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Step Zero?

May 31, 2013 6:23 pm Leave your thoughts

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When I first started down this path of recovery I thought that I was going to be able to do all of this myself. I have referenced this in one of my earlier posts. I called this the “Richie Rich Program of Recovery.” I thought that it was a great idea and I felt that I was going to have enough knowledge to get me through to the other side of my 28 days at the Beacon HouseSM.

After I left the house and went back to my old lifestyle… of course, I relapsed and the whole ball got rolling again. This time when I came back to the Beacon HouseSM I was willing to do anything to get what I saw so many others around me had. I wanted what these people had. Before this… I thought that what other people had was a great thing for them. I liked how it made them look.. it was attractive to me.. but it was theirs. I knew what I wanted and I knew what I needed.

I can’t help but laugh to myself when I think about this time in my life. Alcohol is a cunning and baffling foe indeed. Alcohol makes you think that you have all of the answers and it had a tendency to make me act like an ass.

I finally got a sponsor when I came back into the house. One of the first things that this man asked me was if I had found out about Step Zero.. What the heck is Step Zero? He then told me that I was to go into the Big Book and look for Step Zero. This was my very first homework assignment that he had me do.

The funny thing was that I had read and heard Step Zero many times durning meetings.  It is part of the reading of Chapter 3… “More About Alcoholism.”

“We learned that we had to FULLY CONCEDE to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, HAS TO BE smashed.”

 

It said it in plain english, right in front of me. I don’t know how many times I had looked at those words and glanced right over them.  There they were, this is the first step in recovery.

I, like many other people, had the delusion that I was not an alcoholic and that I could handle things on my own.

There are a couple of different pamphlets and tests that you can take to see if you might be an alcoholic. It is my opinion that only you can call yourself an alcoholic.

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous’ pamphlet: Is AA for you? 
  2. The Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST)

I took both of these tests and recorded amazing scores on both. I am defiantly an alcoholic. I know that now. It is one of the things that I know to be 100% true for me. I will never not be an alcoholic and I will always remember that.  When I finally accepted this fact I was truly ready to begin on my road to recovery.

What are your experiences with Step Zero?

Feeling Alive

May 24, 2013 8:30 am Leave your thoughts

So I was thinking about it a lot today… what are some of the things that make me happy in life. What are the things that make me realize that I am alive. I know that my sobriety does… it makes me feel alive. Stretching myself a little bit farther then I think that I can go…. that makes me realize that I am alive. Feeling love for another person… that makes me feel alive. Watching someone reach out for help…. that always makes me feel alive, and it almost always makes me cry.

I love seeing stories about different people in this world.. and their experiences. How people deal with different situations and how they made it through. How did they cope. I am going to share some really inspirational stories with you every once in awhile. Well, probably it will be more then every once in awhile.

This video has been making the social media rounds lately and I watched it tonight.. and it made me think.

Choices

May 23, 2013 3:35 am Leave your thoughts

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I hear people say all that time that when there are bad things that are going on in your life, or something that is happening that is not making you happy then you should change it.

Sometimes for an alcoholic these words are like a double edged sword. I can remember being in a place, during the last year of my drinking, that I would of done anything to get out of the grey, sorrowful, depressing world that I was in. In some ways it was comfortable and I was used to it , it even had a morbid romantic quality to it. I was in love with it and I hated it at the same time.

I can remember so many times just hoping that I could wake up the next day and not have to drink. I would promise myself that I was going to do something for myself and change everything the next day. Then the next day there would always be a reason to drink… even if there wasn’t a reason to drink.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous lays it out pretty well on page 25……

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so- called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our con­sciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suf­fering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”

 

No matter how much that I would tell my self that I wanted to stop drinking…. and no matter how much I knew that my life was going down the toilet I had no defense against the  first drink. Thinking back upon it now it seems really easy when I put it in the context that all that I had to do was not take the first drink. I used to think that it was the fourth and the fifth drink that would be my downfall… but no it was the first drink. The first drink would satisfy the craving that I was having, but I had an allergy. This is the allergy that alcoholics have that is outlined by Dr. Silkworth in the Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book.

