Still Stepping

All set to knock out my presentations on resistance to change for my family counseling class. Something I’m a bit of an expert at. I’m really proud of my grades this term as I have had so many setbacks these past few months, yet I’ve remained focused, stayed in prayer, and haven’t even thought about touching a drink. I swear I could write my own country song.

I’ve screwed up in so many ways moved 3 times in two months, had my hours cut at work, applied for jobs with no response, lost friends, a boss that goes out her way to put me down, family drama, drivers license application set backs and yet drinking has not even crossed mind. I thank God for that.

That’s how i know the steps work despite what the haters might say. I know that all these things will be used someday to help someone through times where it seems like everyone and thing is against you. God is bigger than my perceived problems and I trust he is making moves to make something beautiful out of the mess I’m in.


Recovery Journal Entries

Lost Causes Hope

This is an essay I wrote for school that got published on sobernation.com. I’m going to post the essay here in the hopes someone might relate. This is part of my story.

I am an alcoholic. Owning this label is not without consequences. Recovery from substance abuse has caused me to reevaluate life and the relationships surrounding it. The freedom in this refrain has kept me sober and humble. Recovery has caused me to change my life by helping others in the community, become a consciousness person with integrity, restored my faith in God, and a present loving dependable family member. It has gifted me with the necessary tools to deal with my past while living at peace in the present. To carry the message of hope and freedom to those still lost in the despair like I was is vital to my recovered state. It is paramount that the narrative show both the negative and positive outcomes of recovery.  In doing so maybe help someone identify and bring about some positive change in their life.

It was not always this way.  I relished the role of the wild reckless weekly warrior. I thrived on living moment to blackout moment. The excitement of a night out with the endless possibilities of fun, sex, and adventure was an addiction of its own sort.  Before all the substances took precedent there was an innocent ignorance about this late night, early morning lifestyle. I had gone on adventures with women that looked like Pam Anderson to New Orleans. Drunk and high the whole way down without a license after a judge issued a bench warrant. I threw parties that lasted days. I worked as a bartender making lots of cash to further my exploits with an awesome neverland-like bachelor pad. I maintained, yet, my Peter Pan syndrom would never quite shake this underlying unhappiness. I was too busy and self absorbed to care. My pride prevented me from acknowledging my fears of living. I was the sun providing the negative energy of my universe.

Before I further romanticize these exploits, a little background is in order. My biological father is a former member of a Detroit biker club. He was out of the picture by the time I could even learn to run away. Daddy issues is an understatement as I remained in such denial of the impact of his departure. I buried it deep in resentment and hate for a father figure whose ghost haunted me daily. Once he was out of the picture by virtue of giving up his parental rights; a would be abusive step-father took his place. What we have here is the makings of a very spiteful undisciplined young man surrounded by dysfunction–confused by adults shortcomings.  My father figures instead were men like Jack Kerouac, John Lennon, Jim Morrison, and Axl Rose. Men whom I emulated poorly by failing to recognize their flaws despite their beautifully written prose and songs. This anti-establishment mentality became my creed to live life by.  My mother had thought it was best to place me in a Christian school. I never quite fit in by being such a very open minded rebellious individual. I always felt I had something to prove. Also, by not having the same clout as other rich booster families, I eventually wore out my welcome and was expelled. This trend would follow me throughout life.

My first kiss of alcohol was at the age of twelve. This kiss changed my world. I immediately fell in love with its toxic distortions of reality. I had thought I finally found my faithful companion. False proclamations and expectations brought about pride and self loathing for a brighter day.  My not so secret love affair grew as I now found myself as the kid whose company everyone enjoyed to get the party started.  For once I found myself with a whole host of fair weather fiends, friends, and fictional family. I felt “I had arrived” as stated in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. The ever revolving door of characters added color to life.  Who used who didn’t seem to matter.  The booze lubed this understanding by making everything appear pleasurable. Little did I know this manipulation of reality was destined to kill me had I continued.

