The Good Life

Screenshot_2016-03-31-09-27-23

Sometimes life has other plans, and I have to learn to embrace change. I’ve been resistant to change for much of my life because I wanted my way. It’s like beating my head against bricks; I can’t win. I do believe that I have a purpose today. It’s simply to ask God that His will be done in my life now. Whatever the circumstances or chains that I have been bound to before no longer hold me back. I am free because the obsession to change how I feel has been lifted. I’ve fought and resisted the notion that I could not recreationally drink or use mind altering chemicals. That became a lonely, cruel and dark world. Today, I walk in freedom. I have a choice. Completely powerless, I lost the power of choice long ago. As long as I continue to surrender, I will remain free. I have problems like the next guy. I can be overwhelmed by fear, anger, or despair. I get down and depressed, and I have highs and lows. That makes me human, and to confess it causes those emotions to lose their power over me. I have a better way  to live today and I call it the good life. The transformation that occurs when a man works the steps is amazing. My life is amazing because of it. Sorrow has been replaced with joy and happiness. I no longer live in despair. I find hope thru watching others lives change all because I pray for willingness and humility. I no longer have to hide behind the wall of denial or lie about something that is not true. I am more trustworthy and with that comes self respect. I want to encourage you if you are struggling with life that there is a better way out there for all of us. I found it by giving up trying to control everything including the waves. Some days we all have to pack our boards and go home. There is nothing out there that a drink or drug won’t make worse. I’m reminded of the good life every day my feet hit the floor…..blessings!…b

Regrets

image“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace”- BB promises

It’s one thing to hate that something has happened, but living in regrets certainly is a different beast. I only have two: I wished I’d have been sober to see my mother in her last few months here, and I wished I’d known ‘way back when’ what I’ve learned by now. Some of us have to be tied to the back of a vehicle and drug a few hundred feet before we have had enough. Regretfully, I don’t learn by others’ trial and errors, I have to experience them myself.  I have learned more during those challenging times when my senses are on alert. Godsequences, a friend of mine calls them. I had to admit failure in order to see that using drugs and alcohol were not the core of the problem. Some days I can’t get out of my own way, never mind my head. Reality is tough, but one thing I don’t regret is the lessons I’ve learned. I have to remain teachable and willing. I attend a local meeting when I vacation known affectionately as the “clubhouse.” I missed my 7 am and I love that meeting. I went to the grocery store a few hours later and ran into an old “clubhouse” friend. He’s 86 and gets around pretty darn well. I’m grateful for these experiences. He’s been sober 30 plus years and he can teach me if I’m willing. Regrets keep me enslaved to shame and guilt. I’ve never had a deficiency of those two. I had to work thru all that junk to find myself, and the discovery has been life changing. I don’t want to live with regret, but I don’t want to die with any either. One day at a time, God helps me when I remain honest, open minded and willing……good day!….b

Negativity

Screenshot_2016-03-22-20-20-18-1-1.png

They also suck the life force out, and it can be so subtle. In the words of our beloved Jenny, ” run Forrest, run!” Sometimes I look back and wonder what was I even thinking. I guess I wasn’t. Environmental factors are just as influential as biological ones studies have shown,  so factor in a negative attitude and surround myself with birds of a feather and not much changes. Perception is the real key for me. It’s my outlook that ultimately will determine my success in recovery, relationships, and rough spots. My mother would often say, “sometimes you have to squeeze lemons to make lemon juice.” I have to squeeze them more often it seems these days. I was pulling out of my driveway when I had forgotten I had my bike upright in fork locks on top of my truck. It caught the cable line and snatched it off the house. Later that day, I was driving down a stretch of four lane when my alternator stopped charging the electrical system.  Eventually, the battery died as well. 4 teenagers and 1 dog pulling a trailer stranded on the side of the highway can turn my mind into a tumbling tirade of tumultous tyrrany. I’m grateful I held it together. I prayed. I stayed calm. Then I remembered what I have learned to do in recovery: get to the solution. I had it towed, bought an alternator and changed it in the parking lot of the parts store. We were back on the road within an hour, but I guarantee the story would have ended much differently had I resorted to a chemical answer.  That’s the same principle with negativity. Negative people will tell a man he’s not smart enough, sharp enough, or can’t jump high enough to make it. My addiction tells me the same. Negativity breeds an outcome of failure. If someone tells a child they are worthless long enough, the child begins to believe it. On the flip side, there are those who preach the gospel of prosperity and the pendulum swings so far the other way that their lives appear unreal. Finding balance can be tough, but if I am going to stay sober, then I have to eradicate the toxicity created by negativity……good day!…b

