Tag Archives: recovery_retro

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:

Retro Recovery: Opening Up

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 12/06/2016 at 6:55 a.m. – Day 46 of Treatment
my_recovery

So…any of you who have been following me on the regular know of some of my struggles here in the VA Treatment community.  Things that have developed and were seemingly keeping me from an approval to go to the 3 month Work VA Program:  The Incidents  Confused  Are you Kidding?

Well last night I got the good news that I have been accepted to the 3 month program!  So there’s that.  I will be leaving sometime this week from this 6 week program with around 17 guys, to a 3 month program with over 50.  I am both hopeful and anxious.

I have to make this thing work.  I have to get outside of my head and trust in the process.  I have to be the bigger man and make amends with the dude who started some of the problems.  Yes, they kicked him out of here, but they let him go there.  I have to go outside myself let that stuff go.  I need to move forward.

fellowship2

It isn’t easy for me to open up to people.  I mean, it is here because I am sure you all know, this is a bit different from actual face to face interactions.  There is a safe veil from which I can reach out to you.  I can be brutally honest and brutally real and I don’t feel condemned for it, because many of you have been there or at least are kind of “like-minded.”

Does that make sense?  I see our community as a loving place.  I see our community as a trusting place.  We share common ground whether through our struggles, our pain, our shared experiences.  I don’t get that from this community of Veterans.  I feel as though I can’t be my real and true self.  But I have to start trying.

Today I will let my guard down.  Today I will reach my hand out in fellowship and begin to trust.  I have to build interpersonal relationships if I am to “make it” in the “real” world.  My biggest struggle is not staying sober.  My biggest struggle is letting go the character flaws that keep me imprisoned away from others.  The judging, the fear, the apprehension, the fear of rejection…etc, etc.

Today I am going to come from a place of lovingkindness.  A place that allows me to be with people on equal footing.  Without condemnation, without fear of the end results.  I have to stop being fearful of the results of my interacts and just be.

Retro Recovery: One Year Post

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 05/12/2017 at 8:00 a.m. – Day 175 of Treatment
my_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 Eckhart Tolle.  I continued to practice meditation, which truly helped keep me centered and focused. But living life on life’s 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.

I have a decent job, a decent place to live, and for once in my life I have dreams and goals.

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 through 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!

Retro Recovery: Not An Alcoholic

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 05/17/2017 at 12:49 p.m. – Day 181 of Treatment
my_recovery

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.

Recovery by Robert M. Levasseur

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.

Best Friends by Robert M. Levasseur

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.

Retro Recovery: I’m Not An Alcoholic

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 12/05/2016 at 6:44 p.m. – Day 58 of Treatment
my_recovery

Hi, my name is Rob, and I am in recovery for alcoholism.  I always hated saying “Hi, I’m Rob, I’m an alcoholic.”  It doesn’t fit anymore.  I don’t drink.  I am in recovery.  I am a recovering alcoholic, but I choose to remove the alcoholic in that phrase.  Eventually, I will introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Rob.  What’s your name?”  Recovery may end up being lifelong, but the label won’t.

Most of my drinking “career” was binge drinking:  when I drank, I drank until the liquor was gone and then went looking for more.  I didn’t become a raging alcoholic until I met my ex.  She was an alcoholic as well.  Kaboom!

After our first 6 months I began to drink nightly.  No need to get into all that.  The point of my post is this:  I began a death spiral to nothingness that lasted until just over 6 months ago.  I drank mainly out of boredom, but it quickly escalated to mainly avoiding the situation I found myself in.

alcohol3

In the mind of this drinker I just wanted to get buzzed.  All the time.  I wanted to check out of my surroundings and I did that every night straight for 2.5 years!  Some non-drinkers wonder what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic.  They wonder:

  • Why can’t he quit?  Why doesn’t he quit
  • What is it that I’m doing wrong?
  • Why aren’t we important enough for him to want to quit?
  • Why the relapses?
  • Doesn’t he know what this is doing to him/us/me?

Here’s what was in the mind of my alcoholic me:

  • I can quit, I just don’t want to.  I don’t need to quit, everything is ok.
  • You are not doing anything wrong:  I want to drink, I have to drink.  It’s my obsession.
  • You are important enough, you and my drinking have nothing to do with one another
  • Because try as I might, the urge to check out and to get high are too strong and I haven’t worked my issues out.
  • I know exactly what I am doing to myself/you.  I just don’t have the coping skills to change it.
alcohol4

Or something along those lines.  I never gave sobriety a real shot.  I think I quit once for about 3 months.  I used the death of my mother as an excuse to start up again.  This is my longest period of sobriety at 208 days. 

I do not plan on relapsing.  I can’t.  I won’t.  I am developing new patterns of thinking.  I am learning new ways to cope with life on life’s terms.  I am rigorous in my honesty as to what got me to this point in my life.

I’m going to do the following things that I have learned–and know–will keep me sober:

  1. Continue outpatient therapy when I leave my 3 month VA work program in March.
  2. Attend AA meetings, but keep that whole thing manageable and logical.
  3. Frequent the gym at least 4 times per week:  Health is Wealth-physical and spiritual!
  4. Find new sober friends, sober hangouts, sober things to do.
  5. Write, interact with you wonderful community members, write, write, write.
  6. Rekindle my passion for swimming, hiking, jogging, fishing, bowling.
  7. Kill the TV set.  Nothing good comes out of watching others live fantasy lives.
  8. Avoid isolating behaviors.  If I isolate I will go within and live in my head, and I can’t have that.
  9. Avoid boredom.  Boredom is the number 1 reason why I drank so often.
  10. Moderation in all things.  I have to maintain balance in everything I do.
  11. Meditate.  Meditation is the single most dramatic life changing event that I need to continue.
  12. Avoid people, places, things that might act as triggers.  When triggers come, utilize a myriad of coping skills to deal.
  13. Read.  Read literature that will help strengthen my resolve, help me evolve, help me reach newer heights.

This is my roadmap to staying sober.  I happen to think it’s a damn good one.  I know in my heart of hearts that as long as I adhere to as many of these things as possible, I will be a lifelong sober man.

alcohol7

I am very fortunate.  I do not obsess over drinking.  I do not crave alcohol.  I am over “missing” my “dear” friend alcohol.  I have faced a few situations where I should have, but did not, think about using.  I am lucky because that would be a hindrance that would be very difficult to overcome.

I refuse to be like many of my fellow Veterans here:  I will not have my name embroidered on one of these chairs.  In other words, treatment is not a lifelong option for me.  This is my one and done.  Take it to the bank; ’cause that’s a check you can cash.

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