Relapse-Reset & Rigerous Honesty Sucks

I picked up my 60 day chip on Monday night. It made me feel like shit.

When I got sober, from alcohol, in 2013, each milestone felt amazing. This just feels crappy.

Rigorous honesty sucks. I feel like quitting AA again, just so I can walk around saying I have 3+ years of sobriety. White knuckle it, again. It worked so well the last time. :/

Being a weak ass addict sucks too. I am not even sure, right at this moment, that if a Vicodin landed on my desk, I wouldn’t take it, and that REALLY sucks.

It has entered my mind just to say fuck it to all of it, and chuck it all.

The damage is done, I could go back to my old ways, then quit again, and be where I am right now. In my warped thinking, that would feel like a true reset.

Go big or go home.

 

 

Rigorous Honesty and a Day Count Reset ☹️

rigerous honesty

I have finally owned up to the fact that I can no longer say that I have 1213 days of sobriety.  This has been a tough one for me.  Since I quit drinking on 11/30/13, I have taken opiates four times, an addiction I don’t readily own up to. I took them for the same reasons I used to drink, to not feel something that was painful.  It is the same behavior as drinking to mask my feelings,  I took the pills to make something less of a THING. To make it go away, however briefly.

I have gone back to AA and am giving it 100 percent effort this time around. When I first got sober, I did it online for the first three months, white knuckling it with the WordPress sober community.  I then decided to try an AA meeting. I found one where no one asked anything of me. No coffee making, no greeting, no commitment. Also no offers of sponsorship, nor did I asks. I just went one night a week, sat in a chair, said nothing, then went home. Just going through the motions.

I had a sponsor, but she lived in a different state, so we weren’t connected geographically, and were unable to attend meetings together. We weren’t able to get together in person and discuss my new sobriety the way I can with my new sponsor.

My current sponsor is tough, she expects a daily telephone call, and she expects me to show up at meetings, regularly. No half assing it this time.  I have been doing that, because there has been a hole in my sobriety. Without the meetings, I was back to white knuckling it, and just going through the motions. I wasn’t drinking, but if given the chance or the opportunity, I would happily gulp down a pain pill.

What I have found by attending meetings for the last three months is that  I was missing was the rigorous honesty. When you don’t have to be accountable for your behavior, you give yourself a pass and rationalize away anything.  And I have. I have done that four times when I have chosen to take opiates.

I have attended a lot of meetings in the last few months. I have been listening, and I have heard people tell on themselves repeatedly. I kept hearing the phrase rigorous honesty. It has stirred something deep in me, I have not been honest with myself, or within the program, and now it was time to own up to it.

In my mind I had kept my two addictions in separate places, never admitting the pills were as bad as the alcohol. I was sober because I didn’t drink. I kept up my day count. Nothing was going to stop my streak. Somehow, I discounted the pills, they weren’t my REAL addiction, so I kept going after each pill relapse as though nothing happened.

Except this time it was different, I had a new sponsor, I had to tell on self. That is what we do. When I first asked her if I should reset my day count, she said she felt that I was a bit too fragile and new at the program to do that, and we could let it go. But I can’t. The more meetings I go to, the more I realize that I have to reset my sobriety date. As I have relapsed, not once, but four different times. The pills and the alcohol are the same, they are both an addiction and they belong in the same bucket.

This morning I told my sponsor that I felt I needed to reset the date. The continued talk of rigorous honesty was getting to me. I am not being honest, I am a liar. I have not been sober for 1213 days, I have been cheating.

It is time to own up to it. I don’t want to, in fact it makes me cringe and cry. I can’t even think about getting another 30 day, 60 day, 90 day chip, it just makes me so sad. I am told I will feel better once I admit this. It will be a weight off, it will be the beginning, again, this time with rigorous honesty.

 

 

 

Opiate Relapse, Story #2

d622374f51a5db0581a96dfdc4070a12

I relapsed with opiates was in December 2015.

Christmas Day of 2015, I received a call from my step-mother. My father was in ICU in Bangor, Maine with pneumonia, can I come please? The next morning, I caught the first ferry off the island, and headed to Maine. Along the way, I stopped at Logan Airport to pick up my brother who had gotten the same call, and had flown in from Saint Louis.

