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

 

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

Don’t Apologize For Winning

So safe_image.phpmy wife bought one of those do-it-all coffee bars for our anniversary last month. And it’s really cool because now I can grind and brew my own coffee creation! Today I tried, “iced-coffee.” I usually drink my coffee black because a few years ago I started gaining so much weight with the creamers and sugar that I had to slowly wing off until I was just drinking it black. (I swear I take everything to the extreme! #trueaddict) But yeah the iced-coffee came out pretty good and stays nice and cool in my Yeti that my kid bought me awhile back.

It’s been a weird past few days. I’ve been off work since Friday and don’t go back until Wednesday. I’ve never had 3 days off, however to have 5 days off work and all in a row is like Christmas morning! I just don’t know what I am going to do with all the time. Let’s see, so I played golf with my Dad, which was actually him showing me how to swing. Spent one of the days with my family. I got some work done on the keepingitsober.org website and I completed “List Builder’s Lab” which is an online course on how to build your email list. I know, “sober problems” it doesn’t rain, it pours! But a friend told me long ago, “don’t apologize for winning!”

PBOOK008
Free Guide!

So back to the course real quick. I purchased the List Builders Lab, an online course on how to build your email list, by Amy Porterfield. And I don’t mind giving her a “shout-out” she has an awesome knack for not only teaching you how to create, but taking action. Her course allowed me to create this really cool free guide for you, check it out! I found her podcast, which now by the way is my favorite, while listening to Pat Flynn, another online marketer, which whom I learned how to podcast from. And while I’m giving praises, Darren Rowse from ProBlogger rounds off my “Big 3” when it comes to online marketing podcasters.

Speaking of podcasters, I just released Keeping it Sober Podcast Episode #18 What is the ultimate goal in recovery with Dr. Dean Robb, from nextstagerecovey.com. I love insightful podcast interviews where you can tell yourself, “oh yeah, that makes perfect sense.” And this is one of those interviews. Dr. Robb talks about not only our ultimate goal in recovery is, but in life as well. He talks about finding out who we really are, being that we’ve hidden ourselves with all the layers and layers of addiction. I even realized why I choose to live in the house, literally right next door to the house I grew up in. To listen to the full episode click here!

Oh yeah, and by the way, I updated my bio’s on my social media accounts so if you are following me or you haven’t followed me yet, (shame on you!), go check it out!

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

..and I’m off to a much needed meeting!

 

#SOBERPROBLEMS

Hey everyone, hope you made it through a Happy Easter and month of March. I’ve been working like a crazy person this last few weeks. #soberproblems I usually just work 3 days, 12 hours each a week, however this week I worked 5 straight 15 hour days, #soberproblems and now I go back to work tonight! #soberproblems I’ve realized though, having a job and having people no they can rely on you is a pretty awesome feeling! #soberproblems

12321238_828975763896634_8306959843675712772_nSo I got the chance to interview a detox nurse for my podcast and spent the better part of the day editing and mixing to produce what I think is my best podcast yet. #soberproblems It’s crazy just mere 3 years ago my life was absolutely over, no hope, no strength. Now here I am with my beautiful family, great job and pretty cool podcast and blog to share my journey. #soberproblems

Here’s is the link to Podcast Episode 17, hope you enjoy and if you get a chance get with me on Twitter and Instagram @keepingitsober using the #soberproblems and share everything that happening in your life now that your sober!

Keep it sober my friends!!

My Last Night At Detox

The detox board is completely full. Eleven names with red dots right by them. Eleven shattered lives. I guess it is a good and a bad thing. Great, people are getting help! Or SMH, oh, people are getting help. The window in the station is halfway open, or closed depending on how you look at things. Birds are singing a morning tune. A bit of the arctic north breeze carry’s the tune in. Okay, I completely made that up, there is no “arctic north breeze” coming in, however it sounds a lot better than it just “cold,’ outside. In a few minutes people we start lightly tapping at the pill window door as if they’re at their dealers side window, to get their morning meds from the “charge nurse.”

I’m dead tired. Just pulled twelve hours and the Recovery Tech coming in is 8 minutes late. After my shift, a hour drive home I have to look forward to. I try hard to leave my work at work. However the connection with the sick pulls me in each week, like I am the one in detox, again. The days of detox seem like a dream today, or a nightmare rather. The reality of cleaning up, is that your life gets really busy. This is my last night at detox. Next week its back working residential. I switch back and fourth every other week.

There is a person here with a broken hand. Another can draw really good. And there is the two that are back again. There’s the old one. The young one. The pretty one. The ugly one. And the one that we have no idea what they’ve been through the last 7 days. There’s the one that has been asleep my entire shift. And then there’s the one who just got here.

On my way home I cringe at the hour drive. I try to forget the last 72 hours. However I can’t wait until I work again.

JR Valdes

5 Days Of Treatment

I’ve been thinking about my friend a lot lately. He admitted a few weeks ago to the treatment center I work at. I’m really excited for him and for the most part he is excited to. 10

No one ever wants to really ” go to” treatment, however after five days you begin to see how great your life can really be. It’s like starting your life all over. You begin to set goals of things you want to do or always wanted to do. Like go back to school, start working-out or travel the world. And that’s exciting. You even have a great big fake smile. At least your trying right? And all of that is clearly possible. However that entire little “new and exciting life” phase, goes away. I mean, your only a week clean after years of abuse. Eventually, your body begins to ache. The reality of the real life situation you are in is just a phone call away. A couple of bad mornings is all it takes. You want to leave, not even giving yourself a chance.

I see this happen all the time, not just with my friend. And what it is I think, is that we begin to “feel’ the consequences of our actions for the past years or in some cases decades. And even if we were up to dealing with those “feelings” we wouldn’t know how. It’s always easier just to drink or use.

That’s were my friend is at right now. He doesn’t know how to deal with life, so he wants to leave. He says he’ll be fine and he knows what to do. However I know if he leaves, he’ll use again. I told him,

“so this is the part where you leave and relapse.”

You have to fight. You have to fight for your life. What sucks though, is it doesn’t matter what I say. It doesn’t matter what his counselor says. It doesn’t matter what his family says.

Addiction is the only disease which can not be treated, unless the person is ready. No one else can get you sober, but you.

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