Categories for Inspirational
December 23, 2014 10:45 pm
Tomorrow I am going to be going down to see my family in Southern California. Its another year for me… its almost the same as most of the years before it.
Lately I have taken these tips for granted….. I really don’t think twice about them because there is really nothing out of the ordinary about them for me. They are just something that happens every year. I take a trip.
7 years ago this trip was something that was out of the ordinary. I wanted something to change in my life.. but I just did not know how to vocalize it. My life had become something that I could not recognize. I don’t think that anyone that loved me could of recognized me at that point. I was a mere shell of what I was months before.
I knew that there was something that had to change for me… or else I was not going to be around much longer. This was the trip that would be the beginning of the rest of my life. I just had no idea that it was happening.
Even thought I wanted to change to come… I don’t think that I would have chosen it if I was given the choice. There was a lot of fear of the unknown for me… I had no idea what my life was going to be like without alcohol. I think that it would have to be forced on me. There was something drastic that had to happen to make me see the light. This was the beginning of that drastic journey.
It must have started innocently enough… I am pretty sure that I flew south because there is no way that I would have been able to get behind the wheel of a car at that time. I never drove anywhere. I had a couple of drinks at the airport waiting for my flight… probably more then a couple. There were times when I was almost not let on flights because of how drink that I was. This could have been one of those times.
In my family, we celebrate the holidays at the house of our in-laws. It is the house of a family that we gained over 9 years ago and I can’t imagine our lives without them. My brother got married and our family grew larger. It just so happened that we would have our Christmas’ at their house. I remember going over to there house for this particular holiday.. and nothing was out of the ordinary… I was a couple of drinks deep and I knew that there was going to be plenty of booze at the house.
Those were the things that were most pressing in my life at the time… was there alcohol at the destination and was there enough to keep me going.
Not thinking about something like that is something that I don’t think I will ever take for granted. I will keep you all up to date with the progress of my trip down south….. how it makes me feel, the memories that it brings up… and where it takes me.
February 26, 2014 8:30 am
I just sat here and really thought about what it really means to me. I can not help but just well up with tears.
2192 days of continuous sobriety…. is 6 years. Today is a very important day because it celebrates the day that I was brought back from the dead. It celebrates the day that my entire life changed and an entire new world opened right in front of me.
I was thinking about it earlier today and talking to a friend about how I really didn’t think that 6 years was that big of a deal. I was thinking back on my 4th sobriety birthday and how I really didn’t think that it was that special. I was looking forward to my 5 year birthday that would come the year after. That was a really big one…. but every single on of them are big. Every single second of every single day is nothing short of a miracle.
Right now I am just filling up with a whole bunch of different feelings… but the word that keeps coming into my head is gratitude. I feel so much gratitude right now.. for so many different things. Gratitude was something that I don’t think that I ever really knew the true meaning of before I started this journey 6 years ago. Now it is something that is so ingrained in me that I know that I cannot live without it.
So many different things have crossed my way in the last 6 years that have guided me along this path. Thats the way that this thing works. The people and the places that dictate your path . All of the faces and phrases that filled the Carriage House at the Beacon HouseSM.. and the Fellowship Hall in Downtown Monterey…. and to the Vista Lobos room in Carmel will always guide me wherever I go.
I never would have imagined that I would get sober… it a 7am meeting in Carmel, California. I would be at that meeting… everyday at 7am….. because that was what was suggested. Good Morning never felt so good as it did in Carmel.
All that I knew was that I was willing to do anything to not feel the way that I was feeling. I wanted to not feel like I wanted to die.. all the time. I had no idea what was happening and I didn’t know what to do. I was so very scared and the only way that I could picture relief was through my own death. I knew that I really didn’t want to die. I wanted to live. I knew that there was something more for me then wasting my life away in 6 am bars and dirty gutters. I was 28 years old.. and I was not done yet.
Recovery is the most amazing thing on the planet. Really it is. There is nothing that is more powerful then someone admitting that they need help and reaching their hand out for that help. There is something so amazing about the people who reach out their own hand to hold on to those people. It makes me teary eyed just thinking about it. There is nothing more powerful on this earth… then one booze hound alcoholic all-star reaching his or her hand out to another who knows EXACTLY what that person is going through.
I didn’t want anyones help when I was in that spot… but that all changed when I was forced into that position. When I almost met my maker… a weeee bit too early. I was brought to my knees and I had to make a pretty simple choice. Do you want to live or die, Rich.. black or white. I would try to do all that I could do to try to figure my way out of it without having to make the choice. There must be someway that I can keep doing this. Can’t I just dry out?… and maybe just drink wine on the weekends?
