Tag Archives: relapse

My Ruminations: Me A To Z Dislikes II

My Ruminations Robert Levasseur
My Ruminations Me A To Z

Special Note: I use lots of pictures, videos, animations, flipbooks, and other cool layouts and features which can be best appreciated by reading this post on my blog. Mobile View will not give you the very best experience.

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Since I have already done a ‘Likes’ version of Me A to Z, I thought it would be fun to do a ‘Dislikes’ version. This is Part II. Read Part I Here. One of my regular readers commented on Part I “That’s a lot of resentments.” I politely disagreed, saying I just felt passionate about some topics in life. However, I decided that Part II would be a little more lighthearted; there may have been a kernel of truth to what he suggested. And I certainly don’t like the idea of having resentments.

I have done list posts before about me. The first one that comes to mind is a post titled 40 Impressions of Me. Quite a while ago I also wrote A Few Things About Me. So, if you are crazy-excited about learning more about your humble writer, hurry up over to those posts. Writing Me A to Z really made me think about who I am and what I truly dislike about living my life in this crazy world. So, without further ado, here is Part II of my list N-Z.


N-achos. As in soggy ones. You gotta eat those bastards quickly; otherwise, they became nasty soggy and I do not like soggy nachos. As a matter of fact, I think I will use Soggy as my S word in this list. I mean, what good are soggy nachos? You can’t scoop up ANYTHING with them! So, eat your nachos quickly, but not so quick that you end up choking and someone has to perform a heimlich maneuver to save your ass. That would be quite the story around the Thanksgiving table next year.

O-piods. Not because they are highly addictive. But because of the constipation that they cause. I was prescribed Vicodin after the major back surgery I had in ’97. Yeah, that was caused by the following events: I got drunk at a chinese restaurant. I left said restaurant without paying. I was chased by the police. I jumped a fence behind Dunkin’ Donuts. The ground behind the fence was way far away. I fractured my spine. I spent the night in jail. Opioids cause incredibly painful constipation if you abuse them, or if you don’t drink lots of fluids. I know that now.

P-eeing. That’s right, peeing has started becoming a pain in the ass (huh, another p-word concept). Now that I am rounding the corner to 57, peeing has become an interesting event. Sometimes I can’t pee, even though I have to pee. Sometimes it doesn’t go where it is intended (think morning here guys). Sometimes it goes-stops-goes some more. Unpredictable peeing is a pain in the ass.

Q-uarantine. As in the people who refuse to quarantine themselves while we are dealing with a pandemic! It annoys me that this country doesn’t just go into quarantine and be done with this mess, once and for all. Are we just stupid, ignorant, or just don’t care about anyone but ourselves? I know, speak for yourself (but yours truly has pretty much stayed in his house, shops online and uys groceries via Walmart pick-up, and wears a mask if he has to go out, so shut yer blower!) But hey, that’s not the American Way! Just like when 9-11 happened: we were all gungho about waving flags, anti-terrorism, and all that for about 5 seconds. Then we do what Americans do, we went back to binge-watching The Office.

R-esponsibility. Being responsible is a royal pain in the ass! I mean, when I was drinking, all I had to do was sell more cars and ignore paying anyone but the guy at the liquor store and a dealer once in awhile. Sure, I paid my car payment to get to work. But that was mostly it when I was in my last years of embracing alcoholism as much as humanly possible. But now, I have all these RESPONSIBILITIES. Yuck.

S-ogginess. My hate affair with sogginess, I believe, can be traced back to the chicken pot pies we were forced to eat as children. Remember those? I know, they still make them. Talk about scalding hot! The outside crust was fine, but boy did I hate the soggy innards of those things. Come to think of it, I cannot stand soggy bread period. If I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I put peanut butter on BOTH sides, so the jelly won’t seep through the bread and make it soggy. Meatball sub leaking through the bottom, gross! Italian sub with dressing, NO THANKS. However, I do like dipping bread in olive oil, but it’s not the same as some disgusting sub or sandwich that is leaking sauce or dressing. Which is why I NEVER order subs to go or for delivery. I also feel anything soggy, it is deeply troubling.

