The Morning after Thanksgiving: Waking up Sober

The bacon is sizzling and the coffee is hot! No regrets about cheating on Monopoly last night but I may owe some amends! However not the amends of a Thanksgiving relapse! For me this will always be my mantra: The payoff of not drinking and using is waking up sober the morning after!

Thanksgiving Eve: To go, or not to go? Early challenges in recovery.

Thanksgiving always had a way of finding me right in the middle of an alcohol and drug induced binge. Never did I say, oh Thanksgiving is around the corner, welp I better clean up! When I finally got sober in 2013, yes it was very awkward being around family.

My first sober Thanksgiving came ten months into my recovery and honestly I have no idea how I felt about it. I would imagine I was nervous, but not about the drinking, it was more like shame of being a thirty-eight year old alcoholic and addict. My last 12 months was filled with three rehabs, two sober homes, two IOP’s, one pending divorce, and unemployed. Not exactly the small talk worthy.

Thanksgiving wasn’t my drinking scene either. It wasn’t like I would show up clean-cut with some amazing, funny story to tell about a fishing trip or a backpack adventure in Europe. I didn’t share shots and smoke cigars to all the good fortune and opportunity. Then suddenly just call it a night with warm good-byes and hugs till next year. I drank, to get completely 100% fucked up. And Thanksgiving, wasn’t that scene.

So, that’s my experience, and now I’ll put my clinician hat on as if I’m talking with one my clients. This is probably what I would say:

“You’re like fifteen seconds sober, what the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t fucking go if you think you’re going to drink. You need to remember where drinking takes people like you and me. We don’t have a few drinks and then call it a night like normal people. We take a few drinks and were off to the fucking races. A minimum three day drinking and drugging binge, same clothes, no shower, no money, everyone is looking for us, everyone is mad at us. And what do we do, we keep fucking at it. At least that’s what happens to me.”

Wether I blog as a person in recovery or a clinician, the truth is if you are an alcoholic and addict, then this is life and death for you. Early recovery, and early sobriety sometimes sucks. There is going to be some boring Friday nights. But one thing I can guarantee is that your loved one will gladly be ok with you skipping out a holiday event due to working on your recovery; rather than you relapsing.

You can literally blog from anywhere

The entire concept of being a blogger is the ability to take the perfect picture of a coffee mug, a laptop, and some sort of background that yells freedom from the sucker nine to five and post that picture to various online platforms. From beachside at The Cove at La Jolla, to your local privately-owned trendy coffee shop, or your daughter’s San Diego bathroom floor, wait what? Yup, you read that right, blogging from the bathroom floor! No, I did not relapse, thank you. However, my son is literally sitting on the toilet right now squirming his little but on the potty. Thank God for coffee and for Kuerig’s I tell myself as I sip on my hustle juice awaiting for bubba to poop. What’s on the line you ask? A trip to Chucky Cheese for him, and points scored with his mommy for me!

Sober in San Diego

I am not sure If the past two days of sleeping-in was time zone related, or I needed the rest, however my body and mind is finally adjusting to California time.

I can make a life out here, I tell myself as I take pictures on our walk up to the local corner store. I can’t make a life out here, I tell. myself as I Google the property values for San Diego.

Taming a Bi-polar Mind in Sobriety

This is my first driving to California from Texas trip. The scenery is beautiful compared to the flat San Antonio landscape. Driving through New Mexico and Arizona makes me wonder why I am living in Texas?

So I have the next two weeks off from work and spending the majority of the time in San Diego. My goal is to be there in support of my wife, and anything she needs me to do. The whole reason why we are here is because Kim is expecting and Pam will move mountains to be there for our first grandchild, which is understandable. But for a person in recovery and living with Bi-polar, sitting still seems impossible.

I am learning to tame my mind in the effort to live with Bi-polar. The mental disorder is so prevalent now that I am clean and living in sobriety. I like how it’s so clear today that drugs and alcohol were not my problem, however was the number coping skill to deal with myself.

So to balance my mind, I thought blogging about this trip would help. Not only that it gives me a change to really be mindful and present in effort to live in the moment.

Driving to Cali

Sober Dad: The balance between work and home is at the front door

This blog post was inspired by my favorite part of the day, going home to my family after work!

