Tag Archives: Health

Footprints in the Sand

“Anyone who draws you a map 

has done you no favors

because maps aren’t worth anything

if you are an artist

All you need is a compass”

-Seth Godin

Not unlike a few other people I have known, I am not particularly taken with being told how I should go about living my life. I am not referring to receiving instruction on how to perform a task unfamiliar at my place of work, being told to stop at red lights and for pedestrians in the crosswalk or to not eat the yellow snow. Sometimes I even need to be reminded of the obvious. However, in terms of exactly what metaphorical path I should travel and how it should be traveled, well I’d rather receive a little guidance and have the rest left up to me.

I understand the school of thought that it was my thinking that got me into substance abuse and all the devastation that it left in its wake as I steamed that ship full throttle through my life and the lives of others and it is foolhardy egoism to think that my thinking can get me out of it. Writing only about myself, I have enjoyed great success in being the one to shift into successful sobriety by grabbing the proverbial bull by the horns and making the necessary changes to, put simply, get sober.

Be that as it may, I cannot deny the efficacy of willingly participating in counseling with an empty teacup. It is through this medium that I learned to accept attendance at AA meetings and to implement some of the information I had picked up while attending with open ears. As I have touched upon in previous posts I do not subscribe fully to all of the core tenets of AA but  rarely do I subscribe fully to many teachings; rather there is a great deal I can incorporate into my life after I have viewed all the angles critically and can determine what will work for me.

There has been a revelation of a personal truth for me on this road of recovery. I have learned that it is okay to ask for help and moreover to not be ashamed to accept it. The simple act of human interaction can greatly reduce the complication of most any given issue when employed and judiciously at that. This does not mean, however, that I desire a rigid or dogmatic approach to learning, to living, to fully understanding myself, my fears, my self-limiting beliefs or my growth from and out of them.

Let me fall.

Let me pick myself up.

When I look back to see only one set of prints in the sand during the most trying times of my life, rest assured they were my prints. If another set were to join mine it would be after I found the strength to walk on my own.

Thank you then for allowing me to use my compass.

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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?

Grateful For Sobriety

I found my reason to be sober every morning when I came to. For what now seems like an eternity but in actuality lasted a mere twelve-plus years at its apex (and carried on for years before), I did not sleep. Almost every night I passed out in a blackout of complete drunkeness.

Mind you, the blackout was intentional. What was thought of as a careful crafting of inebriation which was to end in an intended shutting down of my brain was enacted as often as possible. If I didn’t drink to pass out then I would be up all night in a terrible sleepless drunk, tossing and turning unless I was putting something else into my system to power off. Blackouts became a means of survival; something necessary to reset for another day of self-destruction.

The problem was, when I came to I didn’t want to drink. I didn’t want to feel the pain I was feeling, the venomous, violent disconnect from normal, from reality. I didn’t want to feel the fear of what I couldn’t remember, the guilt of what I thought I could, the anger, resentment, the distance and loneliness. I wanted to feel whole.

It wouldn’t take long. A few hours would go by, slowly, painfully, filled with nearly if not absolutely zero production. Fuzzy and hazy, my uselessness took on the shape of a listless ship. That ship, lacking direction and propulsion, began to take on water; the cold dark liquid of self-doubt, self-loathing, self-pity. Certainly and without failure, with no means or motivation to bail the ship, to save myself, I would sink further and further into a vast body of self-limiting beliefs. Invariably, at some point in the day, I would turn to alcohol to right myself, to buoy myself, to falsely free myself from drowning all the while filling my pockets with the rocks of substance abuse.

It’s tragic, really. Tragic and amazing. Tragic in the wanton waste of life; tragic in the terrifying self destruction. Amazing in that I am still here today to write about my past, to review it, to understand and learn from it. I can now see how I had held myself back from all of my potential to simply be a healthy, loving human being. With this perspective I can now identify when I am  leaning towards old detriments of character like selfishness, apathy, self-doubt, and fear; dark, evil, loathsome, self-limiting fear. With this perspective I can move forward towards finding happiness in myself, finding and realizing new potential, finding courage and strength to take action in all aspects of self improvement, of life. With this perspective I can see that I cannot drink.

It has been a marvelous new direction, this course of recovery. I have found some answers in AA, some answers in counseling, some answers in transparency, full disclosure, some answers in being vulnerable and asking for help, some answers here, in writing. There is a community of people who all share the same problem that alcoholism is a symptom of and that a cure for which can be, in part, found in the relation to one another of experiences. I hope to reach someone who needs it as I read other’s writings that speak to me. Thank you to those who write, to those who read, to those who understand without a word, to those who show support, who listen, who reply, who care. Thank you to those who ask questions, to those who offer opinion, who share personal accounts, who accept. Thank you to those who love me and who I love.

 

Please leave a comment. Good, bad or indifferent I appreciate reading the feedback and your thoughts help me to grow.

Shift Commit Succeed

Whether something I am endeavoring to see to its end is a failure or a success I know that I have succeeded in my commitment to the venture. Not the success when everyone gets a trophy for having shown up to all the practices, once with the orange wedges, or receiving the over-patronizing verbal pat-on-the-back for having done something that truly is, or should be, expected of someone as the most basic of functions for participating in life. The kind of success I am referring to is overcoming self-limiting beliefs to pick a path, take action and fail as often as it takes to realize the positive outcomes for those actions; all the while learning not only from the mistakes but about myself; how I tick, what I am made of, when I am coming up short and what direction to take to improve as a person. The commitment to the process is the key to my success.

Take this blog for an example. A measurement for success would probably be hundreds of views, dozens of comments and scores of followers. Conversely, few views, fewer comments and nary a follower could be seen as this project having failed. However, it is my commitment to the process of fully disclosing the challenges, the trials of living a life in recovery with hopes to reach someone who needs to read it  that rates this action of communication as a success.

There was a darkness that impaired my ability to see how much I hurt myself, how much I hurt the people around me while living a life of substance abuse. It truly was a life that was built around substance abuse. Fear is at the core of my matter. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being ostracized. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of what I am, what I want, what I think I am supposed to be. The cruelest of ironies is that I abused whatever substances I could get my hands on (alcohol was my go-to on any day) to avoid my fears, to hide from  them, but the abuse of substances and more importantly the mishandling of my self-limiting beliefs exacerbated the problem. It is a frightful, truly frightful, cycle in which to be caught; running to alcohol to remove my self-limiting beliefs only to find that those fears, those beliefs simply remained and in fact grew worse with time. This led to greater abuse of more substances which of course led to an even more fragile mental and emotional being and so on.

It was my decision to exact change, to shift my life to seek a new direction that allowed me to find freedom from alcoholism. Sobriety came at a great cost in more than a few ways but my commitment to the process is what allows me to be a success. Commitment wasn’t easy for me to muster. There seemingly are countless instances over the past year and a half of my sobriety that I have wanted to run and hide, that I have felt myself shrinking away from simply an idea, that self-limiting beliefs, fears have crept into my head reminding me that confidence in myself is not innate. With great effort, not in pushing fears down, but in embracing them, recognizing them and understanding why I have them I find my strength to fail forward. To commit. To succeed.

Of you I ask feedback. Tell me what’s up. Please comment and let me know what you think, good or bad. Your feedback helps me to grow.