I tried a little research… I relapsed and was right back where I started. That is what it took to make me truly admit to my innermost self… that I was an alcoholic. I was one of those people that booze just did not get along with. I had lost the privilege to drink like a gentleman.
I came back to the peninsula and knew what I had to do. It was really pretty easy. There were a lot of people who had done it before. They knew what they were doing. I had not idea what the hell that I was doing… so I just did what they did. This is how the program works. Its really not rocket science. The program was designed so that any old drunk could make the easy decision of a spiritual life over an agonizing alcoholic death.
I am really glad that I made that decision… or that the decision was made for me and that decision stuck. I cant imagine where I would be if I did not walk into Dana’s office at the Beacon HouseSM.. at 8:30am… on February 26th of 2008.That is why this post will be published exactly 6 years to the day.
Death would have taken me… and I would have never have been given the opportunity to share my experiences with you in this blog.
My name is Richie… and I am a grateful, bright, sparkly, joyful alcoholic.
November 25, 2013 7:48 am
“One is too many… and a thousand are never enough”
I remember sitting in my mother’s NA meetings when I was really little and hearing that saying so many times and never ever understanding it. I kept thinking to my self… how could one be too many and a thousand never enough. Of course, I was thinking of Legos and Micro Machines…. how could a thousand be never enough.
Now I understand. That saying, like almost every other one that I have heard, is so very near and dear to my heart.
There are a couple of things that are on my mind today. The first thing is a concept that I learned at the Beacon HouseSM called… “Playing the tape foreword.” This is when you start thinking about drinking or using and you think of all of the short term rewards that you will gain from it….. and then thinking about all of the long-term horrible consequences that you will also gain from it.
Here is a good example of this… a couple of days ago I was thinking about a bar that I use to go to at 6am. I was thinking about the feeling that came over me when I saw their big bright neon OPEN sign light up through the San Francisco fog as I walked up. It was so damn romantic in my head. I was thinking about having a nice warm cup of coffee full of Bailey’s Irish Creme and Jameson to start the day off right. In my head, all was well as Sportscenter was on the big screen TV and I was on Cloud Nine.
Here is where I “Played the Tape Forward”….. I started to think about what would happen after all of this fake romance had worn off…. 2 hours later.
I had proceeded to move to Budweiser and shots of Jameson. I am probably about 4 beers and 5 shots deep at this point. I have seen the same episode of Sportscenter three times because they play it over and over again in the morning. I have now put my hoodie hood over my head because it makes me feel more secure. I am REALLY hoping that no one else walks into the bar because they are going to try and talk to me. That would really suck. My mind is flashing to cocaine.. even though I have not done in a long time.. but it seems like a great idea now. Nope, scratch that because it is going to be way too much work to get it at this hour of the morning even though I could probably do it if I really wanted. Time to walk home to pass out. I won’t make it home and someone’s stoop is going to have to do.
That is how this tape is going to end up. I am going to end up hammered, passed out in someones stoop. It may not happen during this playing of the tape but I know that it is going to happen on one of these playings. I know that is where I will end up if I choose to go in that direction. This will stretch into something so drastic and dire for my life that I have to be aware of it.
I know what it means when they say…. “One is too many and a thousand are never enough.” Somehow I find comfort in that.
Second thing that I want to talk about is a BIG congrats to 3 years of sobriety to a very very special friend of mine that I went through the Beacon HouseSM with. She is an amazing person that is celebrating in style today!
During your recovery there are people that really stand out to you as true survivors. This is one of those people to me. There were times when I had collected some time and this special person just kept falling…. but there was something that was inside of this person. Something that was not going to be denied because they had so many amazing things that were so important in their lives. I just knew that no matter what had happened.. that this person was going to be there basking in the sunlight of the spirt one day…. just like our friend Paul Major. Every time that I see a post or an update from this person my heart is very warm. So much love and respect go out to you friend.
Miracles happen each and every day. We are examples of this. Our gratitude lists are awesome.
November 11, 2013 9:39 am
I have been hearing around that what I am supposed to be doing in the month of November is doing a gratitude list every night. I have been failing at this because I always think that I am too busy.
Really I’m not. I just have to remember how important that it is that I do it. As I was doing my first gratitude list for the month of November.. (yes, its the 11th) I was thinking about an article that I read that was in The Guardian UK a couple of months ago from Russell Brand. Talk about, “contempt prior to investigation”… I really could not stand this guy for a second. Everything that I had seen about this guy had led me to believe that he was the rich British rocker that had nothing to offer me.