For most people, pneumonia is not a deadly disease. For my father it is. My father is a two time cancer survivor. In case you were ever in doubt, smoking does cause cancer. The cancer first started in his mouth, under his tongue. He had radiation, which killed all his salivary glands, and compromised his jaw bone. In later years, he lost a lot of his teeth. Two years later, the cancer was back, in his lungs. The doctor’s removed the top lobe of his left lung. They caught it early, so he didn’t need any further treatment, and has been cancer free for 20 plus years.

That being said, pneumonia is deadly for a person who has a compromised immune system and has diminished breathing capacity to start with. The doctors also could not identify the strain of pneumonia, so they had no idea how to treat him. My step mother thought he was going to die. Both my brother and I went to Maine.

My brother was also suffering. He had fallen off a ladder and had done something horrific to his neck. He was using the neck hanging traction apparatus, but was in a lot of pain.

When we arrived at my father’s home, my brother said he was in agony. He had taken the last Vicodin that the doctor had prescribed him. I said, “I know that Dad has some pain pills, he never takes them after an operation.” I strapped on my running shoes and made a bee line to their bathroom, lightning speed.

I took a couple of pills out of the bottle and handed them to my brother. I took the 3 bottles I found there, and stashed them in my room.

I was in Maine for a week,  most of the time alone. Spending time in the ICU, and spending a lot of time at my father’s house. I popped pills like a mad woman. Every night I would watch TV, have my seltzer, and take a few pain pills. Every morning I would wake up, feel like shit, and tell myself to flush them down the toilet. Yet, every night, I would repeat the previous evening’s cycle.

When it was time to head home, my true addict surfaced. I emptied the bottles and put the pills into a baggie, which I hid in a compartment in my bag. I threw the empty bottles into my handbag. As I headed south, I stopped for a coffee and bagel. Along the way, at a rest area, I took the empty bottles, put them in the bag of trash from the coffee shop and threw them in the trash can at a rest stop along I-95.

I was sneaky for sure. At the time, it all seemed perfectly normal, in hindsight, it looks like what it is, a drug addict, stealing drugs from family members.

After a few days at home, I came clean to my husband. I had flushed the remaining pills down the toilet, and had, once again, determined to get sober from opiates.

I made it a year and a month.Last week I relapsed. My problem was, I didn’t get help. I did what I always do, I stay sober through sheer determination. I am a competitive person, even with myself. This worked until last week.

In December, I had a realization that I can not power through my addictions by myself.I was struggling, mentally. No matter how many miles I ran to clear the noise from my head, it kept coming back. I needed help.I half- assed a few AA meetings in November. In December, I got serious, I got a sponsor, who I speak to every day. I am a work in progress. I am working on rigorous honesty, with myself and my sponsor, who had no idea how deep my opiate addiction was until last week.

This is the first time I have told on myself about this side of my addiction. This has been my dirty little secret that I have not acknowledged to anyone, and most importantly myself.

Now it is out there, it is with my sponsor, and it is with you. Rigorous honesty isn’t always pretty, this is down right ugly, and it has made me completely uncomfortable to share. I was just getting used to calling myself alcoholic, now I need to add addict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Drinking–The Superpower by Tommy Rosen

I haven’t had much to say lately, just living life on life’s terms and getting by one day at a time.

I saw this online today, and it really resonated with me.

I hope you all enjoy it.

A few years ago, my wife, Kia Miller, led a yoga retreat for about 30 people in Costa Rica. Six of us there were in recovery from addiction. Within a day, we kind of discovered each other, as we often do. It usually happens through certain telltale words and phrases that we have come to use as a result of our involvement in 12-Step recovery.

One night, we decided to have a meeting amongst ourselves and gathered around an out-of-the-way table. Another man in our group saw us together there and humbly asked if he could sit in. He had never been to a 12-Step meeting, but wanted to experience it. We were grateful to have him join.

One by one we briefly shared about our journey in recovery to this point. The shares were honest and powerful. There was a feeling of true connection. We were at once completely different from one another, yet so much the same.