T-oenails. I have always hated dealing with my toenails. Even when I wasn’t overweight like I am now. They are difficult to get at! Besides that, I have a few of them that are ingrown. Thus, they are painful as all hell! I went to one of those foot spa places. You know the kind. I thought I would get a professional pedicure (don’t laugh guys, they are actually PHENOMENAL, that is if the wonderful ladies there are not all laughing at you and pointing to your feet.) I’ll never walk into one of those again.

U-ndertaker . Somebody has to do it, right? I don’t like the idea of an undertaker. It would mean I’m dead, and that would suck big-time. An undertaker takes your body and puts it under, right? Hmmm, not if you’re going to get cremated! Like I plan on being. Not going to spend eternity lying in the fucking ground, slowly decaying. Nay, really slowly decaying because of all the chemicals they put in me so I WON’T decay so fast. Uh Uh. I’m going into the oven to go back to whence I came: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The Undertaker may be hauling my ass to the Funeral Home, but then he’s gotta roll me on into the furnace. No dirt naps for me, thank you very much.

V-alentines Day. I’m not even going there.

W-eebles. Why the hell would Weebles wobble, but not fall down? I mean, come on. I just don’t understand who made this stupid toy. Get me in a room with him or her! I want to know…no, I DEMAND to know who came up with this and why! When I was a kid I didn’t want things to wobble and not fall down! I wanted them to crash and burn like Evil Knievel’s Motorcycle toy. Anyone remember that? You put this strip within the cycle, pulled it and it would send the cycle off like a bat out of hell. Weebles wobbling, but not falling down…pffsssh.

X-ylophone. Not too many words that are relatable in the X family. But the xylophone. The xylophone, other than the fact that I can’t type the damn word fast, is a stupid toy for little children (and for parents). First of all, it does not make any truly worthwhile musical contribution as far as I can tell. It does create redundant sounds by little boys and girls that make you want to ring it into the backyard, douse it in lighter fluid and watch it burn though! Also, looking up the definition, there are supposed to be TWO wooden mallets to make it worthwhile; why do most that I have seen only come with one??!! Fuck the xylophone.

Y-ankees. Part of why I am partially brain-dead is because, although I grew up in New Hampshire, my father didn’t root for the Red Sox–like every other kid’s father in the neighborhood. Oh no, he was a RABID Yankees fan! What act of the Gods would strike me with this oppression? All my life I’ve had to endure his toxic fanship of the Yankees. And you can bet your ass he was toxic about it. Just like everything else about him. But I digress. Yankee fans are a different breed from the rest of the baseball fans out there. I especially hate it when they continue to revel in the 26 championships they have won in their illustrious history. I will forever ADORE and REVERE the year we came back down 0-4, and wiped that Yankee smirk of those Yankee fan’s faces. Good enough for me!

Z-oos. While it is certainly cool to see a variety of animals you would otherwise only see in pictures and videos, I do not condone the harboring of nature within cages. But caging up wild animals for the sake of human enjoyment does not appeal to me whatsoever. I think zoos should be refuges for hurt or injured animals, but only as a means for nursing them back to health and releasing them.

Recovery: Living Sober Pt. III

Recovery Living Sober I
90 Page Booklet

Recovery: Living Sober Book by Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource if you want to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

In this three part series, I will present summaries of many of the concepts put forth in this book. It’s only 90 pages, and packed with excellent advice.

It contains, as the subtitle states, “Some methods A.A. members have used for not drinking.”

What I like most about this book is, even if you are not immersed in recovery through regular A.A. Meetings and the sub-culture, you can still benefit tremendously from Living Sober.

Read The Entire Booklet Here
Read Part IRead Part II
19. Remembering Your Last Drunk

One A.A. member puts it this way: “I know that stopping in for a drink will never again be–for me–simply killing a few minutes and leaving a buck on the bar. In exchange for that drink, what I would plunk down now is my bank account, my family, our home, our car, my job, my sanity, and probably my life. It’s too big a price, too big a risk.” He remembers his last drunk, not his first drink.

