Saturday, November 24, 2012

6 Years

On Thursday, Nov 29th, if I don't drink or use and I have no plans to do either, I will have been sober and clean 6 years. Like a guy in a meeting I go to says "I didn't get here on a winning streak". I got here finally due to bad checks, of course those checks were alcohol related. I was arrest on a Sunday night at home, this was the second time I was arrested at home for a bad check. We lived in a small town, pop 700 people, this was very embarrassing to my 15 year old daughter, oh yeah we lived on a busy street too. Sidebar; here is the insanity of alcoholism, I had received a letter from the county attorney saying if they received a money order by a certain date the matter would be taken care of otherwise there would be a warrant issued for my arrest; so what do I do, I wait until the day the money is due to the county attorney to mail the check, I did this not once but twice and both times I was arrested. I procrastinated to the last moment because I needed my alcohol money, in my sick mind I must have thought they wouldn't arrest a nice guy like me even though they had done it before. So anyway, I had a couple of phone conversation while I was assigned to the holding cell with my sister and daughter who were both very pissed off at me and to my surprise were not going to bail me out. I had to spend the night in the holding cell, they said I would be release the next morning if the money order was in the incoming mail. That night in jail I thought about all the heat which was on my ass, family upset about my drinking, work upset about my drinking, probation officer I was making excuses to for not going to outpatient treatment who was going to nail me sooner or later. I decided to go to treatment, to cool the heat and hopefully get my drinking control-able again, see even with 9 years in AA the disease was telling me I wasn't an alcoholic but that I just needed to be able to control my drinking. I made some calls and about two weeks after my night in jail I walked through the doors of a treatment center.

I only stayed in treatment two weeks, because I had been in recovery before and was picking the tool kit back up fairly quickly, my counselor told the insurance company I could probably make it on the outside with just Intensive Outpatient counseling. A women I had known from years back when I was active in recovery gave me a ride home and her husband came by later that night and agreed to sponsor me, these 2 wonderful people would give me rides to meetings and other events, I did a lot of early step work riding in my sponsors pickup. Here is how divine providence worked for this drunk; I lived 30 miles from work, a guy in the town drove right past my work place on his way to work and would drop me off, oh yeah I didn't have a drivers license due to my 2nd DUI, after work I would get a ride to a friends house, then go to the 5:15 meeting, my sponsor and his wife were going to college full time in a town 40 miles on east of where I worked, they would meet me at a meeting and drop me off at my house on their/his way home, they lived 10 miles south of me. The stars lined up in my favor those early months, I was able to make 5 or more meetings a week in those early months even though I couldn't legally drive nor was there a meeting in the town I lived in.

The obsession to drink left me fairly early in recovery; I give credit to divine providence and also I felt hope again, were as when I was drinking I just wanted to die. The psychic change Dr. Silkworth talked about really happened to me and it happened within a few days of treatment. I re-connected with the God of my understand by rereading and studying We Agnostics; when I was in recovery before I lived in a small recovery world filled with Bible talking people, I kept my non-Christian spirituality to myself out of fear of being not accepted, people pleasing is one of my major character defects, one I continue to work on. In these 6 years I have continued to seek spiritual growth, I have my outs with some in the program, I still live in the Bible Belt, but I am very comfortable in my own skin and in my own understanding of a God, I stand up for the newcomers who have troubles with the God thing because I don't want them feeling the program will not work for them because they don't believe in the same God as a lot of the people in the rooms are talking about. I also have a sponsor who understands my spirituality and could careless what my Higher Power is or isn't.

Most of you know all about what I have gone through in this last year and what a year it was:-) To me this was the year of the 5th step, I actually did another 4th and 5th step. It was a year of learning to talk to people about what was going on inside. I connected with a wonderful woman who I call my sponsor, my original sponsor isn't easily accessible due to his work schedule, he has moved away too and goes to meetings in another town. I started seeing this woman weekly, it was nice to have some one on one face time with a sponsor again, it was also needed since I was only making 1 or 2 meetings a week; again divine providence stepped in to help me. I also started talking to a few others regularly. I am a pretty closed person, oh yeah I can write stuff here but doing a one on one opening up to another is a challenge, see I don't want to burden another with my struggles. I am learning to undo some of the conditioning of my upbringing, I was starting to get comfortable opening up a lot with my original sponsor and a couple of others, then my moving around and jobs kind of made me back slide, had to keep a good face don't you know, oh I would talk to Lady B sometimes and maybe a couple of others if the pain got bad but for the most part I clammed up again, I don't think it was intentional, it was just the old way of thinking taking over, a bad self survival instinct, haw see I just used the word "self". So yeah the 5th step is about opening up to another, it is easy to talk to my God and even mediate but I need other people in my life for guidance, to explain what God is probably saying and not what I think God is probably saying. With work and school I don't make it to my sponsors every week but I do check in every couple of weeks, see her at meetings and visit with her there. I also go to an average of 4 meetings a week and talk to a couple of other people, my circle of close friends is getting bigger.