Now that I have a defense against the first drink, I can think about changing something in my life that is making my unhappy. I am in the process of doing that right now. There is something that is no where I want it to be and I am going to take some action and change it. I have a choice today… and it is a beautiful choice.

There used to be so much that was part of the process of changing my life. There was SO much drama and it seemed like I was going to have to expend SO much energy to change one little thing. I am glad that I have a higher power these days that helps me put the process and the drama into perspective.

By the way… I hope that everyone that reads this feels encouraged to participate and comment on this blog. That is really what it is here for. I want it to be an open space.

If you want to reach me privately or would like to ask a question in a safer environment you can email me at blog@beaconhouse.org.

 

My Own Program of Recovery

May 18, 2013 2:46 am Leave your thoughts

When I went into rehab I really had no idea what to expect. I can remember that I was pretty tired of doing what I was doing for the past year or so and that I was very relieved. I knew that the gig was up and that I needed help but I think that I had my own ideas of what that help should be.

When I was sitting in my hospital bead watching the ball drop in Times Square, ringing in 2008, I can remember thinking that I was missing out. I was missing out on what I had grown accustomed to for so many years… and that was being the life of the party. I was accustomed to being the center of attention… and New Years Eve was my Super Bowl. I can remember thinking that I was supposed to be behind the bar, with my friends, drinking champagne and being elegant. It sounded all well and good but I knew what that really meant. I knew that it was sunshine and moonbeams in my head but the reality of the situation was something that was totally different. I would be down in the depths of depression and desperation before New Year’s Day was over.

I remember walking up the front steps of the Beacon HouseSM and being led into the Parlour Room on the first floor of the House. I saw the grand staircase that led to the upper floors and remember thinking about how beautiful the inside of the house was. I remember fear gripping me as my family left and I went into the office of Dana, my intake counselor. I think that I looked over some documents and agreed to some things… but I really don’t have a very good recollection of that. I could barely see and i know that I had a very hard time holding a pen to write.

I was happy to be there. The first experience that I can remember after taking a long nap was my first yoga class. I had never experienced yoga before and I thought that it was a great excuse to sleep. I was really trying to hold onto every word that was said to me… but I think that I was too busy sleeping.

I went to my first 12-step meeting in the Beacon HouseSM. Well, the first one that I had ever attended as an alcoholic. I had grown up around meetings when I attended them with my mother when I was younger. I can remember the Lord’s Prayer and the holding of the hands. I always remember looking up at the people who’s hands I was holding. Not this time, I was looking right at the people who’s hands I was holding this time… even though i was having trouble holding onto their actual hands. My hands and arms would continue to shake for at least 2 weeks after I first came into the Beacon HouseSM.

Looking back upon my time in rehab I think that the greatest gift that I was given there was my introduction to 12-step programs… for those would lead to my true salvation…. and many other things.

There were a lot of rules in the House. When I first came in I was one who was very appreciative of the rules and the structure that they provided… but as the time went by and some of my health returned I started to feel many of my old feelings of personal supremacy return. I started to question things like why we had to be a certain places at specific times and why we had to make our beds. I think that I might of had grand ideas in my head about leading an open rebellion in the House.. to demand better conditions and unmade bed regulations. Wow… what a disease.

One thing that I knew from the start was that I was going to go back to San Francisco…. no matter what. It did not matter what anyone was going to say to me. It didn’t matter the experience that anyone had in the matter. I knew what was best for me and I was going to be the exception to the rule. We all know how this will end up and we have all seen it before in our experiences in recovery. Looking back on it I know that I was foolish, but I think of it as I was more naive. My plan was to go back to the City and continue my work in the bartending field. I was going to invent a who new kind of alcohol-free drink menu that would save hundreds. I was going to be different. I knew what I was doing and I was going to show everyone. During meetings, when they would ask if there was any visitors that would like to introduce themselves… I would always proudly announce proudly that I was from San Francisco and that I was only visiting.