Turn Frustration into Joy

For every moment of pure joy I experience with Bubba, they’re moments of pure frustration. I’ve learned that when I come home from work, he’s ready to see me no matter my mental status, which is usually between stabbing my eye with a dull pencil and road rage without intent.

The gauntlet of a typical day as a clinician, has me dealing with people like me, the first 37 years of my life.  That person is an insane individual, insanity level being between psychosis and the sworn revelation of events from psychosis. So not exactly playing with a full deck.

However, daily balance comes in the form of a wild, relentless, no fear, built like a truck two-year old. My boundary from work life to home life is literally at my front door. On good days, it’s as I exit my work place, but at the very least it’s my front door.

After Bubba crashes into me, I grasp my hands under his arm pits and lock them air tight! I then raise him until my arms can’t reach anymore, then slowly give him the dramatic fall to the couch, “Bub…ba..noooooooooooooooo!” He laughs hysterically, and then says, “guin?” So I repeat the process one more time.

One of the things that I experienced in becoming a sober dad, is being mindful of even though my day is ending, family time is just beginning. Listening to their day versus complaining about mine, which takes practice, allows me to unleash pure frustration and welcome pure joy!

Being a Sober Dad: The By-Product of Living a Daily Life of Sobriety

Being a Sober Dad: The Gift of Exploring

Jaime Valdes is in his 7th year in recovery from drugs and alcohol while live a daily life of sobriety. He currently works at a South Texas treatment center for substance use and mental disorder as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, intern. Jaime earned his Masters in Interpersonal Communication in 2019, and loves writing, melting silver, and most of all hanging out with his family.

 

Being a Sober Dad: The Gift of Exploring

     I grew up with Nintendo’s and VCR’s. However, I dropped them in a second to be outside. I spent countless hours playing in my backyard. Every step was adventure, and every step dared me to explore past the chain link fence into the alley. As the days pass, my courage grew, and soon I extended my daily adventures. Soon the overgrown alley would become the trail down to the creek to catch crawdads. Then eventually it led to a forest.

Today, Bubba has his tablet for watching Netflix, his iPhone 10 for watching Netflix, and my phone, for watching Netflix. I know, it’s my fault, I’m the parent. However if I say the words “outside,” Bubba will literally drop whatever he’s holding, and the next words I will hear is “choes?”

Within seconds we are both outside. I follow Bubba’s little “choes” all the way back to the fence line. On the way he manages to pick up every little stick, rock, and leaf. He has a system. He picks them up, then throws. Picks up, then throws. Every now and then he turns and ask me if I want a stick, just by saying, “stik.”

Once we hit the fence line he grabs the chain link and stares at the exact overgrown alley where I once played. We then continue down the fence line picking up every stick, rock, and leaf in our way.

From my experience, a boy needs his father, and the outdoors. The special gift of exploring is ingrained in Bubba’s two year-old brain. I can’t teach him that, it’s something that a mindful and present father should pick-up on when raising a boy. In fact, the special gift of exploring never goes away. As we get older, the terrain expands and we begin exploring this world with tainted paragdigm’s. However we never truly leave behind the authentic root of exploring the backyard. If your lucky, you get to relive it with your son.

Read More: Being a Sober Dad: The By-Product of Living a Daily Life of Sobriety

Jaime Valdes is in his 7th year in recovery from drugs and alcohol while live a daily life of sobriety. He currently works at a South Texas treatment center for substance use and mental disorder as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, intern. Jaime earned his Masters in Interpersonal Communication in 2019, and loves writing, melting silver, and most of all hanging out with his family.

Let’s talk politics!

In addiction I could care less about who was running for office. My number one priority everyday was to seek and destroy. In early sobriety the challenge was voicing when life became too much, on a daily basis. It was like I could only do so much during any given day. My wife would ask what I thought of this or that for the weekend plans. I literally would shut down, and reply, “I’m just trying to get through this next moment with drinking.” I would say this with sarcasm but the reality was, I was hanging on to dear life, between my meetings. So, politics wasn’t exactly a hot topic during those years, until now.