The newcomer shared last and by this point he had heard a lot more than I think he was ready for. Hesitantly and with an apologetic demeanor, he stated that he drank regularly and had no intention of stopping. He explained further that he drank pretty much every evening. Sometimes he would get good and drunk. Other times just a little bit. He did admit that he was a bit concerned about the frequency and amount he was drinking, but despite his concerns, he was adamant that drinking was a normal part of life and he mostly enjoyed it. With each sentence, as he further bolstered his position, he kept apologizing for himself while the rest of us encouraged him to simply state his truth.

When the meeting was over, he took me to the side and said, “Tommy, I’m so sorry for what I did.”

“What did you do?” I asked sincerely.

He said, “You all are not able to drink and here I am, a guy who is stating that I can drink. I’m rubbing it in your faces. I can only imagine that this must be hard for you all.”

There was this awkward moment where I realized he thought we were jealous of him. I felt terrible for him in that moment. From his point of view, a life without drinking alcohol could not be a good life and anyone who HAD to stay sober must be terribly jealous of those fortunates who could happily imbibe. He could not conceive of the idea that we were truly happy and content NOT to be drinkers. He could not imagine that we would not change places with him under any circumstances.

This was a profound exchange for me. I saw through this man’s perspective how most of our society thinks. The majority of people in the United States drink alcohol regularly. Most people who drink think that people who don’t drink are, at best, missing something and, at worst, are living in what they imagine to be a depressed state of sobriety. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have not had a drug or drink for 23 years. When I first gave up those things, I, too, was in a deluded state of mind where I could not imagine life without alcohol and drugs. How would I get through the day? How would I connect with anyone? What would I do to pass the time? What would I do to cut my anxiety? The life I had known and built for myself revolved around drugs and alcohol. Thus, it was impossible at that moment for me to know what a life could be without those things.

I remember what it felt like to be in the “in between” phase. I knew I could not continue to live the way I had been, but I preferred to try to make it work than surrender to the idea that I had to let go of my way of life (read: my precious drugs and alcohol) and build something new.

This is the great challenge for anyone who gets sober. One must build a new way of being seemingly from scratch without knowing in advance what this is going to look like and how it is going to feel. To get clean and sober is to build a new identity, one much more rooted in truth and presence than illusion and avoidance. At first it is challenging, but ultimately it is immensely rewarding. And I believe this would be the case for nearly anyone, not just alcoholics and addicts who have to give it up.

I was speaking with my friend, Grant Johnson, recently who a little over a year ago, decided to stop drinking alcohol. Grant does not consider himself to be an alcoholic, but he did not like the overall effect that alcohol was having on his life. He let it go and now has had a year of experience with a different approach. This is not a person who, quietly desperate, counts the minutes till he can drink again. In fact, he is not thinking about it. He’s just out there living his life and reaping the benefits of a person who happens not to drink. Grant told me that to not drink is such an act of strength that he actually considers it to be a “superpower”. I just love that.

If you are like me and had to get sober, you may come to know that “in between” phase. It might just suck for a while as you develop a new life for yourself. Hang in there and allow yourself to develop. It takes time and therefore patience. It takes action and vigilance. It takes support and love.

While there are those people who unfortunately get stuck in recovery and do not grow beyond their misery, this is neither the norm, nor necessary. Do not fall prey to the mistaken idea that people in recovery and others who simply decide not to drink are miserable and longing to drink again.

The emphasis has to be on well-being. My recovery mantra is: “Don’t just survive addiction. Thrive in recovery.” I believe people in recovery must work toward the great shift from staying sober out of fear and necessity to staying sober out of love for the life they get to live as the result of staying sober. Once a person has made this shift, it is very likely they will excel in life.

My story is different than Grant’s. I had to stop because drugs and alcohol nearly killed me, but today, Grant and I share something in common. We have developed a superpower. Neither of us drinks and we are not concerned about whether we ever do again.

DRINKING DREAMS

relapse

I had my very first drinking dream last night.  I have read a lot about people having these types of dreams in early sobriety, I never did.  I was taken by surprise by it, given that I just celebrated 16 months of sobriety on Monday.