During the latter half of my 28 days at the Beacon HouseSM… I was introduced to the SLE. A SLE is a Sober Living Environment and I was told that it would be a great next-step in my recovery. I learned that there were different SLE’s but really I should focus on trying to get into a male-only one so that I could concentrate on my recovery and be free from the distractions of women. I was going to have none of that. There was no way that I was going to live with a group of men that were only concerned with their recovery. Where was the fun in that. I could not imagine shutting myself away from the world of the opposite sex. I again fell back onto my own experiences and found that I would avoid an SLE like it was the plague. I was losing sight of what had brought me to rehab in the first place.

When I finally coined out of the Beacon HouseSM on January 20th of 2008 I was ready to go. I can remember feeling how great it was going to feel when I walked into my old bar and saw all of my old friends.. and what they were going to say to me. I was going to be the center of attention once again… and this time I was going to be sober.

The entire ride home was spent with my big sister and her husband trying to talk me out of going back to the bar to work.. and all that I had in my head was how wrong they were… and how different that I was.

My first shift back at my old bar was Super Bowl sunday of 2008. Of all days to come back to my old stomping grounds I choose the day that was a major drinking holiday. I made it through that day with flying colors and that gave me some confidence. I went to a couple of meetings over the next week or so but I did not connect with anyone in the program when I came back to San Francisco. I was doing all of the things that I was told not to do and I was walking on very thin ice.

We all know how this story goes… I relapsed. The Richie program of recovery did not work and I was brought right back down to exactly where I was before I went into treatment, except this time it only took about a week to bring me to my knees. All of the old behavior patterns came right back to me just as if they had never left.

Now looking back on these days I know that I did my first step when I was sitting on a curb in front of my early morning drinking spot watching the sun come up. This is where I knew that I was truly powerless over alcohol and that my life had become truly unmanageable. In my heart I knew that if I continued on the path that I was on that I would be dead within a week. I knew that it was going to happen, there was no doubt in my mind.

This was my bottom… not being in the hospital hooked up to life support machines two months earlier… this was my bottom. I was done. I was beaten into the ground by old man alcohol and I was going to die if I didn’t surrender.

I made a phone call to the Beacon HouseSM and talked to my counselor… who told me to call him back when i was sober, and so I did. I made arrangements to come back down to Pacific Grove and this time I was moving. This was a very huge step for me because I finally made the connection that I had to eliminate everything that was toxic in my life to survive. Many of those toxic things were happened to be coming from my life in San Francisco. There are some out there that do not have to take such drastic steps, but for me that is what it was going to take for me to make it…. so that is what I did.

I packed up my entire life into a couple of black trash bags and called my little brother to come and get me. It was one of the worst experiences that I have ever had in my life. The only way that I can describe the ride was it was like riding with your parents when you know that you have done wrong. I can remember feeling so ashamed during that ride because I felt like I had let him down. I was drunk on the way back down and they both knew that.

I had an appointment with Dana on Feburary 26th at 8am and there was no way in the world that I was going to miss it. I remember seeing the Beacon HouseSM before my appointment and thinking about how beautiful it was. It was a different kind of beautiful that I had experienced the first time that I saw it. This time I looked upon it like I knew that I was home. I knew that I was sane and I finally knew deep down in my heart that I was home. I made the right decision.

I consider my sobriety date to be the second that I walked into Dana’s office on February 26th of 2008. I have not had to have a drink since.

My journey started at that moment… on that day. My heart knew that I had to be quiet and learn from the people that had come before me. I announced myself as a newcomer that night at a mens meeting. Everyone came up to me after the meeting and welcomed me back to the Monterey Peninsula. I was no longer announcing myself as a visitor. I was home.

I found that the best plan for me was to shut up and take suggestion. Someone thought that it would be a great idea for me to start going to morning meetings, so I started going. That morning meeting was a major foundation piece for my early recovery. It showed my that I was willing to do anything to get this thing… even if that meant getting up at 5am to catch a bus to get to the meeting.

The suggestion that I start going to mens meetings was one that had a major impact on my life. This was a major cornerstone for me as I learned how to truly become a man from the men in those rooms.

This time I was going to take the suggestion of getting into a SLE when I got out of the Beacon HouseSM. That is what I did and I stayed in that house for a year after I left the House.

Let’s just say that I changed everything in my life. I pretty much did the opposite of what my head was telling me. I was bouncing things off of other people instead of trying to make the decisions in my own head.

