Walk Towards the Cheers: The Battle with Social Anxiety

Season Opener vs UNM, Sept. 1st, Dreamstyle Stadium

 

Dreamstyle Stadium

I had no idea what to except. I had not been to a practice all summer. And If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to broadcast this season. I wanted to spend my Saturday’s with Jax. However, the trade for broadcasting college football in exchange for free grad school I still could not pass up.
The charter flight left Friday. I bought my own ticket to fly out Saturday morning due to a work conflict. My new job doesn’t allow the luxury of making my own schedule like last season. After I switched planes, I arrived at my destination. I used my phone to order a Lyft. The driver had a welcoming setup in the backseat. A tray of mints sat in the middle of the backseat, (I took advantage of the butterscotch). Hand sanitizer and tissue were a arm lengths away. The little trash can kept the floorboard clean of wrappers. The driver worked at Car Wash and was let off early due to the weather. He had been driving Lyft for 3 weeks. Instead of taking the clouds that covered the surrounding mountain view, I contemplated leaving a tip.
Brian was sitting in the lobby. He was surrounded by his wife and probably parents of the players would be my guess. It was good to see him. It was even better that he asked,
“Hey, you’re flying back with us, right?”
That told me Cari, who is the knew Zach, was on it, as far as communicating information.

Field

I ran into coach going up the elevator. I asked him about his emotions going into his first colligate game as a head coach as if I was doing an assessment on a client. Coach his “Rocky” face on. Something told me coach’s mind was racing.
As I walked into the hotel room I threw my bags on the bed closest to the door. Chris was checking the football scores. I order an overpriced burger (which was worth every penny,) from room service and Chris and I talked about this year’s team. Three o’clock came around and we met the team in the back of the hotel to depart to the stadium.
Down stairs, a hallway leading to the back door led us to three buses. The buzz of opening season danced in harmony throughout the narrow hallway. I gave a nod to the “new Zach,” to let her know I was there and she nodded back as if to communicate to me: I know you’re here, I obviously see you. I saw coach. He poured himself a cup water, from a table that clearly stated break staff only. As I watched everyone buzz with excitement for the game, my feet back peddled inch-by-inch until my backpack leaned against the wall. Brian was talking and smiling with a group of alumni. Cari was walking around with a note pad, as if she had a list of small tasks to do before we departed for Dreamstyle Stadium. The camera guy, who should have been Anthony, (but that’ an entirely different story.) was strolling around like he was back in the hood. But at least he was comfortable. Chris saved me by asking if I wanted to go save our seats on the bus.

Broadcast Ready!

One of the first things I love to do when I get to a stadium is set foot on the field. It’s like a safe space. I take a few steps on the synthetic blades of grass and took a 360 view of the stadium. There is just something about being on the field. It just feels right. Much like the press box, which literally a hamster aquarium. You have your privacy, but the walls are all glass. In every direction you are visible to the other teams’ staff. The IT and SID are always cool. My counterpart asked for name pronunciations for some of our players. I nodded my head a lot. I had no idea if he was pronouncing the names correctly.

Crossing the line

A friend was sharing when he believes he crossed the line in addiction. I thought it was an interesting phrase to use. Crossing the line is not “hitting your bottom,” or realizing that you have a problem. It is more doing something that you thought you would never do.

Here are a few examples that I experienced where I believe I crossed the line.

One time I was so desperate to get money for drugs I gathered my desktop computer, monitor, key boards and mouse in effort to go pawn. The only thing was that every component was a different brand. The computer a HP, the keyboard Del, etc. The pawn shop guy looked at me like I was crazy. To his point, he was correct. I was so upset that he rejected my stuff. Pawning stuff for me was definitely crossing the line. 

Another example is when I needed a few bucks for beer. I felt like I was going to die if I didn’t get some kind of substance in my body. My daughter who was in elementary school at the time, had a piggy bank that I raided for change. Come to think of it, I believe I owe her a few bucks. But stealing from my daughters piggy bank for me, was crossing the line.

Knowing at the time, that I was doing something that I thought I would never do still did not get my to stop using and drinking. It actually gave me shame that fueled my use. But today, I don’t even get anywhere close to that line.

What are some times that you felt you “crossed the line in your addiction? Please share!!

#crossingTheLine

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 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.

 

The House Next Door

I dreamt again about the house next door. In addiction, the house next door was reoccurring dream. When I got sober, it abruptly stopped. Now five years later, the dream is back. In my dream last night, I asked the owner if I could take a look inside, since he was selling. The house was in shambles. There were rooms, with two or three additional rooms added on to them. The hallway was long and narrow. The walls were painted a dark blue. The two of the rooms were not connected as one. The master bedroom had additional showers. Inside, the house next door looked nothing like how I remembered it.

Why I drink and use.

