Categories for Life
January 14, 2015 2:06 pm
You can never have enough gratitude, right?
Some people say that there is a feeling that they get when “gratitude” gets announced as the topic for discussion. There is a sigh from some people when they hear that topic. You can see the reaction in the room as some fold their arms or cross their legs thinking to themselves… “Not gratitude, again”.
I have never really understood that in my recovery. In my experience, every time that I have ever heard someone talk about how grateful they are it is of the utmost benefit for me. No matter how I am feeling at that particular moment I can always feel something deep within when I hear those stories.
Maybe my gratitude was a bit more pronounced when I was a little younger in my recovery. I am not that old, by any means but you know what I mean.
I can remember that when I was in early recovery… I woke up thinking that everyday was a gift in the life that I was living. That I was on “gifted time”… and it was the greatest gift that anyone has ever given to me. I went to bed every night with a small prayer. I am pretty sure that I have shared it with you… but if I haven’t, see below.
“Thank you God for what you have given me
Thank you God for what you have taken away from me
and thank you for what I have left”
It was something that I could not go to sleep without saying… and it really made an impact on my… daily. I had a couple of really hard times that have been sprinkled into my 5th and 6th year of sobriety. I was never close to going out, as I always knew that I had so much to lost, but I always knew that even during the dark days that there was a light ahead of me. I was always aware of that.
As I move along in my recovery there are days that I forget to take that final step that was so easy for me years ago. Just taking the time to acknowledge that I am grateful. I got this in an email a couple of from NA World Services Just For Today. If you are not subscribed to it.. its a great daily reminder.
“Are we grateful for our deepening relationship with a Higher Power? Do we remember to thank God for each day clean, no matter what has happened that day? Do we remember that, no matter how deep our despair or how great our joy, the God of our understanding is with us?”
I have to admit.. it got me thinking. Do I think about it everyday? I don’t… and I have to remember to do that. So what am I doing? I made a calendar reminder in my phone that will go off every night at 8pm. Whatever works, right?
There have been some things that have happened to me in the last several months that have been life changing… that I am very grateful for.
This is turning into that gratitude post… but please, don’t sigh or fold your arms.
Everything has a place and there is a plan out there for me…. and it is freaking glorious. It is something that I could have never of planned with my limited mind. There had to be something more to it to create the vivid mosaic that have been my last couple of months.
You can believe whatever you want to believe when it comes to Higher Powers and Overall Powerful Other Them Myself… but it is my personal opinion that I am not responsible for any of this. These amazing things have just happened to me.
I met someone… who is my confirmed partner for life. I just knew it right when I met her. We are engaged.. and going to get married. Life is so very crazy… and I am grateful for every second of it.
November 21, 2014 4:44 am
This is a shot of my nephew… another miracle in my life.
I was watching a documentary about World War II veterans that were a part of this organization called Honor Flight. Horror Flight is an organization that takes veterans to Washington DC to visit the recently completed World War II memorial and other sites.
There was one veteran who had been imprisioned in a prisoner of war camp for part of the last year of the war until he was liberated in April of 1945. Most of the comrades that he had been captured with had died while they were in captivity and we was one of the only ones that survived.
He would say that, “Everyday is a bonus.”
When I heard that I automatically connected it to my recovery from alcohol and drugs. In no way was I trying to compare my experience with his but in a lot of ways there were similar. We had both survived something that many people that we knew did not. At the end of it… everyday after that day of liberation was an absolute gift.
I think about this today as a good friend of mine celebrated one year of sobriety this last weekend. It has already been a year since the day that he came to me and told me that he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. We went to his first meeting that day and since that day he has never looked back.
Many things change for me over the years of my recovery, but one thing that does not is getting that call from someone who just doesn’t want to live like they are anymore. My reaction is always the same… I get really excited because all that I can see are the possibilities that are in front of them. Usually they will not be able to see what I am seeing… they can only imagine how boring they are going to be without alcohol.
I am not boring. I use myself as an example of what can happen to someone when they decide that they want to live.
