An Open Letter to the Guy Behind Me at School Drop-off this Morning

An Open Letter to the Guy Behind Me at School Drop-off this Morning

I get it. You had somewhere to be this morning and it wasn’t at your kid’s school to drop them off. Perhaps your wife usually does it. I don’t know your circumstances.

And you don’t know mine.

So when I stopped at the wrong spot to drop my kid off and then moved forward a mere 20 more feet, you really could have just played it cool, but you didn’t, you had to let me know that I’d somehow fucked up. And I get that too.

Really, I do, because there are a million little things that get under my skin on a daily basis. Like when someone doesn’t use their blinker when making a turn. Like when the barista at Starbucks doesn’t leave enough room in my coffee, or leaves too fucking much. Or when I thought I had my wallet and I don’t when I pull up to the gas pump. Yes, I get it, that my stopping short of the mark to drop off my son really pissed you off.

And you know what, I’ve walked in your shoes. I’ve been the angry asshole who made hand gestures at other people who I didn’t know because they fucked up in a minor way on the road. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Guy Behind Me at School Drop-off this Morning”

Ericka’s Story Part 1: “I Remember the Morning”

Ericka’s Story Part 1:  “I Remember the Morning”

Damien’s Note:  Ericka started following this blog on it’s Facebook page a while ago and recently reached out with a series of articles written from her personal experience.  Here is the first in the series.  I can certainly relate to parts of her story and I suspect some of my readers will as well.  The post was written on August 5, 2015 and this is the first time Ericka has used her full name in conjunction with her struggles with alcohol and she said, “It feels raw, but amazing!”

It was another lonely night in an otherwise full house. My husband and the step kids were downstairs watching a movie. The Sunday night family dinner was over, the leftovers and dishes were put away and my wine cup was washed and put away. I had a few drinks while preparing and cleaning up after dinner hoping no one noticed my slurred words or loud voice at the dinner table. All I could do was think about being upstairs, alone, and open that extra bottle I had hidden in my dresser drawer. This had become my life, my routine, my only existence at that time.

So there I sat, once again, alone in my bedroom. At this time, the husband and I were already sleeping in separate bedrooms for over a year so it was easy to be alone and even easier to hide and drink my wine. Although his bedroom was a mere two feet away, it felt like miles.

Morning came along with the hangover, the shakes, and the regret. Continue reading “Ericka’s Story Part 1: “I Remember the Morning””

Matt & Caz’s Story

Matt & Caz’s Story

Damien’s Note: Matt and I have followed each other on Twitter for some time and have had enjoyed good interactions. Last week, he reached out via Direct Message requesting my email, saying that he had something to share with me. When I opened the email, in the middle of my work day, I was dumbstruck. I had to get up and leave my home office for a bit to absorb the pain.

Matt’s story hit home because I know what it’s like to loose someone important to death, but I can’t imagine loosing my wife. I hoped that Matt might want me to share this story on my blog. Matt’s story is one of resilience. He’s proof that our sobriety can be stronger than our emotions, life’s twists and turns, and even death.

C0IQQWbXgAAO-U8I married an amazing woman in 2004. We had been together as boyfriend & girlfriend for 7 years to the day when we tied the knot. Not only was I marrying the love of my life, this person was my best friend/lover & soul mate.

I came out as bisexual to her early in the relationship, she understood and excepted me. If I am in a relationship with a person that’s it I am just in a relationship with that one person.

By coming out to her it was as if I had come out to the entire world. I was free to be myself, no secrets and no shame. When I saw her eye up some attractive random man could smile and tell her she had good taste, a relationship like this comes but once a life. Continue reading “Matt & Caz’s Story”

Some Feelings Need to be Felt

Some Feelings Need to be Felt

There is a lot of talk in the rooms about feelings, and specifically about feelings that we didn’t want to feel. I know that I personally drank to cover up feelings — of inadequacy, of fear, of confusion. We talk a lot about how alcohol numbed our feelings, or put them aside, but we don’t often talk about the feeling that resulted from our drinking.

