Category Archives: My Miscellany

Retro Recovery: Now Or Never

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 03/16/2017 at 8:45 p.m. – Day 151 of Treatment
my_recovery

I am 53 and for the first time in my life I am in extended recovery from alcoholism.  Although I was sober for 3 months once, I have never actually been in recovery.

I just passed my 10th month sobriety/recovery!  And, although I have had many challenges during this time, I have learned 4 major concepts that have instrumental in keeping me a clean and sober man today.  Dare I say, these 4 things may also be a helpful roadmap to any of you who might be suffering in one way or another.

faith on justruminating men's blog

Faith–“complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”  I’m not going to sit here and tell you me and my Higher Powers are having lunch everyday.  Yes, I said Powers.  It’s plural because I have complete trust and confidence in several entities.  My Higher Powers take many forms.  The important thing is that when life is punching me in the face, because I believe in something greater than myself, I am able to take the hits and keep moving forward.

gratitude on justruminating men's blog

Gratitude–“the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”  I have learned that being grateful for the little things can add up to great things.

Appreciating what I have, instead of whining about what I don’t have.  Reaching out to others in acts of service or kindness is deeply fulfilling and gives me a sense of gratitude.  Seeing the good in people and in life is a major shift in my way of thinking.  Practicing this has had a great impact on my daily attitude as well.

mindfulness on justruminating men's blog

Mindfulness–“the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”  There was another, more fancy definition, but this will suffice.  Mindfulness has completely changed my life.  I can’t emphasize this enough.

I have learned to be in the moment, to live in what Eckhart Tolle has written in his powerful book “The Power of Now.”  When I am able to practice this successfully, I can simply observe myself being myself, and make adjustments accordingly.  I used to let my emotions and feelings rule the day.  Each day I am getting better at just being in the now and operating my life from a position of strength.

acceptance on justruminating men's blog

Acceptance–“assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest.”  A cornerstone to the famous “Serenity Prayer.”

I have learned to simply live life on life’s terms, come what may.  I can also accept people, places, and things that may not be desirable or agreeable to me, and I can be ok with that.  I used to whine and complain about everything, because it wasn’t for or about me.  I am learning how to sit with Acceptance and simply be ok.  I can also let you simply be.  And that’s ok too.

So there you have it.  To me, these are 4 powerful concepts that, when practiced with diligence and determination, can keep me in full recovery for the rest of my life.  Of course, they are not the only things that are effective for keeping someone sober.  You may very well have your own.  However, I will say this:  If I had to choose only 4 concepts to guide me, I’m going with these.

living in the now on justruminating mens blog

Now“living in the present moment.”  I would add that living in the NOW would be a 5th concept.  It has also brought me to a way of thinking and being that has dramatically improved the quality of my life as well.  So 5 then.  Lol. Not only that, but I honestly believe they will continue to be life changing for me for the rest of my life as well.

I had a guy on Etsy create a wooden token for me.  I wanted to give myself–and the guys (and gal) here in the program something they could put in their pockets.

Something that might remind them of their daily struggle and the coping skills that they might be able to rely upon to get them through life’s situations.  I carry my AA medallions with me and am always playing with them to remind me of what my purpose is.  Here is what he came up with, showing both sides of the coin.  I love it!

If you, or a loved one, is suffering from addiction or living a life of misery and unhappiness, I urge you to look into these concepts for yourself.  Oh, and buy Tolle’s “The Power of Now.”  It will completely change the way you view and live your life!

Retro Recovery: Now Or Never

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 03/30/2017 at 4:09 p.m. – Day 142 of Treatment
my_recovery

So it’s been a little while since I discussed my recovery.  I can’t catch you all up if you haven’t been following, but here is the Reader’s Digest version:

On May 12, 2016 I went to jail for 5 months.  I came out sober into a 2 month program, then I went to the current program.  I’ve been here for 3 1/2 months.

There you go!  Well, on Tuesday I had a phone interview with the new place I have been considering.  Normally I have been applying the principles of Acceptance, Gratitude, Spirituality, Mindfulness and living in the Now, to cope with day to day situations.  Alas, after my phone call, this was not to be!

