Tag Archives: family

Retro Recovery: Why I Won’t Relapse

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 12/02/2016 at 5:04 p.m. – Day 55 of Treatment
my_recovery

In the 6 weeks I’ve been here at the Boston VA for Alcoholism Treatment in all the groups, therapy sessions, meetings, no one has ever asked us to list the ways that alcohol has negatively impacted our lives, or will impact our lives should we pick up again.

I think this is a missed opportunity.  I think if we as recovering alcoholics/addicts had an exercise where we attempted to list many of the ways in which our disease has reared its ugly head, or how it will affect us if we do pick up again, that it might have some impact.

It might also be a good list to keep handle should I start thinking that I am ok to pick up again.  I am pretty sure it would put me right back on the right path.

So here goes!  This isn’t going to be pretty:

20 Reasons Why I Won’t Ever Drink Alcohol Again:
  1. I become a loud, overbearing, and obnoxious asshole.
  2. I have picked up the phone lots of times and bought other drugs.
  3. I ruined almost every single friendship I’ve ever had since college.
  4. Drunk dialing.
  5. Drunk driving.
  6. Defects of the mind and character.  Suicide attempts.
  7. Financial ruin.  I am homeless and poor.
  8. I will end up back in jail.
  9. Kids out of my life. (mainly an affliction of the exes poison.  Yes, SHE owns that, I NEVER drank in front of the kids).
  10. I got kicked out of the military for an OUI in Germany, then subsequently tested positive for hash (Honorable).
  11. I got 2 USA OUI’s and have 2 years of jail time/probation hanging over my head.
  12. I have had over 60 jobs out of 48 years of eligible employment.  Yeah, that one staggers me when I added them up.
  13. I destroyed, or have been involved in destroying 4 out of 5 of my significant adult relationships (of more than 3 years).
  14. Loss of major income.  I have wasted umpteen thousands of dollars on alcohol and drugs.
  15. I cannot have just one.  I have to close every place I go.
  16. Isolation, loneliness, depression, despair.
  17. High blood pressure, weight gain, physical exhaustion.
  18. Cost of car insurance, and installation of a breathalyzer in my car (which I currently don’t own).
  19. Instability, chaos, loss, depression.
  20. I will end up dead.

So there you have it folks:  it ain’t pretty, but that’s my truth.  And having just finished the list and reading over it, it staggers me and I have to take a moment to regroup.  Not all my life has been that doom and gloom, lol.  But for the most part it has not been pretty.  I think tomorrow or Sunday I will post 20 Great Things I’ve Done In My Life, just so you don’t think I am a complete washout.  I know you don’t think that, just sayin’.

Alcohol is a disease.  Alcohol will swallow you whole, chew you up, and vomit you onto the cold hard pavement.  It will do this over, and over, and over again.  Alcohol got me so I ended up a lonely, isolate–but on the mend!!– poet blogging at a VA Treatment Facility on a Friday afternoon.

But a sober, lonely poet (wink).

Retro Recovery: I Want My Kids

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 03/12/2017 at 8:00 am – Day 145 of Treatment
my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

So hello my dear readers.  I am still resting from writing and blogging.  I am not, however, resting from the purpose many of you are familiar with:  trying to reunite with the children I walked away from 11 years ago.

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.

In the table below, the first link to a post I wrote explaining why I gave up my children in the first place. The second link is the actual letter I wrote to my ex-wife, requesting assistance in reaching my sons and making amends. The third link is her scathing response.

My ChildrenLetter To My ExMy 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 xxxxx@gmail.com. Remember, whatever you decide, I respect and accept.

Love,

Your Father

UPDATE: My sons never responded to the letter. I doubt that they even received it, considering how quite vindictive the ex was towards me. I did finally call my two sons in the Fall of 2018. In those phone calls, I tried my best to explain to them the whys of my ways.

Nick seemed receptive to possible further contact. Matt, my younger son, outright told me he would never have an interest in pursuing a relationship with me. He told me never to contact him again. To this day, neither has contacted me.

Before Recovery:  Part 7 – Dark Descent

This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Part 1: Trauma LegacyPart 2: Wandering LostPart 3: Worlds Colliding
Part 4: Heavy BurdensPart 5: Constant ChaosPart 6: Balancing Act
Dark Descent

It was early in 2010 that I would be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, PTSD, and Major Depressive Disorder. Disillusioned with my relationship gone badly with ______, I finally sought professional help as I was nearing the precipice of another major breakdown.

I credit that Doctor with saving my life as I was put on medication that had a remarkable effect on me for nearly 3 years. But, alas, my insurance ran out while I was in another 2 year relationship and my alcoholism returned with a vengeance at the end of 2011.

I started drinking 100 proof nips along with beer, something I had never done before, with terrible consequences. In the early part of 2012 I totaled 3 vehicles, nearly killed myself smoking crack, destroyed a pretty decent relationship and lost several jobs to the point I stopped looking for them.

Staring into the abyss at the end of 2012, I met the woman who would become my rock bottom. Although I did enter sobriety with my last girlfriend in January of 2013, it was short lived. A mere 4 months later, I learned that my step father told nobody just how sick my mother was, and she passed away in May of he had her cremated and then left the state.

It crushed me and my girlfriend and I picked up. Little did I know that she was ten times the raging alcohol that I ever was. That is not vindictive or resentful talk. That is just a plain fact. Suffice it to say that two alcoholics ignoring pain and inflicting suffering upon one another was a recipe for my eventual “true” suicide attempt in late 2014.

I say true because, to me, the previous attempts were cries for help. On the occasion of 2014 I took every one of my prescription pills so as to induce a massive overdose. My girlfriend actually encouraged it. The next day I woke up as if nothing happened. You would think I would have taken this as a sign that perhaps God had a different plan for me.