My friend is not boring either. He is another miracle… in his life (and mine)… Everyday is a bonus.
November 7, 2014 1:12 pm
I really like people who when they say that they are going to do something.. they do it. If they commit themselves to something they are going to follow through with it until its done.
I think of myself as one of those people. I am very dedicated to what I am doing. I am incredibly loyal. Sometimes I think that I might just be a little too loyal, so much that it may even hurt me sometimes. I figure that it is more valuable for me to hold true to something then get hurt sometimes.
The reason that I am bringing this up is that I know that my time in early sobriety was what helped shape my belief in this. I have a feeling that when I was starting this thing.. I really was not that into commitment. I also was not into dying either, but thats another story.
I could not commit to anything… except that I was going to get fall down drunk every single day. That really was not that hard to commit to because it was something that my body craved. I could not help it. You don’t have to commit when your body thinks that it can’t live without what you are committing to.
When I was in the Beacon HouseSM we had 12-step meetings that were part of our schedule. I had no idea how much of an impact that the simple suggestions that I was going to be given would have such a profound impact on my life. Something as major as the concept of commitment.
It was suggested that I get a “commitment” when I was at one of my first meetings. For those of you who do not know what a “commitment” is in a 12-step programs it is a job that you volunteer (or sometimes don’t volunteer for) that helps get you to a specific meeting over and over. That would mean that I would have to put myself out there.. and that was something that I was not willing to do at the beginning. But getting out of your comfort zone is something that was essential for me in early recovery.
My reasoning for this was that all of the things that I had done in the past, all of my reasoning, had gotten me here. Obviously, it was not the best reasoning… and had not produced the most ideal results.
Even though I had good intentions.. I still was not going to raise my hand to get a commitment so I was railroaded into it. This is when someone who has more time then you in recovery and thinks that you need a commitment nominates you and corrals everyone to vote for your appointment. This is what happened to me. I was given a literature commitment at a meeting.
I had to show up at this meeting every week or someone would worry about me and ask where I was. These were some crusty old-timers that had gotten me this position so I was going to do everything in my power to not do them wrong. I was going to have a great selection of literature and I was going to be there every week.
Now that I look back on this part of my early recovery I can see the direct connection between this early commitment and how I feel about commitments now. Just another piece of the puzzle that I can trace back to those days in Pacific Grove
October 8, 2014 9:34 am
SF: One Sec Shots from Brian Emerick on Vimeo.
Do you ever notice that you ever notice that your life is just a set of patterns?
That is really what my life is… a whole bunch of patterns that I have cobbled together. When I really take a look at these patterns I can see some good and bad things that come up. I have had some really bad unhealthy patterns and then modified those patterns into something much better. Then even after changing the bad patterns to good healthy patterns… sometimes they go back to the bad side.
Years ago, when I was drinking I know that I had some pretty bad patterns. Some of these patterns I was really proud of at the time. When I look back on them now I can’t believe that I could have lived that way.. but I did. An example of these unhealthy patterns that I was proud of was the way that I would drink daily at the end.
I would come to in the morning and go straight to a local bar that opened early. At the time I did not think anything of it. It was just what I did. After drinking a couple of beers and shots I would stagger home… sometimes not making it and passing out on someones front porch. I would sleep there for a little bit and then head to another local bar to drink some more… this pattern of drinking and sleeping… and drinking and sleeping would continue for a couple of months. This would help me get to where I needed to be. It was a horrible existence but it brought me the Beacon HouseSM.
When I was in the Beacon HouseSM and in my Sober Living Environment I would learn some new things that would help to change those patterns. Obviously, I was not around alcohol that much anymore but it was always there in my mind. Every morning we would get up and make our beds and go downstairs for check-in. This was the start of creating a new healthy pattern in my life. At the time, I really didn’t know why I had to do what was being asked of me but I knew that it was much better then what I was doing before.
