Addiction & Recovery

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I Learned That…

I thought it was some weird animal!
I thought it was some weird animal!

I am blogging about this today, because I know I won’t have time tomorrow. If I stay sober through tonight, Ill hit four years of being clean and sober. I have learned a lot, in life as well as sobriety. Countless life lessons mostly insightful and answering a question from the past that may baffled me for decades.

“Oh, the x-ing sign means watch for Deer Crossing, not Deer Xing.” Which for someone reason I always pronounced with a Z, for Zinging! Yeah so I did a lot dope.

I don’t know, maybe this was the year that I finally understood that it really isn’t all about me. I’m not special or perfect or a leader or important what-so-ever. Which is fine. I learned that it really doesn’t matter how much money I have. My bank account can be loaded or not, I’m going to have the same fucked up day either way. Or the same amazing day, either way. It’s all in the piece of mind of  paying my bills, having a small savings, and knowing more money is coming, because I am employed. I learned that my parents are not going to live forever, no one is.  I learned that I am not really sterile and I can make babies! I learned this year that nobody cares if I am in recovery or not. I learned that nearly all of my previous friendships were built on drugs and drinking. Which is know one’s fault. I learned I can make new friends, and they can be just as annoying as my “old friends.” I learned that life isn’t fair a times to everyone, not just me. I learned that part of recovery is growing up and carrying myself like a normal adult, which can be fun. I’m never going to finish my manuscript or be a radio host. I learned that I love my wife and girls and “the boys,” even though with this baby comes he’s going to rock our world! I learned that I only have one day of sobriety at a time, and that all I pray for is that God give me the option to choose, weather I want to drink or use today.

-jaime

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

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

If You Had a Radio Show, What Would You Name it?

So at my little desk today at the Austin office acting like I am typing something of importance, while really I’m just blogging. Well I guess blogging is important, I mean if it were not for bloggers, how would I know who to vote for last week, yeah right!

My wife’s in Vegas for 25 days. And this is day 3. I hit two meetings in San Antonio and one today in Austin. I’m not going do the whole “25” in “25” however I though it would be a good idea kick-off the whole deal with some meetings.

Having a plan is a good idea when your significant other leaves out-of-town. I mean like a true addict and alcoholic, I had over three months to create some sort of “plan” when my wife left so I don’t relapse but file-nov-17-3-04-14-pmI put together something really quick, seconds after I dropped her off at the airport. Then today while eating Arby’s after my fifteen minute work-out at Planet Fitness, (where no one judges if you eat Arby’s afterward), oh by the way if you haven’t eaten Arby’s like in four years, its pretty dam good, I came up with my plan.

I’m going to start an Internet Radio Station! Well, not exactly. Well, that’s what I wanted to do, but then the thought hit me, start a live show first, then see if the financial support is there, and if it is, then move on that. Where this entire radio station came from was this past weekend my buddy wanted to broadcast a high school football game, but I didn’t want to go, but I was the one with the Internet audio stream. So I configured a way that he could call me from the press box and could grab his audio and convert it to a digital signal and pump that baby right into my Internet Radio IP address, so then to be listen to on the website. I know, genius!! And they say sobriety is boring!

No but seriously like it’s way cool you can call in and chat live, while being broadcasted over the net! So, a recovery radio show it is, just one problem,

what should I name it?????

jrv

By the way, don’t forget to check out my latest “Keeping it Sober” podcast Episode 24, Is Addiction a Disease??? on keepingitsober.org or iTunes

…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.

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.

 

Watching March Madness in sobriety

So I felt a little weird and squirly this morning. Today starts my weekend actually. And it’s a little challenging coming off four straight twelve-hour overnight shifts. On my last night, I come home and sleep a good 18 hours till the next morning, which is today. now that your sober you only roll two deep for march madness!-1

But I did wake a little early, five in the morning early, so I decided to go to the gym.  As I walked outside to the car, the fresh, cool-damp morning gave me the chills. Especially the bird chirping her morning ritual that use to be the “sound of death” when I was using.

Driving down the dark street and watching the police cars roll by, I started to change my course of direction in my head until I said, wait, I’m not doing anything wrong. Old habit.

When I got home I tapped my key board so my monitor lights up, and it’s March Madness everywhere. Three years ago I would of known that. I would of quit my job (if I had one) to watch the games. Or maybe I was just quitting to drink and use.

Today being the avid sports fan, there is a lot going on. And it’s definitely a different vibe, maybe is even going to take some getting use to. But I’m actually hyped to watch March Madness and here a few things on how to watch the games, sober:

  1. Stay at home. I’m watching the games at home, no reason to set myself up at a bar.
  2. Watching the games by myself. It’s really how I watch the games anyway, no need to have a bunch of people over, they probably work today anyway.
  3. Hit a noon meeting. I’m not betting, there is no reason why I can’t hit a meeting and take an hour away from the television.
  4. Remember, it’s about having fun and enjoy the tournament, if I can’t do that then why am I watching.
  5. Stay connected. I’m planning to text a sober friend during the games about the games. That keeps me accountable.

