Six Years Sober: The By-Product of working a Program is Happiness

Upon the New Year, I am not one to reflect on the past 365 days. Reflection for me, comes 13 days after. Six years ago, I was at my parents house, on the couch, slamming beers so I could come down off meth. I had $82 in my pocket,  but nobody would answer their phone. Three beers were left, and I was coming in and out of consciousness. To put it bluntly, I fucked up again. With the seconds it took to hit a pipe, my life went straight back to were it had lived for the past two decades. My wife left me, again. The little job I had only worked one day at, I lost. And the insanity in my mind once again, woke.

I didn’t want to go back to treatment. But no one would take my call. Even drug dealers wanted nothing to do with me.

“You need help,” one said.

I even had to lie, to buy drugs. I had to convince one,  that the drugs were for someone else. My options were this: 1) Die, 2) Go back to treatment. By the way, nobody should be in a place in their life where those are your only two options. That’s not normal. And yes, I actually showed up to treatment with $82 in my pocket, and three beers left in the fridge. (that’s the real tragedy!)

I hated treatment. I hated sober living. It was not fun going back. I was miserable. Again I had two options: 1) Die, 2) Work a program. So I gave it a shot.

I want to make something clear. I just didn’t wake up six years later, and have a family, career, education, sports broadcasting opportunities and most of all a life. Today my family and the people I have in my life along with the success Ive had at a career and education, are by-products of hard work in sobriety. Some days, I am so excited to go sleep, because I am so excited for the next day. Or, some days I want to stab my eye with a pencil. However, whatever kind of day it is, drinking and using are not an option. I woke up six years sober today, and I’m fucking proud of it! #stillSober

 

 

Don’t like what you see, change the view!

Our normal view!

I drive myself crazy trying to control and change everyone and everything around me. Even in recovery, trying to change the world around you can get exhausting, not to mention dangerous for us in recovery. The stress of trying to control others action but not being able to can lead us to relapse. However like everything in my life, I finally got tired of it and took action.

I finally realized that I cant control anyone but me, and controlling is a huge part of my addictive behavior. So instead of wasting God’s pure energy that he gave us on trying to change everything and everyone, I simply started to change my perception of things by taking another view.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Here’s an example. I don’t know why, but it drives me crazy when I see the recycle bin in our house overfilled. It’s like I’m the recycle bin police and my job is to make sure not an inch of recyclables better cross that fill line or else!!! So finally getting tired of wasting my limited precious moments of the day on stress, aggravation and control I decided to change my view of things. So now instead of being upset that my household does not revolve around my recycle bin morals, I look at the bin and tell myself, “how nice it is to have a family who is mindful of our environment and loves to recycle.” Or, “my family did their job in recycling, now I get to help out by taking it to the outside recycle bin.”

Our new view!!!!!!!

This is just a small example of how to look at things with a different perspective in effort to having a better overall day. However imagine the many “big things” we can change our view on to make difference in other people’s lives as well.

I would love to hear your thoughts!!!

…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.

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JR Valdes

The Emptiness of Chaos

Early sobriety can be a tornado of emotions!
Early sobriety can be a tornado of emotions!

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.

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

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.