When I awoke this morning, the dream was still very vivid in my mind.  As I lay in bed, making sure all my parts were still working, I began to delve into what made me have that dream now.  Especially after all this time.

I have a trip to Maine scheduled for the end of the month.  It is a celebration for my step mother being elected the state President of a women’s charity group she is involved in.  My grandmother was a member, my step mother is a member, and for me to be able to attend her induction, she made me and her daughter members.  When I was first asked to attend the state convention where the award would be bestowed, it was four years ago, and I said “of course I will come”.  I figured I had four years, a lot could happen in four years, it was easy to say yes without real intentions behind the yes.

It is now four years later, and the convention is upon us.  An event that I thought was going to be small, intimate celebration has now blossomed into a full on party.

It is my impression that my step mothers installment as the President for the state of Maine in this charity has become an event.  It has become a THING, a rather large thing.  The small gathering has blossomed into a semi large family reunion of sorts.  My brother, his wife and two children are flying in from Missouri, and my step mothers son is making a special trip from Massachusetts.  None of these people will get to see the honor being bestowed, as it is a women’s only group, and you have to be a member.  The only people in attendance will be me, and her daughter.  The other family members have been invited for a post convention celebration.

My step mother is very excited about this position, and has worked hard to get it.  Because she wanted me there, she offered to pay for my airfare and hotel.  I picked out my flights, and she booked the hotel.  As you can imagine, there was conversation regarding these arrangements, just not full disclosure.

As the celebration got larger, I  was asked to include my daughter, who is only a two hour drive from Portland. I was more than happy to do that.  She is my heart and soul, and helps keep me grounded.  I figured this adventure would create a few trigger moments, and it would be easier with her by my side.  Plus, I had the paid for hotel room for her to stay in with me, great plan right?

Wrong.  I was informed, yesterday, that my step mother has booked to share a room with her daughter,  a woman whom I have not seen in 25+ years, and who is a black out drinker.  It was then casually tossed in that she and I will also be sharing a bed, because step mom was sure I wouldn’t mind.  I do mind, I really, really mind.

I have been under an extraordinary amount of stress over the last four months.  The stress has led me to question my sobriety regularly.  I have had far to many white knuckle days for comfort, and feel like I have been distancing myself from both my sponsor, and my meetings.  My mothers death has been an emotional challenge, and now we are packing our home and moving.  All catalysts to my old way of thinking, drown all discomfort with copious amounts of white wine, it will go away.

I also have a horrible time sleeping, crazy bedtime rituals, and hotel rooms are where I am at my craziest. (I travel with electrical tape for all of the little lights in the room.).  I have shared a lot of crazy with my family, but I really don’t feel the need for full disclosure.  Suffice it to say there are nights my husband doesn’t even want to be in the same bed, let alone room with me.

Needless to say, this information sent me into a tail spin.  I finally hit that wall that had been coming closer and closer. I had a major meltdown.  A crying, hyperventilating, rocking back and forth on the floor meltdown.  I would say that this has been lurking inside for quite some time, but the room and bed share were the straws that broke the flood gates open.

Once I composed myself, I immediately got on line, and booked my OWN room.  Easy fix.  Normal people would have just gone and done that without all the neurotic histrionics. Instead I got myself so worked up, that I no longer want to attend, my own room or not.

When my family gets together, every one drinks, it is what we have always done.  I don’t do that any more, and I have yet to find my comfort zone with not drinking around my family.  Old habits are hard to overcome.

With all of this fresh on my mind, I dreamt that I joined in with the drinking and the partying in Maine.  I was at the table having dinner, downing glasses of red wine, one after another, just like the old days.

All of this is disconcerting.  I know I need to be sober, but there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to be sober.  That girl wants to drink.  I hope she isn’t in Maine in May.

battle

RECOVERY ACRONYMS

F.I.N.E.
[I’m] Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

F.E.A.R.
F
ace Everything And Recover

N.U.T.S.
N
ot Using The Steps

E.G.O.
E
dging God Out.

