Our writer has lost his voice

I feel that I’ve lost my voice in my writing. Since I started this blog, my posts have been largely confessional in nature. Early on, a lot of my posts were about my struggles with various aspects of the 12 Step world as I understood it at the time. Some, but not all, of those misgivings arose from my own misunderstandings of things.

Between years four and five I became much more comfortable with the program, largely as a result of allowing myself abandon the god of my childhood and embrace my own understanding of the mysteries of the universe. And as a result, my writing slowed. But that’s not the only reason.

Over the past two years there have been a series of events in my life that have been incredibly difficult. These events have involved not just me, but my family. They are our story, not exclusively mine, and because they involve others I have not felt that it was appropriate to write openly about them.

This has been difficult for me, because writing about my own struggles has been therapeutic, and I don’t enjoy the cathartic release that came from sharing my story when I keep it inside me. I have shared some of these details with trusted confidants and in meetings, but by and large they have not been on public display.

I have struggled with what to post here. On several occasions I have written a post and sat on it only to decide ultimately that it was not mine to share without the consent of others involved. I know this the right thing to do, but it’s not easy to restrain from publishing.

And so, I find myself at a crossroads. I am not sure that the stories I have to tell are mine alone to tell and I am not sure how to sanitize them in such a way that I can share them. I would like to continue this blog, but I struggle to come up with content that I feel is safe to share at the moment.

I suppose this is growth — this awareness of others. In the past, I might have simply published without regard for the others involved in the stories. I am sure there is a balance somewhere, but, for the life of me, I haven’t been able to find it recently.

It’s Been a Struggle

The past few months have been a struggle for my son as well as for my wife and me. We have been working to address some challenges he faces with ADHD through medication for about six months. We have also been working with a therapist and attempting to work with his school during this time as well. Things have gone well with the therapy but the other fronts have been marginal at best.

I know from my own experience with antidepressants that finding the right medication and the right dose is a series of trials and errors. And we’ve had some real errors in this department with our son. We’ve watched as he’s tried various families of medications and witnessed rage, increased migraines, frustration, and stomach aches for six months. The boy has been through the ringer. There have been periods of relative success but we have not settled on a perfect solution.

We’ve struggled to find a great doctor. The first psychiatrist we worked with didn’t seem to have any ideas and frankly had the personality of snail snot. We bailed on her in January after we realized that she was about as confused as we were. We went to his pediatrician since we had no where else to turn and she attempted to help but When things didn’t improve she suggested another psychiatrist.

About a week ago we met with a new psychiatrist who seems to have better ideas and we believe we are on a path. I’ve dutifully kept the school up to date in all the changes, but to be honest, and without going into details, the response from the school has been less than stellar. We have a meeting with the principal today to discuss the situation and see if we can find a path forward.

My escape instinct has been strong too. I’ve had more than a few thoughts of escape. Thoughts of moving. Thoughts of taking a solo trip. Thoughts of obliterating my feelings. Thoughts turning in to the liquor store on the way home. Thoughts of that magical elixir and the sweet relief that it brings.

But I know that it won’t help. I know that escape is temporary and that my family needs me. And so, I keep doing the next right thing.

I keep going to meetings. I keep meditating. I keep talking to people who I trust. I keep tweeting with my #recoveryposse on Twitter. And I keep playing the tape forward and witnessing myself alone and depressed with a bottle. It’s not a pretty site and the pain is palpable when I take the initial thought to its final conclusion.

But I haven’t written here. That’s one thing that I have not been doing. It’s hard to write at this point. Partly because the pain is not mine alone. By not writing though, I have failed myself in a way. Writing has always been a way to work things out, to get to a better place.

And so, I’m writing. And I’m scared to publish. But I know that sharing my story (even if it’s not mine alone) is important. And I know that writing is how I share my story. But more importantly, writing is a part of my program for success. And if I’m not working my program, I’m not going to succeed in the long run.

What Does It Mean To Write a Recovery Blog?

I went to bed with feelings of fear and guilt. As the rhetoric toward North Korea from the White House fired up to unprecedented levels my lizard brain went kicked into high gear last night.

