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Tunnel Vision

April 27, 2014 9:29 am Leave your thoughts

Stinson Beach

I don’t know why it takes death sometimes for me to take a look at what I have in life.

I am very good at being grateful for what I have but sometimes I feel like I lose a little perspective on it. I fail to take a step back and really take a good look at just what has happened to me over the past 7 years or so.

Where I was… what happened to me… and where it is that I am right now. I was having a conversation with someone that I know from work.  We were commenting on just how different that our lives are now from what they were just a couple of years before. All of the things that have changed for the better and for the worse. Mostly for the better.

I lost another friend of mine way too soon this evening. She did not pass from alcohol related issues but that really doesn’t matter to me right now. The point that I am trying to make with this post is that it takes something like this to happen for me to just stop and take a look at what I have and how it can be taken away in an instant.

I was close to death and I have encountered other peoples deaths. Sometimes it takes something like this to just shake me out of my tunnel vision.

Saving you a seat Rich

April 19, 2014 9:00 am Leave your thoughts

Happy Place

I want to dedicate this blog post to some very special people in my life that were there for me in the very beginning of my recovery. They were there to reassure me that this was the right path for me and to show me that there are really amazing people doing this thing. They showed me that there was an amazing alternative to the desperation that I was living in.

This one is for Gail and Curtis. You guys are awesome. Congrats on 11 years Gail!

I was sitting on the stoop of the bar that I worked at and I had a Miller High Life in my hand. The sun was out and it was making my beer warm. The sun light streaked into my eyes and matched the color of the beer that was settling at the bottom of the bottle that I loved so much. I had just finished a shot of Fernet and all that I could think about was having another one as soon as I got back into the bar. It was about 11:30 AM and I was a big fan of day drinking. I was a fan of any kind of drinking…. day, night, weekend, alone, with people, Tuesday, sunny, foggy… I was all about equal opportunity.

A friend of mine that worked at the book store that was right next to my bar had some family in town. They were visiting my friend so he introduced them to me. They were cool, I remember thinking, but not as cool as me. No one was a cool as me. I was wearing a wifebeater tank top and was drinking during the day on my day off. I was cool.

I don’t remember that much more about the encounter with these people but I would be reminded of this encounter a couple of years later.

These people who I had been introduced to were in recovery. They saw me that day and saw themselves years before. Right at the end of their drinking. They knew exactly what was going on with me even if I had no idea what was going on with myself. They were saving me a seat in AA. They knew that I would be in the club soon enough. They just hoped that I didn’t die first.

I almost did. Twice.

Fast forward to early 2008…. I was just fresh into recovery. I had made it to the party and I was about 2 months sober at the time. I was invited to go to a young peoples AA conference in Sacramento. I was pretty scared and apprehensive about going because I was new to this whole thing. I did not really know how I would be around a big group of people but I knew that this was something that was suggested that I do. I was at the point where I was not in the business of questioning suggestions from those who had been around longer then I had.

I walked into this hotel in Sacramento and the first thing that I noticed was all of the hot girls. This was a pretty big eye-opener to me because I really didn’t know what to expect when it came to young people in recovery. My image of being the coolest person in the world had been shattered pretty throughly when I was hospitalized for 8 days and was on deaths door. I remember thinking…. “damn, these people look really cool. I think that I belong here”

Everyone was hot.. and had tattoos. I could dig it.

At the registration table someone came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder… he was pretty familiar and had a head set on which I though was kind of funny. He was wearing a name tag that was attached to a lanyard thing around his neck. It said that his name was Curtis and that he was a “Host”… whatever that meant. He looked pretty official and I had no idea what he wanted with me. I didn’t think that I was in trouble yet.

It was my friend’s brother… who had visited that day at the bar. I didn’t recognize him because I was petty drunk that day and didn’t really remember anything between 2006 and 2007.

He was so happy to see me. He hugged me and kept saying….. “YOU MADE IT! YOU MADE IT!”

