Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

Father’s Day

Posted: June 21, 2015 in Forgiveness, Recovery
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I hate Father’s day because I feel like I have to call my father and wish him a happy Father’s day. And in my mind, doing this would somehow imply that he was a good father to me. And he wasn’t.

My parents divorced when I was three years old but lived together until my mother remarried. I was eight by then. My mom left their home and I went to live with my maternal grandmother for a while.

I don’t remember him ever making an effort to see me. I would visit him every Sunday to get some money. There were many times that he would not be home. There were many times when I knew he was home, passed out drunk, and not open the door.

He promised me he would help me financially until I graduated from college but he didn’t. In fact, he hid the acceptance letter  that was sen to me from my number one school choice. I found the letter when I was helping him clean his place.

I was perplexed. I could not understand why he would do such a thing. He told me he was afraid I would reject him as my father if I went to that school. This made sense to me but it did not help me feel less betrayed.

I lost touched with him when he moved away. On a rare occasion when I visited him, one of his friends told me that I was a terrible son because I would not call him more often. I told his friend, “You know, phones work both ways.” My father only managed to tell his friend, “Stop. It’s okay.”

Many years have passed since then and I’m still the one who has to go see him or call him but thanks to my program of recovery I can see that he is doing the best he can with what he has. The only memory I have of his father is seeing him passed out drunk on the street. My father lost his mother when he was very young. I cannot imagine what his childhood was like.

So ended up calling him. I wished him a happy Father’s day. We chatted for a bit and then hanged up. And I feel better for it.

Life

Posted: May 3, 2015 in Gratitude, Happiness, Recovery
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I’ve gotten into the habit of waking up at 5 am, or earlier, if I cannot convince my doggies to let me sleep in. I get up, feed them, and then head to the gym or get on the treadmill, but on the weekends the gym does not open until 8 a.m. so I’ve started going to the coffee shop near me.

I take my mail and my iPad in the hope that I can I write a blog post. I usually have something in my mind that I can talk about, but today I cannot think of anything. I guess I could whine about not having a significant other but what good is that going to do me?

So I guess I’ll reflect on how good it is that I don’t have anything to write about. Before recovery I would’ve engaged in “the deliberate fabrication of misery…” but now that I’m aware that’s what I was doing, I catch myself, and stop to give thanks for all the good I have in my life.

No, I have not become a “spiritual giant.” I still crave shiny, bright things like the new Apple watch but I guess I’ll wait to get it until I have a good reason to get it, like my upcoming birthday. I guess I’ve gotten down from the hedonic treadmill of “never enough.”

And I haven’t settled either, I have goals and desire to better my life but I now realize that while money can bring comfort and security, it does not bring lasting happiness. Happiness is a practice. If I practice being grateful for what I have in my life instead of focusing for what I’m lacking, I feel happy.

There’s still that thought in the back of my mind that says, “the other shoe is about to drop, you better not get too happy.” I’ve had many losses and my worst fear became true when I found myself alone but like Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Choices

Posted: August 13, 2013 in Recovery
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I took a friend to see if he could go into residential treatment yesterday morning. He didn’t get in because they didn’t have any beds available at this place where they take patients with dual diagnosis. He then asked me to take him to a state funded facility.

Once there, he hesitated to stay. My friend’s roommate unsuccessfully tried to convince him to give this place a chance. The more my friend hesitated, the more his roommate pushed him to stay.

I tried to answer my friend’s questions without pressuring him. I did tell him that if he wanted to get sober, it didn’t matter much where he went. He decided not to stay.

I don’t believe in pushing people to do something against their will. It may be because the more somebody tries to persuade me, the less inclined I feel to do it. It feels like manipulation to me.

Later that day, my friend asked me if I could take him to the state funded facility again. I agreed.

My friend and I were on our way to rehab at 5:30 this morning. I stayed with him until I had to leave. My first impulse was to cancel what I had to do to keep him company but something told me not to do it.

Something told me that if he were to get into treatment with no babysitter to push him, it would be a more valuable experience for him.

I don’t know if my friend is going to “make” it this time around. I do know that by being there for him, I was reminded of how things got and how they could get if I were to relapse.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Giving Back

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Hope, Recovery
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Little over three months ago, I committed to teaching a Math class for people who are trying to get their GED. Tomorrow is the last class with this group.