One of the things that was suggested to me early on was to schedule everything around my meetings and counseling sessions. I was never really a big fan of schedules so this was going to be a huge challenge for me. Idle time was a killer for me. If I did not have something to do then I knew that I would get myself into trouble. So what I did was pack my day with as many recovery related activities as I could. That was what had to be done.
These were some of my patterns that changed from being horrible… to starting to shape what I would become.
These can go the other way too. Wait… I take that back. They are just different patterns. The ones that I have now are related to my work and what I have to do everyday to be successful in my job. They help me manage my time and keep me on top of things. They are much different then my past patterns. I am not drinking at 6am.. so thats good.
I am on the road a lot for my job. When I get home there are some things that I want to do to start to build some even healthier patterns. These are going to be around recover, yoga and food.
The reason that I included my friend Brian’s awesome video about San Francisco is because when I watch it.. it reminds me of all of the amazing things that I have in my life. The City is one of those things. I hope that you enjoy it!
September 4, 2014 10:27 am
I wanted to let everyone know that I am here and that I am active in my recovery. It may be a little different then it has before but I am thinking about it everyday when I get up and everyday when I go to sleep.
There are examples of what my higher power has given me everyday of my life. I just have to look around for them. They are always there. It might be the smile that comes across someones face when I saw hello to them or it might be the complete joy that I see on a friends face who just celebrated 8 months of sobriety. Life is a beautiful thing.
That same friend was talking to me about how amazing that it was that 3 people in his life had approached him asking about getting sober. Its so great how that works. He came to me about changing his life and then 8 months later he has 3 people that came up to him that wanted to change their lives. That is a beautiful cycle if you ask me.
What I wanted to talk to you about was something that has been happening to me pretty recently. It has to do with fear and how I underestimate myself.
I have been working in a position for the past 6 months that is far different then anything that I have ever done before. There is much more responsibility and much more accountability. I have a lot of freedom and autonomy with my position. In this job there are thousands of small things that have to be done and they all have to be done perfectly.
When I was promoted I knew that I could do the job but there was always just a little bit of doubt that was creeping around in the back of my mind. This is something that has always been there. That nagging feeling that lives in the back of my head, that little voice that tells me that I am not good enough and that I am going to fail. I think that everyone has that but for me I can always remember it being there… steering aspects of my life… keeping me from taking some chances.
Recently my role has changed just a little bit and I am on my own. I used to be partnered up with a strong coworker who was more of a leader in the position. I would follow his lead and learn as much as I could. Now, it is just me most of the time.
When this change happened my first reaction to it was to completely stress about all of the things that could go wrong. This air of failure was ripe, floating all around me. My reaction is to get really hyper and try to focus on so many different things at once. Its like I have had way too much coffee and am trying to do way too many things at once. Nothing gets done and things just keep piling up.
I started to make lists and prioritize things. It sounds simple but it was something that I had never had to do before. I had never needed to. I was just able to handle it. Well.. it that means getting all stressed out about tasks that I may had forgotten.. “handling it”. What happened was that I was getting everything done on time and the work that I was doing was really good.
After awhile the things that would have stressed me out were not stressing me out anymore. I was learning new things and conquering the fears that had been living inside my head for so long. Lately I have much more confidence in what I am doing. I know that I can do the things that I set my mind to. In the back of my head there has always been the fear but there has always been this feeling that I could do anything. My recovery has taught me that.
Right now I am on a path. I am doing what I have to do and I am ok with that for right now. There are many things that I have to work on and there is some fear that is still there. I know that there are new experiences out there that are what life is all about. Experiencing those things and overcoming them.
In my early recovery someone said something to me that really stuck… they said, “If you are comfortable then you are not growing”.
I think that fits me pretty well right now.
July 3, 2014 7:21 am
Hello everyone. I am sorry that I have not been very present over the past couple of weeks. There are somethings that have changed in my life and have been monopolizing my time.
This is a very good thing for me. At the same time it has taken my attention off some of the things that are very important to me. I have been traveling a lot over the past 3 months and been working… a lot. In comparison to what I was doing before I feel like I am working much more then I ever have.
