Good morning to all! I was thinking, part of my morning routine is to post-a-pic of the view of my backyard while sitting on my back porch drinking coffee. It’s kind of a morning meditation before the chaos begins! Anyway, I always try to comment a little message, just a few words to hopefully motivate or inspire. Today, I wrote, instead of the usual “have a great Monday,” I typed, “make it a great Monday!” And I thought, I do have control today, and I do get to decide today whether or not to let the outside in. As long as I stay sober today, I have a very good chance to make it a day of whatever I feel fit!
I’ve been looking everywhere for my 24 hour chip that John gave me. I’m over five years sober, but the bronze chip is what I like to carry in my pocket. The chip reminds me that I only have to stay sober today.
And today I am going to a barbeque with old friends that I haven’t seen in decades or since I’ve been sober. It’s a spiritually based gathering so no alcohol around, and I am taking my own unsweet tea either way. I have the option of meeting at a church, then going as a group however driving my own vehicle is the safest for me.
So I have my tea, vehicle and chip, what could go wrong?
I know today my motives are clear, my sobriety is strong and my desire to stay sober is that strongest that it has ever been. But most of all, I feel calm about going, compared to anxious. I feel that I am doing the right. The most important part for me is, being in my own car, to leave if I feel uncomfortable.
I’m still learning my triggers to alcohol and drugs. What exactly it is, that grabs my attention and sets my mind and heart rate into a false reality. Then it prompts me to think, “it was fun” and it would “surely be different,” this time if I use and drink. The trigger or a trigger, basically sets my focus back to time when I was using and drinking. And it can be literally anything that sets it off, like a song, a smell, the morning dusk, or the darkness of night. For me, a couple of nights ago, it was a scene in a movie.
It was around dinner time and my wife’s sisters and mother were over for the usual after work meal. I’ve been practicing lately not watching television, because I’m trying to Knick away piece-by-piece at a school project. One of the biggest challenges for the project is the finding the time to write. So I few nights a week, just for fifteen minutes I elect to write instead of watching television. That day was no different, but I was home early from work so I fell into a patch of time that allowed me to relax on the couch.
I’m watching what my family has on…(you see there, I’m already assigning blame!), and it’s movie where the boss of a company throws this “end of the world” epic Christmas Party. I’m laughing and enjoying it. The water coolers filled with tequila and the DJ spinning records along with all the employees in a drunken stupor don’t bother me. But what happens next, does.
The boss gets into a huge fight, and leaves the party. The scene is now where he is at on a downtown sidewalk, drunk and high, and someone who he does not know, screams from a car, “hey you wanna go party?”
The next scene shows him now at a underground shady-dark club, sitting on the couch drinking and doing lines of cocaine. There is music and club-goers, (ha..I’ve never used that word, “club-goers” im getting old!) all around and he has know idea where he is at, and doesn’t really care.
That was a gut check. I didn’t see it coming. That scene triggered me into a frame of reference like it happened yesterday. I felt as I was 1 day sober, instead of the 5 years that I am. My heart raced making my body warm, which caused my palms to sweat. The uncomfortableness caused me to fidgeted my body. My mind spun off, and for a split second I was in the club. Shaking the moment off, was no problem. My son was there, my daughter and wife were there along with her family. And just to note, this why we are told not to have alcohol or drugs in the house or hang-out with old friends in old places when we are getting sober. For moments like these. If I was at bar watching that movie, or with my old friends, this might be another blog topic.
So I went to a meeting. No, I’m not that Super AA person, It just happened to be meeting night at my home group. So I shook-it-off, grabbed my 12&12 and left. When I a came home it happened again, the one-two punch. I went to the bedroom to find my wife watching some movie. And like always, I got ready for bed and because I’m trying to have boundaries with Facebook, I start watching the movie instead of grabbing my cell phone. And this was this scene I fell into:
A romantic night, in a fancy hotel room and the lavishly dressed girl, downs an orange juice and vodka in front of her date. The guy said, , “Whoa, slow down.” The girl then grabs his drink and downs it the same. The she said, “what, that’s how I drink!”
So that just hit me square in the jaw. Same symptoms, accelerated heart, sweating palms, my mouth salivating and my mind inside the glass licking the ice cubes with my tongue.
Here’s the solution:
I pointed out to myself why did I stop there? Why do I allow my mind to play the first half of the fantasy only. I never went to a party where drugs were free and everywhere, then I realize it’s 11:30, so I shoot for the door, and pick up something to eat on the way home and I wake up on time for work in the morning and have a fun memory to share of the night before. That never happened.
Never, have I had only two drinks, like the girl in the movie. I’m just not that person that can have half-a-glass of wine, bite into my medium-well steak, while enjoying the spring breeze off my balcony in the hill country. For me it was always, two-drinks, phone call to my drug dealer and disappear for three days.
I never went to a party and went home any earlier than 3 days. It was never a fun and clever night of jousting between parties and people only to end up all with a big laugh, when the night is done. It just doesn’t happen like that for me.
So when good memories of you drinking and using pop-up, play the entire night out, and see where you end up. Because, well, that’s where you end up.
I had great week. Coming off some depression two weeks ago, I found myself in a really good spot emotionally. I learned that sometimes I just have to grind the bad days out and it always gets better. My counselor use to tell me, “you grinded out five day binges, why can’t you grind out your anxiety?” I found that to be true. So after “grinding” out a few days of being in an emotional and spiritual funk, I am left with by-product of sobriety: Which to me is living.
Waking up sober on a Sunday is the payoff for me. I remember the days when Sunday mornings was completely chaotic. I’d be wearing the same clothes as Friday night, my breathe smelled of alcohol, my armpits rubbing together like sand paper and my hair an emotional wreck. No money, no place to say since I was kicked out of my house, and no charge for my cell phone. The perfect cocktail, for….another cocktail. In my mind, I was just given a pass to keep drinking and using more. And I did.
Today’s I don’t have to live like that anymore. The by-product of my sobriety, which is a daily choice to stay clean from all substances, is recovery; a journey to who I am, or to a better person than before. And with that, I have been able to create a new life, that I don’t want to mess up with using and drinking. I strongly believe that in sobriety or in recovery, we must create a daily life we are content with. It doesn’t have to be some delusional amazing fairytale either. It can be as simple as drinking coffee on a Sunday morning, taking a walk through a trail, spending time with your son on the back porch and typing a new post, all before I go to work.
If you do not create a life in sobriety that you like, you will relapse. And it never gets better.
There was a time I would literally quit my job the morning of the opening games of March Madness. I would explain to my boss exactly why I was quitting. However the games were just an excuse to drink during the day and gamble money I didn’t have, while my wife was as work. A lot of that had to do with me just growing up, but I know today it was fueled by my addiction. You know how I know? Because today, I don’t even like sports.
You can now add sports to the ever growing list of things I can’t stand to do, now that I’m sober. I use to block out entire weekends, cancel birthday dinners for my parents, and watch sports news 24/7. I use to put so much time, effort and commitment to a sport or game that it became so overwhelming as if I was the one playing.
The first two years of sobriety I stopped watching sports completely. I figured since I was emotionally invested in my teams that it would not be good for my recovery. However when I started to watch and keep up again, I quickly realized that spending a good part of my weekend following a team is not very healthy and a waste of time.
I still do watch part of a big game here and there. However I can’t remember when the last time I sat and watched a complete game from start to finish, not even the Super Bowl.
So am I going to fill out a bracket this year? I work at treatment center so no office pools for sure there. A buddy asked me to join his bracket though. My thoughts, well if I get around to it…