Until then

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Jails, institutions, or death are what’s left after I have exhausted all resources and decided a drink would be a good idea. But I’ve never actually sat down and had a drink. There is not enough beer in Boston to take me to where I want to go. Triggers create a thought. That thought produces an action. I’m either going to a meeting or going to the package store. Thankfully, because I remain willing and teachable, my truck no longer pulls me into the Tom Thumb for one more trip down memory lane. I got another wake up call this week when a friend called to tell me that a mutual friend of ours had overdosed and died. It’s becoming alarming, but I remain close to the firing line to remind me of what happens to those of us who’ve used up our tickets to chemical peace of mind. I almost predicted it, sadly enough. He began to isolate from those of us who would tell him the truth. He stopped wanting to hear the message of hope and became unwilling to do what had taken him thru the last two and a half years sober. First came the job, then a second job, then the girlfriend, and then excuses about why he wouldn’t take suggestions. Then, out with a bottle and needle. I mean within two months, out like a light. Dreams can get smashed that quickly.  These are our stories; at least those of us who are riddled with the disease of addiction, and death still stings like a red wasp. The gut wrenching, heartbreaking stories we tell are tragic enough. I had to pick and choose between a life or death proposition, and until then, I’ll keep taking one breath at a time. Many of us fight to the bitter end rather than to practice the art of surrender. It’s not always easy, but I’m glad I found my tribe. They give me reminders of what can happen when I get sidetracked with my little designs and plans that fail. I have to remember that not every detail will be worked out like I want.  Fortunately, there is a solution and a fellowship of men and women who may be dysfunctional at times, but still keep me amazed at what can be accomplished when we merge into groups and help one another….good day!…b

Ups and Downs

 

imageThe world in which I live is oftentimes full of contradictions and some days we all get kicked in the mouth.  I realize science and technology have improved in many ways, but for years, I ran for miles to burn calories. Now, high intensive interval training is all the rage. An old school guy living in a new age world. I also work a 12 step program that helps me recognize when I am fearful, and teaches me how not to be afraid. I read quotes from Jesus and He teaches the same, but I was in a court of law this week, and an attorney tells me that I need to learn some fear. The craziest part was that I was there in a supportive role, but nevermind, he also included humility. Please run this by me again. I need to fear whom? Well, your answer is as good as mine, so welcome to my world where I will agree that a dash of humility at times can go a long way. A buddy once told me that a person can attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Fear is a liar and the 9th step promises assure that “fear of people” will leave me, and thankfully it has. I walk in confidence knowing that God didn’t get me sober to run around scared all the time, whether I’m running for pleasure or from pain. I came into the program afraid of most everything: success, failure, no money, money, dying, living, people, and aloneness. But that’s not all, and that discovery has changed the way I view my world today. Looking back, it’s delusional thinking that had me in fear, but those are demons I no longer wrestle anymore. I allow others to be right when I surrender. For a long time, this created ups and downs in my life. I might have told you way back that I was fearless, but deep down, I discovered that I was a scared little boy trapped in a grown man’s body. The freedom comes when I ask for help or admit I do not have an answer. It’s no mystery why, ‘to thine own self be true’ is a common phrase we use in recovery. It gets me thru the ups and downs when I ask myself how important are my plans in the big scheme of it all….good day!…b

Making each day count

imageThere are parts of my life that I still don’t live out real well even sober. That low level of frustration with the small stuff can still eat my lunch.  For example, I don’t do lines of any kind if I can avoid it. I just don’t have the patience like some do. I don’t go to the movies either. Sitting still for long periods causes an aversion to my backside. I simply have to wiggle and squirm without hesitation, and then my mind loses the tracking to focus. This is where I am simply wired differently. I accept myself better today for my limitations, even tho, there are more positive qualities I have now because I no longer drink.  I  feel more intensely, live more intently, and work at letting go of my old ideas. Being the same man I once was is not the path I choose today. There is something attractive to me about people who choose to live with passion and purpose. They make each day count, focus on the big picture, and do not get enamored by the simple mundane chores of life that can get me sidetracked. I overthink, ruminate, and have to ask God to free me from the bondage of myself. There is a minimalist movement in America today that I am beginning to fully embrace. Simple pleasures with little or no debt, there are those who are living a meaningful life and plan to die with nothing. The world view of this idea is contradictory, but my experiences have taught me the spiritual axiom of it all. I am happiest when I am living in the moment and making each day count, too. Recently, my family lost a dear friend to cancer at the age of 52. She lived a life of daily purpose way before she was diagnosed, but she really showed us how one can be shaken to the foundational core of our human existence, and yet allow a Divine spirit to work in and thru her as she continued to walk so boldly each passing day. That’s how I want to live each moment,  with clarity and courage. Some days its easier than the days that I have to work harder for it, but it comes, and I am able to stay in the moment and make each one count….good day!…b