My lifestyle is about sobriety now. Sure I think some of these things are silly but when I thing back about how my life use to be ill take “silly” every single day of the week and twice on Sunday.

-Keeping it Sober

I Felt Like Drinking, And How I Stayed Sober

I felt like drinking a beer yesterday. It was the perfect storm brewing for the past 2 days or so. A combination of random irritability, a severe pain on the roof of my mouth and maybe some hunger from starting a new diet set the stage, however yesterday morning was my tipping point.

I would not recommend sleeping 16 hours, however maybe if I wasn’t woken up every other hour by a dog barking or a wife yelling I could honestly say I slept the full 16 straight. But I didn’t. When the “Beastie Boys” alarm set,  kicked off at 4:30am on my iPhone it was a struggle to get up, but thoughts of a brand new day with coffee motivated me to sleepwalk to the shower.

So I’m all set in the driveway of my house. Car running and heat going. Warming up my hands by rubbing them together and then blowing a fresh breath of non-alcohol Listerine.

So I reach for my iPhone to scan my list of podcasters but my phone isn’t there, dam! Counter top table. The same table where 4 years ago my wife walked into the house and was surprised to see that Doug was about to set a “Texas Longhorn logo”, custom made from tile, right on the center of her table counter. (Whole another story!)

To explain, the entire “operation-forgotten iPhone” saga, which for me is to shut of my car, walk to the front door, fight with broken lock on the screen door, go inside, put on my “night vision goggles,” because my wife insists on every energy of light being off in the house at all times and then recover my device is like getting my two back wisdom teeth pulled, in the Texas Department of Corrections, and only given Tylenol for the pain. (Again, whole other story.)

So off to the place where for the past three visits my orders have some how translated from, “hot carmel mocha” to “cold mocha frappachino.” But, its a new day right, let the past go and focus on the new “hot mocha” present. I explain my order clearly, pull up to the “second” window, not the “first” or “third” but the “second” window and give the gal my card.

That I drop.

My card slides off my fingers, does a slow motion 360 and falls perfect between my seat and center console, into the Bermuda Triangle of cars. If you paid me one million dollars, on my life, I could not repeat the process if my life depended on it.

Breath.

Why I try to stick my hand in between a one centimeter slot, I have know idea other than I love mental pain. So I open my door only to realize I’m trapped in my car because I parked to close to the wall.  Water begins filling in my car, and within seconds I drown in the parking lot of a  fast food drive-thru. Or at least that’s what it feels like.

I move the car up, back, a little slant, up again and finally I can open the my door and begin the search for the Lost Ark. What feels like a few house later, I move my car up, back, a little slant and I’m back at the window. Finally, I hand the gal my card  to pay my $3.65 tab. She slides my card and presses a button. She pause’s. She presses another button. Pauses. Then she makes a upper body jester one would make who just lost a horse race by seconds.

A manger is beckoned.

My chin drops to my chest. I instantly calculate the repercussions of stabbing myself with a pen that I actually ordered in bulk with my health website name on it. Probably not good for marketing I decide.

15 hours later. (Or maybe just 2.5 minutes.)

After I kill the pain in my mouth with a burn of scorching hot mocha, I’m off for my seventy-five minute drive to work.

As I finally pull up, my focus is not to take out my frustrations on my clients or coworkers. I succeed, I think. However then the 5000 question survey come’s in via text from my wife. Really bad idea on her part, trying to communicate with me at 7:15am with only 1 cup in me, the nerve.

I’m not sure which text it was that ignited an internal flame of self-destruction while trying to maintain a smile for good reflection, but if had to choose, it might be the, “I don’t know why we’re together, you don’t do sh*$ around here,” text, but I could be wrong. And I learned the worst thing you can do, is reply with a one word agreement:

“Ok.”

So my day moves on. Nearing the clock-out hour, a “drink” pops in my head. Then a “meeting”, then a “drink” again. I knew what I had to do, and I didn’t really want to do it. It had nothing to do with swallowing my pride, or apologizing for my part, but for the first time, I looked at my situation as, what the right the thing to do is, so I won’t drink or use later, or at least for that day. And for me, that’s what its all about, doing what I have to do, to stay sober for another 24 hours.

So I called my wife on the way home from work. Made sure we were square and she wasn’t tripp’in anymore, and instead of ending my life once again with a drink, I went home and stayed sober.

Keep it Sober my friends,

-JR Valdes