Sometimes the Thoughts Still Come

Sometimes the Thoughts Still Come

I caught myself doing that thing again. The one where I rationalize my past. The mind sometimes races when it should rest. That happened last night.

In truth, I should have been exhausted and fallen quickly into deep slumber but my mind had another agenda. It happens when I know I need to wake early, especially if I have a flight to catch as I did this morning. Rest did not come easy, and when it did, my sleep was marked by fitful dreams, walking in a seeat, and a phone call from the airline alerting me to a delay.

As I lay there this morning the thoughts came:

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a drink again some day. 

It was pretty bad but maybe you could control it now. 

You drank reasonably for a long time, things only got bad on the end. 

If you hadn’t lived across the street from that guy who drank every day maybe you wouldn’t have gotten so bad.  He’s doesn’t live there anymore. 

There it is. The blame game. Failure to accept responsibility. The self pity. When these thoughts come, there is usually something else going on. That’s the case today. Travel.

Stress that comes with changing timezones. We aren’t meant to travel around the world the way we do. Our bodies lose their rhythm and that puts us under enormous stress, even if we don’t want to acknowledge it.

Being half a world away from loved ones, friends, others in the program, and our routine takes a toll as well. As human beings we long for meaningful connection, and sometimes business is just business. Yes, I have strong connections with my colleagues and customers, but these are not the same. There is money involved, and that changes everything.

Thoughts like those above still come up now and then – and I suspect they will for the rest of my life. But I’ve got my life and that’s what matters. I have chosen to have a life. A rich, sober life full of family, friends, and experiences. A life worth living, full of love.

What’s important is that I now recognize them for the falsehoods that they are in the moment, and can usually move through them quickly with relative ease. For that, I am grateful.

Three Life Changing Words

Three Life Changing Words

“fear of people…will leave us”

Once I got sober I quickly found that I could drop many the things that I feared. I was no longer trying to hide the facts of my alcoholism. I was making positive changes that had big and immediate impacts on my daily life. I slept better, which meant I felt better. I quickly found that everyday pains and gut issues were subsiding. The physical wellness that arose out of my sobriety is a wonderful gift. And yet, there have been other, more important gifts – loss of shame, less irritation with life, less anger. Perhaps the gift I’m most grateful for is that the fear of people left me.

I recall hosting meetings for my team in my hometown about three weeks after I surrendered. I was nervous for sure. I couldn’t take the guys out to the best bars in Annapolis. I couldn’t drink with my team. I knew that would be difficult, and it was. I remember the team dinner seemed to drag on and on, well after I was ready to call it a night. But I also remember talking with the valet parking attendant at the hotel for about twenty minutes before dinner. I had no room at the hotel because I was going home to my house. I had no business grabbing a drink at the hotel bar and it was nice outside so I’d gone out to catch some fresh air while the team got ready to go to dinner.

I don’t recall the specifics of the conversation but I do remember that I recognized that I was actually connecting with this young man. Continue reading “Three Life Changing Words”

Find Your “Why”

Find Your “Why”

He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how. — F. Nietzsche

Twenty-eight years ago, I was attending high school at a small Catholic school in a small town in Pennsylvania and we had daily religion class. Religion class was something I’d always dreaded from the time I started attending Catholic school in the fourth grade up until 1988, when religion class suddenly wasn’t about “religion.”

In the final two years of high school, the religion class curricula focused on real issues rather than ancient biblical text and stories of some rabble-rouser preacher who claimed to be the son of God. In 11th grade the main topic was that of finding meaning in life as related by two Holocaust survivors. In 12th grade, the topics were to social justice and a study of marriage and vocations.

The text for our 11th grade religion class consisted of Night by Elle Wiesel and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Both books detail the experiences of young Jewish men who were taken captive by the Nazi’s and who survived the concentration camps. Night was short and we read it first. To be honest, I don’t recall much of the book because it was over-shadowed by our study of Frankl’s book, which we studied from approximately October to May of the year. Continue reading “Find Your “Why””

Practicing the Pause

Practicing the Pause

A cool breeze drifted in through the window, mingling with the meaty goodness coming from the short ribs roasting slowly in the cast iron skillet in the oven. The room was darker than it had been a month ago at the same time on a Sunday, the sun’s late afternoon orange glow casting longer shadows on the wood floor. Save the faint sound of a lawnmower in the distance and the occasional plane passing overhead, the house was silent, and I was reading.