I had no idea what was happening at that moment… but later on in my recovery I would knew exactly how he felt as I would do the same thing to others that started the journey. Pure relief and utter joy is the only way to describe it.

He got on his fancy headset and yelled into it…. “GAIL TO THE REGISTRATION TABLE! HE MADE IT!”

The other person that I met that day at the bar came running around a corner and gave me a huge hug. We talked about all of the things that had happened to me over the past couple of years. They nodded their heads in agreement. They knew what was up.

The rest of the conference was a life changing experience for me. It showed me that there were amazing people who were just like me. I was just like them. We had so much in common. These were the cool people that partied their asses off and then one day they just surrendered to the fact that they were either going to die… or they were going to try something different. They didn’t want to die, they wanted to live. This was our ticket to freedom.

I was cooler then ever before.

It’s amazing how this whole thing works… and at the same time its not. These are the things that I expect now. Things that seem like a funny coincidence but I know that somehow they were meant to happen. They were put before me for a reason. I don’t know how or why.. and I don’t even question it anymore. It just makes me smile and remember how grateful I am to have this thing and these people.

 

 

 

You Consume Me

April 16, 2014 12:40 pm Leave your thoughts

Bedazzled

There is a social stigma that comes along with being an alcoholic or an addict. There are many people out there that think that being one of these things is something that should bring shame. Like they are going to have a sign that hangs around their neck that announces their disease to the rest of the world and everyone is going to look at them differently.

In my experience there are a couple of ways that people react to me when I tell them that I am an alcoholic in recovery. There are different ways that I bring up the subject tot them also. There has to be a certain level of trust that has to be there for me to tell someone that I am in recovery. I am one of those people that is pretty open about the subject with people because I think that by me being a living example I am help others that see me. It has worked pretty well so far in my recovery.

Here is an example of one of the ways that I told a group of people that I am in recovery and their reactions.

I told a group of people that I work with at a company retreat. I had been working for the company for about 8 months and I figured that it was about time to tell everyone. I was a little tired of having to explain it to different people over and over. I waited until I felt a level of comfort and trust with the group before I let it fly. This group of people had become my family over the last couple of months. They had become more then a group of people that I happen to work with and I figured that they needed to know about this major aspect of my life. I had no doubt in my mind that everyone would be receptive to what I was saying. Everyone has been amazing to me. They were honored that I would have that level of trust in them to let them into this part of my life.

Another way that I would bring it up to someone is a little more direct and here is an example of that.

I have someone that I know that has let it be known that he does not want to have anything to do with alcohol. For whatever reason he has put it out there that this is what he wants to happen. I introduced myself to him and let him know that I understand exactly how he feels and that if he ever needed to talk to anyone that I would would be there to help. Thats about it.

It is such a personal thing to let people into this part of my life. Sometimes it necessary and beneficial for everyone.

I was talking to a friend last night as we were walking to a baseball game about people who were less receptive when they found out that I was an alcoholic in recovery. These were usually the people that did no understand why you would want to live your life without alcohol. I used to be one of these people and can totally understand where they are coming from. I pose a sort of threat to them and their alcoholic security blanket. I used to make fun of people that had stopped drinking.

I just could not imagine what the heck you would do with your life if you were not drinking. Alcohol is all-consuming and anything that poses a threat to that had to be destroyed or completely separated from my thinking.

People that take offense to my recovery or just don’t understand it are people that I usually do not need to be around. These are people that I am saving a seat for.

My alcoholism consumed everything that I was and now my recovery is consuming me. I like it like that. Recovery… you complete me.

 

You Will Like It

April 7, 2014 9:00 am Leave your thoughts

Princesses

I read a statistic from the National Council on Alcoholism that young people that have a drink before they are 15 are 5 times more likely to become alcohol dependent then those that start to experiment when they are 20.

