Tag: my_recovery

I’m Still Sober–Barely

wp-1484928101125.jpgWell 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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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Surviving Alcoholism, Surviving Life

wp-1484928101125.jpgI 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 blogFaith–“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 blogGratitude–“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 blogMindfulness–“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 blogAcceptance–“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. living in the now on justruminating mens blog 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!

My Recovery: A.A. Slogans (Pt. II)

wp-1484928101125.jpgI go to A.A. at least twice a week. I mainly sit there, absorb, and leave. I’m into the message, not the medium. I am into the Big Book, but I am not a huge advocate of A.A. I take what I need from it and I leave the rest for someone else.

That being said, A.A. has a lot of terrific slogans that can be applied to anything in life. I have compiled a list and put comments next to each one as to what I think that slogan means for me, not for you, for me. Feel free to comment with any I have missed. You don’t have to go to A.A. to benefit from A.A., but it is one of the pillars by which I remain sober today.

Here is Part II of the list. Part I can be found HERE

  • I can’t handle it God, you take over–giving your will over to a Higher Power.  Surrender fuels freedom and acceptance.
  • One day at a time–shrink your world into a manageable situation.  Don’t think in terms of years, months, but days, even hours.
  • Keep an open mind–closed minds do not receive key information to assist you in solving your problem.  Let it in!
  • Willingness is the key–being willing is the second step after Recognition.  If you are willing, then all things are open to you.
  • More will be revealed–keep paying attention, keep coming, keep that open mind and you will not stop progressing.
  • You will intuitively know–your gut will tell you what you need to know.
  • Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens–you never know how close you are to a solution.
  • Some of us our sicker than others–you are no better or no worse off than anyone else.
  • Alcoholism is an equal opportunity destroyer–alcoholism didn’t pick you because you’re special.  It hurts everyone who is alcoholic.
  • Practice an attitude of gratitude–gratitude will keep you grounded and makes you appreciate what you have, not what you don’t have.
  • God is never late–He is always there.  You just have to tap into Him (or your Higher Power).
  • Have a good day unless of course u have made other plans–you determine how your day is going to be going.
  • I can have complete serenity at this very moment…if I live in denial–it’s ok to feel what you feel.  Denying feelings is a problem.
  • We came to AA to save our ass, and found out our soul was attached–alcoholism is a disease of the spirit more than it is a disease of the body.
  • It’s alcohol-ISM, not alcohol-WASM!–you are never cured.  Don’t live with a false sense of security.
  • I can only carry the message, I can’t carry the drunk!–no one can save me from myself but myself.

So what sayings have I missed?  What do some of these slogans mean to you, either in recovery, or in your everyday life?  Please keep in mind, the interpretations of these slogans I applied to ME.  Obviously they can mean something much different for you!

My Recovery: A.A. Slogans (Pt. 1)

wp-1484928101125.jpgI go to A.A. at least twice a week.  I mainly sit there, absorb, and leave.  I’m into the message, not the medium.  I am into the Big Book, but I am not a huge advocate of A.A.  I take what I need from it and I leave the rest for someone else.

That being said, A.A. has a lot of terrific slogans that can be applied to anything in life.  I have compiled a list and put comments next to each one as to what I think that slogan means for me, not for you, for me.  Feel free to comment with any I have missed.  You don’t have to go to A.A. to benefit from A.A., but it is one of the pillars by which I remain sober today.

Here is Part I of the list.  I will post the rest of the list down the road:

  • Easy does itslowing my world down.  It means not getting too high, not getting too low.
  • First things firstalways keeping my sobriety first, no matter what is happening in my life, sobriety first, everything else second.
  • Live and let live–I will live my life and be at peace letting others live theirs.
  • But for the grace of god–if it wasn’t for God, I’d be in deep shit.
  • Let go and let god–hand over your control, your troubles, your woes to God and let Him handle them for you.
  • This too shall pass–nothing lasts forever, don’t get too caught up in your issues, they will not be with you forever.
  • Keep coming back….it works if you work it–if you can do nothing more, then just keep showing up.
  • Stick with the winners–hang with the folks who have been following the program and staying sober.
  • Sobriety is a journey….not a destination–there is no end-game.  I will be an alcoholic fighting to stay sober forever.
  • Faith without works is dead–you can be as spiritual as you want, but without practicing those same principles, it’s irrelevant.
  • If god seems far away, who moved?–a ponderance that makes you realize you need to get with God, or spirituality.
  • Turn it over–the main tenant of Step 3.  Turning my problems, issues, concerns, etc over to my Higher Power.
  • We are only as sick as our secrets–whatever you hold onto and don’t let go will keep you sick and/or in addiction.
  • There are no coincidences in AA–everything in A.A. happens for a reason, and that reason is God (Higher Power).
  • Be part of the solution, not the problem–stay out of your way as you seek the solution to your problem, or you will be the problem.

Please remember, my interpretations of these slogans may be different for you.  What effect, if any, do some of these slogans have on your life?  I have part two coming tomorrow.  I’d love to hear if you have any other AA slogans, and how they have applied to your own life and/or sobriety.

My Sunny Side Up: You’re Doing Great!

sunnysideupIn the thesaurus the antonym of criticism is compliment:

Compliment:

noun
1. an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration:
A sincere compliment boosts one’s morale.
2.
a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard
3.
compliments, a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards:

As you can see, paying a compliment does wonders for the recipient. Not to mention it does wonders for the giver. And that is my point today: why don’t we all give more compliments, or more importantly, encouragement?compliment1

Lately, I have noticed compliments becoming a part of my normal day. And something amazing has been happening: I feel happier and the people around me feel happier.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when the Director of the program pulled me in his office. He then spent 10 minutes complimenting me! He said everyone here was amazed at how well I was doing.

That they recognized all the hard work I have been doing in recovery. Of course, I left the office feeling damn good! He made me feel that I was important. We all need recognition, and his recognition gave me more momentum to keep doing what I am doing.

Similarly, I have noticed that I have been offering up compliments without any thought at all! This is completely different than my old “inward thinking” that I used to do. I used to be focused on three people: me, myself, and I. Giving out a genuine compliment makes other people feel good. I feel good just seeing their face light up. Dare I say, lately I have been, well, happy!compliment3

People have been responding to me in a different way! I’m not suggesting all of a sudden you have to start spitting out compliments like your a machine gun kiss ass. ’m suggesting to incorporate maybe one or two a day. I smile a lot more. A lot more. This is completely off the charts for me. I was never one to overly criticize people, but I certainly wasn’t tossing around compliments either.

It’s easy to criticize, but it’s much more difficult to step out of our selves and offer up “an expression of praise.” So, dear readers, I challenge you: can you find the time today, and everyday, to tell someone you love how much you appreciate them? Not “I love you,” but a genuine compliment? Can you give the guy or gal who serves your coffee a genuine compliment? Can you take two minutes and pat an employee on the back?

I promise you this: start giving “a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard,” daily for 30 days, and see if your life isn’t transformed. Who would like to take a 30 day challenge for March, and see if you can compliment someone the entire month? I’m going to start today! Less disdain and criticism, more compliments and love!

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