Jail, probation, loss of license, close to $30,000 in fees and fines wasn’t enough to convince me I had a problem. It is at this point I must say don’t drink and drive it will haunt and follow you for life. This scarlet letter is visible in all my relationships as well as the biggest hurdle to overcome. The stigma attached can be very discouraging.  Regardless, despite all these legal ramifications, a real deal alcoholic doesn’t stop because it is everyone else’s fault–no real personal accountability. The difference isn’t just an inability to stop; its chasing a facade of thought that I can drink like ‘normal’ people. There is no off switch. I realize now that these are all symptoms of the disease of alcoholism. At my worst my diet consisted of a fifth a day, a gram of cocaine to maintain, pills of any variety to enhance the buzz,  and marijuana to take the edge off. When I did happen to sleep my roommate would check on me to see if I was still breathing. Needless to say, my issues were just beginning to surface. Unbeknownst to me the substance abuse was a cry for help which my pride would not allow. When I eventually bottomed out and acknowledged my dependence– a floodgate of tears and years of repressed emotion was released. I quit everything cold turkey– which is highly dangerous and in hindsight probably should of detoxed at a hospital. However, the wait to get a bed was a week too long and I needed the help immediately. Fortunately, I met my sponsor, worked a twelve step program, and the benefits were clear within 6 months.

Currently I’m in the the process of license restoration. In making phone calls to various agencies in preparation; I’m met with contempt, disdain, and hang ups. Mentally this takes me right back to the shame of my mistakes. Shaking the stigma is something I hope to make part of my life’s work and mission. A big reason I’m going for a degree in social work. So that people truly get a fair shot at redemption, restoration, and true health in all areas of life.

When I first got sober I had thought my whole world had come to an end. I had often wondered; what do sober people do with their time? It seemed like it would be real boring. That life would have no substance nor value. Little did I realize this experience would be similar to when Dorothy first walked into Oz. For the first time in life I was seeing beautiful color in reality.  While time did slow down; it gave me purpose beyond instant gratification and a chance to evaluate life. Life before noon-what a whole new experience. It amazing at what can be accomplished when life no longer revolves around partying, self seeking motives at others expense, and coming to terms with the past.  This is exactly why my whole circle of influence has changed. The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, Life Church, and school are now the vehicles that I chase my dreams in. With the necessary tools to enjoy life on its terms. I have been able to sit at a table face my absent father of 26 years, where he didn’t recognize me, and not drink or think to drink about it. I made my peace by letting go of my deep rooted hatred because it was my resentment, not his, that affected me most. I’ve faced my abusive stepfather and hashed out how dysfunctional growing up was. My family has supported and encouraged my development. There has been much healing, growth, and a feeling of true serenity that beats any drunk or high I’ve ever experienced.

Instead of chasing the oasis of hope in the desert of alcoholism; I now reside on a mountaintop of peace. I gladly look to help inspire others to climb on up.  Recovery has caused so many good things to happen.  I’m back enjoying school for social work doing mostly well after a lengthy absence. I’m a trusted leader at the youth group at my church where I also help run the café. I help others find hope and purpose in AA and Celebrate Recovery as a sponsor. In helping others I help myself maintain my sobriety. A chain that grows stronger with every new link. As I start to taste success in various forms I find myself no longer interested in the lifestyle that I formally thrived on. The drinking therapy sessions with bartenders and strangers no longer profound nor enlightening. The wild random late night sex no longer thrilling or appealing. Life has taken on new meaning due to the journey of recovery, faith, and self discovery. Instead of making fruitless promises for tomorrow–I consider my plans daily and turn my will over to God. The cause of recovery now more important as I step out of the shadow of anonymity by sharing these experiences by encouraging the hope in another as it was freely given to me. All I had to do was ask for help and accept my disease


Two Old Friends

I hit a meeting for the first time in a long time.  I brought a guy I used to party with and then ran into a girl I used to party with.

