Using your job as a recovery program

I can’t remember the last time I went to a meeting. If I was being nice to myself I would say about a month. And I did text my sponsor last week. But yeah, it’s been awhile. I got caught off guard while doing a process group last week. I don’t announce that I am in recovery, because my journey has nothing to do with someone else’s sobriety unless I’m sharing my story which in that case it would be to give my experience, strength, and hope. As a counselor, my recovery should not be a tool for me to use. It’s unethical and unprofessional. But when clients ask, it’s a quick yes and I change the subject. However you tell one person, and the entire campus will know. My mistake.

In process group, silence and can be a tool, it also can work against you. I like the silence when nobody wants to share. It’s gets the group uncomfortable, and forces the unsettling idea that they have to sit with their feelings without using and drinking over them. It’s just a matter of time, until the emotion is translated into words. However, when the group ends early, and there is an extra ten minutes or so, I hate reaching. For the sake of time, I don’t try to drag something out of someone. If groups over, its over. No need to force something for the sake of time. And that’s when the small talk comes out. And that’s when they asked me,

“Sir, when’s the last time you went to a meeting?”

“uhh”

“I don’t remember,” I mutter. And dam, as soon the “R” left my lips I knew I was toast. The group roared in unison, “what!”

“Hey guys, my recovery’s not perfect, the only thing I need to do perfect is not drink or use today.”

Yeah they saw right through that bullshit and let me have it. It was all good, I probably needed it. But I did start thinking:

What the fuck, people who say you can’t use your job as your recovery program are full of it, so my disease says! I know, I was just trying to justify my lack of meetings. I mean I know my job isn’t my recovery program but dam if I haven’t worked with people like me for the past four years! And the last thing I want to do is go to a meeting when I get home from my 1 hour drive from work! (That’s my disease talking again!) Ugh…I’m just not feeling the meetings this summer I guess.

But honestly, If it weren’t for my job I don’t know if I’d be sober, seriously.

Ok, that was my disease again!

Sigh……

Keeping it Sober Podcast Episode 15

Hey everyone, so the final Keeping it Sober Podcast Episode 15 is out, part 5 of the part 5 mini series on “How I Stay Sober.” It was so much fun to create and produce and post, I honestly enjoyed every second of it. Keep in mind, if ever if you did not get anything from this series, just creating the series myself, it one of things that keeps me sober on a daily basis.

Now for those of you with an amazing story of addiction, I highly recommend on sharing your story through blog or podcast to help others and most of all, keep sober!

Here’s the link to episode 15 or just click on the “Podcast” tab.

J

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

 

A Long Sober Drive Home

The traffic isn’t bad on the drive home from work. I think the school district in the little South Texas cottage town I work in either starts really late or really early. The curvy roads that slash through the hill country have been awaken with a foggy mist lately, which frost the windows but soothes the drive. The morning sun always catches me directly square, then it switches and torments the left side of my face. But this morning the sun hides as the dark clouds hold strong. About a twenty-minute drive through Mayberry then I hit the interstate which heads south back to San Antonio. Back to home. By this time, I’ve had enough of my favorite podcaster yelling online business strategy’s in _Please Lord, please set the apartment complex on fire so we have to evacuate. Please._my ears, so I pull out my ear-buds and prepare to battle the gut wrenching whine that we know today as “the end of radio.” Five minutes in and the radio wins like always and it’s abruptly interrupted by my index finger pushing the “off” button.

Then the real chaos begins. Being alone with my mind.

I do not have this amazing, crazy-successful, super exciting life now that I’m sober. I remember what Jeff said three years ago. I was living in a small college town just north of San Antonio, east from where I work now. I was living in a sober home that replicated the frat house in the movie “Animal House.” I was two weeks out of treatment, the same center I work at now. And I was desperate enough to finally ask someone for help. This time my life, it felt over.

I never took to the idea of having a sponsor. It just felt creepy. I mean put me in the Texas Department of Corrections and it’s like a reunion. At a club or bar I felt invincible. In the bad part of town, in a run-down house with complete drug using strangers, and I’ll spill my life story. But with some guy they call a “sponsor?” It’s just plain creepy.My first ever sponsor was Mario. And I was really uncomfortable. He had invited me to his apartment to go over the “Big Book” and when I showed up him and his wife were cooking. So I sat down and ate with them. Really, really uncomfortable. I wanted scratch my eyes until I  bled out. I prayed to myself, while I took a sip of his Cantelope and sugar water drink he made and asked,

“Please Lord, please set the apartment complex on fire so we have to evacuate. Please.”