Similarities and Differences

imageMost alcoholics in recovery that I know were once just like me, or at least we think alike. We come into our first few meetings of AA, look around the room and isolate ourselves out by thinking that we are unique; somehow, different than the shares that we hear. We come from all walks in this life before many of us hit rock bottom. Some of us believe the lie that we are just not like “those AA people.” It’s true that maybe some haven’t had to lose everything in order to stop drinking, but most of us do leave an aftermath in our wake. I was reminded of the gravity and nature of my disease last night when a man who I had just met a week before shared how a doctor at the Mayo clinic told him he was dying from liver dysfunction as a result of heavy drinking. Well dressed and well spoken, he articulated his plight by saying his faithful wife of 39 years, his four children and 9 grandchildren, and successful business career of 29 years hadn’t been enough to convince him to quit while there was still time. His bloodshot eyes encased with yellow are the tell tale signs, and there he sat, liquor wafting from his pores, perplexed on how to stop. I recognize that man from long ago when I looked into the mirror. I get him on a level he may not understand, but I kept telling myself back then that I would quit tomorrow. The sad reality is that time passes us, and we drink knowing that we are going to die; that it is killing us. We break lives and break hearts, and nothing can stop that insidious, insane urge to have just one more. Today, I don’t opt out mentally even when I think I’m different or my story is not the same as yours. What got me into recovery pales little in comparison to what reminds me to remain. The attractive lives of people who are on the mend restores my faith and hope in the bigger picture. It’s a landscape of life so vast and untapped that I can’t predict the outcome of it all. But I can predict that I won’t take a drink today. The reason is because I look for the similarities rather than focusing on the differences….good day!…b

Battles

imageWe all face battles; demons that can haunt us for the rest of our lives. Then, there are those of us who find relief in a bottle. We take a drink and it changes our brain chemistry into believing we can stop at any time; however, anytime doesn’t come soon enough.  Explaining that to a non alcoholic who can drink without the phenomenon of craving has always been challenging, so I stopped because they may not understand. It can happen to the best and brightest, too. It can even be your neighbor next door. You’ve patterned their schedule, they pull into the garage, walk inside, and pour themselves a drink. They don’t have the gene, and amazingly get up and go to work the next day. But many of us problem drinkers couldn’t quit entirely even when the consequences got dire and there was still time. Jayson Williams, former NBA power forward for the New Jersey Nets in the 1990’s, is an example of how drinking beyond his control can unravel so quickly with a disease like addiction. At 48, sober now for a year, he readily admits his powerlessness over alcohol. While showing his gun collection to friends impaired, he accidentally shot and killed his limo driver. That one moment haunts him and changed his life forever. The most puzzling part is that even after the aftershock,  his served time at Ryker’s Island, and his lost income, he resumed his drinking career after a period of  dry time. He never played again in the NBA. I may remain dry, but if I am not working on my recovery, the same has happened to me. I drink again, and because the disease is progressive, it gets worse. Not drinking for a period of time doesn’t qualify me to start back, and that’s the battle many of us in recovery can struggle and wrestle with in our sobriety. It’s a game ended, a life changed; scarred kids and ruined marriages. But I still haven’t forgotten the comfort and ease I would feel after the first one or two. Thankfully, like Jayson, we sought help and can relate to the battles we face to overcome a disease of the mind that causes an allergic reaction no matter what others do for us or say to us. I had to reach my bottom alone. To read and hear other’s stories of how they’re coping and learning to live happy and free lives after such misery and pain gives me hope that I will make it today without drinking. And that’s a battle worth the surrender…..good day! ….b

