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

 

 

The Morning After…

It’s a humbling feeling when you wake up in the morning after failing the day before. My failures today are not what they use to be, and the coping skill is 100% better than what it use to be as well. But failing for me today, is actually peaceful, if that makes sense. It’s like, yeah probably shouldn’t have high expectations in the first place, and I did do the best I could with the surrounding circumstances; and the reality is that my life is exactly the same as it was yesterday, which is amazing.

But it’s something in my chest that feels weird today. It’s not bad nor great. It’s just there. Calm, maybe. It feels like I failed and accepted rather than be in denial. I don’t know…

It was just a class. And I actually didn’t fail the class, but completely bombed my final. I was frustrated last night. One thing I did was when my professor asked if I wanted to work on my project some more and turn it in later this week, I declined. After a summer of two grad classes and work, I told her  when I walk out of class today, I’m done, I accept any grade she gives me. Which, I have an A, so at worst it will drop to a B.

I’m just tired, it’s been a rough week. But as long as I stay sober, it’s all good.

 

It’s experiences like these, that help me reflect on my past, and keeps me sober today

I told her she was going to die. And it’s the truth. She is going to die if she keeps drinking. But on the drive home and this morning it bothered me. I believe in meeting people “where they are at” and taking “whatever they are willing to do” to get sober. And creating a daily plan that is reasonable enough that they can achieve. But Jill isn’t 20 years old trying to get sober for the first time. Jill is 40 and looks horrible. She is six days sober, (so she says) and coming off another relapse. She’s experienced multiple seizures while detoxing this time as well. She has no money for treatment this time around, reason being she was in my group. I am not that “hard-ass , rogue-counselor that doesn’t play by the rules but somehow his tough love and unorthodox techniques for getting people sober work. That’s not me, however as I wrote that last sentence I admit that would be a pretty cool character on a YouTube Red series. I’m more of, “let’s work with what we got.” But I feel Jill is running out of things to help her get sober, the greatest is time. Jill is running out of time. That’s why I felt I had to be honest about her situation. And that’s why I said she is going to die, if she doesn’t stop drinking.

“I know, this isn’t my first rodeo,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said, “That’s why I feel this is not going to end good for you.”

So I doubted my approach. I mean, it could turn Jill into self-pity, and rationalize her to say screw it, I’m going to die I might as well drink. But I just feel that the sense of urgency and motivation to get sober isn’t there for her. She wants to put everything and everyone first. I feel like there is no time for her.

I hope I’m wrong.

 

*This story is real, however the name has been changed to protect our anonymity 

Where to Draw the Line

I just got off the phone with a friend in the program. We have mutual friend that has relapsed.

     “Where do I draw the line?” she ask, referring to when does caring turn into enabling.

I learned this lesson early in sobriety. About three months early. I was running a sober home and one of the renters relapsed and got kicked out. And there I was to the rescue, with hotel money to save the day! I went to the hotel in the morning to take the guy to a meeting and try to find him another sober home and he was completely wasted.

Even though we don’t really know the person sitting next to us at a meeting, there is some type of emotional attachment. Probably because we see ourselves. Also, creating new relationships involves ‘s “disclosing” of personal information with one another. And that’s exactly what we do in meetings, we talk about personal stuff that we would not talk about anywhere else. So I understand the attachment to someone else’s sobriety.

I would suggest sticking out your arm, and drawing-the-line there. Do what you have to do to stay sober, and allow people to navigate their own personal journey of recovery.

 

-Walk Towards the Cheers

Finding the time, to find the time

My son was born last week and I didn’t realize how important my morning routine was until I got off track for a few days. More importantly, it was the actual “not having enough time” aspect to do my morning rituals, that really through me off. Within a few days I was back on schedule and I got a chance to talk with an old high school friend of mine about how important it is to manage your time on a daily basis.

What Would You Tell The Addicted You?

There’s this guy in group that shared about his nephews’ drinking problem.

The mother said, “He’s out of my house for good…after I get back from my vacation.”

We had fifteen people this morning, everyone sober to my knowledge. All walks, age, gender and race. However no one, not even me could give a direct answer to the guy with the drunk nephew looking for advice. I mean, the guy understands himself, we cant get anyone other than ourselves sober but how do you even get someone to listen? I know I never listened, to anyone. I would like to think that the nephew shouldn’t have to go through 20 years of addiction to finally come to some profound moment in his miserable existence that he is finally tired. I mean there is more help today for people addicted to drugs and alcohol than ever right? We shouldn’t have to lose everything. We shouldn’t have to come to an end of our life only to grab and hold on to a little tiny piece of hope, and let it carry us to some weird meeting or group.

If the sober you, could go back and speak with the “Day 1” or the “Active Disease” you, what would you say? Would you tell yourself not to be scared, or that you know for a fact that everything will be better? Or would you just give yourself support and let “Day 1” you figure stuff out on their own?

Whatever your answer, that may be the thing to tell this guy’s nephew, before he waste the next 20 years of his life!

