Podcast Episode #34- Early Recovery, Depression and Autoimmune Disease w/ Ashlee Whittemore

This was probably one of my favorite podcast! I traveled to Austin, Texas to interview Ashlee Whittemore. Ashlee is an amazing individual who shared some really personal experiences all in effort to help other people! Thanks for listening!!

 

 

I Am Ok With Just Being, Ok

coffeeLately it’s felt like groundhog day, the same daily grind from the second I wake up. It’s like I got sober to do the same thing over and over again. Maybe that’s what we do, repetition without reservations. How quickly the dark days hide now that the sun is shining bright. Not sure if the overcast is gone or just hidden by layers and layers of strong solid sobriety.

I heard a kid speak the other day. Complete millennial. I forgot what I had mentioned in group, but he was like, “dude, I wasn’t even born yet in ’85.” Geeze, thanks buddy! The kid with sandy hair looking like he carries his pillow on every Uber ride he goes on cashed in on some pretty good stuff. He said, “I wake up and I’m ok. I’m not happy, I’m not thrilled to be here, but just ok. But today, I’m ok with just being ok. Compared to the dark place I use to live for the past four years.” That makes perfect sense, to me and him at least. What doesn’t make sense to me is the Frisbee Golf league he’s in, that will never make sense. Millennias.

So a funny thing about that coffee cup. When I order coffee it’s has to sit for awhile before I drink it. I can’t drink steaming tongue burning coffee, that just doesn’t make any sense in my world. So when I buy coffee somewhere it is usually because I am driving a long way and such. So I buy coffee, eat, then I’m on my way out with the full cup. I’m about to push the door open, and I drop my cup. As I drop my cup, a guy walks in. The guy had absolutely no part of me dropping the cup. So I go up to the cashier, tell the kid sorry for the mess, can I buy another cup. The kid responds, that the guy just bought you one. I was like “wha what??” Told the guy thanks, he said no problem and as I walked to my car, I had this profound moment. YES! That’s what we need! Whatever “that” just was, I need to bottle it and give it to every American, so we can get a long, and have better days. This was amazing! Literally five seconds later I was honking and yelling at the truck in front of me who blocking my exit while he stood in line at the drive in. Fucking addicts. I am so screwed up in the head, I really just need to stay with the grind and coffee and mind my own business sometimes.

radioSomething really cool though, at least for me. I finally got my Internet radio station hooked up. I got in to Internet radio in college and when I graduated in 2009 it was my goal to create my own home studio. Well, didn’t work for obvious reasons, however last week, or 8 years later, its finished. It’s pretty cool. I can host live shows, have people call in, have in studio guest and it records all the shows as well. It’s probably now just going to sit there but at least it’s finally done, mission accomplished, I can go on with my life now!!! #keepingitsober

j

Hey everyone, don’t forget to check out the Podcast at keepingitsober.org

…does it need to be said, does it need to be said now and does it need to be said by me?

Does it need to be said, does it need to be said now, does it need to be said by me?
Does it need to be said, does it need to be said now, does it need to be said by me?

This morning I wanted to open the email flood gates and let loose my manifesto of what my work environment should be…too much of this, not enough of that, why can’t we do things this way, that’s dumb because it wasn’t my idea and ME, ME, ME, to my boss.

I actually struggled with this last night. And brought it with me this morning. I had the email drafted in my head, with almost threat like demands! I tried be rational, realistic and worthy. Maybe I should go straight to the top, or maybe I should start directly with my supervisor. Then for the first in my life time I took a step-back.
A client once told me that his counselor told him:
…does it need to be said, does it need to be said now and does it need to be said by me?
The answer to those questions for me and my situation was no. However,  my finger was on that email trigger rubbing, teasing, tasting and feeding my compulsion to create some kind of chaos to fill a personal need of control. I need to feel important and I need to feel important now.
I don’t know what to replace that need with today, but I will not feed into. So instead of starting a rash of emails to feed my character defects, I will do nothing. Today I will leave my emptiness open for it be filled by my higher power and not my compulsion for extreme chaos.

If you like my blog, please join me on my Private Facebook Group:

JR Valdes

First Blog Post of 2017

So the first week of 2017 went well. I set some work and play boundaries and life is flowing along great. I’m staying under 40 hours a week, I hit the gym three times for a little 15 minute work out and I wrote every night this week even if it was just one sentence. I took the Facebook, Amazon and Ebay apps of my iphone and kept my budget. I think the real test will come tonight and tomorrow. Those are the days that I plan to do “nothing!” Sounds easy right? Well, if you could see the ideas running through my head right now. I should finish that book, paint the garage, record a podcast, or write a book and a podcast about painting the garage! Maybe I should sell all the technology devices we don’t use anymore on Ebay, maybe I should bid on something, or maybe I should bid on my own auctions! To sit and do nothing is a huge challenge for me. And I don’t know what would make me crazy more, the challenge of doing nothing, or the million little tasks I schedule myself between now and Saturday morning. Maybe I need some type of direction all the time. And structure, maybe people like me can’t be alone with myself. I know on thing, once I hit publish on this blog…

….let the games begin!

Have a sober weekend everyone!

j

What’s your biggest fear for staying sober?

elevatorI don’t know how or why the question popped in my head. It’s really the first thing that came to mind as I opened up my laptop. It sounds crazy, someone being scared to stay sober but I think that may be big part of the challenge. Sobriety leaves us alone with ourselves. It’s that awkward moment of silence you share on an elevator  with someone like your boss or manager. You know them, but not really. Not enough to strike up a conversation, but enough that you know you should. We don’t know who exactly is under all the layers and layers of addiction we hide ourselves with. We have an idea, but we are not exactly sure. It’s just easier not to search, than to search and be disappointed. And that is why sobriety and recovery is a complete life change. And it can be scary however if you hold on, it can also be exciting and amazing! Imagine being in an elevator and the person next to you is the “sober you in five years.” What do they look like, where are they going, what do they say and is the elevator going up or down??

All comments are welcome and don’t forget to listen to our latest podcast!!

 

https://widget.spreaker.com/player?episode_id=9887413&theme=light&playlist=false&playlist-continuous=false&autoplay=false&live-autoplay=false&chapters-image=true

I Can Fix A Screen, But I Can’t Fix A Relapse

"Manu" Colt's step-brother!
“Manu” Colt’s step-brother!

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

"I can fix a screen, but I can't fix a relapse!"
“I can fix a screen, but I can’t fix a relapse!”

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:

  1. I’m so lucky I went to treatment when I did and…
  2.  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!

j

…just let it sink in!

So I made it out to Austin, Texas today. I was promoted at work and my new job has me visiting different locations in the South Texas area. While I was here, I set up a meeting to introduce myself to my new boss. I was walking into the restaurant we choose to meet at, when it hit me.

I honestly can not believe how far in life I have progressed since 2013. I mean, my life was over, done, zero, blown-to-pieces, hopeless, a lost soul, ka-put, game over, no time left, down 1-3, the Buffalo Bills x 4, the Cleveland Browns 0-9 season, The Miracle on Ice but in reverse, Hillary Clinton and the end of VHS tapes.

I mean seriously, I was done.

I just want to let that sink for a bit…

-jrv

 

 

Never Danced Sober

file-nov-07-11-43-16-amI 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.

What’s up??????

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!

Staying Sober On My Day Off

Keeping it Sober
The only thing you have to do is change your entire life, one moment at a time!

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.

Keeping it Sober
Is that cat food?

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.

Keeping it Sober
Get your free guide!

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.

Keeping it Sober
Found this guy walking the streets!

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:

Don’t forget to look up tonight.