Challenges are challenges everybody has them alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike. By embracing the whole of AA; steps, meetings, sponsorship and service work, most of the time I can face the challenges with some semblance of inner-peace. I did freak out a few times this summer, I needed the freak outs to learn some stuff, sorry if I pissed anyone off with the freak outs. The challenges aren't over, not for me and probably not for you either, I am in a better place today to handle the challenges than I was 6 months ago because I walked though the storm and learned a couple of things, I also talked about lot about what was going on, even sometimes in my home group, ugh.

The new challenge is changing my major in college. When I was going through the catalog looking at classes for the next semester, I started really reading what Business Admin was all about and I also read the description for Health Care Information Systems Management and realized this is what I was really wanting to do with a degree. HCISM is learning management skills needed to work in any health care related business, whether it is a hospital, treatment center, Red Cross, American Cancer Society, etc. I don't know jack shit about the medical field really, biology, anatomy and all that type of stuff is foreign to me. I stopped and talked to my sponsor about my thoughts on changing majors, she was very supportive and strongly encouraged me to make the change, so next semester I am taking a different path towards a career. One of my fears is it will take me 3 years to get my degree, that is 3 years without a full time job, something else which is foreign to me, this is also a pride issue, but I think my dad would be cool with me not working as long as I was doing it for a good reason. I talked to my buddy about my fear of taking classes in which I have no practical knowledge of, we both agreed this may be a good thing since the business classes come easy so maybe the new challenge will do me some good. I also talked to the guidance counselor at the college and she told me I might be able to get financial aid to take 9 hours of classes this summer, knock some of the general educations out of the way. I really like were I work, so I don't want to quit for the summer, I would rather stay working there if at all possible until I get my degree; the job is going well and I am well liked by my manager and the big boss.

Well shower time, then to get a few needed groceries before the noon 12 and 12 meeting. Going to put up Christmas lights outside this afternoon since the weather is going to be decent, not sure what next weekend will bring so better get on it while the getting is good; I have an nice front porch and awning at this trailer so I have a place to hang lights, Angel is all excited about decorating for Christmas.

Hope everyone is well, I send a prayer of love and positive energy your way at night. Thanks for being a part of my recovery!

Peace Love Light

Monday, November 12, 2012

Freedom, Goodwill, Creative Action & Personal Growth

So I am was reading an NA, yes an Narcotics Anonymous, booklet and read this paragraph, " Any lifestyle seeking spiritual fulfillment seems to demand the very things missing in addiction; freedom, goodwill, creative action and personal growth." I thought what a profound and truthful statement.

In active alcoholism and addiction I was a prisoner to my disease. I couldn't go anywhere without making sure and had something in the car, I rarely went anywhere were alcohol wasn't served. I was big time paranoid, I was always on the lookout for the police, also paranoid my enablers would pull the plug. I was a prisoner to money, needing a certain amount for my alcohol, if it wasn't there I would write bad checks or steal booze from the store I worked at part time. I was a prisoner of my emotions, any clear thoughts I had about the trouble my drinking was causing were shut down as quick as possible with alcohol; reality sucked and I couldn't allow it to interfere with my obsession for alcohol. I couldn't change my job, couldn't go to college, couldn't move from the dump of a house I lived in. Sadly this prisoner couldn't be a good parent either, same goes for son, brother, employee and friend. Because I am free, I now can do anything I want and as long as I stay spiritually fit I never enter the prison of addiction again. BTW alcohol is my drug of choice but I will use any substance put in my path to get messed up, also I have a healthy fear of my addictive nature, so if I ever have to be put on narcotics for a medical reason, I need to keep the knowledge of being an addict as strong as the knowledge of being an alcoholic.

Goodwill, how can one be practicing goodwill when we are so caught up in self. I tried to practice goodwill, I helped people out, gave a bit to charity but under this was still my main concern of getting the next drink. I don't think there is anyway a person caught up in addiction can practice goodwill because we are so selfish and self-centered. In recovery getting out of self is a life long process for many of us, for me it is a daily awareness of my actions and thoughts which are based on self. Simple acts of goodwill start to come more naturally as we change our way of thinking, become more spiritually centered; holding doors open, giving a warm smile to the cashier, allowing someone to proceed ahead of us in traffic. I do what I can for the less fortunate when I can, make sure the stuff I am getting rid of goes to a charity which gives stuff away and not just sells it. Of course we try and practice goodwill in the recovery rooms, extending a welcoming hand and echoes of encouragement, we try and give back what was freely given to us. For me this is an ongoing thing, some days I am so caught up in I forget to say hi and introduce myself to the person in the room I have never seen before. Being spiritually fit means I am thinking less about me and more about others, and more about the planet. 