She took a look at me and said how wild it is that I’m now sober going into social work. She remembered me being drunk waving a middle finger in the air saying F the world.

It’s moments like these that I pinch myself as to the reality of growth since I quit drinking. My new normal is so far from where I was.

I’m still learning how to live life honestly. It’s not easy. Other things start popping up to work on but that’s the thing that makes me human and in prayer daily. That’s why I ask God for wisdom to help me see through the fog up ahead. Some days I feel dizzy and confused like I just got off the merry go round in recovery. That’s why I seek consol from friends who are on the same mission as me. Not a lot of peolpe understand that until they are spinning.

Anywho, it was refreshing being back at meeting to get to share some of my story to help others. I learned a lot listening to some of the guys with under 90 days. I learned that I still have to turn my will over and share hope with others.


Dark Days Return

I took a break from writing, recovery, and the circle of people who helped build me up. I moved out to a city thinking I got this. I don’t. 

The moment I lean on my own understanding as opposed to God’s will. I fail. I’m grateful I fail because it puts back in His grace and recovery mode.

While I didn’t drink-my soul was being depleted daily by not helping others. I didnt even realize it till my eyes were filled with tears. I found myself alone again.
Alone with too much to think and in bed with dark thoughts that are not mine.

I reached another breaking point, prayed, and called my mom to come and get me. I don’t drive because of my d.u.i.s. I’m very fortunate to have people in my life to pick me up when I’m down. It’s constant theme in my life.

I’m still learning how to live life sober and deal with stress. That’s why I’m writing this.

I really had convinced myself that I could balance life and tone it down on meetings. I was wrong. it’s true you can’t rest on your laurals.

Recovery is a daily discipline and without it the reckless choices seem so much easier to make. I’m just glad to have caught it before it was too late.


Lost Angels

“Once you’re so depressed that you get into drugs, once you’re on them, it’s very, very hard to see the light or to have any kind of hope. All you think about is the drug, and it’s no good to us preaching at people and saying don’t take them. Because that doesn’t work. It’s like the church telling you not to drink or not to have sex when you’re a kid. There’s nothing on earth gonna do it.”

“But if people take any notice of what we say, we say we’ve been through the drug scene, man, and there’s nothing like being straight. You need hope, and hope is something that you build within yourself and with your friends. It’s a very difficult situation, drugs The worst drugs are as bad as anybody’s told you. It’s just a dumb trip, which I can’t condemn people if they get into it, because one gets into it for one’s personal, social, emotional reasons. It’s something to be avoided if one can help it.” – John Lennon

WE lost another friend. Today we grieve, pray, share condolences, love and take a moment to remember those close we–hug them a little tighter.

A soon to be mother no longer with us. I work(ed) with her. I was in the same 12 step program as her. Her father loves his daughter. I’m not ready to use the past tense yet–I still have a serenity necklace for you from the conference I told you about. It was the last one i had left to give as unity for our rehab crew at work. Its right on my nightstand next to small big book. I wish this was made up.

This hits home again. It is one of the options besides jail you are giving when you start recovery or any substance abuse problem. Losing someone is the ultimate reality reflection into chaos of addiction. Its puts fear back into me at the life or death seriousness of recovery.

I had a girlfriend that liked to dance choke on a pill and almost overdose. We drove to New Orleans after a judge told me not to return to the court till I had the money to pay them. So i took his suggestion. With that I took off with a girl who liked to dance, whiskey,

I’ve been in the front seat with a friend driving while shooting up with the seat belt missing the veins all coming back from Detroit.  I have friends in county that I went on drug runs to the city. I’m very thankful and

I am not proud of this. It’s truly a gift to make it through just one day. I don’t nor will I ever understand why I am alive other then to help carry the message of hope with have in recovery. I’m tired of the deaths and this won’t be the last one.