“Do not dwell on the past, or shut the door on it…”

I’m not going to say the wine bottles in the fridge didn’t bother me, but I know for sure that I wasn’t in any danger of drinking them. And it’s funny how I just described what a normal person would consider a “sip” or even a “glass” my addicted mind went straight for “them.” As in all of “them.” Yes for a few seconds I entertained drinking all the bottles of wine in the fridge me wife had put away for the baby shower.

If I were to look back at the beginning of the week, I would suggest it started with driving by the bar down the street. It’s not so much it was the place that I would always go to because I go walk home if I had to, it was more that the bar opens up early. Like 8am early. And to see people drinking on the patio as I drive by to take that left on the way to work, I get a little jealous if I let it.

Work was actually fine this week. I look forward to the hour long drives to and from. I find it therapeutic. However like anything else, it can get to me if I let it. But this week,  I was good.

At home after work I’ve been working on the back house getting it ready and livable. But the back house is where it all went down. The 24 hour drugs and alcohol binges. They lasted for weeks. And I was always painting and grouting or trying to build something. And the smell of paint and caulking along with the smell of a freshly cut piece of 2×4, triggered the substance that I used for my solution to all my problems for the past 17 years.

So by Friday afternoon, mentally I was in a bad spot. Stubborn not to hit a meeting or call someone about the stuff that going on in my head. So like they say, a relapse starts way early, the actually physical relapse it actually comes in the end. But then there’s the kicker, the last thing that pushes you overboard.

For me it was physical work. Carrying in these huge, and I mean huge 45 case water bottles. There was like a million of them. You see, my thing is, I don’t want to have to come home and physically work. It’s just my thing.

So that night, the day before my wife’s baby shower I opened the fridge to see bottles of wine. In a packed fridge with all this food and pastries for all the guest the next day, all I saw was the wine. And in my mind, the thought of within a few seconds I could be totally fucked up. Everything I worked didn’t matter. The four years sober didn’t matter. My family didn’t matter. My son who hasn’t been born yet didn’t matter. Graduate school, my job, my broadcasting gig, none of it mattered.

The one thing that did matter, or that had have mattered because obviously I sitting here typing still over four years sober, is that my life would go back to that miserable, hopeless and emotionally painful point in time, where I didn’t want to live anymore.

And that’s what kept me sober.

A Million Reason’s to Use Today

A loud screeching, yet familiar yell woke me up two hours before I was suppose to wake up.

“Colt!” she yelled.

He jumped the fence at 7am. He’ll come back I thought. But the I heard the bark. Colt has a distinct bark when he has something. So I got out of bed, put on my slippers and grabbed a light jacket on the way out to 30 something degree weather. I opened the alley gate as Colt’s bark got louder and louder. And there he is, in my neighbor’s backyard. He has a skunk cornered. Again. The tail pointing straight up in the air, Colt finally comes to me after repeatedly calling his name. It’s like he has a cloud of  something awful around him following him everywhere. Instead of letting him in the house I put him in the garage. Manu and Kenny Boy start whining. I’m the worst pet owner ever.

Then it hits me. I realize on the way back in, I heard running water by the back house. Funny, I don’t remember turning on any water. Hum. But now I do remember covering all the pipes for the hard freeze except the ones at the back house. Of course.

I think about calling into work since I’ve never called into work. (Thanks Sobriety!) But no, I text Jodi and tell her I am not going to make it by 11am, I’m going to be late.

However before fixing the busted pipe, the girls have to shower. Then I kill the water. Take off the pipe. Run to the hardware store. This all takes two hours. The actual fix, 45 seconds. Of course.

I show up at work at 11:45am. My co-workers are looking at me like I’m more than 45 minutes late. I look at the schedule. I was suppose be there at 8. Oops!

We are short staffed, again. And it’s visitation day. Clients can have their family visit the treatment center. The gates open at 1pm. Nobody locked the gates. Family members are driving on campus 30 minutes early. I have to be the jerk to kick them all out. And everyone is pissed and not understanding at all, including me.

I end up in the nurse’s station that checks in all the clients family members. Everyone who I just kicked out, I have to check in. All the smiling faces! (Dark, deep sarcasm!)

I text my friend/counselor:

I have million reasons to use today.”

I went to her office and vented. She told me her very new marriage is being challenges already. Ryan tells me he hit a coyote and it fucked up his new car that he just got, because his last car got totaled when he hit a deer 2 months ago. A nurse tells me she hit a deer on the way to work and it fucked up her front end. A client tells me he’s facing 20 years for manslaughter.

I realize my problems today are nothing. I just make them something. I realize everyone has problems. Everyone is fighting some kind of addiction. Everyone has $22 in their bank account. Everyone has pipe issues during a freeze. Everyone has some kind of stress and anxiety. There is no difference and I am not special.

And the cool thing, not once did I think about using or drinking, not once.

j

A Mother’s Heart

heroin
A Mother’s Letter To Heroin

I had guest post that was really inspiring and heartfelt. It’s from a mother who lost her son to prison because of heroin. Please feel free to share, support and comment on this beautiful letter to heroin.

http://keepingitsober.org/2017/01/a-mothers-heart/