 

 

 

 

 

gray matters

Screenshot_2016-03-26-17-47-06-1

It doesn’t make sense anymore for me to believe one idea, yet live another just to stay in shades of gray. These aren’t just my opinions, they are facts born out of my observations, study, and experiences. After all, what good is it for me to live in constant conflict with my inner core when there is no peace there. It’s why man wars against man, and blows up at the very thought of others telling him when he is wrong. What the world needs is less hate and more love. I’m appalled at the ‘common core ideas’ others use to try and brainwash me into believing that the world is all bad when I met a man today who helped me after my vehicle had broken down. Or that we should  just go with the flow to get a paycheck every month, sit quietly, and let everyone but our own good conscience legislate how we choose to live out our days here. God put it in me for a reason. It’s the same sentiment shared by Mark Twain when he said, “don’t let your schooling interfere with your education.” I got too smart for my own good, and nearly destroyed it all by believing a culture of lies. I know and understand that the world can be an unstable place, and all I need to do to prove it is to walk around my neighborhood. There are alarm system signs in everyone’s yard. Folks are scared of each other….afraid to speak, be friendly, and reach out. We don’t even know each other anymore.  That’s what hate does; it divides, conquers, and kills just like addictions. It’s been happening for centuries that man kills another over a plot of land, a piece of bread, or a belief system.  We do live in a broken, fallen world, and I can’t fix it. I had to get over my white washed mentality that because I had checked off my good deed’s list that somehow God likes me more. Sadly, that in a nutshell is the core of my problem: not money, drugs, relationships, nor alcohol. So I shouldn’t criticize, condemn, or fault a man because I’ve never walked a day in his shoes. I’ve never been crucified, either. But I do believe in a loving God that gives me strength and hope that loves us all enough that He gave us His Son to make up for the wreckage caused by mankind, and for me at least, there is nothing gray about it…good day!….b

 

 

 

 

The cost

main-thumb-t-1602-200-zocopmkuxyrhnsnhcikovwoqwhnkxdlx

“The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards”- Paul “Bear” Bryant
 
Lore has it that he really did wrestle a bear at the local county fair. I don’t know if he won, but it sure earned him a cool nickname along the way. He took averagely talented boys, created in them a desire to play as a team,  and made them into champions.  He’s not the only one: Rockne, Lombardi, Stagg, Landry, and Chuck Noll to name a few. They all gave their lives to win, but all of the victories came with a price. It’s not just about the game, it’s about the lessons I can learn. If I don’t learn the lesson, I can’t move forward, and history repeats itself…over and over and over.  One of the first questions most of us ask ourselves when making a decision is, ” what will it cost me?” Most men will confess a fear of loss of income or money as a driving force. Nothing, not even fame, comes without a price tag. You may have heard something like this in recovery circles”do the work, get the results.”. Even recovery comes with a sacrificial cost. Somebody had to stick around and stay sober long enough for others to see that it could be done. It’s that earnestedness within that keeps me going. But the money I spent to keep my habit supplied, in the long run, costs much more. Besides, addictions cost me friends, family, and loved ones. It robbed me of my joy. A huge price to pay for such destructive habits?  Yes, when it also nearly cost me my life. God put the pieces back together again. How does that happen? By not believing the lies in my head that tell me, “oh its free, it won’t cost anything” ….good day!….b

