Categories for Recovery

Collating

April 15, 2015 12:04 pm

Can you remember the first tasks you completed in very early sobriety?

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Mine was collating papers…. Today in my recovery that does not seem like such a huge task, but in early sobriety it was monumental! I literally had not completed anything productive for what seemed like years – including my Doctoral Dissertation!

I was fortunate enough to be of service at the Monterey County Central Office. It was there that I collated, stapled, folded, labeled, and stamped hundreds possibly THOUSANDS of newsletters. At the time I did not realize that this was one of the first steps to helping me feel like I could accomplish something, thus helping to increase my self-esteem.

Through the years I have accomplished many projects, but my mind always remembers those stacks of papers waiting to be collated.

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Not Another Gratitude Post!

January 14, 2015 2:06 pm Leave your thoughts

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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.

Days Gone By

December 23, 2014 10:45 pm Leave your thoughts


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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.

Everyday is a Bonus

November 21, 2014 4:44 am Leave your thoughts
This is a shot of my nephew... another miracle in my life.

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.

Commitment

November 7, 2014 1:12 pm Leave your thoughts

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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

 

 

The Real Deal

October 12, 2014 9:35 am Leave your thoughts

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Sometimes I get very caught up in all of the things that I am not doing. There is a lot of negative thinking that creeps its way into my head sometimes. I know that this stinking-thinking is not very good for me… for sure.

I think about how many meetings that I am not going to and people that I have not talked to in a long time. People that were there from the time that I first got sober in the Beacon HouseSM.. to some of the people in my SLE… to the couple of years that I was in the Monterey Peninsula.  It makes me feel just a bit ashamed of myself.

Maybe this is just a whole bunch of self-pity that is surfacing for me. Self-Pity has always been a thing for me.  I can remember being really really little and having an ice cream cone in my hands on a family vacation.  I was so excited about this cone. Then something happened.. I probably licked it way too hard and the ice cream fell off the cone. I remember looking at it on the ground and all that I could feel was sorry for myself. Like I had been wronged. I don’t know why this was one of those things that I can always remember…

Yesterday, I was in Rocky Mountain National Park by myself.  I was sitting on a rock and looking at the snowcapped mountains towering in front of me. I was not making a sound and all that I could hear was the water from the lake that was in front of me. There was wind traveling through the surrounding trees.

Everything just sort of fell away. All of the busy things that my mind has been doing for the past couple of months like airports, flights, hotels, my computer, email and expectations just didn’t matter for this second. I had a really big smile on my face and all I could feel was overwhelming gratitude.

I sat there on that rock and said a prayer to my higher power… incredibly thankful for all of the things that I do have. Saying a big thank you for my sobriety (which in my humble opinion is pretty damn strong). Excited for the life that I do have that is a direct result of all of those people that came before me.

I would not have been able to enjoy that beautiful vista, on that rock with that wind in the trees if it was not for my sobriety.

When it all comes down to it.. this is the real deal. This is what I always wanted my life to be.. and so much more those years ago sitting on the front porch of the Beacon HouseSM wondering if there was ever going to be a day when I could not crave a drink.

Thankfully, I don’t have those cravings anymore. There are just not there anymore and there are other things that I crave today… like being able to wear sweatpants all day on a Sunday.

 

Underestimated

September 4, 2014 10:27 am Leave your thoughts

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Hello friends,

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. 

 

Coasting

August 13, 2014 12:08 pm Leave your thoughts

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One thing that I learned during my early sobriety was to be completely honest with myself and with others.

I think that it was one of the hardest things for me to do way back then. Maybe because I knew that there were physical effects that I could see when it came to my drinking. I didn’t know that there were these other things that I couldn’t see that were just as looming as my drinking.

Lately, I have been really busy with my work. Pretty much all of my time has been dedicated to it. I have been coasting with my recovery life. The life that is supposed to be the most important thing in my life. I am going to be honest with everyone… I went to my first meeting in almost 5 months last week. I have not been talking to alcoholics like I should be.. and I have not been doing what I need to do.

Thus is the ebb and flow of my recovery sometimes. There is a path in front of me that is lit very well. I know what I need to be doing and I know where I want to be.

In my heart I know that I am not going to drink or use… but at the same time I have seen this happen to people time and time again. I will see that they stop going to meetings and stop talking to people… and they go out. Thoughts that would have never entered their mind all of a sudden sound like a good idea.

