The Morning After…

It’s a humbling feeling when you wake up in the morning after failing the day before. My failures today are not what they use to be, and the coping skill is 100% better than what it use to be as well. But failing for me today, is actually peaceful, if that makes sense. It’s like, yeah probably shouldn’t have high expectations in the first place, and I did do the best I could with the surrounding circumstances; and the reality is that my life is exactly the same as it was yesterday, which is amazing.

But it’s something in my chest that feels weird today. It’s not bad nor great. It’s just there. Calm, maybe. It feels like I failed and accepted rather than be in denial. I don’t know…

It was just a class. And I actually didn’t fail the class, but completely bombed my final. I was frustrated last night. One thing I did was when my professor asked if I wanted to work on my project some more and turn it in later this week, I declined. After a summer of two grad classes and work, I told her  when I walk out of class today, I’m done, I accept any grade she gives me. Which, I have an A, so at worst it will drop to a B.

I’m just tired, it’s been a rough week. But as long as I stay sober, it’s all good.

 

It’s experiences like these, that help me reflect on my past, and keeps me sober today

I told her she was going to die. And it’s the truth. She is going to die if she keeps drinking. But on the drive home and this morning it bothered me. I believe in meeting people “where they are at” and taking “whatever they are willing to do” to get sober. And creating a daily plan that is reasonable enough that they can achieve. But Jill isn’t 20 years old trying to get sober for the first time. Jill is 40 and looks horrible. She is six days sober, (so she says) and coming off another relapse. She’s experienced multiple seizures while detoxing this time as well. She has no money for treatment this time around, reason being she was in my group. I am not that “hard-ass , rogue-counselor that doesn’t play by the rules but somehow his tough love and unorthodox techniques for getting people sober work. That’s not me, however as I wrote that last sentence I admit that would be a pretty cool character on a YouTube Red series. I’m more of, “let’s work with what we got.” But I feel Jill is running out of things to help her get sober, the greatest is time. Jill is running out of time. That’s why I felt I had to be honest about her situation. And that’s why I said she is going to die, if she doesn’t stop drinking.

“I know, this isn’t my first rodeo,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said, “That’s why I feel this is not going to end good for you.”

So I doubted my approach. I mean, it could turn Jill into self-pity, and rationalize her to say screw it, I’m going to die I might as well drink. But I just feel that the sense of urgency and motivation to get sober isn’t there for her. She wants to put everything and everyone first. I feel like there is no time for her.

I hope I’m wrong.

 

*This story is real, however the name has been changed to protect our anonymity 

Finally my 2009 degree pays-off!

I hear about these kinds of situations all the time, but even the personal experience of God giving me everything I need in life and more, still creates uncertainty. And I tell myself, everything is going to be ok and I truly believe that. However the disease of addiction is centered in the mind, and I create this fear that in the past I would drink and use over, which was the only coping skill I knew. However today its different, the option of using and drinking doesn’t even come to mind. And even though I know things will work themselves out if I stay sober, the uncertainty of not knowing what’s next, is still brings fear.

I came home last night, to basically a miracle. The company I work for filed for Chapter 11 and is auctioning off their assets. I do not know the business side of all this, however I do know my days are numbered. I also know that whatever happens with my position, I am currently at the most employable stage of my life right now. I know for a fact, if I just stay sober everything will be ok. Yet, I still drive myself to insanity wondering if the new company is going to eliminate my position.

Why do I do this to myself?

So recently received my Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor- Intern credential. When I opened the big white envelope that contained my certificate last night, there was another surprise that I had no idea was coming. I’m not special, nor unique. But I do take pride of going from my active addiction to an LCDCi, at the treatment center I sobered up at. I must admit that’s cool, working as a counselor where I got sober. But that’s not the miracle.

I started to read the paper that came with the certificate. I was like, blah, blah, blah…. blah, blah. Then I read the part about the 4000 hours of internship. Whenever you get your LCDCi, you have to complete 3 years of internship hours before you become fully licensed. But when I kept on reading, the letter stated my 4000 hours had been waived due to my college degree that I received in 2009! I was completely taken away by this. All I must do now is take the exam, and I receive my full professional license without having to do the 4000 hours. This basically saves me three years!

Again, I don’t know why I fail to trust my higher power and my sobriety. My LCDC license was practically slapped in my face, making employment a whole of easier if I lose my position.
All I know today is if I don’t drink or use today, I have a pretty good chance that everything tomorrow will be ok.

Not every day in Sobriety is going to be fucking amazing.

