before a man
beyond the veil
within this space
before a man
beyond the veil
within this space
With just over 14 months sober, I can honestly tell you life as I used to know it is dead and buried. Goodbye chaos. Goodbye troubles. Goodbye anxiety, exhaustion, worry. I know have peace of mind in my life. I can now approach difficult situations with a level head. I don’t get too up or too down.
I have a pause button–fuck I could have used that 36 years ago. So how did I do it? Why was it fairly easy for me to turn my back on booze and walk into “normalcy?” I am so glad you asked! I thought I would list five tips that have been highly effective in maintaining my recovery.
Control Those Emotions–When you are able to keep your emotions in check, the likelihood of you wanting to go out and bash your head into a bottle of vodka are slim. Never getting too up, or too down, an even-keeled approach to life keeps you stable and in control.
Nip It In The Bud–Life is going to deal you hand after shitty hand. If one of them gets out of control–resentments, problem with another human, depression, anxiety over a topic–nip it in the bud! Confront whatever situation is causing you instability and deal with it, asap! Burying emotions or situations is going to cause you problems as issues and situations build up.
Find What Works and Work It–Are 12 step meetings your thing? Perhaps your religion? How about meditation, reading, writing, singing, dancing, walking, hiking…you get the idea. Find what works for you and keeps you in that happy place and work it! Do it, and I mean frequently! Don’t go overboard, of course, but do the activities that give you pleasure, keep you grounded.
Meditate, Meditate, Meditate—Did I mention MEDITATE? I am guilty of not doing this as much as I should. But I will tell you, the benefits of meditation are so numerous, I am surprised it is not practiced in every school in this country.
Start off with just 5 minutes a day, then build up to over 30 minutes. You will thank me a thousand times over. My Youtube Channel has over 85 meditations you can choose from.
One Day At A Time–12 Step meetings may not be my thing, but boy are their slogans dead on! Yes, living each day for itself will keep you from biting off more than you can chew. It will keep you from languishing in the past, and worrying about the future. We only have today, embrace it and stay sober. JUST FOR TODAY. Want more great slogans? GO HERE! AND HERE!
Well, there you have it. There have been other things that have helped me stay sober, but these five principles have been my bedrock. They have been my go to ways of living and today I can honestly use the word happy in my vocabulary. What has kept you in recovery?
Today I celebrate one year in recovery! One year ago today I walked into probation to do my weekly check in. That day the officer did not say “See you next week.”
No, she said “We have a problem.” My ex accomplished her mission; get me into jail. I spent 5 months there, contemplating drinking finally without her madness.
Then I decided I would transition to a VA Treatment Program. I finally realized I could never pick up again. That drinking had ruined my life and would continue to do so unless I stopped.
I spent two months at that program. I began to confront my emotions. I began to learn about mindfulness, gratitude, acceptance, spirituality. I began to write this blog, I began to meditate.
It wasn’t always easy. I looked around me at Vets would seemed to brag about relapsing over and over again. They would compare the number of times they had been to detox.
Not all of them, of course, but many. I judged them at first. Then I learned from them and took to heart the reasons for relapse. I dealt with life on life’s terms. I went to AA a few times, but for me my Recovery would become a private affair.
I then transitioned to a more lenient VA program. I remained there for 3 months. During that time I learned more how to manage my emotions. I learned that drinking really wasn’t my problem; it was how I managed all my pain and emotions that was.
I learned, through my work with paralyzed vets, gratitude and service to others. Those vets helped me to come out of my shell a little. I learned how to live in the NOW, after reading The Power Of Now by Echart Tolle. I continued to practice meditation, which truly helped keep me centered and focused. But living life on life terms really helped me deal with all the hiccups in life.
Still homeless I chose to transition to something similar to a sober house, where I am today.
Many of you know I do not really have anyone in my life. I have a father who I have called once when I first left jail, and I have an elderly Aunt that I do talk to once in awhile. You also know I am not very adept at making friends, but here at my new place I am making strides.
That being said sometime towards the end of February I met a woman who would become my best friend and one true love. I have not disclosed who this is because she is a member of our community and her privacy is very important to me. I will if she tells me she is comfortable with that.
Anyway, this woman has taught me what it means to be a true friend. She has been so supportive of me that I actually feel like I am finally home; that I can be my true self! She has been there for me thorough everything. Even though she is dealing with her own life, she has proven herself to be an incredible friend. She is a huge part of my recovery; of my growth and maturity.
Over time we have developed a bond I cannot even describe. I want to avoid cliches! We have a life plan, she is my friend. She is my partner in life. She is everything I have ever desired in a person, let alone a woman. Everyday I feel lucky, so very lucky to have her in my life. And I am deeply in love with her! Trust me when I say that I never knew what love was until her!
Today I celebrate one year of recovery. It can be done! This is my first effort in 36 years to recover! With a deep commitment to yourself and survival you can do it! If you know anyone who is suffering, please, share my story. Perhaps it might help them.
And finally, I want to thank you, all my dear members of this community who have shown me love and support. I just want you to know you have also helped me, more than you know. Thank you so very much!
So, I’ve recovered from my pity party of last week, see I’m Still Sober, Barely. And now I am finally back to vigilant about the principles that have kept me in Recovery for nearly a year: Acceptance, Gratitude, Now, Spirituality, Mindfulness.
I was transferred from the kitchen to babysitting the gym, but I also have a half-time position working with retired Vets in the retirement facility, which is great!
I also bought a mountain bike, which was one of my goals. Let me tell you, riding it from the store just about a mile and a half was killer! Those guys cruising all around here make it look easy, lol. I am definitely going to have to build up my stamina before I go and ride to work 4 miles each way.
I went to my first local NA meeting with another member who lives in one of the apartments in the building. He seems like a nice guy. We went out to dinner after the meeting with a bunch of folks; some of whom were quite, uhm, colorful. I will be attending another meeting this evening.
I also applied for a full-time position at the VA. It is in the kitchen doing prep work. While it is certainly not my dream job, It would at least get my foot in the door and allow me to transfer to any VA in the country. Because folks, I am so ready to leave the state of Massachusetts; you’ve no idea!
I probably will never like the shitty view from my front porch, but overall the house is fine, my room is large and quiet. So am more than satisfied with my living conditions as they stand.
For once in my life I have some goals I want to achieve. I am proud of the fact that is has taken me less than two weeks to achieve some of the goals I set. Some of my larger, more long term goals, will obviously take more time and determination.
And finally I have been blessed with the best friend anyone could ever hope for. She has been with me through thick and thin. I have developed incredibly powerful feelings for this woman. I feel quite sure that we will end up living a life of true happiness together! She has taught me how to be a very good friend.
That may sound silly to some of you, but those of you who have been with me since last October, know that this is a very big step in my Recovery.
So, back on track. Living life. Doing the right things. Walking hand in hand with the best human I’ve ever known. Ya, life isn’t so shabby today.
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.
And let’s talk about the town. Ah yes, the town without an identity. This is the most fucked up town I have ever seen. On the one hand you have lots of college students. Then you have the soccer mom types strolling out of Stop N’ Shop with their go green grocery bags. Then you have a large community of lesbians which make this town their home. The place has no real identity, it’s hard to explain it to you unless you saw it. You would immediately know what I am talking about here.
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:)
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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