I know for me, especially as I neared the end, I felt feelings of hopelessness, anger with myself and others, and despair as a result of my drinking. I felt like I was trapped — and I was trapped in a cycle of daily drinking. I felt that there was no way out and I hated what was happening. I distinctly remember looking at myself in the mirror, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the middle of a bender, and thinking — I hate you. Continue reading “Some Feelings Need to be Felt”

It’s Taken Me a Long Time to Get Here, Again

It’s Taken Me a Long Time to Get Here, Again

For months, I have woken up filled with anger and angst about the politics of the United States. I’ve felt that it was my responsibility to be educated, to be involved, to raise my voice against injustice, to resist. But in the 24 hour news cycle this has become taxing — Taxing on my mental health, my family, and my friendships.

I’ve been keenly aware that my anger and angst, my resentments, have been eating me alive. I’ve also been keenly aware that these things are beyond my control. Intellectually, I know what to do, and yet, I have resisted. And I’ve felt trapped. Trapped by the fact that this is an “outside issue.” I’ve felt a strong need to talk about it in a safe place, a meeting perhaps, but have known that I cannot bring up politics in a meeting for obvious reasons.

I’ve been caustic in my criticism of this new reality on my social media outlets. Where I’ve needed to bring healing words, I’ve only brought sandpaper to rub the wounds of my friends. Continue reading “It’s Taken Me a Long Time to Get Here, Again”

Guest Post: Justin’s Story

Guest Post: Justin’s Story

A note from Damien: From time to time, I accept guest posts from others.  Justin reached out to me late last week asking if I would accept a blog post.  I think it’s important to share stories from other people in recovery as well as my own.  In particular, I was interested in sharing this story because I have a friend who is early in her recovery from pain medication abuse and while I can speak volumes about my recovery from alcohol, I felt somewhat inadequate in offering good advice for her situation.  I must also clarify that I do not represent nor endorse Muse Los Angeles Drug Rehab — as a friend said to me early in my recovery, “there are many paths up the mountain.”

Our own personal journeys in recovery are irreplaceable to others but I personally found it rather ordinary to myself and not with extraneous drama…or so it seems.

The first time I actually endeavored recovery, it was basically a detox state of affairs, and I felt that would undoubtedly take care of all of my substance abuse installments. How funny is that? I had a reasonably legitimate run with opiates, predominantly Vicodin, which I tuned to by and large due to its easy accessibility. I was taking about 8 extra-strength tablets per day; a fairly insubstantial inclination in comparison to some other more stout acquaintances I later came across in the ensuing years. A girl friend put me up for a few days and I arrived at her pad with a small prescription of Clonidine, which I had read (in John Phillips autobiog, Papa John) helped with opiate withdrawal symptoms, along with a few Valium and a 6-pack of beer (hey, I had a problem with Vicodin, not a substance abuse concern …) . The Clonodine worked quite well, and put me asleep for large swatches of the day. After three days, I pronounced myself ‘cured’, and made it home. I felt great, like I really accomplished something. I did precisely nothing, except temporarily get off Vicodin, which lasted a few months. 

Several years later, my problems were a bit more advanced, and I had a full-blown heroin habit, and why aren’t you surprised here? An old friend helped me get into an actual program via a musicians aid organization. It was full detox, as well as several months of sober living. I believe I was on the way to some form of sobriety, and ended up with about six months clean from all substances. 12-step meetings, being of service and continued therapy and meds certainly helped, along with a sense of community. But eventually, I had to move out, and did so with a fellow musician, who it turns out was very, very helpful. He taught me that I really wasn’t hitting my veins correctly when injecting smack. I learned how to register…and eventually also gave up the registration to my car, which was sold for $300 to (properly) fit in my arm.

I continued on this rough patch for several years, eventually found myself being busted with my dealer and spent a few months at the pleasure of Los Angeles Country, in a 4th floor walk-up. Upon release, I ended up at a faith-based drug program in LA. It wasn’t really out of choice, I just had nowhere to go. I learned, though, that I was actually ready for treatment.

