Old Habits Die Hard — Feelings, Self Pity, and Regrets

From a very early age, I harbored a deep sense that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t fit in somehow, that I was less than. Growing up in the country, my early feelings of unworthiness stemmed from the fact that my family didn’t have a farm, that I didn’t have my own bb gun, that I didn’t have a pocket knife and of all things, that I didn’t have a down vest. See, those were the things that the “cool” kids seemed to have.

As a kid, I was oblivious to the good things that I had. It didn’t matter that my father was a world renown instructor at the National Fire Academy. Never mind the fact I was sent to private school because my parents desperately wanted to make sure that I got an education in a town where education wasn’t valued as highly as a set of antlers mounted on the wall of your living room.

When I reached the age that little boys start to think that it might be nice to be around little girls, I felt like all the girls wanted nothing to do with me — and for the most part I think that was true. I asked the same girls to “go with me” over and over and got the same response every time, “no.” Not even a “thank you.” It didn’t help that my options were limited to about 15 girls in my class, but I didn’t understand that.

Years later, I still struggled with this. On the night that I met my wife, I was so convinced that she wouldn’t want to see me again that I struggled to ask for her phone number — after talking to her for nearly two and half hours at a bar in DC. Finally, in desperation she pulled out her card and said, “Call me” before leaving for the night. See, my feelings of unworthiness were so strong, perhaps only outweighed by my fear of rejection, that I’d never asked for a girl’s phone number in a bar. I was 31 years old and couldn’t work up the nerve to ask for her number.

At times, those feelings are still strong in my recovery. Continue reading

The Miracle of Runway

When I got sober in September of 2015, I found myself in a unique time when my schedule was incredibly light. For about 6 weeks, I didn’t really have any customer appointments. My business partner was on vacation for a week or two at the time. The quarterly team meeting was in my town so I didn’t have to travel. In sort, I was blessed with a very light load. It was a time unlike nearly any other in the six years I’ve been in the position that I hold. And I was absolutely blessed.

I was reminded of this twice this week. The other night at a meeting someone spoke of his fatigue and shared that he was new in sobriety. I was instantly transported back to those first few months when I could not get enough sleep. I would sleep for 10 hours at night and an hour and a half or two during the middle of the day. I now know that my body was actively repairing the damage caused by years of mistreatment and neglect, but at the time I was horrified. I distinctly remember thinking, “how the hell would I be functioning if I had an office job?” And I truly don’t know how I’d have survived it.

Then yesterday, I was listening to an episode of the Good Life Project with Gabby Bernstein and she was discussing how she uncovered trauma that was buried deep in her subconscious at a time in her life when she had a great deal of runway. She told the story that she had a trip to Australia planned which she canceled and during the week when she should have been abroad was when she uncovered this repressed trauma. Bernstein said, “I had a presence greater than me guiding me through that process.” In the following weeks her schedule was cleared, she didn’t have to be anywhere and she was able to focus on herself — able to focus on self-care. She had runway And I thought, yes, that’s what happened to me.

I am confident I would not have made it through the first few weeks if I’d been consumed by my work. If I’d been traveling like I was earlier this fall, I would not have made it.

And the thing is, it was a fluke. There is no explanation for it. I was busy and traveling like a mad man in the weeks leading up to my sobriety date. And seemingly only after I’d gotten to a certain point, a certain steadiness, did things start to get busy again. As I got stronger the pace steadily increased over the year.

It can be hard to see when the universe has you in the palm of its hand, especially when you are in the middle of your shit. I certainly didn’t see it. I just thought it was luck. But I’m coming to believe now that everything was exactly as it should have been because that’s exactly what I needed at the time.

I’m not a man of great faith by most measures, but I’m working on it. Recognizing a miracle isn’t always easy. But that’s what I had last fall, a miracle. I had runway. I had the time and the space to take care of myself, and get through some of the most challenging days of my life. I am grateful for that, because without it, I might not have made it to where I am today.

Denial, Empathy, & Acceptance: A Brief Journey on a Sunday Afternoon

I’ve got another confession to make
I’m your fool
Everyone’s got their chains to break
— Foo Fighters

I’ve got a confession to make. I have a real hard time with accepting things that are out of my control. Especially when it comes to my family. Especially, when it comes to my son.

My son can be challenging. He has a strong will and is very smart. He knows when something is bullshit and he usually calls it out. He’s also easily distracted. Homework, especially project work, is difficult for us. And it drives me batshit crazy to watch him take hours to do something that I think shouldn’t be a big deal.

My wife has told me for years that perhaps, just maybe, there’s some ADD/ADHD going on. And I’ve fought it. Fought it tooth and nail. Continue reading