Instead, over the next 2 years, alcoholism would press its heavy boot on my neck. The girlfriend turned out to nearly be a psychopath, as she would berate me and physically and mentally torment me. On some nights it was everything I could do to keep her off of me. She would go into fits of rage over the smallest thing: I didn’t respond to a Facebook post, she saw me closing a car deal with an attractive woman, I got out of work too late.

It was endless misery. She threatened me with the police nearly every night. I suffered multiple scars, at least three knife attacks, destruction of nearly everything I owned. In February of 2016, I was the one who called the police on her heroin-addicted son, who was shooting up in the bathroom. When the police arrived, my drunk girlfriend told the police I had abused her the night before and they to me to jail.

Insanely, I returned to her home the next day. As was the usual case, she acted as everything was ‘normal.’ Now I had yet another pending domestic abuse case coming up in June. Nightly she threatened me with calling the police that would essentially violate my probation. She reigned her physical and mental venom wantonly, until finally, in April of 2016 I could take no more.

I broke out a knife and started poking myself all over, threatening to kill myself. She had called one of my car buddies, who took me to the Brockton Hospital, where I stayed for 3 days. They transferred me to the VA, where they were going to commit me. However, I convinced the psychiatrist I was not a harm to myself, and he let me go.

I immediately went home, called my friend to come help me, and I essentially escaped that woman while she worked. Well, that caused quite the shit-storm over the next month or so. She stalked me at the dealership, demanding money and for me to come home. I was hiding out in a motel, still drinking my sorrows away, but free of her.

That was until one day, when reporting to Probation–which at this point was just a routine check-in–to discover that the ex had filed a bogus 209a Restraining Order, stating that I had been stalking her and threatening her. This triggered a ‘violation’ of my probation. So, on May 12th 2016, I went to jail. Where I would only end up staying for just over 5 months. Sobriety never felt so good, never felt so bad…to be continued.

In Recovery Part 1: A Problem

Before Recovery:  Part 6 – Balancing Act

This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.

Part 1: Trauma LegacyPart 2: Wandering LostPart 3: Worlds Colliding
Part 4: Heavy BurdensPart 5: Constant Chaos
Balancing Act

….

I carried the new burden of child support payments that were large and the pressure of having to be financially successful was a convenient excuse to drink and drug my way through whatever money I had left after paying my support. My partying got so bad that I was again fired from my job in 2000. The only job I could find was nearly an hour to the south. I had to take that job and moved there in the summer of 2000. I obtained an excellent position as a Finance & Insurance Manager at a large dealership in southern Mass.

Problem was “wherever you go, there you are” struck again. This time, however, I moved to crack cocaine because my nose no longer functioned because of all the drugs I had put into it. It was nearly fatal. I nearly destroyed myself for 6 months while making an insane amount of money. I will say though, I never—not once in all my years–drank or drugged while I had my visitation with my boys. I made every visitation schedule I ever had and was a better father to them away from the home than I ever was in it. It was I appearing in court over and over and over again, trying to get my ex to adhere to the visitation plan we had forged in court.

I am still proud of that to this day. I did my kids right. I loved my boys like nobody’s business, and nobody can take that away from me. In February of 2001, quite by accident, I met a woman who would help stabilize me (for the most part) for the better part of nearly 9 years. I spent 2001 to 2010 with her and I know why I was mostly stable: we both had kids the same age so I didn’t drink when they were present, I wasn’t a nightly drinker anymore, she didn’t drink, and she was the mother I never had. I’m not meaning that in any bad way, but she was truly a mother figure and I think it was somewhat stabilizing to me.

It surely helped that this woman did not drink, smoke, or do drugs whatsoever. I also had the added responsibility of helping her out with her own kids, and it seemed that this helped me with the nightmares somewhat. Being a father seemed to take the sharp edges off of my mental health symptoms.

I didn’t think this at the time, of course, but looking back on how I managed to stay stable for so long, I have come to this conclusion about why. That is not to say I did not have my difficulties. Oh no, I continued with my inability to maintain a regular job and, I had learned the truth that she had lied to me about losing my baby, I drank that sorrow away on the weekends.

Also, once the ex-wife found out about Maria, and once she had been questioned by me about our pregnancy, she escalated our divorce to outright hatred from where she stood. It had been fairly civil up to that point. She tormented our children about what we were up to, where did they get this, what have we been doing, endlessly to the point that it was tearing them apart as the years wore on.

She used the children against me whenever I would fall behind on child support. She laid into me whenever she could about how I had abandoned them, what a loser I was. I resented her tremendously for doing that in the presence of our children.

I am convinced today that she did that INTENTIONALLY, for the children began to loathe coming with me for our visitations. Sometime in late 2006 I made the horribly difficult decision to stop seeing my children so they could be raised in one household; so they would not continue to be pulled apart from living with two sets of circumstances.

They were being torn apart being raised in two. I stand behind my decision, to this day I know I did it in their best interest even though it took me from their lives and it crushed me in a way I haven’t the words for. My children have never spoken to me in 11 years.

I try not to think too hard on it, but now and again I catch myself tight roping a nightmare on the subject. And, without the children to raise, without the stability of our family unit, the woman and I eventually grew apart. I was coming unglued again, I couldn’t take another collapse. I finally had insurance through work, so I sought professional help.

Final Part: Dark Descent

My Miscellany: I Want My Kids Back

my_miscellany_on_recoverywise

So hello my dear readers.  I am still resting from writing and blogging.  I am not, however, resting from the purpose many of you are familiar with:  trying to reunite with the children I walked away from 11 years ago.

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 keatsj1964@gmail.com. Remember, whatever you decide, I respect and accept.

Love,

Your Father

« Older Entries