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.
A friend of “ours” was sharing the other day and said in some weird and sick way he “missed the chaos.” And in some weird and sick way I knew exactly what he was talking about. Which makes our new relationships in recovery that more significant. People know what we mean and say where “normy’s” just thing we are crazy. In a way, they are right, or we would not be in the situation we are currently in, recovery!
So I knew exactly what he meant because in recovery I felt the same way. There has been times to where my life is so freaking peaceful that I physically want to scream to the highest level to break the silence of serenity! Maybe next time I should, however what I learned in these moments, and they are just moments, that instead of eating, buying, creating or whatever else I ran to, to make myself feel better, I sit and do nothing. I allow myself to feel the emptiness of chaos.
It’s a lack of, not a need. But somehow I feel like I “need’ to fill it with something that I think makes me feel good. But I don’t. If I sit in the empty void it will pass. Then I find that everything is fine and okay. I take a breathe. And for one more day I’m sober.
I was walking Colt around the block this morning and I think my “fixation on cars following me” kicked in because I started to notice every car that drove around me. Even parked cars blocks away caught my attention. It’s funny now, but back then it was pretty scary. I know today I can shake it off and change my thoughts to something positive pretty quick. Or something can happen that gets my attention like locking myself out of my house.
Real slick Jaime, real slick!
So Colt and I hopped over the fence to search for an open window or unlocked door and NOPE! With Colt looking at my all crazy, I noticed my kid’s bathroom window was open, but to get in I had to cut the screen. Years ago this would have set me off, but today my thinking is:
I can fix a screen, but I can’t fix a relapse.
So I wedge myself though the window and when I get in I receive a phone call. It was a friend from back in the day
when I was using. They ask if I know a plumber. Of course I don’t. But I go on to ask about the guys. Now at the end of my using the guys I hung with were like brothers to me. Ride-or-die partners in crime. It was us against the world and heavy into drugs. They are people I still think about and wish them well. So I ask about them…and well, they’re all the same but worse. One guy has new charges and facing prison time again. Another has a CPS case pending on them. Another married his daughters best friend who had a in prison. They all moved into my friends mom’s house. Which forces the daughter to have to move out because she went to prison for child abuse. Yup, one big happy family, and they are all still using. Oh and by the way all my friends hate each other now and don’t even hang out.
So I told my friend two things:
I’m so lucky I went to treatment when I did and…
You need to get the fuck away from everyone.
And to be honest, I feel good that everyone is doing bad. I know that sucks, but I made the right choice thus once and for all SMASHING ALL RESERVATIONS!
I went to a wedding this weekend and realized I’ve never danced sober. I really wanted to take my wife out and have a good time and we did. But what I realized was so much more than never danced sober before.
We got there early. We were actually the first guest there. We’re always the first one’s there. One of my pet-peeves in sobriety is punctuality. I always think I’m going to be late, thus I always end up being super early, no matter the occasion.
Out of all the empty chairs, we choose the two in the very back row. I took a moment to breathe in the beautiful country landscape. The huge Live Oak tree stretched it’s arm over and above the rug that would soon be stood on by the bride and groom.
An acoustic guitar played behind us. The light wind carried the harmony across the small meadow. The feeling shot though me like a flash of lighting, I was exactly were I was suppose to be, in my life.
New friends, new conversations and new laughs followed at the reception. A new crew. I felt good. I wasn’t there wondering about the after-party or watching the bar to make sure they we’re still serving. I didn’t have to try to be the drunk center of attention. I wasn’t making plans to “score dope” the second I left. I knew for sure I was going to get my wife and I home safe. I knew I was going to wake up for work in the morning. I new choosing n0t to drink or use, at least for that night, was the right decision.
I realized that even though my life’s purpose got side track for over two decades, that in the end, I will still end up where ever I suppose to be.
Well, here we are again. I went through a rough patch a few weeks ago. It actually lasted about a month. Didn’t go to any meetings and so on and so on…you know the drill. The funny thing was that I knew I desperately needed to go, but I was just like, “meh, screw, I’m not going, I’m not doing anything today!” And that’s what my recovery gets like. And it’s ok. I tell the clients I work with, you’re going to have those day or even weeks maybe. But after all you’ve been through, or going through, three weeks is nothing! Grind it out, keep moving forward, there is a reason for all this I tell myself. And now, as in right now, today or tonight rather as I type this, I can breathe. Because my life is so crazy busy with cool stuff in recovery and in sobriety that sometimes it feels like I can’t breathe. But tonight I can.