Missing the Point

screenshot_2017-02-11-09-11-12-1I’ve missed it most all my life. Or maybe I just refuse to look at it. Maybe I’ve been too afraid or I’ve let my anger control me. Today I have to watch where worry, fear, anger, excitement, and dishonesty creep into the equation. Those are deal breakers to a sober drunk that I now am, but I also have to remind myself of the progress that I’ve made in recovery, even when I have down days. My scope may be on the bullseye, but my shot can be so high that I miss the mark. Expectations of the unknown do that to my fragile ego all wound up in self centered pride. Then I walk into a room filled with joy and laughter and hear people share stories of hope; meanwhile, all I still think about is me; my life, my plans, my ball, and my game. I embrace the fact that I may have been born this way, but I can choose not to live there in my head anymore. They told me to trust God, clean house, and help others, and for years I thought I had done the first and last, but nevermind my part in the housecleaning. The refusal to look at my part kept me in the secret of lies far too long. The secret is out, and all who know me, knew I was way out of control before I could accept it. The root cause of my alcoholism has been the bondage of my own twisted thinking. I would think that somehow I could drink again normally after a period of being dry but it kept getting worse, never better. I wasn’t drinking for fun anymore, I was drinking to stave off the mental obsession and physical cravings that I would experience after taking that first drink. Looking back, it was purely insane to believe it would be any different this time, but I’d repeat that experiment over and over until I’d reached a new found bottom. I had totally missed the point, but no one could tell me otherwise. Today, because I surrender my own life and accept my part in it all,  is where I find the courage and boldness to face life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I wasn’t the one who freed me from mental slavery; it was God. And to forget that, would be totally off target….good day…b

A chance to change

 

imageLeft up to me, I pick horrible ideas for gods. Not just ideas of gods, but gods I idolize. For once in my life, I began to see how plugging that great big hole in me was futile and was an attempt to divert my attention away from the God I believe who saved me…..I really believe this today, too, that fear no longer rules me because I am a child of God. Let me  also say that I believe that we are all God’s children, made in His image, to walk with purpose while here on Mother Earth. You are probably thinking, “but I thought this was a blog about recovery from addiction?”…..and it is….but along this journey, I want to keep growing spiritually toward being more like the man God created me to be. Not the twisted and torn, drug and alcohol addicted, messed up schmuck of a man that I had become. So, how did I walk away from that lifestyle and become free? I stepped out in faith and said these words literally, ” God if you’re there, please help me.” He healed me from the wreckage of my past, but evil is still at work. I confess and it loses its power over me. I don’t have that mojo, but God does. He keeps on loving me when I’m lost. He keeps on giving when I’m broken. He keeps on healing when I’m sick. ” I am a sick man, God, and I give you a chance to heal me. I tried everything else, but it didn’t work. And then somebody random shows up in my life today that I can help show the path I’ve taken to freedom. God removed the obsession for me to stay high, but he didn’t do it for me to go off and do my own thing. He did it to show me that without help and helping others, I’m toast. Without the help of a community of believers who’ve experienced the stings of death, divorce, bankruptcy, suicide, addiction, broken hearts, and broken lives, my ship will sink. Without God’s help, I have no chance to change. I know, I tried it every way on my own, and it never ends well..blessings….b

The bell tolls

screenshot_2017-02-01-13-25-20-1People who grow up in condemnation learn to be judgemental. Such is true for the complainer and whiner that noone, and I mean noone, cares to be around. Remaining or playing the victim card gives others the power to trump me.  Let’s face it, we all get stuck from time to time with circumstances that warrant an occasional release. How I let go of  this negative energy is important in maintaining my emotional sobriety. Innately, animals have what is known as the ‘fight or flight ‘ syndrome, and it’s what keeps our species intact. I can either turn and walk away or stand and fight. Too many times, I’ve done the latter more than the former, but if I’m unwilling to accept my powerlessness over situations completely outside my control, I will remain stuck in the mess called martyrdom. The good news is that I recognize it more quickly and am able to employ healthy coping skills rather than to quit. Recovery is about learning to cope in healthy ways, and everyone of us is recovering from something.  That is exactly what the enemy wants me to do.  It has been called the easier, softer way, but in my experiences, the bed that it makes is a hard place to lie down. These varied events are the ones that can make a man go permanently insane. The stress hormone cortisol is released when someone yells at me  At that very moment, with heightened senses, I can retaliate or walk. Much can be discovered about my spiritual equilibrium when this occurs. This is when the bell rings, and in my past I would have thought less of my manhood if I didn’t stand my ground. It’s just not necessary anymore. People yell because there is something inside of them that feels threatened. I’d like to think I’ve made some progress in recovery here. The most important thing is that I don’t have to get blasted to get back at them. Those resentments are what kill ME, not the average man.  Its no longer necessary to play these scenarios over in my head. I have to learn to let go, so that I don’t become stark raven mad……good day!…b