Creative action is an interesting term. I am I finding creative ways to reach out to those who still suffer? Am I finding creative ways to carry the message in my service work? I am I finding creative ways in sponsoring, finding ways to knock down the walls which keep someone from understanding the steps? Once in a while the answer is yes, I do know how to intuitively handle a situation which use to baffle me. My first thought on the word creative was, artistic, something I am not, but like everyone else, I have talents which others don't , we all do. We shouldn't beat ourselves up, we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, we are all very special. When I am in active addiction my creativity was as dead as my spirit, I couldn't touch my creative self no more than I could touch my spiritual self, in recovery both are possible.

In my psyche class we read a lot about how alcoholism and drug addiction delay and even stop growth, I have heard this in the rooms for years, but here is was in black and white in a psychology text book. The book had a table in it showing where we should be at in emerging adulthood, damn did I ever miss the boat. I lacked responsibility, had no goals in life, sucked at relationships, lacked motivation and any interest in bettering myself as a father, employee or member of society. Here at almost 50 I am basically in my early 20's but it is alright. For me the steps are were the growth comes from, I see the areas needed from improvement, I do my best to trust my God, I do the footwork. I want and need spiritual growth, emotional growth and personal growth, even if it comes with a bit of pain; I want to be busy being born and not busy dying.

Well I need to take a shower and get ready for my last English class, finishing this class will free me up for other classes. Hope everyone is doing well. We are having a warm fall so far, even had a thunderstorm Saturday night. Angel is all about Christmas, mainly because the t.v. is bombarding us with commercials about toys, she is constantly saying "look papa, I want that' to which papa replies, "we will just have to see what Santa can do" to which she replies "really papa" with a big smile on her face. Papa is really glad for layaway this year!

Peace Love and Light

Monday, November 5, 2012

For Love Cupboards and Other Things

Hey all, I am all moved into the new mobile home, AKA trailer house. It started at 1:30pm two Saturdays ago; I got the keys to the house and first thing which needed done was masking the living room so I could paint. Painting is one of those things I can do but I am not fond of doing. I had to put on a coat of primer to cover the green and by the evening I had the first coat of Farmer Apple Red on the walls, the living had to be painted before anything was moved into it. Mich boxed stuff up and used her car to move some stuff Saturday, while I painted. I got up early Sunday morning and put the second coat of paint on then hit a meeting because the place I need to be at 11am on Sunday morning is my home group. I borrowed a friends pickup Sunday, my Suburban is still in the shop, which allowed me to get a bunch more moved. Mich couldn't find anyone to watch Carter so with the exception of a buddy helping with the couch and the chair I moved everything I could that day myself. I continued to move the next two days, once again a buddy came over and helped with the rest of the big stuff. Cleaning the other house sucked but went does deep cleaning not suck. Anyway between working and one class I was able to get everything done at 2:15am Thursday morning. I have moved 5 times in 6 years and I hope like hell I am done moving for a few years.

The new place is better, the add-on's to the living room and dining room give me more space in both areas. Instead of having 3 upper cupboards, 5 lower cupboards and 3 drawers in the kitchen, I now have 10 upper cupboards, 6 lower cupboards, 8 drawers and a pantry. I now have space for my kitchen gadgets, pots, pans, baking stuff and the dry goods are no longer crammed together and I actually know what I have and don't have.  My bedroom closet isn't as big but I gained a linen closet, I put clothes in storage bags and shoved them under the bed. the bathroom is twice as big, plus Mich and Angel have their 1/2 bath. The one shed is really nice and big, room to put stuff in without cramming, the other shed is perfect for tools and stuff I use more often. The front porch has a roof over it and a wall on the north side; when the snow hits it will be nice have this area fairly free of snow and ice, sure the dog will appreciate this also.

There are somethings I had to fix or will need to fix. I had to replace the internal workings on one of the toilets, it dribbled water. The thermostat was trashed so I replaced it, same with the shower head. The cupboards and drawers in the kitchen and main bath room all need painted, I will also paint the kitchen walls but this can wait for a bit. There is a big gap in the fence which I will fix mainly for appearance, since there is no way to keep Carter in if he really wants to get out. I hope by next summer Carter will be better at not running away from my house when he is outside, if not then he will be spending a lot of time in his room while Angel is playing outside. There are a few other odds and ends things which need to be fixed or fixed up for appearance but nothing major or expensive.

The kids are both enjoying having more space to run around in. Carter no longer shares a room with my books, good for both of us:-) Mich needs to find a way to get her stuff out of her ex-boyfriends parents garage, mainly we need to get Angels big bed, Mich's kitchen table which we can use for an island and her love seat.

Work is going well. School is going alright but need to play catchup in a couple of classes. I have 2 papers due Thursday in psyche but they shouldn't be too hard to get out since I don't work tomorrow and I have notes done on them. I will complete my writing class hopefully by next Monday, this will free my Monday's and Wednesday's up. Of course I keep going to meetings and staying in contact with my sponsor and recovery friends, both make sure I am staying sane and keeping everything in perspective.

Well I need to take a shower, do some business class work, then off to the writing class. Hope everyone is safe, is finding emotional balance in the storms of life, and in general doing well.

Peace Love Light