Categories for Monterey Peninsula
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
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.
May 12, 2013 5:39 pm
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.
May 3, 2013 4:32 pm
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.
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.