The main aspect of this treatment that worked was the basic fact that it was nearly open-ended, and I initially stayed in  treatment for a full year, and then began working at the facility. It was time that I needed, and this was provided for me here, and I feel like I made the best of things. 

Article courtesy of Muse Los Angeles Drug Rehab

Another Gift of My Sobriety

Another Gift of My Sobriety

Reconnecting with my wife has been one of the most precious gifts of my sobriety. In the depths of my drinking, there were times when I felt that I’d lost her emotionally — times when I felt like we didn’t connect at all — and I didn’t know why. The reason is quite clear in retrospect, but when you’re stuck in your shit, you don’t see it.

In the early months of my sobriety, when I was waking up to feeling things again, I was often overwhelmed and my defense mechanism was to retreat into myself. There were times when I felt that I was completely blank. Times when I didn’t know what to say or do. And during those times, I was fearful that things wouldn’t get better, even though people told me that they would.

Gradually, as I became familiar with feeling my own emotions again — my actual emotions, rather than emotions heightened or dulled by intoxication — I started to find that I wasn’t completely broken. I began to mend myself and my relationships.

When I was in the depths of my drinking, my wife would try to get me to come out of my shell. She would propose date nights, dinner and a movie. And I resisted. I didn’t think that I liked movies and dinner meant not drinking the way I wanted to. Those nights were pained. We would go to dinner, I’d pregame with a secret glass of bourbon before going out, and then order a drink at dinner. It would disappear before the server was back for our order.

We would go through the motions of having a date, but I wasn’t there. No conversation took place. Imagine two people sitting in near silence at a nice restaurant eating dinner, glumly. That was us. And it sucked, for both of us.

After I’d had a bit of sober time, learned a few things about myself, and started to actually relate to other people again, the idea of a date with my wife was appealing. Suddenly, it was actually something that I looked forward to, and that I enjoyed.

This past weekend, we took an overnight trip to Philadelphia on Saturday and had a great time. It was largely unplanned. It wasn’t until we were going to bed Friday night that we decided that we’d be going to Philly on Saturday.

Saturday morning we went to our son’s basketball game before we got ourselves together to head out. While my wife was busy after the game, I looked over a few hotels she’d suggested. One was totally booked, and the other was a bit more expensive that we really wanted, but I found another that looked like it would be nice and fit our budget. When she got home, I booked it on my app.

We packed up and took Mr. Grey to his cousin’s house and then got on the road. We got to Philly around 3 PM and had dinner reservations for 8:45 — late, but we hadn’t counted on the fact that this was the weekend before Valentine’s Day and just like us, others were celebrating too. Since we had a little time, we hit Reading Terminal Market and had a snack at Tommy DiNic’s.

I know you’re thinking that Philly is known for Cheesesteaks, and it is, but in my not so humble opinion the much better sandwich in Philadelphia is the Italian Roast Pork sandwich. Slow roasted pork, sharp provolone, and broccoli rabe. It may not sound as good as shaved rib eye, caramelized onions, and cheese, but trust me — its that damn good.

After that snack, we walked up Chestnut Street and ducked in and out of a few shops before heading back to get ready for dinner at the Butcher Bar. Dinner was a bit of a bust. The food was fabulous, but the atmosphere was just not our scene. Lesson learned, don’t ask your thirty-something coworker for restaurant recommendations when you are in your mid to late forties.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the Green Egg’s Cafe, where I had short rib eggs Benedict — yes, poached eggs atop slow roasted short ribs, with potato pancakes instead of english muffins. It was divine.

At several points during the weekend, I was keenly aware that we were having a lot of fun, just being together. We’d woken up and made a loose plan, gone to a different city and enjoyed the city as best we could during the short time we had there. It occurred to me several times that this is how things are supposed to be. I was keenly aware that we were having fun and it was a lot like when we were first dating. I know deep down in my soul that this is a gift of my sobriety. And for that gift I’m grateful.