Thanks goodness that I have an amazing group of people that worry about me and care about me. Thank goodness that I have this blog to write because it makes me aware of the things that I need to be doing.

Things are not all sunshine and rainbows in recovery and I know that. Those are the stories that I most relate to when I hear people’s shares in a meeting. No doubt that my life has become more then my wildest dreams could have ever imagined.  I travel all over the country for my work and I would have never have left my neighborhood when I was drinking. I owe everything to this program and to my recovery.

I just wanted to be honest with you all. I love you and appreciate you.

I am on top of it.

There and Back Again

July 14, 2014 12:22 pm Leave your thoughts

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When I was little there was something that I looked forward to every single summer. Without fail, I would look forward to the day that I got to board a plane and fly across the country. Every summer we would go to Maine to see family that we had there.

We went every summer. It all started when I was about 5 years old and lasted until I was 15 years old. The summers were filled with family, friends, the outdoors and pretty much everything that could make a summer for a kid like me. Other kids that I knew went to Hawaii, New York City, camping, winter skiing trips… but I always thought that my vacation was so much better then theirs.

People would ask where I was going and I would let them know. They would say how beautiful that Bar Harbor was and a lll that I could tell them was… “Yeah, I know… I have family there..”

The last time that I was in Bar Harbor was when I was 27 years old. The year was 2007 and it was the last year of my drinking. I was there for over a week but I have no recollection of anything that I did there…. except drink. This was the summer before I would hit my bottom very hard.

If you can imagine a very small vacation town were pretty much EVERYTHING gets around very fast. If someone trips and falls it is probably going to be in the newspaper the next day and your family is going to know even before you walk in the door. The town is very little and everything goes around.

My behavior got around the town. My alcoholic adventures were pretty legendary. I remember staying in a hotel on one of the main streets in Bar Harbor. The bars were a bit further down the street from my hotel but they were close enough to walk to. You can walk to everything in the town because its so small.

I was out very late every night. Staggering my way back to my hotel after a night of heavy drinking. That was the story of the last year of my drinking. Staggering home from whatever bar I was drinking at the night before.

This year, I went back for the first time since that summer. Over 6 years of sobriety was under my belt.

It was like I was seeing it for the first time with a new set of eyes… because that was what exactly was happening. I was seeing it with the eyes of a kid who was on his summer vacation. There are so many beautiful things to see that I just glossed over the last time that I was there. My eyes were filled with an alcoholic fog that was difficult to clear in the days that I was there in 2007.

So many things have changed since that year.

A Very Special Day

June 10, 2014 9:03 pm Leave your thoughts

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Everyday in my recovery is a very special day for me. There is no denying that. Everyday is a miracle. There is something that is very special about today though.

What could be so special about June 10th?

Today is the 78th birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. This was the day that Dr. Bob took his last drink and adventure began.

I always think about how this all started. How the organization that helped save my life and the lives of so many others started. How it was something that could have so easily not started like it did. I think about that day that Bill Wilson was in Akron and walked into that hotel. There was a bar that on his right and there was a directory of churches that was on his left. He chose the directory and made a call that got him hooked up with another alcoholic.

How did he even think that this was going to be some that would help him when all that he had ever thought about doing before that day was to drink. It was so hard to not make a right and head on into that bar. I don’t know what I would have done on that day.

There were so many times that I wanted to make the right decision and walk in a different direction only to have my feet and body turn right and walk straight for the bar. That was what had always been my remedy for so long. I am so happy that one day I chose to make the left turn like Bill Wilson did that day in that hotel. He reached out and wound up at the home of Dr. Bob.

I really wish that I would have been a fly-on-the-wall for that conversation. Wait, I feel like I have had that same conversation with countless numbers of people in my life. It has been repeated over and over again when one alcoholic talks to another alcoholic.. and the magic begins.

What a feeling it must have been for them both after they had been sober for a while and went out to recruit the third person for the fellowship.

I am very glad that he made the choice to turn left…and made that phone call. That call saved Bill’s life, Dr Bob’s life, my life and the lives of millions of amazing people.

I have many friends in my life. I would have none of them if it was not for the miracle that is Alcoholics Anonymous.  Happy Birthday old friend.