Dark Days…

The thing about my depression is that it’s physical as well as mental. I get stuck for about three days and don’t want to do shit. I literally stress myself out until I’m in dark spot in my head. And what sucks is I know the things that I think are going to go wrong, in reality are not. I can do the self-talk, of “it’s ok if I fail today,” and “all I have to do is stay sober today and nothing else.” I know the behavior I get into when my depression kicks in. I start obsessing over my phone and computer like I have been for the past 48 hours. I don’t want to start my day, and my eating habits suck. And the thing that I hate most is that I know what I have to do to get out of it, but I have zero physical motivation to do so. I know the answer isn’t to “up” meds, fuck that. I know if I wait it out, it will pass. But during that time I feel like a horrible father, husband, brother and son. It’s just this big fucking tornado of pain that just marinates in my chest. Not even buying shit on Amazon works at this point. Maybe a meeting, maybe a blog post, maybe a walk with my “boys” Kenny and Colt, (Family dogs) would help if I had an ounce of energy to do so. When I was using I would stay up for weeks. I would get to a spot in my mind that’s similar to the one I’m in right now. And I would listen to songs on YouTube for hours. The music acted as a drug, and soothed my emotions and feelings that at the time, I couldn’t identify. Today I think it was depression. Maybe I used over depression. Here’s a song, to hope I feel better. Every day of sobriety can’t always be fucking amazing. Sometimes there some dark days.

The Search is Over…I found me.

It’s has been my experience the longer I stay sober the more I gain insight on my life. For example I can now look back and realize so moments in my life that may have contributed to my excessive drinking. Furthermore, addiction is that weird little gift that, without it, I would not have clarity today. 

The weird gift of addiction

It took years for the dust to clear from my all my consequences created by my insane choices I made in my disease. In fact there is still a cloud of dust that slowly is set to settle. However for the most part, I don’t know if my life is “back-on-track” but it certainly is going in the right direction (i think).

Part of this “recovery-journey” is finding out who I am. I used for over 20 years, and when I got sober I wasn’t the same person. It was exciting to look into myself for identity while at the same time challenging.

I feel like I am striving daily to get to a point in my life, that which I may already be at.  I don’t want to spend my life “in search of” meaning. I don’t want to work like crazy, “for someday to have the perfect bank account.” I don’t want to dream about a day “that I can finally get my family everything they want.”

I want to enjoy life today, not in 5, 10, 15 years. I don’t need to go hike a mountain to realize I’m here to help others. I don’t need to “tap-into” my inner-deep self to realize the potential I have, when I understand that my story isn’t special. I don’t have to waste anymore time, finding myself, when I know I’m a husband, father, son, brother and friend. And today, that is all I need to be……for now

Where to Draw the Line

I just got off the phone with a friend in the program. We have mutual friend that has relapsed.

     “Where do I draw the line?” she ask, referring to when does caring turn into enabling.

I learned this lesson early in sobriety. About three months early. I was running a sober home and one of the renters relapsed and got kicked out. And there I was to the rescue, with hotel money to save the day! I went to the hotel in the morning to take the guy to a meeting and try to find him another sober home and he was completely wasted.

Even though we don’t really know the person sitting next to us at a meeting, there is some type of emotional attachment. Probably because we see ourselves. Also, creating new relationships involves ‘s “disclosing” of personal information with one another. And that’s exactly what we do in meetings, we talk about personal stuff that we would not talk about anywhere else. So I understand the attachment to someone else’s sobriety.

I would suggest sticking out your arm, and drawing-the-line there. Do what you have to do to stay sober, and allow people to navigate their own personal journey of recovery.

 

-Walk Towards the Cheers

You wanna change the world???

The news on any platform feels so overwhelming today. It’s like politics has blended itself in every category of the media as possible, sports, Hollywood and social media. It’s hard to listen and take seriously especially when the “extremist-rant” is followed up by a money advertiser mention about Keri’s Berries. It’s actually quite comical.

So I think to myself how do I even make a dent, in a time when America is extremely-split on every topic imaginable, while the fingers point in both directions. Maybe I need to do more than just be sober.

But what? I had to start somewhere, so I decided to create my platform on “I have absolute zero control over the world and everything in it.” That right there gets me off-the-hook on a whole lot of issues. However I do have a responsibility, to someone or something, right? So I put my right arm out in front of me, and turned my body to a complete 360 degree angle. And that space right there, is where I start, and what I can control.

It’s a very small space compared to the world. So I started praying to my higher power to fill that small space with people who need help. And he did.

Andrew came in my life, and for the first time he has over 2 months of sobriety, after a dozen relapses. For the first time, he called me when he felt like using and drinking, and he remained sober. Nikki was having a nervous breakdown and her first day on the job at a local breakfast place. I took a second to tell her she was doing great, and with watered eyes, she said thank you. Brody called me and after a recent relapse after 15 months clean, he said he needed to get back in treatment, he couldn’t stay sober. Jessica called and after leaving treatment 2 months ago, she relapsed and wanted to go back. Then there was Vince, who literally got out of jail yesterday and says he is 6 months clean and if I would be his sponsor. And Mark, he showed me the scar that took up most of his forearm, and with a 24 ounce beer in his other hand, simply said, “I’m not ready yet.” Then picked up his wheel barrel of junk he has collected throughout our neighborhood and strolled down the street. It’s his journey, not mine.