I remember one time while in active addiction I had some how managed to get hired for two jobs. I have no idea how I passed the drug test. I did drugs the night before and part of the interview process for the second job was an onsite drug test. So I passed the test, got hired and from no job, went to having two jobs. I guess I as reflect back, in a weird way, I was always trying to get my life together. But I didn’t stand a chance against the forces of addiction. That night, I went out and celebrated and bragged to all my friends that I had two jobs! And I celebrated by drinking, then which led to a 3 day cocaine binge. Needless to say, I lost both jobs that night. My senior year of college I could not find a job anywhere. I even applied at fast-food places and didn’t even get called for an interview. I’m assuming it was because of my arrest record. The only job I could find that summer was washing cars on commission. The anger built up inside was like a volcano getting ready to erupt. It drove me insane. I drank over that feeling. A lot.

I only bring this up because for the first time in my life, I am employable and company’s have sought out my employment. And that feels good. Waking up and feeling ok with life, to waking up and feeling good with life, is the by-product of hard work in recovery. But the real challenge is to just sit with the “good-feeling.” Not to feel guilty or overconfidence. Not to try to enhance the feeling by purchasing or eating. Just sit with the feeling until it passes. I believe

I drank and used to cope with my feelings and emotions.

Finally my 2009 degree pays-off!

I hear about these kinds of situations all the time, but even the personal experience of God giving me everything I need in life and more, still creates uncertainty. And I tell myself, everything is going to be ok and I truly believe that. However the disease of addiction is centered in the mind, and I create this fear that in the past I would drink and use over, which was the only coping skill I knew. However today its different, the option of using and drinking doesn’t even come to mind. And even though I know things will work themselves out if I stay sober, the uncertainty of not knowing what’s next, is still brings fear.

I came home last night, to basically a miracle. The company I work for filed for Chapter 11 and is auctioning off their assets. I do not know the business side of all this, however I do know my days are numbered. I also know that whatever happens with my position, I am currently at the most employable stage of my life right now. I know for a fact, if I just stay sober everything will be ok. Yet, I still drive myself to insanity wondering if the new company is going to eliminate my position.

Why do I do this to myself?

So recently received my Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor- Intern credential. When I opened the big white envelope that contained my certificate last night, there was another surprise that I had no idea was coming. I’m not special, nor unique. But I do take pride of going from my active addiction to an LCDCi, at the treatment center I sobered up at. I must admit that’s cool, working as a counselor where I got sober. But that’s not the miracle.

I started to read the paper that came with the certificate. I was like, blah, blah, blah…. blah, blah. Then I read the part about the 4000 hours of internship. Whenever you get your LCDCi, you have to complete 3 years of internship hours before you become fully licensed. But when I kept on reading, the letter stated my 4000 hours had been waived due to my college degree that I received in 2009! I was completely taken away by this. All I must do now is take the exam, and I receive my full professional license without having to do the 4000 hours. This basically saves me three years!

Again, I don’t know why I fail to trust my higher power and my sobriety. My LCDC license was practically slapped in my face, making employment a whole of easier if I lose my position.
All I know today is if I don’t drink or use today, I have a pretty good chance that everything tomorrow will be ok.

How I stay sober #18

I’ve been looking everywhere for my 24 hour chip that John gave me. I’m over five years sober, but the bronze chip is what I like to carry in my pocket. The chip reminds me that I only have to stay sober today.

And today I am going to a barbeque with old friends that I haven’t seen in decades or since I’ve been sober. It’s a spiritually based gathering so no alcohol around, and I am taking my own unsweet tea either way. I have the option of meeting at a church, then going as a group however driving my own vehicle is the safest for me.

So I have my tea, vehicle and chip, what could go wrong?

I know today my motives are clear, my sobriety is strong and my desire to stay sober is that strongest that it has ever been. But most of all, I feel calm about going, compared to anxious. I feel that I am doing the right. The most important part for me is, being in my own car, to leave if I feel uncomfortable.

That’s one-way I stay sober.

 

If you do not create a life in sobriety that you like, you will relapse


I had great week. Coming off some depression two weeks ago, I found myself in a really good spot emotionally. I learned that sometimes I just have to grind the bad days out and it always gets better. My counselor use to tell me, “you grinded out five day binges, why can’t you grind out your anxiety?” I found that to be true. So after “grinding” out a few days of being in an emotional and spiritual funk, I am left with by-product of sobriety: Which to me is living.

Waking up sober on a Sunday is the payoff for me. I remember the days when Sunday mornings was completely chaotic. I’d be wearing the same clothes as Friday night, my breathe smelled of alcohol, my armpits rubbing together like sand paper and my hair an emotional wreck. No money, no place to say since I was kicked out of my house, and no charge for my cell phone. The perfect cocktail, for….another cocktail. In my mind, I was just given a pass to keep drinking and using more. And I did.

Today’s I don’t have to live like that anymore. The by-product of my sobriety, which is a daily choice to stay clean from all substances, is recovery; a journey to who I am, or to a better person than before. And with that, I have been able to create a new life, that I don’t want to mess up with using and drinking. I strongly believe that in sobriety or in recovery, we must create a daily life we are content with. It doesn’t have to be some delusional amazing fairytale either. It can be as simple as drinking coffee on a Sunday morning, taking a walk through a trail, spending time with your son on the back porch and typing a new post, all before I go to work.

If you do not create a life in sobriety that you like, you will relapse. And it never gets better.