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

 

 

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……

Ben checks into treatment for the third time

Affleck’s ex, stages intervention

TMZ reports actress Jennifer Garner, ex-wife of actor Ben Affleck staged an intervention Wednesday leading to Affleck’s third treatment attempt for alcohol.

Picture taken from The Blast

Every time a celebrity is in the news for checking into rehab it can’t be more clear, addiction affects everyone. However I wonder what celebrity rehab is like? I’m pretty sure they have their own room, but do you think they make them do chores, make their bed or allow them to have electronics?

Best wished to Ben and his loved ones, addiction is the hardest battle he’ll face.

Treatment Goals: 3 Things

It’s challenging as a clinician and someone in recovery when working with clients in a treatment facility. My personal story of recovery from drugs and alcohol should not be a tool I use to treat clients. Even though it’s my fallback if I feel a group or session is going not well. It’s hard some times. I want a client to be exactly where I am at spiritually, emotionally and mentally, however I forget that sobriety and recovery is a process, not a race. With that being said, what are a few treatment goals that are realistic and effective when one goes into treatment? Keep in mind treatment is just the first step in a life-long journey of self-discovery.

  1. To get physically and mentally well. The streets are brutal. Even if a person did not literally come from the streets, the body and mind need a break. Detox starts the process of physically healing. We don’t realize the amount of stress we put on our mind until we stop using. The goal should be clear up you mind and get some healthy food in your body.
  2. Another goal is to realize that the life you are living on drugs and alcohol, is not a normal and healthy life. Someone should be able to identify and accept, “hey, I do have a problem,” even though they are not ready to get sober, at least they admitted it. If you are lucky, this might take the entire treatment to accept. For some it takes decades.
  3. Realizing that some sort of change is needed. If a person who is in addiction can be willing to admit that something in their life needs to change, that’s a deep emotional acceptance that could very well be the start of their recovery.

Of course, these are just examples that I came up with, their not right or wrong, they’re just simple but effective goals or starting points for someone in treatment for substance use disorder.

Come up with a few treatment goals yourself and post them in the comment section.

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

 

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.

 

Robin Williams: Addiction, the real deal.

My prayers go out to the family and friends of actor/comedian Robin Williams. It is truly unfortunate and a great loss.
I do not know for certain the events surrounding his apparent suicide however, I did read of his current rehab visit for depression and his battle with addiction. And the most common reaction today, “Why, he had everything?”

I do not know why, and if you think wealth is everything then you might want to have a one on one with yourself later on today. And like I said I can not speak on his situation but I can share mine.

Yes I have went to war with addiction, basically that’s what my blog is all about. I have gone to treatment, twice within a six month period and I have relapsed.
b
The world came crashing down the first time I entered treatment. It was pretty bad. The worst day ever, easy. However the relapse, which was not as horrific, was mentally defeating. Its like getting to the Super Bowl, being a heavy favorite, then getting blown out. How do you recover from that? Very few do. It took everything I had to earn four months, I had nothing left when I relapsed. I went back to treatment because my dealer wouldn’t sell to me and I thought I could score in there.

Twenty something clean days later, I was completely miserable. I wanted to eat a bullet. And thats when I finally broke down and asked for help.

Looking back, all I did was stop using and drinking, but I didnt change anything about me. Thats why I was miserable. But once I started to change things got better. Way better. I went from thinking my life was completely over, to reaching the age of 39, and my life is merely begining!