I will talk a little bit about what really made the difference between my first and second time through the Beacon HouseSM in a later blog post.

My fingers are getting tired. There is more to come with this story… so many more stories of beautiful, vibrant, lovely life to tell.

 

 

Mothers

May 12, 2013 5:39 pm Leave your thoughts

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I don’t know if I would be here without my mother. Well…. I know that I would not be here without my mother.

Even though my mother was an addict, she always just wanted to protect me and my brother from what was going on. It was something that I could never understand, until I got to become the addict and the alcoholic. When I got to that point I knew exactly what she was talking about and some of the reasons that she did what she did.

I don’t have any kids of my own right now… but I know that someday that I will and I will want to protect them too. Especially I will want to protect them from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. We have a very vivid family history when it comes to those things.

My mother passed away in the beginning of 2007 and she was clean when she passed. I know that is something that was very important to her. She told me so when we were talking for the last time. Of course, I was not clean and sober at the time. When my mom passed I used it as an excuse to throttle up my drinking and using to whole new levels. I really didn’t need an excuse to drink and use more but I would use anything that I could get.

Like I said in a previous post, my mother was really not around that much for me. She was around when she could be and I understand that now. There was a very large parenting hole that needed to be filled in my life… because really there was no one. My mother’s older sister stepped right in and filled that hole. She is my guardian angel and has never asked for anything in return. She does not have children of her own, but really we are her children. She is the person that raised us. She is the one that fed and clothed us, took us to hockey and football games, and she was the one that would punish us when we were doing something wrong.

She had some small experience with addiction when  it came to my mother and my father. She would see them nod off at the kitchen table or do really crazy things day after day… but she really did not have a foundation in understanding what addiction was. She was under the impression (like many people are) that it was just a behavior that could be turned off like a switch.

When I reached the point that I did, her and the rest of my family were very worried about me. They really had no idea what was going on with my daily life and that was because I would never share anything with them. I would not be in contact with them…. sometimes it would be over a month before I would reach out. When I was in the middle of my disease it just seemed like hours turned into days and then into weeks…. it was pretty easy to get lost inside a month or three. I was afraid of my phone and its ringer. If someone would call me I would jump five feet in complete panic. I am lucky my heart didn’t stop.

When I had my first near death experience at the end of 2007 my Aunt Sandi was right there with me at the hospital. When it was decided that I was going to go to rehab we had to choose where I was going to go. It was a pretty fateful set of events that actually brought me to the Beacon HouseSM.  I had a friend that had brought a mutual friend of ours to the doors of the Beacon HouseSM about a year and a half earlier. This person was a complete and total train-wreck tornado combined kind of alcoholic. This person was just like me and I figured that if the Beacon HouseSM could get that one sober and living again… then that was where I needed to be.

My guardian angel aunt came with me to the house and would come back up almost every week for family sessions. She was exposed to real people and real stories revolving around drugs and alcohol. She was exposed to the scientific facts about addiction. It changed the way that she thought about it and changed the way that she thought about my treatment. She moved away from the notion that addiction was something that could be cured or changed with pure self-knowledge or will.

I saw this happen with not only myself but with others that were in the Beacon HouseSM. There are two words that will send shutters down the spine of almost anyone who has been in the Beacon HouseSM…. and those words are, “Family Intensive”.  This is a weekend session where family members can receive education about addiction, co-dependency, opening lines of communication and helping to support their addict family member. It is scary to some because it is the first time that some people actually have an open dialog with their family members about some of the underlying issues that helped fuel their addiction. It was a very hard experience for me… but it was the event that helped change the way that I looked at my family and their attitude about my addition.

I know that it was a major turning-point in my early recovery.

Here is a link to the page that explains a little bit more about Family Programs at the Beacon HouseSM.

Today is Mother’s Day… take a day an just say thank you to those amazing women out there that make it happen everyday. I know that without the women in my life I would not be where I am today.

For two years I had the privileged to lead a community meeting with residents of the House and met many of their mothers. To me, those women are some of the unsung heroes of  recovery…

Above is a picture of my mother… who is looking down on me right now and smiling. Her picture is on my desk… with my one year coin.. just perfect if you ask me.

