Tag: VA

Recovery Is Possible

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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 Echart Tolle.  I continued to practice meditation, which truly helped keep me centered and focused. But living life on life 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 thorough 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!

Pity Party Closed Down

wp-1484928101125.jpgSo, 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.

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.

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.

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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My Recovery: It’s Now Or Never

wp-1484928101125.jpgSo 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!

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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