I was talking with a friend in recovery the other day and she said one of her biggest challenges in early recovery was breaking-up with her drug dealing boyfriend but still texting him because in addiction, she didn’t know who was a friend or not. She went on to say the line that was crossed from friend to drug dealer to boyfriend was completely blurred.
I thought about early recovery for me. After the first 90 days, I started to decipher who was a friend, who did I consider family and who hung out with me just to use. And it was confusing. It took over 4 years to learn about which relationships was real and which was not. So I completely understood what my friend went through, and I would like to offer this.
Relationships are complicated, duh! They take work and effort over time, sometimes months or even years. One of the keys to relationships is self-disclosure. The first date your just feeling each other out, the second divulge a little more, maybe your Houston Texans fan, (sorry if you are lol..) and third date and so on begin to share little memories. Like the place you went to your first date, or watching the game together. Then slowly you start to disclose personal information. Maybe about your family, or something your passionate about like recovery. But all this happens over time. But in addiction, this process can happen in one night. Now you may say, well drugs and alcohol were involved so its not legit, but is it? Drugs and alcohol surely speed the process, but the emotions and disclosure are still there. You made a memory staying up all night, where in which you disclosed personal information and promised to see each other again, because he “understands you!” Then you get in early recovery. And you completely confused on what to do.
Let’s start here, everything is not communication, therefor everything is not always a relationship. They are 3 type of general relationships, and I’m going to talk about one of them, which is role relationships. These are people we see throughout our day that we have minimal interaction with and they can be interchangeable. For example, the person at the gas station. You hand them money, they give you chips and soda, maybe a “have a nice day,” and you go about your day. The person behind counter can change the next day just like every customer changes. That’s a role relationship. In addiction, it’s our drug dealers, bartenders and so-called friends we use with. It’s important to identify these types of relationship so in early recovery we can quickly discard them. We feel like we have this special bond to our drug dealer or bartender, but we don’t. They have other people just like us to serve or deal too. So if you are new in recovery or know someone who is, when they are confused about who is a boyfriend or friend and who is not, kick a little “role relationships” to them, and help them delete the unhealthy relationships and Facebook friends!!!
My son was born last week and I didn’t realize how important my morning routine was until I got off track for a few days. More importantly, it was the actual “not having enough time” aspect to do my morning rituals, that really through me off. Within a few days I was back on schedule and I got a chance to talk with an old high school friend of mine about how important it is to manage your time on a daily basis.
When I made the decision that I was tired of being miserable and I wanted help with desperation of a drowning man, I admitted defeat. And what was so hard about that evening in San Marcos, Texas in February of 2013, was that for the first time in my life, even though I had failed at life for the past two decades, was admitting that I was a failure. And that feeling of admitting, is why I am sober today.
I didn’t realize it at the time, however today I know that I must fail and accept that failure in order to move on in life. I was holding on to some false notion that everything I was doing in my disease of addiction was going to somehow work out. But once I let go, it left room to not only learn from my mistakes, but to heal.
Yesterday I realized that I am still holding on to things in my life that I have failed at. For example when I first started my podcast, Keeping it Sober, my goal was to be the number one podcast on iTunes for the recovery genre, which I am far from. However I never admitted it myself, so I was never able to change what I was doing. Admitting that I failed, doesn’t mean I have to stop podcasting or rip it off ITunes, all it means is now I can look at it, and learn from what didn’t work, improve on what did work and now how I can I make it better.
Failure is a good thing. Without failure, we don’t have an opportunity to learn. Without admitting failure, I would absolutely not be sober right now. So what are somethings, projects or goals that you have failed at, but are still holding on to? Admit defeat, accept failure and learn from it so you can move on in your life and recovery!
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.
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.”
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!!!
Lately the word “purpose” has been everywhere I look it seems. I hear it in meetings, groups and in reading articles. When I think of having “purpose” I imagine the search for purpose while in a personal journey, of hiking across beautiful mountain tops, along mystical trails with nothing but a backpack and religion. It’s always the search, the hunt and the journey that makes purpose so profound. However, for me, its not only purpose, but it’s applying purpose to my recovery.
Maybe my purpose in recovery is as simple as sharing my story or just listening without interrupting. I love to complicate everything! But for me, with a family and my first son on the way, I can’t just pack a bag and go. However, that should not stop me from the journey.