Light… at the end of the tunnel.

May 10, 2013 2:21 pm Leave your thoughts

You may be wondering what I am doing writing this blog… Who is this guy that is writing this?

My name is Richie and I am not a counselor,  I do not have any professional training in drug and alcohol treatment theory or practices. All that I have is the experience that has brought me to this point in my life. I hope that my experience, strength and hope can speak to someone out there who may be in the same battle that I was in. It is truly a battle between life and death and death is something that is real as I was to find out at the end of 2007.

Here we go….

I am an alcoholic and a drug addict.

As I write this entry I have 2261 days of continuous sobriety. That is a miracle that I thought would never happen. When I walked into the Beacon HouseSM I was hard pressed to remember a time when I had more then 5 days with out alcohol or some other substance to change the way that I was thinking or feeling.

I grew up in Southern California and was raised by my aunt. My mother and my father were both heroin addicts and I could never count on them for really anything when I was young. My aunt was my savior and would become my savior once again when I told her that I was an alcoholic and I needed help.

I had my first drink when I was 15 years old and I really hated it. I didnt like the way that it tasted and I hated the way that it make me feel the next day. I will always remember how sick I was the day after the first time that I had a drink. I can remember thinking… How in the world do so many people love this and give up so much for it. I had a lot of experience with my parents giving up so much for their using… but at the time I just did not see the romance in it.

I was always looking for a way to fit in with the kids that were around me. One of the ways that I thought that I would qualify myself as a cool guy would be to drink and smoke like the rest of them. The smoking never really caught on and the drinking was sort of an afterthought. I really did not like the way that it make me feel and how it made me lose control. Another thing that was always on my mind is how I never wanted to be like my father. I was going to do everything in my power not to be like my drug addict father who was never there for his kids.

After high school I moved to Northern California and my drinking started to pick up a little. That was when I started smoking pot a whole lot more and the drinking was sort of something that we did maybe a couple of times a week.  Moving to San Francisco was where the partying started to really kick in. This was when I started to experiment with pretty much anything that was put in front of me. I had an attitude that was it was me against the world and that I was put on this Earth to live life to its fullest. For me, living life to its fullest meant going to as many parties as I could possibly get myself into. I was the kind of person that knew where the party was, who I needed to know to get in, and the right quantity of drugs that I needed to bring with me to keep me happy through the night.

At this time I was really into the party drugs.. cocaine, ecstasy and crystal. I would gain a pretty nasty cocaine habit during this phase of my life. Ironically, I would stop doing cocaine cold turkey because, to me, it was getting in the way of my drinking. Crazy isn’t it.

This is when I decided that I was going to be the life of the party and just cut out the middle man. This is when I decided that I was going to bartend. For me it was the perfect job because I was in charge and it was my job to be the life of the party. I was already pretty good at that and now I was getting paid for it.

This is when my drinking really took off. It was normal for me to be doing what I was doing. I was just living life to its fullest, right? I was hanging around other people who were just like me and drank the same amount that I did. Over time this would change and people started to hang out with me so that they could compare their own drinking to mine… and justify to themselves that they were not that bad. Towards the end… no one wanted to be around me.

I was a maintenance drinker. What this means is that i always had to have alcohol in my system. There always had to be some kind of alcohol in my blood stream at all times. When I came to after a long night of drinking I would not be able to go back to sleep without something to get me right.  I was always somewhat of a social butterfly which made me a bar drinker. I loved bars, i loved everything about them. I loved the smells, I loved the people that worked in them and I loved the way that they made me feel. At the end, it really did not matter what bar I was in as long as it had booze and hadn’t thrown me out before.

There were days when I was opening my local bar at 6am to get a drink so that I could just crawl back into bed and throw the covers over my head trying to shut out the world around me. It worked for a little while but there was always something terrible that would come around. Pretty soon there was only terrible things that were coming around for me. Alcohol was not working anymore and I did not know what to do. My happy disposition had given way to deeply seeded rage and terrifying depression. I just kept drinking thinking that it would eventually make everything right.

