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

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 goodreads.com. 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

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

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

Hell Yeah, I’m Celebrating — Settle Down, Ego

For all the talk in the rooms about smashing the ego, recovery really is all about the self.  I mean, really, it’s all about becoming the best self that you can be.  Recovery encompasses so much more than just not using intoxicants, it’s about learning to love yourself and to accept yourself as you are and helping others to do the same.

With that in mind, I think it’s important to celebrate the good things that happen in our lives in recovery.  I’ve had two really awesome things happen this week that I want to share.  I know I’m tooting my own horn, but I’m trying to do so mindfully.  I don’t mean to brag, just to share some good things that have happened this week.

Sunday night, a post that I have been meaning to write for a long time was published over at Transformation is Real.  I shared part of my experience, certainly some of my strength, and hopefully some hope.  Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that my addiction to alcohol manifest itself after I became a father.  I’ve come to accept that a big part of that has to do with what happened early in my life and how I view the man who became my father.

Here are some excepts of part of the post, I hope they’ll wet your whistle enough to give TIR a view.  There are many wonderful stories written by an amazing group of writers on Dan’s site.

In 2007, my son was born and I thought that my dreams were about to be fulfilled. He was the spitting image of me when I was a baby. He was perfection as far as I was concerned. He was an amazing little package of joy and I was ecstatic to have him in my life. I was on top of the world

All the pressure of being a father, and all the fears that came with it, triggered something in me that I’d never expected. Within eight months of my son’s birth, I’d begun to go off the rails. I began to drink every day.

It was unplanned but especially touching for me that the post went live on 9/11.  Don was a firefighter and he lost many good friends from FDNY on that day.  The attacks hit him very hard and I’m glad that I was able to honor my father on the anniversary of that tragic day.

The response to this post was overwhelming from my friends both in and out of the rooms.  I had the good fortune of seeing my sponsor last night and being able to talk about the post for while with him.

If that wasn’t enough, this very site was listed by my cyber friend Regina Walker as one of her to 12 recovery blogs for the site The Fix.  Now, I knew that she was writing the article, but I didn’t now when it would be published.  It is truly an honor and humbling to be included among the folks listed on her site.  Many of these folks have been in recovery and writing about their experience a lot longer than I have.  All of them are inspirations to me.

There is something really awesome about this online recovery community that I’ve found myself in over the past year.  Even though many of us have never met in real life, there is a deep sense of camaraderie  among the #recoveryposse.  We support each other.  We laugh and we cry (yes, real physical tears at times) for each with each other.  Neither of these two things would have happened if I’d not put my honest truth out there and joined in the discussion on Twitter back in October of 2015.

I’m blessed to receive the support and help that I do from these fine people.

 

A New Freedom and a New Happiness

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness

April may be the cruelest month, but August is a close second — at least in my book.  Here in Maryland, August is hot, humid, and oppressive.  This year, it was even more so with record temperatures and long periods of no rain.  But that’s not why August was so hard for me this year.

It was the constant flood of memories of how things were last year. Continue reading