20. Avoiding Dangerous Drugs and Medications

We are wary of what we take on our own; we steer away from cough syrups with alcohol, codeine, or bromides, and from all those assorted smokes, powders, synthetic painkillers, liquids, and vapors that are sometimes freely handed around. Why take the chance? Chemical substitutes of life simply do not interest us any more, now that we know what genuine living is.

21. Eliminating Self-Pity

This emotion is so ugly that no one in his or her right mind wants to admit feeling it. Even when sober, many of us remain clever at hiding from ourselves the fact that we are astew in a mess of self-pity. We do not like at all being told that it shows, and we are sharp at arguing that we are experiencing some other emotion-not that loathsome poor-me-sim. Such thinking is a great ticket to a barroom, but that’s about all. Crying over that unanswerable question is like weeping because we because we were born in this era, not another, or on this planet, rather than in some other galaxy. The saying “Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink” is apt.

22. Seeking Professional Help

If we now find ourselves sober but still trying to second-guess the really expert professionals, it can be taken as a warning signal. Is active alcoholism trying to sneak its way back into us? Some of us are now aware that our behavior prevented our getting the good advice or care we really needed. May you have the same good fortune in these regards that so many of us have had. Hundreds of thousands of us are deeply grateful to the countless professional men and women who helped us, or tried to.

23. Steering Clear of Emotional Entanglements

OVer the years, we have become strongly convinced that almost no important decisions should be arrived at early in our sobriety, unless they cannot possibly be delayed. This caution particularly applies to decisions about people, decisions about high emotional potential. Another caution: Tying our sobriety to someone we are emotionally involved with proves flatly disastrous. “I’ll stay sober if so-and-so does this or that” puts an unhealthy condition on our recovery. Immature or premature liaisons are crippling to recovery. Only after we have had time to mature somewhat beyond merely not drinking are we equipped to relate maturely to other people.

24. Getting Out of the “If” Trap

Many of us were caught thinking: I wouldn’t be drinking this way…if it wasn’t for my wife (or husband or lover)…if I just had more money and not so many debts…if it wasn’t for all these family problems, etc. Looking back at this kind of thinking and our resultant behavior, we see now that we were really letting circumstances outside ourselves control much of our lives. Tying up our sobriety to any person (even another recovered alcoholic, or to any circumstance is foolish and dangerous. When we think, “I’ll stay sober if–” or “I won’t brink because of–” we unwittingly set ourselves up to drink when the condition or circumstance changes.

25. Being Wary of Drinking Occasions

Great numbers of us (but not all) believe that the sooner we establish the truth of our sobriety with our acquaintances, the better it is for us. We do not have to keep up any pretenses, and most good people appreciate our honest and encourage our efforts to stay fee of our addiction. Occasionally, a really heavy drinker will get pretty pushy about our not drinking. We learn to steer clear of such people. If they do indeed have their own hang-up to contend with, we wish them well. But we need not defend our choices to them or to anyone else. And we do not argue with them, or try to change their minds. Again, our attitude is “Live and Let Live.”

26. Letting Go of Old Ideas

The ideas that got so deeply embedded in our lives during drinking do not all disappear quickly, as if by magic, the moment we start keeping the plug in the jug. Our days of wine and “Sweet Adeline” may be gone, but the malady lingers on. So we have found it therapeutic to nip off many old ideas that start to sprout up again. And they do, over and over. What we try to achieve is a feeling of being relaxed and freed from the bonds of our old thinking. Many of our former habits of thought, and the ideas they produced, limit our freedom. We don’t have to hang on to them any longer unless, upon examination, they prove valid and still truly fruitful.

27. Reading The A.A. Message

There are many good blications on alcoholism, and some not so good. Many of us have also profited by reading in other fields. A.A. neither endorses nor opposes anybody else’s publications. We simply offer our own.

28. Going To A.A. Meetings

Because of the importance of meetings, many of us keep a list of local meetings. We have found that going to meetings is not something to be done only when we feel the temptation to drink. We often get more good from the meetings by attending them when we feel fine and haven’t so much as thought of drinking. And even a meeting which is not tally, instantly satisfying is better than no meeting at all.