When I found out that the guy was on the same team that I was on my perception immediately changed. I don’t know him personally but I got the same feeling that I get whenever I find out that someone that I don’t know is in the same battle that I am in. You are immediately comrades….
The way that he describes his use and the daily reprieve is pretty vivid and amazing. Here is an excerpt from the article. I think that it is pretty much perfect in the description of someone who is trying to get sober and forgets that all that they have is a daily reprieve from a chronic disease.
“A friend of mine’s brother cannot stop drinking. He gets a few months of sobriety and his inner beauty, with the obstacles of his horrible drunken behaviour pushed aside by the presence of a programme, begins to radiate. His family bask relieved, in the joy of their returned loved one, his life gathers momentum but then he somehow forgets the price of this freedom, returns to his old way of thinking, picks up a drink and Mr Hyde is back in the saddle. Once more his brother’s face is gaunt and hopeless. His family blame themselves and wonder what they could have done differently, racking their minds for a perfect sentiment; wrapped up in the perfect sentence, a magic bullet to sear right through the toxic fortress that has incarcerated the person they love and restore them to sanity. The fact is, though, that they can’t, the sufferer must, of course, be a willing participant in their own recovery. They must not pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. Just don’t pick up, that’s all.”
Is it really that simple?
Don’t pick up a drink or drug no matter what… yep, its pretty much that simple. If I do not introduce a drink or a drug into my system then I have no chance of getting drunk.
Sometimes people ask me why am I such a good mood all of the time. I tell them thats what happens when you have been brought back from deaths door by a miracle. Sometimes they say that miracles aren’t real because they have never seen one happen to them or to someone they know. I just tell them to come into a meeting or into the Beacon HouseSM and they will be witness to so many that they will emerge from that space a believer in miracles.
October 18, 2013 3:06 pm
I am going to start a new section of the blog that is just dedicated to amazing inspirational quotes that I come across. There are mantras that I keep very close to my heart that help me so very much. I have a bunch of quotes that hang right around my bed and they always remind me of where my head needs to be when I wake up…. and that place is in gratitude.
I will share a little bit with you about what the quote means to me and hopefully it will stir something inside you. That is what this blog is for really…. to stir up feeling in people.
When I am in gratitude everything else just falls into place. Here is my very first quote to share with you all.
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.”
– The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
I heard this quote at the end of yoga about a week ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. It really opened something up in me that I always knew was there but really just didn’t know how to vocalize. That is what these quotes do for me… they help vocalize things that my heart already knows but just did not know how to express.
How is it possible to know and feel the extent of joy if we have not gone through sorrow. We would have nothing to compare it to. This always makes me think of “This too shall pass” because I know that I can’t have one without the other.
My joy and my pain are cosmically connected like yin and yang. My higher power gave me these painful experiences to help me appreciate my joy…. and I do appreciate my joy. The past and present sorrows just make is so much more vivid and meaningful. I am grateful for my sorrow. I might now be at the moment that it is happening but I know that it is like exercise. I might not see the results immediately… but I will see them, I just have to be patient.
September 12, 2013 7:30 am
“I am learning to shut up more in the presence of God”-Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Have you ever just taken a moment and let yourself sit and be quite with your thoughts. The 11th Step is the one that covers prayer and meditation…. but do you ever really do it?
It was something that I never really understood until I actually sat down with someone who taught me how to meditate. I was under the impression that I had to sit and chant or hum… and get every single thought out of my mind. This is very hard for an alcoholic and drug addict of my type. Sometimes my head cannot sit still for more then 30 seconds at a time.
What I learned from going to a Meditation in Recovery session at the San Francisco Zen Center was that I did not have to get every single thought out of my mind. I just had to not grab on to thoughts and marinate in them. I would always get discouraged when I would try and start to meditate because I would not be able to get my mind “clear”.
When I saw that there were other people that were having the same issue that were all in the same room it changed the way that I think about my meditation routine. There is also a very beneficial website called calm.com that has an iPhone app that integrates soothing audio along with really great instruction.
I have also been watching videos lately that calm me down and put me in a place of gratitude. Here is my favorite.
How do you meditate?
Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.
August 30, 2013 12:19 pm
I just thought that you should see this. I just saw it and it really spoke to me.
How do you deal with situations that happen to you? How do you react?
Tell me what you think about it.
August 23, 2013 11:28 am
Congrats to Katie
I have talked about it before in this blog but one of my favorite things to do in my first couple of years of sobriety was to lead the community group at the Beacon HouseSM on Friday mornings. I didn’t know what effect it was going to have at the time. All that I knew was that I was going to get to be of service.