I have an all or nothing mentality when it comes to things that I am invested in. Well.. most of the time. When it comes to work, when I am given responsibility, I am fully invested. When it comes to my recovery, I am fully invested. I have had a hard time managing my time in the past and I think that this position that I am in has helped me with prioritizing and time management immensity.
Over the past couple of months I have had a direct hand in helping to expand my companies reach across the country. Its something that I would have never imagined that I would have done in the past. I am having a direct impact and I really like it. When we are done launching our service in a new market I can see tangible results right in front of me.
I have a pretty awesome job. Its a lot of work but that is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be able to have an impact.
I have had the opportunity to go to meetings in other places too. I have gone to meetings in Santa Monica, Austin and now Boston.
For someone who really had not traveled that much I have had the opportunity to go to many different places over the past couple of months. I have my recovery to thank for this because without it I am pretty much nothing. I have met some amazing people along the way that I know will be life long friends.
Its amazing how good I feel when I sit down and write out how I am feeling.
May 7, 2014 8:55 pm
There is something that I have been wanting to talk with everyone about in this forum. It is something that was a very essential part of my early recovery and I wanted to give my experience to anyone that may need it.
What is this major topic that I want to talk about?
I want to talk about dating and romance in early sobriety and how it effected me.
When I got sober everyone who knew anything about sobriety told me that it was a very bad idea to get into a relationship with anyone during that time of your recovery. I listened to these people and I decided that I was going to do what I wanted to do. This was really the only thing that I did on my own.. something that I didn’t follow other peoples suggestions on. Of course it was something that I had to experience to get the full story of just how bad it was for me.
One of my first sponsors asked me a pretty simple question when I asked him if it was a good idea to get involved with anyone at about 3 months sober… He asked me to “examine my intentions” with the person. What was it that I wanted to get out of the relationship. Why was I entering into it?
I could not answer the question. All that I could say was that I was not entering into the relationship with any ill intentions. I knew that I didn’t want to hurt anyone.. but I could not answer his question.
I had a couple of different relationships in my first year of sobriety.
I can tell you right now that one of the major effects that it had on me was a distracting one. It distracted me from what it was that I should have been doing in the first place. I should have been listening to the experience of others and not getting into anything.
This was a perfect example of my “self will run riot”. I thought that I knew what was best for me in my early sobriety on certain subjects. I really thought that I knew everything about relationships even though I don’t think that I ever had a healthy one in my life with a female.
The moral to this story is that early sobriety is the time to get work done. I used woman as a distraction in my early sobriety. If you asked me if I regretted it I would tell you that I didn’t because I met some life long friends that I might not of ever would have met. I could have done without the distraction though.
I hope that this experience helps some people out there that have questions about it. I know that I did..
April 16, 2014 12:40 pm
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.
April 7, 2014 9:00 am
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?
March 23, 2014 9:37 pm
It never ceases to amaze me where my life has been able to take me. Its all because I am sober and am living of life in recovery.
I think that sometimes I may sound like a broken record when it comes to this blog.. but that is the way that it is. I am in Washington DC right now on a work trip. People actually trust me with decisions that can have an effect on the business that I work for. I remember when I was not allowed to bartend by myself because I would mess up the money so bad that it would have to be counted by multiple people after my shift. I was not the best employee then.. and now I have the keys to my own future.
I was checking into the hotel this evening and the front desk clerk asked me if I would like the keys to the minibar… and I got to say no. That right there is a miracle in its own right.
Not only do I have an amazing life in recovery.. but I have some great people around me that I have been able to help start along this path. One person in particular seems to always send me a text exactly when I need it. I know now that this is just how it always works when it comes to people in recovery.
This person was someone that I knew when I was drinking… but that was about the extent of our relationship. I would serve him drinks and he would drink them. We would acknowledge each other in passing but that was about all that we would do with each other.
For some reason.. that was not going to be the extent of our relationship. There was going to be much more for us then merely just passing like two drunken ships in the night. He asked me if I would take him to a meeting.. and so we went. The rest is history.
I love that it works like that sometimes.