I had suicidal thoughts that would creep up on me as a remedy to the constant voices in my head. I lived in a very close proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge and started to make that walk on many occasions. I am glad that I always got scared or made some excuse that  I couldn’t go to the Bridge. I thank my higher power everyday for that.

My would consisted of about 6 square blocks in my neighborhood in San Francisco. In those blocks there was everything that i needed. I had my place of work, I had my 6am local bar and I had a Jack-in-the-Box that was open 24 hours. It was a pretty depressing way to live but that is what my life had come to.

I knew that it was over but I did not know how to stop drinking. It was really all that I knew. It was my identity and it was something that had given my an immense amount of pleasure. All of the pleasure and happiness that the life had given me was now gone and I had been reduced to a shell. I was a shell that did not care about anyone or anything on this planet unless there was something that I could get from them.

At the end of 2007 I went to visit my family in Southern California for Christmas and I knew that there was something that had to give. I thought that I had been fooling people for so long to the extent of my drinking but really I wasn’t fooling anyone. I told my aunt and my now sober father that I needed some help. I was planning on weening myself off of the alcohol and I had somethings that I needed to take care of in San Francisco first. There were many more important things that had to happen before I was to get sober.

At this time my body had started to give out on me. My hair was thin and string-like. My skin and eye balls were yellow. I was rotten to the core and my body was not going to take the abuse anymore. I was not eating and was not drinking anything other then alcohol.

Christmas Eve of 2007 was a living nightmare for me as I went into severe alcohol withdrawals overnight and was admitted to the emergency room at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. I was diagnosed with delirium tremens and was given a very small chance of survival on that first night. I have no recollection of any of this and I woke up 8 days later strapped to a bed in 4-point restraints with IV’s coming out of both arms. During my intake into the ER I had assaulted members of the staff and they were forced to sedate me.

It had gotten to the very bottom for me….. or so I thought.

I knew that there was nothing that was more important to me then living. I did not want to die and I had come so close. The ER doctor that treated me said that it was one of the worst cases of the DT’s that he had seen in the 25 years that he was at that hospital.  I was on my death bed and I was just a shade past my 28th birthday.

I was given a choice between in-patient and out-patient treatment…. when I was explained that the difference was that with in-patient treatment I was going to stay in the facility full-time I knew that this is what had to be done.  I needed around the clock support and I knew that if I didn’t have that… I would find a way to drink.

My next stop was the Beacon HouseSM in Pacific Grove, California. I was to enter treatment for the first and hopefully last time in my life. I was scared to death but I had a sense of optimism about my life for the first time in a longtime. I knew that there was hope and that this was what had to be done to save my life. If there was one thing that I knew with my whole heart was that I did not want to die…. I wanted to live.

to be continued……. thanks for reading.

PS. My father has 15 years of clean time under his belt and is one of the most amazing people that I have ever known. The thing that brought us together was recovery. It is an amazing gift that I always wanted… and never could of imagined would come from our common addictions. I am just like my father… and there is nothing that makes me more proud.

Location, Location, Location

May 3, 2013 4:32 pm Leave your thoughts
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Here I am.. sitting in a chair on the front lawn of the Beacon HouseSM. I was probably about a week sober.

I am a city boy.

I did most of my drinking and drugging in a City. San Francisco to be exact. I am used to the hustle and bustle that the City provided me. So you might say that it was quite a shock to my system when I was transported to Butterfly Town USA on that fateful day in January of 2008.

We all have our first impressions of a place and my first impression of Pacific Grove was that of distain. Of course, I had an attitude about everything back then, and it really didnt matter what it was about. It usually was going to fall on the bad side of my heart. Pacific Grove was not different. I did not like anything about it, all except the ocean.

I had grown up in a beach community in Southern California and I was used to smelling salt air in my nose all of the time. It was part of my identity and I could never imagine being away from the ocean for that long of a time. I loved everything about the ocean and the way that it made me feel. I had one of the first drinks that I can remember in the sand of a beach, at the end of Seaward Avenue in Ventura, California. You can safely say that the beach and the ocean will always be a part of my heart.  The one thing that I never really like about the ocean was actually swimming in it. I don’t know why I felt that way but it has always been like that. If I have a choice in the matter I would stay on the shore. All of my friends in high school were surfers and skaters, living the So Cal lifestyle. I just preferred to stay out of the water with my feet firmly planted in the sand.