I can remember my first Friday meeting at the Beacon HouseSM and how nervous I was. I did not know what I was going to do in the meeting. I had no format at all. I was trying to remember what it was like for me when I was first in the House. I tried to remember the things that were inspiring to me when I had the chance to talk to someone from the outside.
I remember the first community meeting that I went to when I came into the House. It is amazing that I even remember it because I can’t remember pretty much anything else about those first couple of weeks….. except that I couldn’t stop shaking. I remember being wrapped in a blanket and not being able to stop crying. The leader of the group was a gentleman named Tam, who was a Scot and he was a drunk.. like me. He talked a little bit about what it was like for him.
He talked about drinking in bars and having a lot of “friends” in the bars. Then when he came to the Beacon HouseSM so many years ago none of those “friends” came to see him or asked about how he was. They were still sitting on the same barstools at the same bars. I remember him saying that when he did see them again that they all thought that he had just gone to the bathroom….
He was the first person that I related to in early recovery. He talked like i did… only with a much heavier accent. He talked about the feelings of despair and despiration that I had felt.
He was also one of the first people that talked to me when I came back into the House after my relapse. He knew, like everyone else, that I would be back.
Tam passed away a couple of years ago… but I will always remember the impact that he had on me during those community meetings. He was the first hope that I had and the first example to me that this was something that was possible.
When I led the community meeting I wanted to bring across that same kind of hope.
I would start the meeting by telling my story… qualifying myself for everyone. I wanted to relate to everyone… let them know that I was there for a reason and that it was helping me just as much as it was helping them. Then we would go around the circle and we would check in. You didn’t have to check in if you didn’t want to… but it always helped.
I would alway start of the shares by letting everyone know that I was not a counselor… just a druggie and a drunk.. like them and that I had been through the House too… usually this would break down the barriers or the pre-concieved judgements that anyone would have.
There were always lots of hugs and questions at the end of our time together. It was always nice to see new faces and new stories coming in.
These days I get to keep in touch with the people that I came in contact with through social media networks like OneHealth and Facebook. I can see them years later with the kids that they had almost lost or with that college degree that they never finished.
It is the most rewarding thing that I have ever gotten the chance to experience. Seeing these people celebrate sobriety birthdays… seeing them getting married….. there is nothing else like it in this world. Seeing vibrant life where there was once near death, hopelessness and anger.
I dedicate this blog entry to the memory of Tam… who helped unlock that well of hope that was always in my heart. To to my friend Katie who is celebrating 2 years of sobriety today. To another friend Larry.. Who is celebrating 30 years of sobriety.. Yes, that’s three-oh. They are both miracles. Just like all the rest of us drug addicts and alcoholics in recovery.
August 2, 2013 12:19 pm
My brother and I at an Oakland A’s game in 2010
I can’t wait.. I just wanted all of you to know this amazing news directly from me!!
Ok… I am not having a baby. My brother and his wife are having a baby. I found out a couple of months ago that there are expecting their first child!
Let me give you a little more background on the make up of my family. I have one blood brother and I have been with him my entire life. We grew up together living in the same house.. experiencing things together. I have two step-sisters that we were introduced to when I was about 10 or so. I also have two half-sisters that are a part of my life in different ways over the years.
My brother is blood to me. He is my closest family and our relationship has changed and evolved over the past many years. I have to use the word evolved because that is the best word to describe it.
When we were younger we always had the typical brother relationship… we fought and messed around with each other. We played sports together and were usually on the same team. We played baseball on the same team most of the time. I was usually the catcher and he usually played shortstop. So when I would try to throw runners out attempting to steal I would always throw to him. My throws were usually pretty good but they usually had to be rescued by my brother’s amazing sweep tag. Just when the runner thought that they were in there safely…. down would come my brother’s glove to crush their spirits.
After high school I left and moved to Northern California and our relationship cooled off. We really did not talk that much because I was wrapped up in my own “City” life and felt that I didn’t have time for anything else. That was the way that I treated a lot of different people during that time.
As my drinking progressed and I moved further and further away from my family I would go months without talking to my brother.
When my brother got married to his high school sweetheart I was there….. but was drunk pretty much the entire time. I had decided that it was a better idea to make friends with the bartenders at the hotel then to get closer to my brother and participate in the festivities.
Then some years past and I went into my downward spiral… and when I went into my coma in December of 2007 by brother was right there. They had told them that there was a chance that I was going to die that night… and they prepared for my death.