P.S. Be careful for what you wish for in sobriety, because it comes in waves!
So finally a day off, (huge exhale!). I guess my plan going into the hot summer days of the South Texas heat had always been to “grind-it-out.” However working 12 hours days, five in a week, gave new meaning to my phrase “the grinding summer.” I am not sure if it’s my addiction why I am working so much. You know, the whole, “take everything to the extreme” because I am a true addict or maybe I feel all the wasted summers of me not working needs to be somehow “made-up” in three months. Whatever the case, I do feel spiritually connected not only to the bright clear night sky that host the stars that shine upon the Texas Hill Country treatment center, but God’s creatures that run the drug and alcohol rehab, when the sun sets.
As the classes are done for the day, and groups are all out. I can count on Jim and Terry to be sitting by the pond, which sits next to the main entrance. I try to sneak up on them, driving my little golf cart off-road and barley touching the peddle to slowly creep up. The tires snapping every inch of dry grass and twigs, Jim spots me, “a mile away, he says with a smirk. Jim told me about the Coy fish that lives in the nearly dried out pond. I didn’t believe him at first. I mean the pond looks perfectly placed on the treatment center website, however up close, we probably could be sued for false adverting. (That’s Sarcasm!) I was sure nothing but minnows and the turtle I found about 3 weeks ago wobbling across the parking lot, were the only creatures that could survive the water. As Jim throws cat food into the pond to attract the Coy, Terry sits in a smoke-shack chair right next to Jim, staring aimlessly into the algae that sits atop. Terry, about 20 years older than Jim, comes to the pond every night. Just to stare. Into what, I have no idea.
Jim grabs a handful of cat food from the nurses station cat bowl. Which, lately a doe comes up all the way to the side walk every night. Right about the time the Coy fish waves his white tale so just the tip clips the water surface to prove me wrong, the doe comes and eats the cat food out the of the bowl. The white cat with the Chinese eyes, always politely sits a waits for the doe to finish. By the time the doe finishes, I make my way to the cat food bag and refill the bowl for Chinese eyes.
At first I thought the doe might have been “Daisy,” which was the detox deer that would come up and eat right out of our hands. Daisy was lost from her mother, and with a scar on her stout. Maybe from getting caught on barbed wire would be my guess. But like clock work, Daisy would be at the detox fence line every morning to eat an apple or cereal, whatever I could find really, and ate it right out of my hand.
As the night sets in, and the animals are all fed, the two “twin” foxes come out and play in the field. With my flash light I catch their eyes only. I spot one, then about 20 feet away I catch the other. Then they play this game of stop-in-go, or freeze tag all through the open field between detox and residential.
At last, I go and find the newest person on campus. They’re easy to find. They’re usually the ones that are walking around were they are not suppose to be walking around. Always by themselves. Always with a heavy mind. How did I end up here? After I instruct them where not to walk, I tell them one more things:
The choice to get sober can be the most frightening decision an alcoholic makes. There are so many unknowns and the fear of withdrawal is enough to keep many alcoholics in bondage long after they need to be. I know it was like that for me. I was petrified to get sober. I didn’t really know what a sober life would look like. All that I knew, when I finally took the leap of faith, is that my life was no longer working and that if I continued on the way that I was going I would dead within the next year.
I’ve got a brutal work schedule the last week or so. Working 6 out of 7 twelve hour days has got my mind in shock! So our kid is home after graduating from the Marines. It was an awesome experience to be a part of, and I am so proud of her. We have had our battles, (me and her) and she has definitely and literally seen the worst in me and my addiction. I would say out of the 3 girls, she got the worst of it. Not that the other 2 didn’t suffer any neglect. My youngest I lost at a carnival when she was like 4, she will probably be scarred for life, and even though she is just 11, she is like her mother, doesn’t forget anything, especially if it’s of my decision making. The middle kid, well I was just flat out was never there for her. No excuses, I was never there. I’m still not there for her. My goal is to stay sober and be ready if she ever needs me for anything. But the truth is, there are a lot of people she can call if she needs something, before she calls me. And that’s something I’ve accepted.
In recovery I’ve realized that for somethings I can never make up. In some people’s eyes, I may never be a good father, son, brother, husband or friend. I may have done to much or to little. But I have also learned that even though I have accepted that, I don’t have to dwell or live in it. I can only move forward, make amends when I can and most of all stay and live sober to be ready for when someone I’ve hurt while in my addiction, may need a hand.
About 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. The 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.
I 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.