29. Trying The Twelve Steps

No matter what type of addict we were, we realize not that we were excessively self-centered, chiefly concerned about our feelings, our problems, other people’s reactions to us, and our own past and future. Therefore, trying to get into communication with and to help other people through the Twelve Steps is a recovery measure for us, because it helps take us out of ourselves. Trying to heal ourselves by helping others works, even when it is an insincere gesture. Try it some time.

30. Finding Your Own Way

As you stay sober, you are sure to think of new ideas not recorded here. We hope so. We also hope that when you do come up with fresh ideas on this subject, you will pass them on. Please do share. The more experience we can all pool, the more problem drinkers can be helped.

The A.A. website is a great source of helpful information, online meetings, and all of their literature. Visit here.

My Ruminations: Me A To Z Dislikes I

My Ruminations Robert Levasseur
My Ruminations Me A To Z

Special Note: I use lots of pictures, videos, animations, flipbooks, and other cool layouts and features which can be best appreciated by reading this post on my blog. Mobile View will not give you the very best experience.

Get The Full Experience Here

Since I have already done a ‘Likes’ version of Me A to Z, I thought it would be fun to do a ‘Dislikes’ version. Be forewarned: I won’t be pulling any punches here, and I probably will sound very opinionated about more than a few on this list.

I have done list posts before about me. The first one that comes to mind is a post titled 40 Impressions of Me. Quite a while ago I also wrote A Few Things About Me. So, if you are crazy-excited about learning more about your humble writer, hurry up over to those posts. Writing Me A to Z really made me think about who I am and what I truly dislike about living my life in this crazy world. So, without further ado, here is Part I of my list.


Assholes on RecoveryWise

A- Assholes. We all know one. Some of us know many. The tyrant boss. The jealous co-worker. The folks who cut us off on the roads. The folks who cut us in line. The folks who breed fear in society. The bigots, the zealots, the corporations who suck Americans dry and who continue to find ways to bleed the Middle Class Dry. On and on and on and on. Here’s a great Psychology Today article on Assholes.

Bullies on RecoveryWise

B- Bullies. When it comes to bullies, I’m mainly talking about school-aged children. I was bullied throughout my school years. It is inexplicable to me why I was targeted. But I was. Books ripped out my hands. Thrown into lockers. Jeered at and provoked. In Junior High, I often skipped the bus because of the threats made to me by bullies. I blame the parents. Nobody else to blame but the parents. Bullying is bred from the family out, not the other way around. My wife and I recently watched a Netflix series on bullying. It brought back fierce feelings of anger and resentment in me. School administrators and teachers are the second to be blamed. I mean, how ignorant can you be to allow any child to be be bullied to the point that they commit suicide? It’s pathetic, disgusting, and inexcusable. While they are at home, parents have an obligation to keep their children safe and mentally healthy; getting them help if they can’t do the job themselves. While they are in school, school officials have the obligation to protect children. It’s a blight on society that needs to be seriously addressed, in every county, nationwide.

Child Molesters on RecoveryWise

C- Child Molesters/Abusers. Look at the statistics to the left. Relatives of these poor children need to PAY THE FUCK ATTENTION to their children, and who they are hanging out with. 34% are molested by FAMILY MEMBERS!! I do not believe in the Death Penalty. Even if I did, that would be too good for these disgusting predators. Most folks are not aware that inmates live a better quality of life on Death Row than they do in General Population. That’s right: It’s quieter, better food, etc. Google it if you don’t believe me. I think they should be put in the oldest prison in the country, and locked up 23 hours a day. No mail. No books. No visitors. One shower per week. Bread and water, until they are dead. I was molested by a close family member. When his mother passes away, I fully intend on announcing his foul deeds to everyone inside the church on that day. He stole my youth. He stole my soul. I will never be whole again. National Sexual Abuse Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) . Visit STOP IT NOW, all the resources you need are there. SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT! We all have a responsibility to keep children safe from harm and from predators.

