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:)
I just found the computer room which is decent.
The Wifi works in my room.
Dunkin’ Donuts is 5 minutes away.
I am still sober.
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:
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!
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 cam 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!
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–“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–“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–“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–“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.
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!
“The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints.” — Will Durant