D.E.N.I.A.L.
D
on’t Even Notice I Am Lying.

H.A.L.T.
[Don’t get too] Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

H.O.P.E.
H
appy Our Program Exists

H.O.W.
H
onesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness

S.P.O.N.S.O.R.
Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery.

G.O.D.
Good Orderly Direction

B.I.G. B.O.O.K.
Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge.

S.L.I.P.
Sobriety Losing Its Priority.

A.C.T.I.O.N.
Any Change To Improve Our Nature.

P.R.O.G.R.A.M.
People Relying On God Relaying A Message.

S.T.E.P.S.
Solutions To Every Problem Sober

K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Circle of Life

I thought I was ready.  I had given him a deadline, told him he had to move out.  I did it to get him motivated to start looking for a real job.  To stop sitting around in his room “relaxing” on his days off, because the 29 hours a week at The Home Depot were so tiring.

I was wrong.  I was not ready.  I was surprised by the gut punch that packing, loading, unpacking and driving home delivered.  I was unsteady, emotional, and heartbroken.

The real surprise for me was how much this move triggered my wanting a drink, my NEEDING a drink.

We were in the hotel room in Indiana on Friday night,   I sat on the edge of the bed with my head in my hands crying and craving a drink.  I wanted to get annihilated, I wanted the pain to go away.  I visualized myself getting home Sunday night and hitting the liquor cabinet and drinking its whole contents.

This thought process stunned me.  I hadn’t felt this way since the early days of sobriety.  I didn’t understand it.

We had finally grabbed the golden ring. This is what I had been working for with him for the past 5 years.  Graduate from college, get a great job, and move out.  I had been praying to my higher power, to the Universe, the ocean, and even God for this to happen for him.  He is so deserving of it.  I wanted this for him, this was the prize we had our eye on since the day he graduated from college, why was I feeling so rattled?

The weekend went by in a blur.  Moving him in, setting him up, and cleaning the place up.  It was suddenly Sunday morning, and he was dropping me off at Budget to pick up my rental for the long drive home.

Throughout the 9 hour drive home I kept going over the pro and con list regarding this move.  All evidence pointed at pro, the only con was my selfishness of wanting him closer to me.  I had to let go, I had to let him go, it is time, it is the Circle of Life.

In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life

By the time I reached home, I was too tired to even think about drinking.  Day 418.

PADDLING THE HOLIDAY RAPIDS

Whitewater-Rafting-boat

Last year I went white water rafting with my daughter and my running buddy.  It was a great trip.  My pal, John, owns a small motor home, and we drove through the mountains of Tennessee in comfort.  I had never ridden in a motor home before, so it was a first, and it was fun.

We got to the Ocoee Rafting Company ready to battle the rapids.  It was summer, but it wasn’t a very nice day.  It was cold and rainy.  We figured, who cares, we were going to get wet anyway.

We were assigned a raft, loaded into a van, and went down to the “put in” spot.  Prior to “putting in” we sat in the raft, and received a lesson in paddling commands.

All forward;  all paddle forward.

All back; all paddle back

Left turn; the left side of the boat paddles

Right turn: the right side of the boat paddles

Over right; everyone in the boat gets on the right side

Over left; everyone in the boat gets on the left side

Get down; get to the bottom of the boat, quickly

I feel like I have been adrift in this raft throughout this holiday season.

We made the plans to be in Florida close to 18 months ago.  At the time, neither of my children were living at home, and I was actively drinking large quantities of wine every night.  It sounded awesome, sign me up, fun in the sun, drinking in bars and on the beach!  Boo yah!

Then in November of 2013, I was struck, by who knows what, and decided it was time to give up alcohol, and get sober.

Last year’s holiday season was s struggle.  I think I was unknowingly going through PAWS, and the holiday’s were hard, really, really hard.

This year I thought, been there, done that.I wasn’t cocky, still vigilant, but here comes the holiday season, easy peasy, right?

Wrong.  My son moved home, my mother is dying, and I am in Florida, with my husband and a pile of regrets.

December has been difficult.  I have been filled with guilt about my son being alone for Christmas, and not being in Missouri with my mother, as this may be her last Christmas.