no quit on recovery-wise.com

D- Deadbeat Dads. These guys give the rest of us fathers a bad name. They propagate a myth. They contribute to higher crime statistics, both for themselves and their offspring who grow up without them. They make it difficult for good fathers, fighting for their rights to equal parenting. They have largely contributed to the idea that, if you are a divorced father, somehow you have issues and are not good for your own children. I have constantly had to remind teachers, colleagues, the courts, that I divorced my wife not my children. Dead beat dads are those fathers that do not care for their children, emotionally or financially. They are often caught up in drugs and crime. They are those men who have gotten women pregnant that they had no intention of being a Dad to. They have contributed to prejudice towards divorced and separated fathers in this country. There were times I became unemployed. Times I fell behind in Child Support because that. I rarely moved the Court to lower my Child Support. I always managed to catch up. I left my children to the primary care of their mother, because the parental alienation had changed them dramatically. And I was no longer willing to contribute to their emotional deterioration. That’s not being a deadbeat Dad; that’s being a sensible father and man.

Ex Wife on RecoveryWise

E- Ex-Wife. I haven’t given my energy over to my ex-wife for many years. That being said, I dislike her for many reasons. She was the poster child for parental alienation. She is the number one reason why my children haven’t spoken to me in over 10 years. She disgusts me in that way. When we had a rigid visitation schedule, she would often miss visitation if the children got injured, if she didn’t feel like dropping them off. She never once dropped them off for Thanksgiving; even though the deal was she could have them for Christmas. And, finally, she lied about being pregnant within the first three months of our meeting. In February of 1991, I took her to Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston and told her I was joining the service. Suddenly, she said she had big news, she was pregnant! It propelled me to marry her in August of 1991 (but my close friend Jack noted it odd that, for being nearly 7 months showing, she didn’t look any different then when we hung out in December of 1991). I was deployed alone to Augsburg, Germany in September of 1991. Weeks later she called me hysterical–or so I thought–that she had miscarried. However, when pressed on it many years later, she could not supply where the baby was miscarried, where it was buried, or any documents supporting her disgusting claim. Enough said.

Family Court on RecoveryWise

F- Family Court. Quite frankly the Family Court system is corrupt. Not only in my home state of Massachusetts, but across this country. Fathers are routinely treated merely as cash registers. 209a’s (Restraining Orders) are handed down without due process. Child Support Guidelines are punitive and harsh. Yes, it does happen to women, but largely infrequently. Family court seems to be under the impression that it’s in the best interest of children to remain with the mother. How they continually come to this conclusion, many times discriminating against fathers, is unfathomable. Last I checked, a child is created by both. Mother doesn’t show up for visitation? No problem. Father behind $100 in Child Support? Arrest him. This is not sour grapes here folks. This is the reality in this country. Fall behind in the thousands? They can suspend your license, freeze your bank accounts, send you to jail. I calculated, conservatively, the amount of Child Support I paid over 15 years. It ended up being over $350,000.

Gun Violence on Recovery Wise

G- Gun Laws. According to Wikipedia, ” In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court affirmed for the first time that the right belongs to individuals, for self-defense in the home, while also including, as dicta, that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the existence of certain long-standing prohibitions such as those forbidding “the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill” or restrictions on “the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons”. Allowing individuals to stockpile assault weapons, grenades, incendiary devices, and an unlimited weapon cache of varying depths and variety is insanity. The Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, is archaic and needs to be overhauled. I mean, does “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” have any place in 2020? It needs to be overhauled. Period. BUt, as long as the NRA and other powerful lobbyists continue to pour money into campaigns, it’s never going to change. Limits on type, limits on amount, and a ban on assault rifles at the very least.