My wife had taken my son to a birthday party and I was blessed with nearly three hours of uninterrupted quiet. I didn’t even put music on — an out of character move on my part, but welcome. Despite having a freshly brewed pour over coffee, I drifted off to sleep for a short 15 minute luxurious nap on the couch. This was exactly how I’d hoped that my Sunday would be; calm, peaceful, serene. No pressures, no agendas, no plans other than a slow pot of soup to make. Continue reading “Practicing the Pause”

Bookshare: Detroit Muscle, by Jeff Vande Zande

Bookshare:  Detroit Muscle, by Jeff Vande Zande

51j0maeapglRecently, Jeff Vande Zane, contacted me to see if I might be interested in reading his novel Detroit Muscle and offered to send me a PDF version. Since, I’d heard good things about this novel from several friends on Twitter, I was immediately game. In fact, the book was already on my “to read” shelf on Since I can’t stand to read PDFs even on an e-reader, I bought a copy from Amazon for my kindle.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was a bit concerned that I might not identify with the protagonist in the story, Robby Cooper, because his story was so different from my own. However, I quickly knew that I would identify with Robby because after all addiction is addiction regardless of the user’s drug of choice. Yes, my drug of choice was Alcohol, and Robby’s was Oxy, but that became immaterial once I got into the story.

The book catalogues Robby’s first few weeks after he gets back to Detroit from a rehab facility. Vande Zande clearly knows Detroit well and includes details about the city and it’s landmarks that pull the reader into the scenes. A story about Detroit would not be complete if it didn’t feature a car and this one does, a 1968 Pontiac Firebird that Robby’s father had restored with his grandfather. Continue reading “Bookshare: Detroit Muscle, by Jeff Vande Zande”

Living in the Here and Now — Making New Cherished Memories

Living in the Here and Now — Making New Cherished Memories

p1010559-1Yesterday, I was blessed to attend my Aunt Debbie’s wedding at Quiet Water’s Park in Annapolis, MD. It was a beautiful ceremony followed by a very nice reception. We had music, and dancing. I was surrounded by my family as well as my cousin’s family and I caught myself smiling several times.

I can’t say that I didn’t think about drinking at all — I did, how could one not when there was wine and beer available and others were imbibing — but I didn’t want any alcohol. I was at ease with myself and with the event. I was in the present moment, enjoying just that moment for all that it was worth.

That’s a wonderful way to live. Continue reading “Living in the Here and Now — Making New Cherished Memories”

Reflecting on Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s Helplessly Hoping

Reflecting on Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s Helplessly Hoping

Last night, I drifted off to sleep thinking of the song Helplessly Hoping by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The ideas of helplessness, hopelessness, and hope kept swirling around in my head after I received a kind comment from a woman who’s living through the hell of watching her husband struggle with opioid addiction. I thought about how helpless my wife must have felt when I was drinking. There was nothing she could do to help me; she was just as trapped as I was in the cycle, maybe even more than I. Though it may not have seemed viable a the time, she had the choice to remain with me and to hope that I’d someday get it together. She could have left me. Lord knows many people do leave their loved ones when addiction holds them in its grasp.

I thought about how hopeless I felt when I was in the end of my drinking days. Indeed, it was a deep feeling of despair and hopelessness that permeated my existence. Day after day, despite knowing that nothing good would come of it, I found myself drinking. And day after day, I hated what was happening. I couldn’t see a way out. The idea of not drinking felt like abandoning a friend. Albeit a friend who continuously beat the crap out of me, who toyed with my emotions and who took every opportunity to convince me that I needed him.

Mixed in with the feelings of hopelessness, was a healthy dose of helplessness. Continue reading “Reflecting on Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s Helplessly Hoping”