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth

image

The truth is that I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, I had to throw the darn thing out, start from scratch, and learn how to live again. Remember that I once thought that it’s not a lie if I can convince someone to believe it. I took stock all right, but I skimped on the honesty part enough to hide behind the real truth a long, long time. Lies keep me in bondage, and they prevent healthy, trusting relationships with others. In a nutshell, lies destroy the fabric of my character. It started one afternoon after driving home in a miserable fog of sheer desperation. I had run out of money, run out of whiskey and pills, and run out of lies. That’s what happens…..I run, as far away from myself as I can. All because I was unwilling to get honest about a disease that was killing me, and I was unable, yes unable, to tell the truth. That’s what dishonesty breeds; more lies, and then I begin to believe them until I can’t tell what’s the truth anymore. Socrates once said that the secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new. That will not excuse me from the fact that I know that my disease is progressive and fatal. It works ever so subtlely to try and make me believe that I am different. Recovery is a path I must remain on to be free. That is the truth, and anything else would be a lie. Learning how to live drug free is challenging enough, then add paying bills, parenting, and the other chores of being a responsible adult and it can be overwhelming at times, but I don’t want to go back to that lifestyle anymore. There is nothing left for me there. Going forward, I want to live my life open, honest, and free because I have nothing left to hide. And that’s the God’s honest truth…..good day…b

Fire

image

The most primal of all elemental states exists inside of me for a reason and purpose now. We call it ‘fire’, as in, he’s all “fired” up or he has a  “fire” in his belly. Much like the one I sit around to cook and warm myself, if the fire within is not tended, they both will simmer out. Someone back in the 80’s came up with the line to a song,’you can’t start a fire without a spark.’ So what happens when I lose that spark and get caught up in my own pride and ego; driven by fear, anxiety, resentments, worry, and excitement?  The times when I have run out of resources to distract me from my own need for personal and spiritual growth, and the times I take my will back and run it into the ground? Experiences have taught me that there are others willing to do the work necessary to change.   I had better pick up the phone and call someone or attend a meeting.  The idea that I’m comfortable in my element, surrounded by people who think, act, and talk just like I do doesn’t work anymore.  I create these mini utopias in my head, and surround myself with those who will not call me out or burst my bubble. Then I become alone and isolated in a world that is disconnected by my self driven motives to look good on the outside for fear of what others might think of me. Nothing could be more selfish. Nothing could be more insane knowing what I have learned about myself in recovery. I must ask and receive validity from God. People pleasing is a hard game to play.  A facade put on by the false pretense that in order to be successful in any avenue of life, a man has to live a certain way and if we don’t, we are castigated and saturated by a culture that tells us we are failures. I believed in God all my life, but it takes applying the work of the 12 steps to stay sober and remain free from those dark forces that once ruled me.  Drinks make me think the impossible to be possible even when I know better. Give me a few, and I’ll burn the house down trying to light a fire. Today, I try my best to live in the Sunlight of the Spirit. It is the only ball of fire that I have found that can lighten my load and brighten my day……#livinfreedom…..good day!…b