I’ve been reading Ken Follett’s “Century Trilogy” and I’m on the last book Edge of Eternity which is about the Cold War period of the twentieth century. I’ve just gotten past the Cuban Missile Crisis in the book and can’t help but compare that crisis to our current crisis with North Korea. I’m not alone.

I’m not so old that I remember air raid drills, but I was old enough to watch and understand as Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev to bring about treaties leading to a much safer world in terms of the threat of nuclear war. While many credit Regan with bringing down the Soviet Union, I am quick to remember that the fall of Communism lead to a economic vacuum in Russia resulting in several wars and ultimately the installment of an insane former KBG agent as dictator.

My father worked for FEMA and we lived near enough to Site R that I remember seeing the tunnel entrances from the road in my youth. Of course, no one was supposed to know about this Underground Pentagon, but everyone in the area did in the same way that folks who live near the NSA always knew that “No Such Agency” was right off the Baltimore Washington Parkway.

All that’s to say, that I grew up aware of the fact that Nuclear War with the Soviet Union was a grim possibility. So, as the rhetoric turns more and more bellicose toward North Korea, and as our relations with the Russian Federation grow more strained, I’m worried about the safety and security of the world.

And last night, as I sat alone in my house, a scant 35 miles from Washington DC, while my wife was at dinner with friends and my son is away at sleep over camp, my mind raced with the thoughts of nuclear war. And in a moment of weakness I tweeted.


And I felt like I’d let my twitter followers down.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what it means to write a blog about recovery and to participate in the online recovery community. I know that my blog provides many people with inspiration because they tell me so. I know that my tweets and posts have inspired others to seek sobriety. In short, I know that I’m making a difference.

And with that knowledge comes a certain weight. A certain feeling of responsibility. Part of it is the nature of social media. Its been documented several times that we present a curated life to the world in social media.

I try not to do that.

I have written about struggles here and I’ve shared my struggles on Twitter many times. In many ways the online recovery community has been more important in my recovery than my local 12 step fellowship.

But still I worried that I’d slipped up and somehow indicated that it was acceptable to consider a drink if we’re about to die. Maybe it is and and maybe it isn’t. I mean, shit, if I’m gonna get burnt to a crisp by a nuclear bomb, I’m not sure that it matters if I have one last glass of bourbon and a final cigarette. Then again, it would likely not be very enjoyable and I’d much rather spend the last few minutes of my life holding onto the people that I love.

I don’t know what my responsibility is to the recovery community when it comes to this blog. Am I only supposed to write about my triumphs? Am I only supposed to lift people up? Do I have a duty to constantly support those who need support?

I don’t know what the answers to these questions are.

What I do know is that I’m just another guy who has a problem with booze. I’m not special. I just share my story with the world and sometimes that story is inspirational and sometimes it isn’t.

I also know that despite lying awake well past my bedtime, the sun also rose this morning. The earth continues to spin on its axis. I got up, made coffee, read the news, tweeted, kissed my wife good-bye, and started my day. This afternoon, I’m going to have lunch with my brother.

Life goes on even when our leaders are acting like children. We’re probably not about to have a nuclear holocaust.


We Must Not Fear the Angry Anthems

I do not live in fear for
my life, my son, my wife,
my mother, or brother.

I do not feel the violent
assault, the insult of bellicose
abuse because I am white.

I have not walked intolerable
miles in the shoes of our
black, gay, Latin, lesbian, Muslim,
and transgendered brothers and sisters.

But they have.

My heart knows I can
not bear to wake up
knowing I did not
get up, stand up, and fight
fearful oppression
knocking at the door.

I will not live in fear
of a future filled with
hatred, anger, and
intolerance, where
angry fearful men rest
their boots on the backs
of the broken.

Fear must not prevent
action, offering protection
or caring words as voices
vanish in the thunder —
loud, angry, and fearful.

We must not fear the angry
anthems, or even fearful fists,
of those who distrust diverse
opinion, people, and culture.

Fear cannot prevent us from
standing with the struggling,
standing for equality and freedom.

My ancestors wore those shoes
and for that, I am American;
I do not fear standing against
hate or evil walking among us.