Your not going to believe this. But moments later, the small kitchen began to fill up with smoke. The smoke alarm went off and Mario jumped up and ran towards the stove.

“Oh my God Lord, I wasn’t serious, wait, just please don’t let anyone get hurt. Oh, and thanks.”

It turned out Mario had forgotten he left tortillas in the oven and they started to burn. So we did have to air the apartment out, however we moved the study pool side.

About 4 months later coming off a relapse and my third treatment center, I had run into Jeff. I had heard him talk before at meetings when the treatment center would take us off campus. Something he said resonated with me.

“I know I have another drunk in me, but I’m not sure I have another recovery.”

That hit home big time. And when my ass was on fire, I knew who to go to. I asked Jeff to help me. I told him I was tired and for the first time in my life admitted, I didn’t know what to do. That’s when he asked, “well what do you want, why do you think you need help?”

“I can’t promise you’ll be happy, but I can guarantee you won’t be miserable.”

“I don’t know, ” I said, “I just don’t want to be miserable anymore.”

“Well that’s good,” Jeff said. “But I can’t guarantee you’ll be happy, but I can guarantee you won’t be miserable anymore.”

So all that came true. I’m not miserable anymore and even on most days I’m even happy. It was just one of those moments that plays in mind over and over at random. Moments like those get me through my hour drive home from work. And I think that’s why I don’t mind the 2 hour drive to and from. That’s two hours I know for sure I’ll be sober.

 

Unhealthy Relationships Will Cause Relapse

I know. It’s Bold. But maybe that’s what I need to write in 2016. And maybe that’s what you need to hear. The truth.

Someone asked me the other day, “do you think I can stay sober while my spouse still drinks at home?” I looked at her the same way I looked at the bank teller last week when I went to make a withdrawal.

“I would like take out X amount of money from my savings please,” I asked.

The teller left and came back minutes later.

“Sir, you have .76 cents in one of your savings, should I withdrawal from the other?” she asked.

Seriously. No. Make it happen with the account that has .76 cents!!! (The Look)

And that’s the same look I gave my friend who asked if she could stay sober while her husband drinks at home.

Seriously?

I get it. We are all different. Some of us can still go to music venues, some of us can still work at bars. However from my experience, I only know one way to stay sober. And that’s full commitment. Which meant for me, real change.

I'm very lucky and blessed to have the wife and family that I have!
I’m very lucky and blessed to have the wife and family that I have!

I know, I’m lucky. My wife stopped drinking all on her own when I finally came back home. (How someone can just stop drinking at a moments notice is absolute insanity, just a FYI) But I would not have been able to stay sober without my wife’s support. I don’t know either if I would of stayed or left if she decided to keep drinking, like I said I’m very lucky. But its either it is, or it isn’t. And I’m on the side of that if you want to stay sober, you can not live with someone who drinks or uses and most of all doesn’t support you. There is not even a little trick I know, or a little routine on how to get by when living with a spouse that drinks. No clever sayings or suggestions. Just simply no. It can’t be done.

What can be done is your spouse can support you by understanding the disease. By going to a meeting with you. By not drinking or using.

I guess it all comes down to, what are you willing to change, sacrifice and let-go of, to get sober?

-Jaime

Start Off 2016 With Meetings!

I mean, we can say what our “new year’s resolution’s” are, or we can take action! And the first thing that comes to mind with me, is being complacent.

“Sure, I’m good, I don’t need a meeting, I mean I have a blog and podcast!”

Every relapse story I have ever heard or been apart of starts off like this:

Well, I stopped going meetings..

The first six months of recovery I went to at least 3 meetings a day. I understand. Once we get sober, life starts to happen. People trust us. They give us jobs, people come back in out lives and our schedule fills up pretty quick. And for some reason, one of the tools that got us sober, is one of the first things we blow off.

Don’t be that person!

So I came with a mini-challenge and you can join in if you want. Seven meetings in seven days. However going to a meeting you have never ever been to before counts as 2 meetings. Also, a speaker meeting counts as 2 meetings as well. This should make it easier to accomplish. Every time you go to a meeting hit me up on twitter @keepingitsober with the #KISChallenge. The seven days will end with a new challenge, and if you have any ideas yourself, I’d love to hear them!

Keeping it Sober my friends!