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.

Breathe, talk, pray and stay sober another day.

There is a feeling that matches the action of making the wrong decision. In addiction, that feeling is masked with drugs and alcohol. In sobriety, there is no hiding from the from the emotion. I can deal with making a bad decision. That’s one of things that sobriety is all about. Not using or drinking over life’s little and big problems. However when I make a bad decision with a client or their family members, Its stings a little deeper.

My bad decision comes in the form of a “lack of empathy” for the people I am committed to helping. Compassion fatigue can play a huge role. However when it comes down to it, the lack of empathy for me, is received as not caring to a client or their family member.

Just because I am sober, and a licensed counselor, does not make me perfect. But sometime I feel like it should. It’s the overwhelming emotional wave of failure that seems to stay stagnant in my chest restricting my every breath, which signifies I need a break. Once identified the answer is simple. Breathe, talk, pray, and stay sober another day.

Raising a Child in Sobriety by J.R. Valdes

Jaxson has discovered pens. And crayons. In a room full of plastic-colorful building blocks he can spot a green pen buried beneath a mountain of toys. He remembers the exact spot he stashed it. He will search for paper and scribble his thoughts. He stands on his tippy-toes while reaching over his head and grabbing whatever his 18-month year-old little hand touches.

Jaxson understands the word “no.” My wife and I say “no” at least one thousand times a day it seems like. And just like how he picked up on the word “no,” I’ve picked up on when he is quietly walking away from me, it usually means he has something that he knows he is not suppose to have. Like a pen.

At eighteen-months old, despite my son understanding the word “no,” he consciously does it anyway. When I hold my son, and look into his big-brown eyes, I ask myself, how does any beautiful child born pure and innocent end up addicted to drugs?

I deal with twenty-something year-old kids everyday who are addicted to heroin, meth, alcohol or “whatever-you-got.”  I see my son, born pure an innocent. However with me being an addict, I lose sleep on his future.

 

Ending Sunday Night

I’m watching the game and I’m watching my son. I had to run outside really quick to shut off the pump to the pool and when I got back my kid had plastic chair over him. I..don’t know what happen, other than I wasn’t there. Colt keeps jumping the fence. I don’t know from where, but he consistently jumps at least three times a day. He’s chipped and has tags, plus our address is written on his red collar. So at least one time a day my wife gets a call from a stranger telling her they have Colt in their car, if she can meet them to pick him up. I’m grateful for such nice people, personally I wouldn’t stop and put a dog in my car. But some people will, and that’s great. I wondering what I will walk into at work tomorrow. Coming off the weekend, our 9am staff meeting will have enough weekend staff reports that will take two hours to go over every client. I have a game tomorrow night, Friday career day and a game, and some time during the week I have to get a new drivers license since I lost mine. I’m making progress on my manuscript which is a good feeling. And now my wife is yelling, “go with daddy,” to Jaxson.

I’m tired of working hard for others.

Finally a second to breathe! I turned in my “final paper” last night and am done with class for this semester. There was a time, early in recovery where I was working hard as an employee and a student. Always feeling like I had to prove myself. Saying “yes” to everything even if that meant saying “no” to my family. Yeah there was a sense of, I am working hard for my family, but when does that end and turn into just not being around. It’s hard being mindful of that today, however I have learned to say “no,” I don’t want to do that extra thing at work or school. I don’t want to be away from my family when I don’t have too. Today, I don’t have to validate my self-worth, I am worthy today, no matter how the day unfolds.