What happened is that I turned all the information about the new place into negatives.  I was also upset that they wanted me to move there next Monday or Tuesday.  I had a meltdown.  I got sad, pissed, depressed.  I was considering looking for another program.  If it were not for my best friend, it could have been much worse.  But, thanks to her love, understanding, and insightful advice, I was able to come to my senses.

It was about a 2 hour period of time that I was distraught.  I was pissed at myself for not utilizing my coping strategies.  I should have seen this coming.  By the time I went to bed that evening, I had pretty much resolved the situation in my mind.  I was back to my old self-pretty much-and decided to bite the bullet.  But the situation had me wondering:  why the meltdown?”  Why such an emotional response to moving onward and upward in my sobriety?

The answer crept up on me sometime yesterday.  I was afraid!  I feared moving out of the safety and security of the institutions I’ve been part of for nearly 11 months!  I was shocked.  This new program is much more like living on your own than relying upon a program with a slew of staff at your beck and call.  I realized that in treatment I may have gotten a little too comfortable.  I did what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t put in due diligence and fully prepare for re-entry into the “real” world.  I will not make that mistake again, I can assure you.

The new place quite demanding in getting you to pursue a job and a place to live as soon as possible.  They require rent.  They require you to provide for yourself in every basic way.  They also do not drug test.  So recovery is now “real:”  no safety net to keep you from drinking.  I realized that the thought of being thrust into society like that made me very apprehensive.  Then I started thinking it through and had the kinds of thought processes I have had all along:  I GOT THIS.  It’s time to get it done.

Any program or place I go is going to have its pluses and minuses.  I reacted immaturely, and irrationally.  But I recovered quickly and got my head out of my ass!  Any place I go is going to be one step closer to getting my life back.  Any place I go I will need to integrate myself back into living my own life.  It’s one step closer to perhaps going back to school.  Life is standing at my doorstep.  Sink or Swim.  Game Time.  The Big Show.  And you know what?  I GOT THIS.

I am going to face the challenges head on and come out on top.  I am not going to worry about finding a place to live, a job, food, rent, or any other obstacle.  I am going to live in the NOW, as in right this moment.  I am going to focus on what I can control and let go of what I cannot.  And, although I did lose my shit for a few hours, I got myself back to good pretty quickly.  And I allowed myself to show vulnerability to my friend, and she came through with flying colors.  I am blessed.  Truly.

So that’s it folks.  I should be moving out of here within 2 weeks.  Onward and upward.  I’m ready for the next challenge.  I will update you once I get settled.  And I am ready for Spring!

Retro Recovery: Pillars

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 04/12/2017 at 7:09 a.m. – Day 165 of Treatment
my_recovery

It’s hard to believe that I am celebrating my 11th month of sobriety!  I mean, in a way it is not, I have been doing the work and staying the course.

However, when I look back at where I was 11 months ago, trying to escape the grips of misery and hell, I could never imagined that my life would turn out so good!

I will be transitioning to a much more lenient Transition House on the 24th, about 2 hours away from this godforsaken city they call Brockton; the worse place I ever lived. The place of all my troubles.  Walking out of the VA everyday to go the store, I was constantly reminded of my old life.  No more, I will be in a remote part of the state, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I was reflecting recently on what has gotten me to this point in my Recovery.  And at this point it is Recovery.  To me, Sobriety is getting sober, Recovery is staying sober.  I have a very close friend who has done more for me in my Recovery than anyone.  You know who you are.

I may not have told you this.  I want you to know that your strength and determination in your own life are inspirational to me in my life!  I only hope that I can give you 1/10th of what you have given me!  I value your friendship tremendously, so thank you so very much for you!

I might have posted these things a bit back, but I wanted to share them with you again.  Because, for me, in addition to having someone truly special in my life, it really comes down to these 5 things:

Gratitude:  Being humble and grateful for what I have.  Not concentrating on what I do not have.  Being grateful for others and showing them gratitude for being in my life.

Acceptance:  Being at peace with how things are.  Being able to appreciate when I cannot control a particular situation.  More importantly, accepting those around me for who they are, and accepting myself; even if I falter, as long as I continue to try to be and do better.

Mindfulness:  Being aware of my emotions and controlling them.  Avoiding extreme highs or lows.  Being aware of the situations I find myself in and making good decisions.