At first I was scared to get in front of them.  I pushed myself to volunteer so that I could get used to being around “normies” again. I have not had a paid position for a while now.
I have been leading meetings at my home group, taking meetings to rehab facilities, and held a service position but nothing outside the recovery world.
I was relieved to see that my brain has not suffered much damage from all the abuse I put it through. I was glad that I was able to communicate, engage and motivate them to learn.
On one occasion, a fifty-year-old lady came up to me after class to tell me that Jesus had sent me to help her learn Math. She was happy that I was able to teach her in a way she understood.
In giving back, I have received a boost in my self-esteem by feeling like a valuable member of society. Like they say in meetings, “If you want to build self-esteem, do estimable things.”
I now feel ready to go back to work. I now feel strong enough as I no longer have to take naps to make it through the day. Little by little my energy has come back to a “normal” level.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you keep showing up in  life, things do get better, at least that has been my experience.
My life is different from when I got sober. I’m single now, both my mother and my step-father died, but all through the losses I have kept working my program of recovery.
I had to redefine what a good day is to mean staying clean and sober for one 24-hour period. The rest is up to my Higher Power, who I choose to call God.
No, I don’t wait for God to do for me what I can do for myself. And I don’t expect God to give me everything I want. All I have been promised is the ability to keep going even though sometimes I feel like I can’t.
May you be happy. May you find true love. May you have a long life.

A Real Meal

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Grace, Gratitude, Recovery
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A few days ago, a friend came to my place with a guy who had just left residential treatment. This was his first outing in “the real world.”

I told them that I was hungry and asked them to join me for lunch. I proceeded to cook some burgers. It was a very ordinary meal.

We finished our burgers. We watched some YouTube videos. We talked a little about recovery and then decided to go to a 6 p.m. meeting at my home group.

During the meeting, the guy that my friend had brought to my place shared about moving to a transitional house after completing 45 days in rehab. He expressed how grateful he was to be sober.

He also said that he had just enjoyed a wonderful lunch, “a real meal,” he called it. He seemed happy to be alive and sober. His words made my eyes moist with tears.

I had always thought of hamburgers as something you ate when you where starving and wanted something quick and simple to eat, not a “real meal.”

This reminded me how fortunate I am that I can pretty much eat anything I want when I want to. I enjoy freedoms that many people don’t.

Like the freedom to stay sober contingent on maintaining my spiritual condition on a 24-hour basis. I am convinced that I am not cured of alcoholism/addiction but that my disease is merely on remission.

May you be happy. May you find true love. May you have a long life.

Service Work

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Recovery, Sponsorship
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Service work has been an integral part of my recovery. It’s helped me stay sober by getting me out of my head. It’s left me little time to feel sorry for myself, although sometimes I still manage to do it.

Fear of relapse got me started on working with others. Feeling useful has kept me going. It’s very rewarding to see people in early recovery change before my eyes; to see their once empty stares get full with hope.

Another benefit of working with newcomers is that it stops me from obsessing about my life. It’s harder to stay in self-pity when people around me are struggling with early sobriety.

I try to remind myself that service work is something I do to stay sober. I cannot keep people sober. I cannot rescue everybody, that’s not what I’m supposed to do. I am to carry the message and not the alcoholic.

I can only share with others what my experience is with working the steps. I cannot force them to do the work. I cannot solve their problems.

It’s easy for me to forget that if I start doing for others what they should be doing for themselves, I could get in the way of their bottom.

I can quickly and unwillingly develop expectations from doing service work. Do I expect to gain recognition from it? Do I want people to treat me like I’m special and particularly good? Am I still trying to ace A.A.?

When I begin to feel depleted, that people are taking advantage of me, I know it’s time to re-examine my intentions.

I first ask God to re-align my perspective with reality. If that doesn’t do it, I call my sponsor to tell on myself. My sponsor often reminds me that there’s nothing wrong with me, that I am not defective, I’m just a human being.

I am so grateful that I don’t have to try to be perfect to be loved. I am worthy of love and affection just as I am, flaws and all.

Showing Up

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Feelings, Growing, Recovery
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Showing up is a behavior I learned in sobriety. I was not used to keeping my commitments when I had to do something that made me uncomfortable. Or when it was raining. Or when I was tired. Seriously, I struggled with it tremendously.

I had the crazy idea that showing up required me to be on, looking my best, and ready to save the world.  No wonder I often complained that being around people drained me. I was trained to put a lot of effort on appearances fueled by years of hearing my mother say, “People treat you the way you look.”

Whenever I get afraid of not looking the part, of not measuring up, I start repeating over and over in my head an affirmation like, “I am safe. I am loved. I am liked. God is with me.” I don’t know how it works but it works for me.

Creating the habit of showing up regardless of how I’m feeling has helped me stay sober because I cannot get better  at home alone. Isolation is a sign that I am working on my relapse. Experience has taught me that going to a meeting to tell on myself takes power away from my disease.

Another sign that I’m getting “off the beam” is when I start keeping secrets. I must have at least one person who I can be completely honest with like my sponsor. I get great relief when I tell my sponsor what’s been taking space in my head.

Those “secrets”  are usually situations where I have felt hurt. My ego tells me that I “should” be able to handle the pain by myself. I forget that regardless of how many years I accumulate in recovery, I am still a human being who needs to feel loved and accepted.

Showing up to life one day at a time regardless of the results while giving up control helps me grow spiritually. I don’t have to feel like it, I just have to show up.