The Morning after Thanksgiving: Waking up Sober

The bacon is sizzling and the coffee is hot! No regrets about cheating on Monopoly last night but I may owe some amends! However not the amends of a Thanksgiving relapse! For me this will always be my mantra: The payoff of not drinking and using is waking up sober the morning after!

Thanksgiving Eve: To go, or not to go? Early challenges in recovery.

Thanksgiving always had a way of finding me right in the middle of an alcohol and drug induced binge. Never did I say, oh Thanksgiving is around the corner, welp I better clean up! When I finally got sober in 2013, yes it was very awkward being around family.

My first sober Thanksgiving came ten months into my recovery and honestly I have no idea how I felt about it. I would imagine I was nervous, but not about the drinking, it was more like shame of being a thirty-eight year old alcoholic and addict. My last 12 months was filled with three rehabs, two sober homes, two IOP’s, one pending divorce, and unemployed. Not exactly the small talk worthy.

Thanksgiving wasn’t my drinking scene either. It wasn’t like I would show up clean-cut with some amazing, funny story to tell about a fishing trip or a backpack adventure in Europe. I didn’t share shots and smoke cigars to all the good fortune and opportunity. Then suddenly just call it a night with warm good-byes and hugs till next year. I drank, to get completely 100% fucked up. And Thanksgiving, wasn’t that scene.

So, that’s my experience, and now I’ll put my clinician hat on as if I’m talking with one my clients. This is probably what I would say:

“You’re like fifteen seconds sober, what the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t fucking go if you think you’re going to drink. You need to remember where drinking takes people like you and me. We don’t have a few drinks and then call it a night like normal people. We take a few drinks and were off to the fucking races. A minimum three day drinking and drugging binge, same clothes, no shower, no money, everyone is looking for us, everyone is mad at us. And what do we do, we keep fucking at it. At least that’s what happens to me.”

Wether I blog as a person in recovery or a clinician, the truth is if you are an alcoholic and addict, then this is life and death for you. Early recovery, and early sobriety sometimes sucks. There is going to be some boring Friday nights. But one thing I can guarantee is that your loved one will gladly be ok with you skipping out a holiday event due to working on your recovery; rather than you relapsing.

You can literally blog from anywhere

The entire concept of being a blogger is the ability to take the perfect picture of a coffee mug, a laptop, and some sort of background that yells freedom from the sucker nine to five and post that picture to various online platforms. From beachside at The Cove at La Jolla, to your local privately-owned trendy coffee shop, or your daughter’s San Diego bathroom floor, wait what? Yup, you read that right, blogging from the bathroom floor! No, I did not relapse, thank you. However, my son is literally sitting on the toilet right now squirming his little but on the potty. Thank God for coffee and for Kuerig’s I tell myself as I sip on my hustle juice awaiting for bubba to poop. What’s on the line you ask? A trip to Chucky Cheese for him, and points scored with his mommy for me!

Taming a Bi-polar Mind in Sobriety

This is my first driving to California from Texas trip. The scenery is beautiful compared to the flat San Antonio landscape. Driving through New Mexico and Arizona makes me wonder why I am living in Texas?

So I have the next two weeks off from work and spending the majority of the time in San Diego. My goal is to be there in support of my wife, and anything she needs me to do. The whole reason why we are here is because Kim is expecting and Pam will move mountains to be there for our first grandchild, which is understandable. But for a person in recovery and living with Bi-polar, sitting still seems impossible.

I am learning to tame my mind in the effort to live with Bi-polar. The mental disorder is so prevalent now that I am clean and living in sobriety. I like how it’s so clear today that drugs and alcohol were not my problem, however was the number coping skill to deal with myself.

So to balance my mind, I thought blogging about this trip would help. Not only that it gives me a change to really be mindful and present in effort to live in the moment.

Driving to Cali

Sober Dad: The balance between work and home is at the front door

This blog post was inspired by my favorite part of the day, going home to my family after work!

Turn Frustration into Joy

For every moment of pure joy I experience with Bubba, they’re moments of pure frustration. I’ve learned that when I come home from work, he’s ready to see me no matter my mental status, which is usually between stabbing my eye with a dull pencil and road rage without intent.

The gauntlet of a typical day as a clinician, has me dealing with people like me, the first 37 years of my life.  That person is an insane individual, insanity level being between psychosis and the sworn revelation of events from psychosis. So not exactly playing with a full deck.

However, daily balance comes in the form of a wild, relentless, no fear, built like a truck two-year old. My boundary from work life to home life is literally at my front door. On good days, it’s as I exit my work place, but at the very least it’s my front door.