Spirituality:  Still seeking my ultimate Higher Power, but at least seeking!  Right now I concentrate on meditating, to tap into my inner spirit.  I take walks to spend time with nature, the ultimate Higher Power.  I am reading books which are leading me deeper into the essence of life, of people, of myself.

Now:  Spending as much time in the present moment.  Avoiding a future that has not come, and a past that is no longer.  I sometimes visit them, for practical purposes, but work diligently to stay in the moment.  That is all I have, is Now, and I am doing the best I can not to waste it.  By doing this I remain calm and in control.

And that’s it!  I believe firmly that as long as I do what I can to remember these principles, I cannot fail.  I have had no desire to drink, no urge to drink.  I know what will happen if I drink.  It is no longer an option for me, it is no longer a part of my life!

There is hope for those of you still suffering, or for those of you who know someone who is suffering!  If I can do it for the first time in 35 years, I know in my heart that anyone can do it.  Goodbye to misery, and goodbye to hell!

My Miscellany: Umbrella of Health

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

I am not one for very long blog posts; however, if you are to appreciate this particular post, some background information would be helpful.  If not, just read my letter to my sons in the scope of a father having had to let them go to be parented only by their mother these last 11 years and that they truly hate my guts.

First, here is a post I wrote explaining why I gave up my children in the first place:

MY RECOVERY:  MY CHILDREN

Second, I wrote a letter to my ex-wife requesting assistance and also apologizing to her for some of the things I put here through:

LETTER TO MY EX

Finally came her response email.  Quite a dramatic and impactful one.

MY EX WROTE BACK

And now, here is the letter I have drafted to my two sons.  I would love any feedback you have regarding this letter.  It was extremely difficult to write.  I am hoping it is as honest and as loving as it feels to me.  Thanks, and bless all of you.  I hope to be back sometime in April after I get settled into my new place.

THANKS TO ALL WHO HELPED ME AMEND THIS LETTER.  HERE IS THE NEW VERSION I WROTE WITH YOUR HELP, AND ALSO SOME MORE SOUL SEARCHING:

Dear Nick and Matt,

I decided to write this letter to both of you, as the message is the same. I am in a place in my life where I would like to–and am healthy enough–to see you. That has not always been the case. However, I feel it would be doing an injustice to explain everything on a sheet of paper. You deserve more than that.

You may be angry. You may be feeling like I abandoned you. You may be a little sad about the whole thing. You may not actually give a shit. Whatever you are feeling, I certainly do understand it. They are all valid emotions. I consider not keeping you in my life my greatest blunder. It has caused me great sadness. I have missed you terribly.

I am very sorry for any pain I have caused you. I thought I was making the best decision for you and your welfare. I regret making that decision as it has probably caused you tremendous pain. I missed a lot of important activities and events in your lives. I wish we could do it over, but that time has passed. Perhaps we can create new memories together.

I realize that the opportunity to be a dad may have passed. However, I am always willing to be that to you if that is what you wish. I would like to have you consider perhaps having me in your life in a different role if that is not a consideration. If there is a possibility, I would like a chance to show you that I can be someone you can trust and rely upon.

I have battled quite a few demons since we parted. I have PTSD, Bipolar 1 Disorder, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, and am now just 10 months sober from drugs and alcohol. I was in no position to be an effective parent to you. These issues have affected me negatively throughout my life. They also had something to do with me being out of contact with you. But now I am sober, now I am at a healthy place, this is why I am contacting you today.

If you decide you don’t want to see me, my hope is that at least you will be able to try and get past any negative feelings I may have caused you so that you can be free to live in peace. Of course I do hope that you will be able to find it in your hearts to forgive me, and to consider at least talking with me. I might just surprise you! I can’t imagine the entire rest of my life without you in it.

We were Dad and sons once. I know you remember how much fun we used to have. How much time we spent in the woods exploring, hiking. Our trips to the White Mountains. Trying to defeat that damn game Kid Chameleon. Fishing, playing sports, the crazy fireworks, Christmas together, and so much more over your younger years. I’d like to create new memories with you. I have never stopped loving you. I always have, always will. I’m not here to convince you of that. I already know it to be true. I hope that one day I can prove it to you.

Here is my phone number. I hope to hear from you soon. If not, take good care of yourselves, and your mother. My phone number is 222-222-2222. My email is kxxxxx@gmail.com. Remember, whatever you decide, I respect and accept.