I know mothers whose son’s restless spirit stays with them daily in thought–even long after they have been buried. The tears at night the only the reminder of their sons face.   I’m fortunate to have peace with my mother. I wasn’t pleasant at times matter of fact she probably saw the dark side of choices and disease most. It’s always like that with those we love most.

Over the summer I was at funeral where the minister forgot the mans name being memorialized. It haunts me to think that this man of faith was so disconnected from this joyful man’s spirit that would light up a room. Families and friends frozen in silent stone disbelief, too broken and teary eyed to care. His stoic 8-year-old son in the first row taking his first big step as a man in this game of life and death.

This pill, heroin, or whatever epidemic is everything the Walking Dead is about. The type treatment and approaches need serious intervention and oversight. Its life or death and its getting out of hand. Whats it gonna take till we can get services and prevention on par with a cancer treatment.

Blame is easy to share and throw around.It’s about the only thing that unifies at times during the processing phase. However, it is difficult to process when the deaths start piling up and now its starting to faces of ones I said see you later to.

So  continue to pray for others, lend an ear, or whatever is needed. A Lot of people are hurting with this latest lost. Alot of people are questioning if maybe there was something that could of been said to change this fate. Those answers we will never know other than in how we treat the next addict or sick person we come across.


For a Minute There…

Some days I wake up with one eye open anticipating the hangover. Its the closet I come to reliving the not so glorious old days. The dread creeps back in and I collect myself with the realization that I don’t miss the chaos of choosing. Nether do I miss the half-hearted apologies that I may make after going through the call log and text messages. I don’t miss the warmth from the arch of back turned away in disgust by the cold woman smelling of cheap perfume and whiskey. The collection of tools on the silver tray on the nightstand include rusty razor blades, hotel cards, cut straws, loosely rolled bills and remnants of the powder that stole my mind reminding me of sorrow and self pity. The previous blurry blackout of the nights festivities lost to time and regret. I got so tired of being the bad guy that I had to get help beyond my own means or I was going to kill myself to escape this life.

I am grateful now to not be living that way over and over again. It’s nice having a conscious. Its even better to not act on my primal nature at the expense of others. My happiness no longer contingent on my former self serving ways. I’m starting to get addicted to doing whats right. This whole ‘feeling’ business that comes with a clear conscious can be ridiculous at times. I find myself tearing up at others stories of the desperation or when a song hits me just right.

Don’t get me wrong I have my days where that voice of deception taunts me with feelings of impending doom and despair but I either pray, try to help another, or simply tell it go to hell. I love recovery because it s best when its practiced daily. I hate recovery for the same reasons. It is not given to me daily, no its contingent on the choices I make to better my soul by helping others find that same little glimmer of hope I chase and found through working the steps and turning my will over to God.

I’m very much a work in progress–I’m finally at peace with that because after all there is no such thing as perfection.


Good Changes

These last few weeks have truly been a test. So much change, so quickly, so grateful; I swear getting sober has me feeling like a teen in the maturation process.  I’m literally right back where I was as a teen, only this time I have the tools and support to do whats best in any given situation.

I’m getting my own apartment the first time in my life. I’ve lived with roommates and girlfriends in the past, however, it was always about the party though. My current state of happiness is no longer contingent on my expectations of others. The peaks and valleys have evened out. It still takes some getting used to. This whole conscious thing is one the better gifts I’ve received from recovery. It makes it easy to stand up for the things i believe in.

I’m grateful for the steps without them I wouldn’t be capable of doing the best I can.  I’m grateful to turn my will over every morning, Especially on the days I think i know everything. I just would of never had thought that simply by quitting drinking and drugs at how far I would get in a year and half. I even get the opportunity to serve as chairman on a panel celebrating recovery for the inter county conference for the fellowship I belong to. I can’t wait to hear and learn from so many. Its truly an honor that has me pinching myself.

My favorite recovery cliche is that “It keeps getting better.” Its so true and keeps me going one day at time with a smile.