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.

 

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

 

 

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.