All Smiles

image

I found a way of feeling better when life hurts.Most of us  ‘in the rooms’ share some common histories. We are sensitive, untruthful, undisciplined, and unhappy when we first arrive. Maybe you are an exception to those characteristics, but it fits my profile perfectly. Then I realized that perhaps I was the most miserable person in the room with no knowledge of how to find the happiness that resonated within others. I was so uncomfortable for so long, that I really starting believing that I would die like that, but I smiled thru the pain anyway. I’m not a good poser because my face usually shows;however, I do believe that intentionally smiling and laughing thru the rough spots are what keep me out of the misery from day to day. And now, I have happily learned to laugh at myself and with others.  After all, no one likes to be around someone who talks down to others and lights up the negativity meter. I use to call those people buzz killers because they are like ice water. They force you to get away rather quickly. The most happy people I know are the ones who have had hard knocks, learned from them, found God, and allowed others to teach them how to live happy-go-lucky lives; as if they understand and experience life on a completely different level. They empathize with others, smile thru the ailments, and somehow find a way to laughter. Some days a good story well told  can lighten anybody’s load. I once enjoyed the laughter of the happy hour crowd, but even it was a false state of being, as if I were hiding behind a mask. Today, I can choose not to let negative events destroy me but rather a happier, healthier path. I witness how others make it thru tough times without getting loaded and I marvel at their courage. They also take their tragedy and teach others how they do it, by smiling and laughing….it works…it really does….good day!…b

 

More about Alcoholism

image“What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink? Friends who have reasoned with him after a spree which has brought him to the point of divorce or bankruptcy are mystified when he walks directly into a saloon. Why does he? Of what is he thinking? “……Bill Wilson penned these words in the chapter, ‘More about Alcoholism’ in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I would pound my fist on the bar and sigh, “not me, not now, not again.” It’s really a profound question, and any abnormal drinker could give you a myriad of reasons why. It’s physiological, psychological, neourobiological, psychosocial and inherit in those of us who have lost the power of choice. It’s the first one that always got me, not the last. It’s the reason I hung around the keg long after the party was over. The same reason I drank against my will. Then, I would feel shame, guilt, and remorse and repeat the same cycle all over again. I liked what alcohol did for me, but I hated what it did to me. It’s kind of like a start up relationship. Everyone is happy in the beginning, floating around like butterflies in the garden of life. Then, one drink, two drinks, three drinks, floor. The whole world changes for everyone whose life the problem drinker touches. Hearts are hardened, saddened by what appears to be something one can just snap out of in a flash. Nuh uh, not this guy. I drink and I’m walking around in a circled stupor, completely befuddled by a question I cannot answer. A day turns into three or four, then I’m off to the races. I need the reminders while writing what it used to be like. The lonely, isolated feeling of knowing that I have a disease that no man can fix. It’s perplexing, tragic, and sad to see others go back now. They lose hope, they drink, and are cut off from the ways they once walked and talked about as the reasons why they were sober. Perplexed? I was too, for years, until I accepted that I simply cannot take a drink, turn around and walk off. It takes courage to admit it, but it takes faith to live it. Sobriety is a gift, given to those who have smashed the idea that we can no longer drink like gentlemen……good day!….b

Comforts

imageI lived in it so long, that I couldn’t see it for myself. Addictions coupled with pride are like that.  They have an addict by the throat before we can even take a breath, and the uncomfortable somehow becomes comfortable; the abnormal now is normal. I know a guy who took out a second loan on his home to pay off his gambling debt, and that was AFTER his wife left him, along with their two kids. He got the same energy and adrenaline from placing bets that I got from getting high. Ask him at that time and he would have given you in number of reasons to justify it, but the good news is that he swallowed his pride, got honest, and he hasn’t wagered a bet in 10 years now. He had to lose his own home literally and figuratively to hit bottom. Two men, two different life choices, with a common goal not to feed the monster inside of us. For others it may be risky sexual behavior or porn. 60 million people in America today are addicted to prescription pills, more than half of them struggle with mental problems, and yet, I would fight to feed my addiction irregardless of the consequences or social stigma. They are all home wreckers. That’s why I ran, because I did not know how to let go. Chances are, I’m not alone here.  Rick Warren and his wife experienced the tragedy of losing their mentally ill son to suicide three years ago. Rick has made tens of millions off his book sales and in 2005 he repaid all of his 25 years of salary to the church where he ministers & stopped taking any new salary. He and his wife give away 90% of their income to charity now. It’s the spiritual axiom that the only way to ‘keep what you have is by giving it away’ ….. good day!…b