cooking. So I sat down and ate with them. Really, really uncomfortable. I wanted scratch my eyes until I  bled out. I prayed to myself, while I took a sip of his Cantelope and sugar water drink he made and asked,

“Please Lord, please set the apartment complex on fire so we have to evacuate. Please.”

Your not going to believe this. But moments later, the small kitchen began to fill up with smoke. The smoke alarm went off and Mario jumped up and ran towards the stove.

“Oh my God Lord, I wasn’t serious, wait, just please don’t let anyone get hurt. Oh, and thanks.”

It turned out Mario had forgotten he left tortillas in the oven and they started to burn. So we did have to air the apartment out, however we moved the study pool side.

About 4 months later coming off a relapse and my third treatment center, I had run into Jeff. I had heard him talk before at meetings when the treatment center would take us off campus. Something he said resonated with me.

“I know I have another drunk in me, but I’m not sure I have another recovery.”

That hit home big time. And when my ass was on fire, I knew who to go to. I asked Jeff to help me. I told him I was tired and for the first time in my life admitted, I didn’t know what to do. That’s when he asked, “well what do you want, why do you think you need help?”

“I can’t promise you’ll be happy, but I can guarantee you won’t be miserable.”

“I don’t know, ” I said, “I just don’t want to be miserable anymore.”

“Well that’s good,” Jeff said. “But I can’t guarantee you’ll be happy, but I can guarantee you won’t be miserable anymore.”

So all that came true. I’m not miserable anymore and even on most days I’m even happy. It was just one of those moments that plays in mind over and over at random. Moments like those get me through my hour drive home from work. And I think that’s why I don’t mind the 2 hour drive to and from. That’s two hours I know for sure I’ll be sober.

 

Start Off 2016 With Meetings!

I mean, we can say what our “new year’s resolution’s” are, or we can take action! And the first thing that comes to mind with me, is being complacent.

“Sure, I’m good, I don’t need a meeting, I mean I have a blog and podcast!”

Every relapse story I have ever heard or been apart of starts off like this:

Well, I stopped going meetings..

The first six months of recovery I went to at least 3 meetings a day. I understand. Once we get sober, life starts to happen. People trust us. They give us jobs, people come back in out lives and our schedule fills up pretty quick. And for some reason, one of the tools that got us sober, is one of the first things we blow off.

Don’t be that person!

So I came with a mini-challenge and you can join in if you want. Seven meetings in seven days. However going to a meeting you have never ever been to before counts as 2 meetings. Also, a speaker meeting counts as 2 meetings as well. This should make it easier to accomplish. Every time you go to a meeting hit me up on twitter @keepingitsober with the #KISChallenge. The seven days will end with a new challenge, and if you have any ideas yourself, I’d love to hear them!

Keeping it Sober my friends!