I think that this is a pretty true statistic, at least when it came to the age that I started to experiment with alcohol and my dependence on alcohol. Looking at some of these statistics really made me think about the road and where it all started. What I do know was that when I started to compare my self to other people that were in recovery I saw that I had started pretty late. I had my first drink when I was about 15 years old. At least that it when I think that I had my first drink.

I had my first drink at a hockey tournament.I was one of the younger guys on the team and we were on an overnight trip. I always loved the overnight trips because I got to be away from home and I could just be with my friends. There are guys that were older on the team and I always looked up to them. They had girlfriends and they seemed to know how to be cool and that was what i wanted.  They listened to the cool music and I wanted to know what the cool music was.

On one of these nights that were in a hotel on the central coast of California someone had brought a bottle of Goldschlager and it was being passed around. I can remember thinking that it was a big deal and that there was no going back after I had taken this drink. There were messages that I had heard in DARE classes about how my entire life would be ruined with a single sip of alcohol and how everything after this was going to be a slippery slope.

I remember the taste of it and the burning that I felt in my throat, down my esophagus, and in my stomach. I remember thinking that I was different somehow… I would feel the same way a couple of years later when I would lose my virginity. There was a feeling that the would would never be the same.

I hear people talk about their first drink and say how they knew from that moment that they were going to need to have alcohol. I never felt that. I felt that I had changed somehow now that I had opened this door. There were no thoughts about when I could get another drink or when it would happen again. I just wanted to be accepted by the cool kids and I thought that this was going to be the way to do that.  I really didn’t like my first drink. I didn’t like the taste of alcohol really. I didn’t get drunk or feel the buzz with that first time.

I remember the first time that I got drunk…. I was on a beach in my hometown and I had been drinking a bottle of tequila. Looking back on it.. with what I know about alcohol and drinking.. I have no idea why a bottle of tequila was my weapon of choice that night.. but it was. Again, it was probably because I wanted to look cool. I think that I was smoking Marboro Reds too… what an idiot.  I remember falling over into the and and sleeping in my truck. I remember how bad that I felt the next day and how I lied to my aunt about where i was.. and then when I came home she knew exactly where I was and what I was doing.

Looking back on it.. I don’t know if by experimenting with alcohol at the age that I did contributed to how I turned out… but I am an alcoholic so that pretty much answers that.

Alcoholism is progressive. I am the case study in that for sure. The way that I consumed alcohol and did drugs changed dramatically over the years that I was actively in my disease. It had a lot to do with what was happening in my life and who I was hanging out with. Most of the time it all came back to my quest for social acceptance in any form that I could get it.

What was the age that you had your first drink? How do you think that it effected you now that you are looking back on it with a bit of life experience?

Acutely Aware

April 2, 2014 10:58 am Leave your thoughts
Lottas Fountain on Market Street in San Francisco. Taken by Richie Fredell. One shot at a time.

Lottas Fountain on Market Street in San Francisco. Taken by Richie Fredell. One shot at a time.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month so I am going to do a bunch of posts this month all about alcohol awareness .

I never needed a month to make me aware of alcohol really. I understand that there is a lot of misconceptions and down right ignorance when it comes to alcohol and its consumption. We will talk about binge drinking versus maintenance drinking. I have discovered a lot of stats that have blown me away when it comes to underage drinking and the effects that it has on the US health care system. I am going to talk a bit about how alcohol was introduced to me at a very young age.

There are so many misconceptions about alcohol and alcoholism out there. It seems to me that there is a stigma surrounding alcoholics and alcohol. There are so many alcoholics out there that are part of society as a whole.

I was reading an article about a published study by Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health where 60% of people over the age of 20 with a chronic alcohol disorder do not seek help because of a perceived stigma.

There are so many things out there that try to point us away from alcohol when we are young but there are so many things that take us into alcohol also. I want to talk about those this month also.

Im looking forward to bringing some of these things into the light and relating some of my personal experience when it comes to them viagra kaufen thailand. Please feel free to comment and become part of the discussion. This always works better when there are more voices of experience then just mine.

Happy Alcohol Awareness Month everyone… until next time.