Then when I left the Beacon HouseSM a couple of months later for the first time and went right back to San Francisco and bartending I knew that I was disappointing him.. but I had things to do. Really not that much had changed in my mind. I was still in my selfish place.. where all that I cared about was the way that I was perceived.
So when I relapsed about 2 weeks later guess who was the one that was going to come and get me to take me back down to the Beacon HouseSM.. It was my brother and my sister in law. I can remember that car ride going south as one of the hardest 2 hour trips of my life. I had all of my belongings in a couple of black trash bags and I felt like I was in the principals office. I have never felt so much shame in my life. I knew that I had let down the person that was closest to me.
I had done my first step a couple of days earlier.. in front of a bar, drunk, at 6 am…. but if there was a second blatant example of the powerlessness and unmanageability of my life.. it was what my relationship with my brother had become.
Many things have changed and many things have happened since that day. It is more then 5 years later and my relationship with my brother has changed more then I could of ever imagined. I am still not geographically close to him and his wife but I know that my heart is closer then it has ever been in our lives.
When he told me that they were having a baby my world stopped and I could feel my heart explode. These are the promises coming coming true in my life…
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves
My higher power did this… because left to my own devices I could not find my self out of a wet paper bag when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
This past weekend… I also found out that they are having a boy. My heart exploded once again… It would of done that if he said that they were having a girl..
One day I am going to be watching my nephew.. with my brother playing little league. He will probably be playing shortstop…. applying amazing sweep-tags to ill-fated base stealers.
life is pretty amazing.
June 18, 2013 11:12 am
Recently, I have heard a couple of people say to me…. “The program does not work for me. I have gone to meetings. I have read the book. I have been to several rehabs. I have even lived in sober living houses. None of it works.”
It has all happened to me in sort of a flood over the past couple of days. There have been people who I used to drink and use with and then there are people that are closer to me. Some of them are very close and I have known them for a better part of my life.
I am having trouble not getting mad at these people when they say these things to be. I am a very patient person most of the time but for some reason when I hear these words I start to tense up. Sometimes I think that it is my natural reaction when I hear someone talk bad about AA or NA. Then other times I just want to last out at them and tell them that they really have not tried anything.
My Higher Power puts the right things in front of me right when I need them. Maybe its a friend that I have known for a long time suddenly asks me for a little help and now he is a little over 2 weeks sober. Maybe it is a blog post from a fellow recovery blogger. I came across this post in a great blog called, “Sobriety Junkie” by George Kayko.
“You haven’t ‘tried’ anything, Jake.” I said. “You’re like everyone else who says they can’t stay sober or that AA doesn’t work. You’ve been a lot of places — treatment, rehab, sober houses — and you’ve been to a lot of meetings, but all you’ve ever been is a visitor. You’ve never actually done anything.”
–Sobriety Junkie “There is a Solution”
Kayko talks about the steps and some peoples reluctance to actually take them. The steps are the program of recovery. They are where the rubber hits the road. I asked the same questions that he asked Jake on that night.
Have you ever done a 4th Step inventory or have you ever done a 9th Step amends? Have you ever really worked with a sponsor. These are some of the questions that I have asked the people in my life that say that the program does not work for them.
Some people just don’t want it. There may come a time when they come to a situation or point in their life when they will want it. That time may not be right now.
I tried to get sober in AA way back in 2006 and I lasted about 2 weeks. I remember going to a meeting by myself and becoming very annoyed with everyone there. To me it was a horrible experience and I needed to do something about it. I promptly left that meeting and got drunk. I was drinking “AT” those people that were in that meeting. I was punishing them by getting drunk. That is alcoholic logic right there… in full force.
I have this one friend that I met in Monterey when I was just out of the Beacon HouseSM. He has a story that reminds me of the people that I was talking about from earlier. He had been to something like 26 rehab facilities since he was 13. He had been in and out of trouble with the law. He had his best friend die during one of the times that he escaped from a lockdown facility. He was the perfect example that you could hold up that recovery and AA did not work for some people.
Today, that same person has been married to an amazing woman for over 2 years. That same person just graduated from a very major university with a very major degree. He is one of the strongest people that I know in recovery. He is a person that I am very proud to call a “brother in recovery”.
Something just clicked for him and I was there to watch it. Having someone like that right beside you when you are going through those early stages of recovery is amazing. He had been through so many things and had tried so many times. Now here we were on the same road to recovery together.
All that I am saying is that I agree with George Kayko…… There is a solution to your problem… If you want it.
My father said to me once….. “Son, sometimes it comes down to wether you want to live.. or die.”
Sometimes it just as simple as that. I really just didn’t want to die.