You see, just like how I finally got tired of being miserable, I now refuse to wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, stay sober and do it all over again. I have to have some type of daily purpose that tells me no matter what, this is why I exists, this is why I am sober, at least for today. So I detached myself from things that I thought were identifying me like work and graduate school. I tell myself, if I ever get fired or fail at school, that should not dictate my purpose. I should be able to wake up, fulfill my daily purpose, no matter what.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
On my birthday I spent the day at the beach with a couple of friends. I did miss being at home with my wife but I did have a relaxing day just being present and mindful of my surroundings. There is something about the beach and the ocean that gives me a sense of serenity and purpose.
In my addiction my wife and I would argue all the time. One time I took off
to the pier just to get away however I was literally there only an hour as I could not go another second without drugs. However when I walked the pier this time I was sober and clear headed.
I guess it’s the sense of “hope” that I feel when the waves crash into the shore. No matter how big or small, each wave has purpose and gives with each thrust, instead of taking away. It all depends on perception.
This was the sky the other night right before a huge thunderstorm struck south Texas. The funny thing is that it was so beautiful and it felt amazing outside. It was peaceful and the only thing you could here was the wind blowing, moving the sky right over me.
One thing I still struggle with is being present. Don’t dwell on the past or jump to the future. Be where your feet are, and your day will go better!
And of course, anytime is a good time for coffee!
Last there is hope. Without hope, I have nothing. Hope is what motivated me to get sober. Everything I do and share about my personal recovery is to give someone hope, that they can get sober and live a healthy life.
There’s this guy in group that shared about his nephews’ drinking problem.
The mother said, “He’s out of my house for good…after I get back from my vacation.”
We had fifteen people this morning, everyone sober to my knowledge. All walks, age, gender and race. However no one, not even me could give a direct answer to the guy with the drunk nephew looking for advice. I mean, the guy understands himself, we cant get anyone other than ourselves sober but how do you even get someone to listen? I know I never listened, to anyone. I would like to think that the nephew shouldn’t have to go through 20 years of addiction to finally come to some profound moment in his miserable existence that he is finally tired. I mean there is more help today for people addicted to drugs and alcohol than ever right? We shouldn’t have to lose everything. We shouldn’t have to come to an end of our life only to grab and hold on to a little tiny piece of hope, and let it carry us to some weird meeting or group.
If the sober you, could go back and speak with the “Day 1” or the “Active Disease” you, what would you say? Would you tell yourself not to be scared, or that you know for a fact that everything will be better? Or would you just give yourself support and let “Day 1” you figure stuff out on their own?
Whatever your answer, that may be the thing to tell this guy’s nephew, before he waste the next 20 years of his life!
I’m not going to say the wine bottles in the fridge didn’t bother me, but I know for sure that I wasn’t in any danger of drinking them. And it’s funny how I just described what a normal person would consider a “sip” or even a “glass” my addicted mind went straight for “them.” As in all of “them.” Yes for a few seconds I entertained drinking all the bottles of wine in the fridge me wife had put away for the baby shower.
If I were to look back at the beginning of the week, I would suggest it started with driving by the bar down the street. It’s not so much it was the place that I would always go to because I go walk home if I had to, it was more that the bar opens up early. Like 8am early. And to see people drinking on the patio as I drive by to take that left on the way to work, I get a little jealous if I let it.
Work was actually fine this week. I look forward to the hour long drives to and from. I find it therapeutic. However like anything else, it can get to me if I let it. But this week, I was good.
At home after work I’ve been working on the back house getting it ready and livable. But the back house is where it all went down. The 24 hour drugs and alcohol binges. They lasted for weeks. And I was always painting and grouting or trying to build something. And the smell of paint and caulking along with the smell of a freshly cut piece of 2×4, triggered the substance that I used for my solution to all my problems for the past 17 years.
So by Friday afternoon, mentally I was in a bad spot. Stubborn not to hit a meeting or call someone about the stuff that going on in my head. So like they say, a relapse starts way early, the actually physical relapse it actually comes in the end. But then there’s the kicker, the last thing that pushes you overboard.
For me it was physical work. Carrying in these huge, and I mean huge 45 case water bottles. There was like a million of them. You see, my thing is, I don’t want to have to come home and physically work. It’s just my thing.
So that night, the day before my wife’s baby shower I opened the fridge to see bottles of wine. In a packed fridge with all this food and pastries for all the guest the next day, all I saw was the wine. And in my mind, the thought of within a few seconds I could be totally fucked up. Everything I worked didn’t matter. The four years sober didn’t matter. My family didn’t matter. My son who hasn’t been born yet didn’t matter. Graduate school, my job, my broadcasting gig, none of it mattered.
The one thing that did matter, or that had have mattered because obviously I sitting here typing still over four years sober, is that my life would go back to that miserable, hopeless and emotionally painful point in time, where I didn’t want to live anymore.
And that’s what kept me sober.