Tag Archives: family

Grasping What is Important

“It’s so easy to dismiss the opportunity

to do something good

because you’re hoping

to do something great.” 

-Mark Bezos

There we all were, last night, gathered in the general area that I like best in the house, the kitchen/dining area. It was the day after Christmas here in the northeast of the U.S., New England if you must know, which for many, I believe, is a suburb of Boston. Just a few inches of dry, light fluffy snow, that was a welcome respite compared to the usual wet, heavy rubbish that routinely falls around these parts, fell on this day, a day late for some, to give the local landscape a proper winter feel. After the obligatory removal of crystallized flakes of water, no two of which are the same but who cares when it needs to be shoveled, we, being my girlfriend, her youngest son, our neighbors/his two cousins and yours truly had settled in for the evening.

The stove-top  in the aforementioned kitchen that I commandeered threw off a goodly sum of heat after I had just made the lot of us some Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate (a recipe that I shared in the comment section here ) and topped that tasty beverage with, something that perplexes me even as I type it, fat-free whipped cream. Two of those gathered protested being served any such concoction but being of the fairer sex they could not resist the home-spun magic that is the manifestation of my culinary skills, or something like that. It was a winner and all present rejoiced.

One of the seemingly innumerous new iterations of Monopoly sat on the dining table entertaining the other four while I managed my post in the galley, a post that I relish and take pride in maintaining. After the hot chocolate had been enjoyed by all, nursed and slurped by some through a straw to finish the last cooled ounce (not me, this time), maple-flavored bacon was placed in the oven to faintly sizzle and warm the cockles of my heart with its aroma  whilst I prepared dough for a pizza to be noshed on by the younger and bemoaned by the older kids (me and my girlfriend). Pizza unadorned with chunks of mapley-salty bacon is apparently, by the standards of the ruling class, menu-creating children of this house, in fact, not pizza. Bacon on the pizza they were to and indeed did have.

Flo Rida radio softly played on Pandora. Flo Rida wasn’t made to be played softly and outside of the children present it isn’t made to be played at all in my daily life but this was an occasion for it. The kids raised and lowered their voices in time with the ebb and flow of the game, crying out in displeasure as the almighty Monopoly dollar slipped through their grasp, unfair as the game-play was, and joyfully slammed their taunting fists onto the table-top when their rightful advance towards Monopoly domination looked to be fully realized. It was good, wholesome, educational fun.

Pizza was made, slices were critically viewed and carefully chosen, faces were stuffed, friendships, broken by victory and defeat were rekindled, lyrics were Sinatra-ed (spoken/sung), I washed the dishes and goodhearted sarcasm aside, I felt complete. Two hours prior I had been internalizing my selfish agitation, lamenting that I had not been button mashing on my laptop for four days. How on earth was I going to advance myself as a blogger in my chosen niche of alcoholism/substance-abuse/sobriety/recovery if I didn’t get to typing? Where was I going to find the time to further my interests? When was this going to be about me? Why don’t I get the appropriate amount of consideration for my pursuits? Who was going to make me a blogger-superstar if not me?

Then I went into the kitchen, let go of my ego, participated in the lives of my loved ones and found in sobriety, once again, that that is what truly matters.

 

When do you find yourself making a conscious decision to put aside the pie-in-the-sky and make room for a simple importance? 

Leave a comment and let me know.

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Finding Meaning in Life

“What brings meaning to one’s life

is to bring meaning 

to the lives of others”

-Dr. Bob Brooks

When I got sober there waited for me two families with open arms and hearts; my mother who will in time get her own post here and about who I could post endlessly, plus my girlfriend and her two sons. These two families gave me something that I could not give myself in early sobriety which is meaning, aim, hope. The process started with me.  A decision to shift into successful sobriety, to change my life, to move forward, to put myself in the best position to grow,  was made. The loving embrace of family then helped to give me purpose.

While I do not have children of my own and do not try to assume a parental role with the two aforementioned children I have developed a role of mentor with the younger sibling. This has proven to be one of the most fulfilling experiences, gratifying to no end when learning with each other, eye opening while brainstorming on a vexing issue, humbling when apologizing for acting without thinking, exasperating when trying to type and listen to the latest account of heroism meted out in a game of Clash of Clans, heart warming when sharing space on the bed while working side by side on our respective ever-so-important online issues. Sobriety has allowed me to be present for all of the events, good or bad, easy or trying.

I developed relationships with this family while at the tail end of my substance abuse. The tail end, as it is not uncommon, was some of the worst of my use; I had seen worse times that thankfully they were never witness to. Like all of my relationships while active in addiction I was barely present mentally or emotionally, always feeling like I was doing enough by being physically present; even at that I was occasionally absent. I certainly was never fully available.

Thankfully, my girlfriend and her children saw me through the beginning of my recovery which involved jail time and rehab. They made themselves available to me when I went dry and began the path of recovery which, for me, was and is a day by day process of introspection, reflection and a search for a better understanding of myself. This discovery of self is the foundation for being present in my  life upon which I have built the familial relationships that enrich me. Unbeknownst to them they have given my life meaning.

In turn being an active, positive, helpful, caring and mindful mentor has been good for the younger child as well. I have found meaning in finally being something to someone, in being a friend, a teacher, a role model, an honest and forthright contributor to his life. It is reciprocal without discussion. It is an unspoken exchange of life, love and values that encourage personal growth within all of the family. It has given each of us meaning.

This meaning I could not have found without having taken the first step towards recovery and would never have realized without the loving inclusion into this family.

What are some of the ways that you enrich the lives of those around you?

In what ways do you find your life given meaning by the acts and words of others?

Do you find meaning in helping those who you may not know personally?

How do you feel when you can give? when you receive?

You Are Not Alone

Mindset is everything

Surround yourself with people that believe in you

Weed out those who do not

For years I had filled my head with self-limiting beliefs. It was a struggle to find the courage, the fortitude to finally get sober. There burned within me the flame of freedom that had never died but was lost amid the anger, resentments, expectations and fear. Once I had found that flame, or it found me, I was able to light the way out of the rabbit hole of addiction.

This journey is made possible by a series of decisions that were made by and for me. By evaluating what is important to me, how I had disallowed myself from fully realizing those things and starting the process to correct those missteps I have been able to stoke the flame of freedom into a full-on bonfire (and not the kind in the sandpit as a teenager fueled by confusion, misguided decisions, cheap beer, stolen liquor and pallets). This journey out of the rabbit hole, this fanning of the flames of freedom has also been made possible in large part by surrounding myself with people who believe in me.

This is not an indictment of the many people who I have at one time or another shared oxygen, shared time, shared space with. There are many relationships that were begat of convenience, circumstance and substances but they were passed by the executive branch in my head when they should have been vetoed. However, in order to put myself in the best position to succeed in sobriety, to best improve myself, to grow I had to weed out the relationships built in a life of fear and build relationships in this new life of courage, compassion and conviction.

It is these relationships that I can turn to in darker times when it seems that the fire has grown dim and the rabbit hole is close to foot. It is in these relationships that I can find strength when my own seems to falter. It is these relationships that I can turn to for a hug when all that seems to make anything better is the knowing, understanding, forgiving embrace of a loved one.

Do you have an active support system?

Do you turn to anyone to help you through the darker times?

Do you seek the counsel of mentors? of partners? of family?