Hair on Recovery Wise

H- Hair. As in, as I turn 57 in a few months, hair has become enemy number one. It’s like a switch was turned turned on when I turned 55; a switch that told my body “Produce more hair, immediately!” I battle the hair in my nose. I pluck hair out of my ears. My eyebrows have gone from normal to caterpillars every other day. I constantly pluck hair out of my ears. My beard goes from trim to Paul Bunyan in a matter of days. Ugh! It’s a royal pain in the ass. And then there’s those folks who seem to be ignorant of the fact that disgusting hair is protruding from their ears and nose. Gangly, unsightly hairs that nearly want me to scream to these folks “OMG! Can you PLEASE trim that shit?”

Ignorance on Recovery Wise

I- Ignorance. They say that “Ignorance is bliss.” Not to the person on the receiving end of it! And nowhere is ignorance more prevalent than on Social Media. It’s everywhere! Folks making ignorant statements. Folks showing their ignorance when they puke their unfounded opinions and insights. Then there is the kind of ignorance that comes from a lack of education and mental incapacity. Nowhere have I experienced its prevalence, than right here in Missouri. Wow! All I can say is, I can’t wait to move my family back to New England; my little girl has to have better surroundings than this.

Jail on RecoveryWise

J- Jail. Jail is not prison, but it sucks anyway. Forget the fact that you are no longer free. It’s the environment really. EVERYBODY uses the word “Nigger” like nobody’s business. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this word is so commonplace, you’d wonder how it is that so many different races are able to use it in so many ways without repercussions. And the food…ugh, the nasty, disgusting food. I traded my breakfast for laundry service. Nine times out of ten I traded my lunch for bread and packets of peanut butter and jelly. When I had canteen money, I bought plenty of that combination. The pizza was palatable. You could choke down the hot dogs and chili. Other than that, the food could have been used to spackle a house, pave a driveway, bondo a car. The boredom is the reason why I took the nasty job working the kitchen. Not only did it alleviate the boredom, I earned 10 days of good time per month while working. I read 76 books from May 13-Oct 17 in jail. Lastly, the noise in jail is deafening. Except for the times you are on lockdown. Constant meaningless banter, yelling, swearing, and jive-talking is the rule. Don’t go to jail.

Killers on Recovery Wise

K- Killers. Anyone who unreasonably violates the sanctity of life, by taking a life. This includes the reprehensible hunters who kill endangered species, dogs because of dog fighting, and killing animals for sport. I recall one of my favorite short stories, “The Most Dangerous Game.” Also published as “The Hounds of Zaroff”, it’s a short story by Richard Connell, first published in Collier’s on January 19, 1924. The story features a big-game hunter from New York City who falls off a yacht and swims to what seems to be an abandoned and isolated island in the Caribbean. I won’t give the story away, download the PDF securely! The story is inspired by the big-game hunting safaris in Africa and South America that were particularly fashionable among wealthy Americans in the 1920s. Of course, killers also includes those who purposely take another human life. Especially Serial Killers. In my view, they cannot be rehabilitated and need to suffer while incarcerated. Death Row is too kind. First thing that comes to mind is breaking rocks all day, until they die. Bread and water. No correspondence. No books. No visitors.

Liver on Recovery Wise

L- Liver & Onions. Especially fried liver. When I was growing up we were subjected to liver more than a few times. In my house, you sat at the kitchen table-usually alone–until your food was gone. This included fried liver, the most foul smelling food I have ever had the displeasure of smelling. It got to the point that, upon smelling it in the house, I would begin to cry because I knew I was in for a long night. I tried to budget the milk. I tried to feed it to the cat. I tried to pocket it. It didn’t matter, I was usually the last one to be able to go to bed at about 10 or 11 at night. It indeed was a form of child abuse. Disgusting. Fortunately, I have never actually smelled it anywhere else for over 40 years. And I’ll die happy if I never have to smell it again.

Mediocrity on Recovery Wise

M- Mediocrity. I can barely remember a time that I did anything mediocre. From a very early age, I was a perfectionist. I took pride in every little thing I did. Once I was free from the tyranny of my childhood, I tried to do everything as well as I could. Irregardless of my addictions and mental health issues, I accomplished many things by being meticulous and thorough. Whenever I had to do some major project, in life or in work, it was usually anything but mediocre. And it’s been particularly true since I left jail in October of 2016: each time I have had to advocate for myself, compile documents for my VA Disability or Social Security Office, research my Federal Tort Claim, I have always done it well. I don’t have much respect for folks who go about life in a mediocre fashion. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just taking pride in oneself and appearance is something that earns my respect.