Love,

Your Father

Retro Recovery: Barely Sober

Recovery Retro

Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.

Published 05/01/2017 at 8:51 9.m. – Day 189 of Treatment
my_recovery

Well tomorrow will be one week since I left the VA Treatment Center in Brockton, and landed in this Transitional House in another part of the state.  I wish I could say things are just ducky but they are not.

First of all, this is not the rural location I was hoping for; far from it.  The huge house I live in, it’s got 4 3 floor apartments in it, sits squarely on a residential street lined with houses.  No lawns, hardly a tree, just houses sitting on top of each other.  I live on the third floor, in a fairly spacious room at least.  However, it is 100 degrees up there constantly and I wake up sweating profusely on a regular basis.

Then there’s the new VA.  It is over 100 years old.  The buildings are beat up.  They decided to build the -ugliest outside tunnel system around the interior perimeter, destroying any charm the campus once had.  And there is wifi only if you can find it.  This enrages me.  

I have found a few choice locations to stand in, but forget walking and texting, not happening.  They also take smoking outside ANYWHERE OTHER THAN THREE SMOKE SHACKS, very seriously.  I have already been spoken to twice by VA Police.

And no longer am I helping paralyzed veterans go through their days.  No more muffin conversations with my friend Jim.  No more post office runs for Ken.  No more bedside visits with the Sergeant Major.  No, nothing special like that.  Instead, I get to empty a dishwasher in the kitchen.  I have to be there at 6:15 in the morning, ungodly hour.  I am there for 9 hours, but I get two 15 minute breaks and one 30 minute lunch.

My actual work time is about 3 hours.  The rest of the time I am thinking of various ways to pull the eyes out of my head.  It’s not the actual job that sucks–though it sucks indeed–it’s the down time that is murderous.  And remember, there is no WiFi, so I have to duck out and hide if I want to text my dear friend.  The friend who has been my rock through this entire ordeal.  The friend who, without, I am not sure I would still be sane.

The downtown is a hodgpodge of weird, useless shops.  There are way too many restaurants and not enough pizza and sub shops.  The other side of main street is rundown, with empty lots, deserted buildings and car dealerships.  It’s about as depressing of a place as I have ever known.

And the trees and grass and woods and lakes and ponds?  Nowhere to be seen.  Everyone was like “Oh man, it’s so beautiful out there!”  Really?  Where the fuck did it go?

I am being totally serious when I tell you that I nearly cried as I was being driven to the house from the VA on that first day.  I felt like I did the first day I landed in Basic Training, in the pouring deluge of rain that night, thinking “What the hell did I just do?”

So ya, you might be noticing a severe lack of gratitude and acceptance.  And, to be quite honest, right now I am so overwhelmed at the shitty aspect of ALL of my move, that those have gone by the fucking wayside.  I couldn’t get lucky in just one aspect of this move?  Decent town?  Decent Job?  Decent VA?  Decent neighborhood? Decent environment?  

NO NO NO NO NO.  Add to that I left the few friends that I had behind, lost my regular psychiatrist and I lost my dear therapist Molly.  Ya, I’m going through a tough time that kind of took me by surprise.  But I am still sober!

Sorry my first post in awhile is this, but that’s where I am at.  If it wasn’t for me digging really deep, and having the best of friends anyone could ever hope for, I’d be in deep shit.  As it is, I have  mist of depression that is creeping in.  And, if this mist turns into a fog, acceptance and gratitude are going to be the least of my problems.

(FINE, HERE’S A FEW POSITIVES:)

  1. I just found the computer room which is decent.
  2. The Wifi works in my room.
  3. Dunkin’ Donuts is 5 minutes away.
  4. I am still sober.
  5. I am not truly alone.

Happy now?  You probably are all wondering what the big deal is, I hope that some of you truly get this.  I am so sick of not catching a break.  So sick of nothing going my way.  

Of course I am glad I’m not in jail in sober, but is that all I am going to be happy for in life?  Bullshit!  I want a higher quality of life, I deserve it.  I feel misled about what this place was, where it was and now I am stuck here.  Ya, I’ll make the best of it, but that’s not even my damn point.

Oh, and here’s what I get to look at to the right from my fancy new porch:

Ya, not fucking cool.  And the view directly in front of me?  Ya, that sucks even more:

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