Back to Pacific Grove, I had two stays in PG over my life. Well, actually I have had three stays in PG over my lifetime. I was born at CHOMP ( the Community Hospital for the Monterey Peninsula, for all of you who didn’t know that, I didn’t know for the longest time and I was born there). My mother and father were the transient type of addicts during that time. The story goes that there were on their way to a recovery center around the Monterey Peninsula. My father can’t remember exactly what recovery center it was, it could of been the Beacon HouseSM.. (that would be crazy). They both were admitted and could not handle being in recovery at that time and my father decided to get a job. He worked in a lumber yard and got splinters in his hands all day long, according to his recollection of the events. I was born in October of 1979 and my parents were staying at a motel on Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove.  My dad told me a story of being escorted out of Pacific Grove by the PG Police Department because of his numerous run ins with them in this super sleepy community of 3 patrol cars. I guess that they just wanted to make sure that we were really leaving. My parents had packed all of our belongings in a U-Haul and were driving towards PCH when we were pulled over. The police officers offered to escort the truck to the highway to make sure that we go there safe, but the real reason that they did it was so that they actually saw my father leaving Pacific Grove.

When I came back to Pacific Grove it was under different circumstances. I was in need of some help, but still had some research to do in the outside world. I will get into a little more detail about the circumstances surrounding my relapse later…. but lets just say that it was the thing that actually made me finally surrender. I came to the Beacon HouseSM and stayed for my prescribed 28 days and promptly returned to my City life. I was still pretty defiant and it showed in my attitude towards Pacific Grove and the Monterey Peninsula. I really thought of it as backwards, unsophisticated, lacking tall buildings (except the Embassy Suites in Seaside), sleepy, and generally full of retirees.

When I came back for the third time my attitude had completely changed. I was willing to do whatever needed to be done to get recovery. This included embracing my surroundings also. I was going to be living here now. I had packed up all of my belongings in 3 black plastic trash bags and moved from the City so that I would be surrounded by sober people that loved me. I had that in Pacific Grove.

I began to love everything about PG and the surrounding communities on the Monterey Peninsula. The places and the people became part of me. They would become my new identity. I guess when you are trying to change everything, you have to change everything about yourself and your surroundings. Persons, places and things is what they tell you when you start this adventure.

There are some places that are very special to me as they were a vital part of my early recovery. Every time that I see these places it reminds me of where I was and how I felt the first time that i saw them.

The first place that I hold near and dear to my heart is The Grill at Lovers Point. I bet you are asking me why I would hold this place in such high regard when it came to my recovery. Sugar. When my body lost alcohol it turned to other things that it could fill that space with and sugar was at the top of the list. Others really get into smoking, but thankfully I never added that vice to my list.  Part of the daily routine of the Beacon HouseSM was recreation time and this sometimes consisted of walking down to the water from the House…. and almost every time we would come across the Grill. They sold candy and other amazing sugary treats but my very favorite was the venerable old Tootsie Pop. I would get 3 or 4 of them and lay waste to them by the time that we got back to the house. I guess that it didn’t take me that many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

I have heard that they have had some rental issues with the City of Pacific Grove lately and I have been trying to keep current with what is going on through the Grill’s Facebook page. I really hope that place does not close because it means a lot to me.

God Drive, Ocea

The second place that will always speak to my heart in Pacific Grove is Oceanview Drive as it turns into Sunset Drive. I call this my “God Drive”. I remember being with my first sponsor and driving along that road and having him explain to me that you couldn’t look out onto that and not believe that there wasn’t something greater at work in your life.  I would make that drive so many times and have so many different feelings as I looked out onto it.  This is where I learned to really learned to let go. This is the first place that I recited the Third Step prayer. I can look out onto that beautiful coast line and just get lost in all of the possibilities. My recovery have brought me all of these possibilities and I am just along for the drive…. the God Drive.

I am still a City boy….  but Pacific Grove and the Monterey Peninsula are always a part of me. These places are now a part of my identity also. The are a major contributing factor in my recovery and I do not think that I would of been able to do it anywhere else.