Coming Soon! Me N to Z Dislikes II

In Recovery:  Part 6 Brockton I

Special Note: I use lots of pictures, videos, animations, flipbooks, and other cool layouts and features which can be best appreciated by reading this post on my blog. Mobile View will not give you the very best experience.

Get The Full Experience Here

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Pt. 5: Jamaica PlainPt. 6: Brockton IPt. 6: Brockton IIPt. 6: Brockton IIIPt. 7: Cherry St Pt. I
VA on Recoverywise
Domiciliary At Brockton VA Still In Use From Civil War Era
Treatment At VA Brockton Reach

I was in the recovery program at the VA in Brockton Massachusetts from December 15, 2016-April 24, 2017. Less than a mile from the House of Horrors I shared with a violent, alcoholic ex from 2013-2016, it was more than a little depressing at first being there. Housed in a hospital-type dormitory, though it was much less antiseptic than a traditional hospital.

My Room At Reach

The Brockton Reach Program is designed to equip Veterans with the tools and skills needed to overcome homelessness. The cornerstone of the program is Compensated Work Therapy (CWT). CWT allowed me to start earning money at the prevailing minimum wage, and to start my long term planning for eventual self-reliance.

My time at Reach was very busy. The program was divided into 3 phases. Phase I focused on mainly classes about managing your life, Group Therapy, more DBT and CBT groups, and a strong focus on 12-Step Programs. Phase II was entirely about Compensated Work Therapy and regular therapy sessions.

Reach and Mental Health

By the end of my stay, I would be diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, PTSD, ADHD and Anxiety. My psychiatrist was a brilliant scholar, who really worked hard at achieving the proper diagnoses for my conditions. He also closely monitored my conditions medically.

I was put on a cocktail of medications. After about a month there, I really could tell a difference in my overall mental health. During my time at Reach, I also continued my intensive therapy with Molly; having to travel by bus to the Jamaica Plain campus every week.

Reach Hallway

We discussed the myriad of interpersonal issues I had, the possibility of having Borderline Personality Disorder, and my inability to manage my emotions; my number one problem, now that I did not have alcohol or drugs to stem the tide. I still had tremendous difficulty gaining any noteworthy friends and continued to isolate myself throughout my stay.

In addition to individual therapies, we were each assigned a Caseworker and a Social Worker. Both of these individuals were inept at their positions. Jeff, the caseworker, dressed like a hood thug and wore his recovery as a big, fat ego tattoo on his forehead. I was part of his “A” team, and every week we had to meet for two hours and endure the magnitude of his “me, me, me” approach to counseling us. I did not like his style, and we butt heads more than a few times about his approach with me.

My caseworker, Susan, was even more inept. I would describe her as a worn out robot. Her approach to her work with me was unemotional, uninterested, and she seemed to work mostly from rote memory. A perfect example of burnout in a profession as I ever saw.

Brockton VA Campus

Many of the buildings on the campus were built during the Civil War. The Brockton VA Campus is a collection of fascinating structures, all interconnected by an underground–and above ground–tunnel system. The campus boasts numerous domiciliary buildings, one of the few VA Spinal Cord Injury Hospitals in the country, a 6 lane bowling alley, and even a Starbucks; which I actually worked at briefly, in the Summer of 2013. I quit only after 2 months because I couldn’t get enough hours.

Civil War Era Domiciliary

I spent many hours photographing many of the nooks and crannies of this old campus, as you can see by some of the pictures to the left. I spent hours modifying pictures during my downtime. If you have read any other portions of my recovery blog, you know that I have the propensity to obsess: over emotions, over hobbies, over subject matter.

So you can imagine hour many hours I spent taking and modifying picture after picture. You can view many more of these pictures in the PDF at the bottom of my post. I almost wish I had some of the originals I took, for the architecture is truly a marvel with many of the old buildings.

