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.

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.