Why now? Who the fuck knows! Maybe it’s because I’m old, I have a two-year old, I have time to kill during my two hour commute to work and back everyday. All I know is that this election year will be historic and amazing. “The most amazing election year ever!”

I’ve been watching and listening from the left and the right. For some reason up until the past month or so, I’ve considered myself a Democrat. However, understanding terms like socialism, progressives, and liberals; along with what the Republicans support versus what the left support, I do declare I am not a Democrat.

Now let’s not get crazy, I’m not exactly volunteering at the local Republican headquarters, but I am taking a stand, or using my voice. The reason why this is important is because at the root of my disease, not speaking up in fear of people not liking my opinion, is one of the reason I drank and used drugs. I was uncomfortable, so I changed the way I felt, with substances.

So whichever way you sway, let’s start a conversation. I dare you.

 

 

Being a Sober Dad: The By-Product of Living a Daily Life of Sobriety

My Boy!!!

My son is eighteen-months old. When I hold him in my arms, we connect. A boy needs his father in his life. He just does. I love when he brings me a book to read. He puts the book in my hand, then makes his way to my lap. He has a million toys, but he wants to play with the pencil on my desk. Or he will dump out the blue recycle bin in search of an empty water bottle that may have a loose cap. When I look into his eyes, I see purity, in every form; love, happiness, joy or even anger, frustration and hurt. But it’s all pure, it’s authentic.

     However, when I look into his eyes, I also see addiction. I see the twenty-old who says he’d rather kill himself than get sober. I see the guy wearing red boots, slouched in the counselor’s chair; completely hopeless after his wife and kid left him. He would rather be dead too. You don’s see heroin addicts past the age of forty in treatment. You just don’t.

     It scares the shit out of me. The 20-year-old, and the guy in the red boots ,once were innocent kids. They were once pure. At one time in their life, they had a million toys, but wanted the pencil off a desk. They tried to take the top off the empty water bottle for amusement. They connected with their fathers. Or maybe they didn’t.

     My wife talks about home schooling our son. I talk about never letting him grow. I am not sure at what point you stop making decisions for your son. The girls are so independent and successful. My son eats Chapstick.  

     I fear the day he stops listening, not that he listens now. It’s my job to raise a man and teach him to say no to drugs. To open the door for a lady or lay his jacket down over a puddle. But today is different. Today addiction is preventing many things in a boy’s life. And the most dangerous thing addiction can do is create a disconnect between father and son.

     The thoughts above reflect years as a drug counselor preceded by my own personal battle with addcition. While working with men of all ages, in their own battles in addiction, I can’t help but think of which path my son will choose. Ninety percent of the men I work with did not have a father present in their life. The unofficial statistics are alarming. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a sober father, which is the by-product of maintaining a daily life of sobriety.

Getting in my head, is still a dangerous place for me.

I felt weird when I walked out Dan’s office. It was one of those, I shouldn’t have said anything moments. As I walked down the steps, my mind went into default conspiracy theory mode.

What are they planning? What’s my next move? I better start looking for a job!

All he asked me was one simple question. By the time I got to my office I considered texting a colleague to see if any oppurtunities were available. Dan just has this way, of stating like two sentences and making a person reevaluate their entire existence. My insecurities flare up, and brain goes into spin cycle. I then become the CSI expert. What was his demeanor when he asked the question, and why was he peeling an orange while he asked it? I tell myself, everything is fine. Breathe. Literally nothing has changed since the time I walked to his office, and then back to mine. I breathe some more. The second question, “what are priorities?” was a left hook. I quickly fumbled for an answer as if on a game show with the clock expiring.

“Family, work, and that’s it,” I blurt out.

“What about recovery?”

“That’s implied,” I say.

“No it’s not,” he says.

I know it’s not. I tell my clients the same thing when they give the same generic answers for their discharge plan. However as I sit and wait for lunch, I still fill as I set the ball in motion for some kind of career change.

Getting in my head is still a dangerous place for me to be. I can make fascinating stories of being wronged or victimized, which unfolds a number of events of me once again having to walk through a challenge of my own making. I don’t know if that is ever going to go away. But I think idneitfying, and coping with it in a healthy, realistic manner is forward progress.

And after writing about this moment, I feel better.