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Pt. 6 Brockton II

Recovery: Living Sober Pt. II

Recovery Living Sober I
90 Page Booklet

Recovery: Living Sober Book by Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource if you want to learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

In this three part series, I will present summaries of many of the concepts put forth in this book. It’s only 90 pages, and packed with excellent advice.

It contains, as the subtitle states, “Some methods A.A. members have used for not drinking.”

What I like most about this book is, even if you are not immersed in recovery through regular A.A. Meetings and the sub-culture, you can still benefit tremendously from Living Sober.

Read The Entire Booklet Here
Read Part IRead Part III
10. Availing Yourself of A Sponsor

One reason it is a good idea to have a sponsor is that you have a friendly guide during those first days and weeks when A.A. seems strange and new, before you feel you know your own way about. A good sponsor is someone we can confide in, get everything off our chests with.

11. Getting Plenty of Rest

Many of us have wondered why we suddenly feel like taking a drink, for no apparent reason. When we examine the situation, time after time we find that we are feeling exhausted and hadn’t realized it. Even if we can’t fall asleep, just a few minutes of lying down, or relaxing in a chair or a tub, take the edge off the fatigue.

12. “First Things First”

Here’s an old saying that has special, strong meaning for us. Simply stated, it is this: Above all other concerns, we must remember that we cannot drink. Not drinking is the first order of business for us, anywhere, any time, under any circumstances.

13. Fending Off Loneliness

Alcoholism has been described as “the lonely disease,” and very few recovered alcoholics argue the point. Looking back at the las years or months of our drinking, many of us remember feeling isolated even when we were among a lot of happy, celebrating people. When we have only ourselves to talk to, the conversation gets kind of circular. Taking part in social activities, getting involved with the fellowship, and finding someone to talk to about our problems ensured that we would not slip into the malaise of isolating and drinking.

14. Anger and Resentments

Hostility, resentment, anger–whatever word you use to describe this feeling–seems to have a close tie-up with intoxication and maybe even a deeper one with alcoholism. So, we have to concentrate at first, not on searching for the causes of uncomfortable feelings of anger, but on coping with the feelings themselves, whether or not we think they are justified. W zero in on how to keep such feelings from fooling us into drinking.

15. Being Good To Yourself

Have we been enjoying life lately? Or have we been so concerned about getting better, kept our nose so earnestly near the grindstone of self-improvement, that we have failed to enjoy a sunset? A new moon? A good meal? A needed holiday from care? Now is the time, the only time there is. Unless we cherish our own recovery, we cannot survive to become unselfish, ethical, and socially responsible people.

16. Looking Out For Overrelation

Be especially cautious during moments of celebration or times of just feeling extraordinarily good. When things are going great, so well you feel almost on a nonalcoholic high–look out! Just one drink begins to seem less threatening, and we start thinking that it wouldn’t be fatal, or even harmful.

17. “Easy Does It”

The slogan “Easy Does It” is one way we A.A.’s remind each other that many of us have tendencies at times to overdo things, to rush heedlessly along, impatient with anything that slows us down. We find it hard to relax and savor life. When we do find ourselves up-tight and even frantic, we can ask ourselves occasionally, “Am I really that indispensable?” or “Is this hurry really necessary?” The answer if frequently no. If a strong inner core of peace, patience, and contentment looks at all desirable to you, it can be had. Remind yourself once in a while that maybe “Easy Does It” is this days ideal speed.

18. Being Grateful

Now that we are free of alcohol, we have much more control over our thinking. We have a broader range of thoughts, in minds that are no longer blurred. But the habit of thinking in neurotically depressed ways can stay with some of us, we have found, until we learn to spot it and carefully root it out. Focusing on gratitude, in even the littlest of things, can leave us feeling relaxed and thankful that we can be open to new ideas. Avoiding “Stinkin’ Thinkin” is essential to avoiding the slippery slope of relapse. Essentially, this means paying attention to when we allow our old patterns of negative thinking creep in, and replacing that thinking with some sense of gratitude in the moment.

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