I didn’t think any of this through thoroughly enough to remember to pack the small Christmas tree.  Therefore, no decorations. There is no cold weather.  Christmas lights in palm trees just don’t give off that Christmasy feeling.  There was no Bailey’s on Christmas Eve, and no red wine with the Christmas roast.

I have hopped into this raft, and have been paddling like mad to keep from hitting all the obstacles the have been placed in the way.

Paddling forward, getting up each morning and trying to be in the NOW.

Paddling backward, resetting my brain every time it drags me into my pile of guilt, or sadness over where I am NOT, instead of where I am.

Hopping to the left side to avoid the Christmas Eve Bailey’s craving.  Hopping to the right to get around the longing for red wine to have with the roast.

I feel like I am in the bottom of the boat every day when I wake up here in Florida, and not in my own home.  I lie there, take a mental inventory and remind myself that I have a lot to be grateful for.  I give myself a mental slap, and go through the list.

I am here, I am sober, I managed to remain sober through a difficult Christmas, and my son was fine being on his own.My mother spent the holiday with my brother and his family, she had a great time.

I have so much to be grateful for, and if I keep my thoughts in the present, I can make it through another day, where I continuously remind myself that relaxing is not supposed to be so much work.

BEWARE OF MR BAKER

BoMB_BG

Last night we watched the documentary, Beware of Mr. Baker, about Ginger Baker the epochal drummer.  He was the creative genius behind the iconic band Cream, and was he the drummer for Blind Faith.

His story is incredible, and disturbing.  He was one of those people who never had a musical lesson, he just had perfect timing, when he heard the music, he could just play it, and play it really well.

One of his early inspirations was the jazz drummer Phillip Seamen.  Not only did Phil Seamen introduce Ginger Baker to jazz drumming, he also introduced him to heroin.  Ginger Baker was an addict for the better part of his life.

The documentary shows his life, his addiction, and his nasty, terrible personality.  It was his personality that ruined his career, along with his prolific use of drugs.  He amassed and lost fortunes a multitude of times.

Ginger Baker claims that Eric Clapton, his band-mate from both Cream and Blind Faith is one of his closest friends.  They interview Eric throughout the documentary.  I came away thinking that Eric Clapton was less a friend than a person who watched Ginger Baker implode from drug abuse, something that Eric Clapton had to distance himself from.  During the course of the film, Eric Clapton admits that he hasn’t seen Ginger Baker in years  because he couldn’t be around him due to his lifestyle choices.

I was never a big fan of Cream or Blind Faith, but Eric Clapton is one of my all time favorite musicians.  He is an amazing guitar player, song writer, and musician.  I have seen him live multiple times, and he never fails to be amazing.

Eric Clapton is in long term recovery, he was addicted to heroin and alcohol.  He got sober in 1989, six years before he lost his son in a tragic accident.  He is also a founding partner The Crossroads Center in Antigua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

“Prior to the time that Clapton decided to get sober in 1987, he addicted to heroin and alcohol, crashed cars, attempted suicide more than once, survived growing up in a broken home and dealt with a litany of health problems.

As mentioned above, he attempted suicide many times…..”the only thing that stopped me was the realization that if I were dead I would not be able to drink anymore.”

Fast forward to 2013, Clapton is nearly 26 years clean and sober despite suffering the death of his child six years into sobriety. Clapton, speaking publicly, on several occasions has credited his sobriety with not only aiding him in surviving tragedy but aiding in his self-awareness.

Since getting clean and sober, not only has he penned the biggest song of his career, he has written a book and released several successful CDs.

Congratulations on 25 years of sobriety Clapton. We can’t wait to see what you will produce during the next 25 years.

To all the newly sober people out there, not that it has to be this way but let Clapton be an example of what you can face, overcome and remain clean and sober through.”  Recovery Now, DeShawn McQueen.

The documentary is unwittingly a juxtaposition of addiction and recovery.  Ginger Baker remained an addict, and continued to ruin his life.  Eric Clapton got sober, and his world has continued to get better.

Recovery works.