After Bubba crashes into me, I grasp my hands under his arm pits and lock them air tight! I then raise him until my arms can’t reach anymore, then slowly give him the dramatic fall to the couch, “Bub…ba..noooooooooooooooo!” He laughs hysterically, and then says, “guin?” So I repeat the process one more time.

One of the things that I experienced in becoming a sober dad, is being mindful of even though my day is ending, family time is just beginning. Listening to their day versus complaining about mine, which takes practice, allows me to unleash pure frustration and welcome pure joy!

Being a Sober Dad: The By-Product of Living a Daily Life of Sobriety

Being a Sober Dad: The Gift of Exploring

Jaime Valdes is in his 7th year in recovery from drugs and alcohol while live a daily life of sobriety. He currently works at a South Texas treatment center for substance use and mental disorder as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, intern. Jaime earned his Masters in Interpersonal Communication in 2019, and loves writing, melting silver, and most of all hanging out with his family.

 

Being a Sober Dad: The Gift of Exploring

     I grew up with Nintendo’s and VCR’s. However, I dropped them in a second to be outside. I spent countless hours playing in my backyard. Every step was adventure, and every step dared me to explore past the chain link fence into the alley. As the days pass, my courage grew, and soon I extended my daily adventures. Soon the overgrown alley would become the trail down to the creek to catch crawdads. Then eventually it led to a forest.

Today, Bubba has his tablet for watching Netflix, his iPhone 10 for watching Netflix, and my phone, for watching Netflix. I know, it’s my fault, I’m the parent. However if I say the words “outside,” Bubba will literally drop whatever he’s holding, and the next words I will hear is “choes?”

Within seconds we are both outside. I follow Bubba’s little “choes” all the way back to the fence line. On the way he manages to pick up every little stick, rock, and leaf. He has a system. He picks them up, then throws. Picks up, then throws. Every now and then he turns and ask me if I want a stick, just by saying, “stik.”

Once we hit the fence line he grabs the chain link and stares at the exact overgrown alley where I once played. We then continue down the fence line picking up every stick, rock, and leaf in our way.

From my experience, a boy needs his father, and the outdoors. The special gift of exploring is ingrained in Bubba’s two year-old brain. I can’t teach him that, it’s something that a mindful and present father should pick-up on when raising a boy. In fact, the special gift of exploring never goes away. As we get older, the terrain expands and we begin exploring this world with tainted paragdigm’s. However we never truly leave behind the authentic root of exploring the backyard. If your lucky, you get to relive it with your son.

Read More: Being a Sober Dad: The By-Product of Living a Daily Life of Sobriety

Jaime Valdes is in his 7th year in recovery from drugs and alcohol while live a daily life of sobriety. He currently works at a South Texas treatment center for substance use and mental disorder as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, intern. Jaime earned his Masters in Interpersonal Communication in 2019, and loves writing, melting silver, and most of all hanging out with his family.

Being a Sober Dad: The By-Product of Living a Daily Life of Sobriety

My Boy!!!

My son is eighteen-months old. When I hold him in my arms, we connect. A boy needs his father in his life. He just does. I love when he brings me a book to read. He puts the book in my hand, then makes his way to my lap. He has a million toys, but he wants to play with the pencil on my desk. Or he will dump out the blue recycle bin in search of an empty water bottle that may have a loose cap. When I look into his eyes, I see purity, in every form; love, happiness, joy or even anger, frustration and hurt. But it’s all pure, it’s authentic.

     However, when I look into his eyes, I also see addiction. I see the twenty-old who says he’d rather kill himself than get sober. I see the guy wearing red boots, slouched in the counselor’s chair; completely hopeless after his wife and kid left him. He would rather be dead too. You don’s see heroin addicts past the age of forty in treatment. You just don’t.

     It scares the shit out of me. The 20-year-old, and the guy in the red boots ,once were innocent kids. They were once pure. At one time in their life, they had a million toys, but wanted the pencil off a desk. They tried to take the top off the empty water bottle for amusement. They connected with their fathers. Or maybe they didn’t.

     My wife talks about home schooling our son. I talk about never letting him grow. I am not sure at what point you stop making decisions for your son. The girls are so independent and successful. My son eats Chapstick.  

     I fear the day he stops listening, not that he listens now. It’s my job to raise a man and teach him to say no to drugs. To open the door for a lady or lay his jacket down over a puddle. But today is different. Today addiction is preventing many things in a boy’s life. And the most dangerous thing addiction can do is create a disconnect between father and son.

     The thoughts above reflect years as a drug counselor preceded by my own personal battle with addcition. While working with men of all ages, in their own battles in addiction, I can’t help but think of which path my son will choose. Ninety percent of the men I work with did not have a father present in their life. The unofficial statistics are alarming. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a sober father, which is the by-product of maintaining a daily life of sobriety.

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.