You wanna change the world, start by waking up sober. Then help the people that your higher puts in your life. Action.

Walk Towards the Cheers…

Racing Thoughts: The Battle in your Head

On a good day, the “racing thoughts” come and go. On a bad day, they marinate a narrative in my mind that tell me I’m not good enough, smart enough, or I should be doing more. For me, that leads to some general anxiety and depression. When I’m in that spot in my head, there is nothing that can change the feeling. It’s just bad place for me to be in, and I know this today.

“It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks.”

The “clicks” on social media or purchases on Amazon don’t work anymore or bring little shots of joy. It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks. The only choice I have is to sit with the emotions. Or, take action.

Here are few things I do when I’m stuck in my head. I would like to add that alcohol and drugs are no longer an option for me to solve my emotional issues. That’s amazing. But I’m still left with myself, minus my number one coping skill. I once read, “You can make the leaves fall off the tree by shaking it, but the leaves will grow back, unless you get to the root.”

  1. Gratitude List. So I am five years sober, and just started practicing writing down a list of what I am grateful for. I always advise my clients and sober peers to write a gratitude list, but never have practiced myself. However when I wrote one last week, I felt better. I started with everything that I felt was wrong with my life. Then I wrote what I’m grateful for, then I wrote how I felt at that very moment and how silly my thoughts had seemed now that I was grateful.
  2. Thoughts are just thoughts. I heard in a meeting, “the voices in your head is not your higher power, it’s your Schizophrenia.” That made so much sense to me! This disease of addiction is truly originated in the mind. My best decisions listening to myself got me into treatment and other unhealthy situations and places. So, on a good day, the thoughts come, and let them ride right through.
  3. Take Action. There is nothing like taking physical action and doing something to get myself out of my head. It can be taking out the trash or blogging. If I get out of my own way, and do something productive no matter how small or big, it makes me feel better and calm my mind.
  4. Sit with your emotions. This one is tricky but I love practicing. I could have never done this is early sobriety or the first few years at that matter. But when I am able to sit with the feeling and emotions that my thoughts are causing, I can let them pass or I can dig deep and search for the root of why the thoughts are making me feel a certain way. It’s more like mediation, but when you are in the middle of a meeting or in front of large crowds, it’s a little hard to meditate.

I would love to hear your thoughts..lol..and some things you do to quite the noise in your head.

 Walk Towards the Cheers…

Gun Control or Mental Health?

Prayers to the 26 people killed and many others injured yesterday in a small town Texas Church. And thank God for the people who helped chased down the coward, so that he would not hurt any more Americans.

The topic I’ve been hearing this morning is of course, gun control and now mental health. I encourage you to form and state your own opinion here, as I am, because the worst thing we can do is remain silent as if this never happened.

I’ll start with gun control. I do not own a gun. Because of my record, the State of Texas will not allow me to own a gun. My wife does not want a gun in the house with the kids. So I’ve always considered myself against guns, especially used for hunting defenseless animals. But today that’s changes. I don’t know why people need an AR-15 and multiple firearms. But the same could be said about me, owning radio and audio broadcasting equipment. I understand my equipment will never kill anyone, but neither will an AR-15 in the proper hands. Internet Radio Broadcasting is my hobby and you don’t need to know why or even understand, just like if collecting weapons is your hobby, I don’t need to understand. What I do understand is that if those men yesterday who grabbed their guns and chased down the coward, who knows how many more people would have been killed. I am for the right of law abiding Americans to own and collect firearms.

A little bit more in my profession is the mental health aspect. For lack of a better phrase, “aren’t we all a little bit crazy.” I think killing 26 people goes beyond mental health. And so what if this coward suffered from some bi-polar, manic, depressed and anxious state of mind, does it give him a pass. NO! It’s just so overwhelming to ask ourselves as a society, “what did we miss with this, what could we have done for this person, maybe if we would of recognized his mental health earlier?” Those are all questions that for now deflect us from the truth: This idiot killed 26 defenseless people, and gun control and mental health are not to blame.

I would love to hear your comments, if agree with me or not, we need to get the conversation going, and keep it going until this act of coward-less behavior stops.

You can listen to my commentary by downloading the free Kwest Radio App, wherever you get your music from or click here.

The Purpose of Recovery- Podcast Episode 36

It’s hard to give an exact definition to the word “recovery” in an addiction context. But through my experience I’ve learned this:

“Recovery is the way you react, in those private little moments, when no one is looking.”

However, when someone is on day 1, that quote doesn’t mean much. So I interviewed Dr. Dean Robb and he specializes in helping people discover “who they really are” once they are stable enough in recovery. We discuss, the purpose of recovery as well as try to define it.

If you would like to contribute to the Keeping it Sober Podcast, you contact Jaime at jvmedia@smartbroadcast.org