Many of us who roam this earth all have the same things in common, aside from the heart, brain and blood we all share a fear in taking a first step. Weather it is a project to get that promotion or the first step we took as an infant, there is always an underlined fear from failing to falling. No one wants to try anything they fear failing at just like when we were learning on how to walk we took the first step and fell every step after that we had a fear of falling. I believe like falling from the first step is learned behavior from a consequence of action I believe that everything we fear in our lives is a direct result from something that happen to us as a child. If a person grew up with a parent who drank when life got stressful they will intern grow up to be an Alcoholic because lets face it life is stressful, that is a learned behavior. So as that child grows up watching a parent drink when ever life had hard times then when ever the smallest bout of stress happens they drink. They never learned how to cope without the aid of a substance. Which is why taking a first step for a person in active addiction is beyond terrifying and not even a thought. The want is there to stop, the need is there to stop but the ability to do it is gone. When a person becomes so dependent on a substance it literally becomes part of their brain, it thinks for them. So when a suggestion of “You need help” is brought up you get the “mind your own business” because the drug took over and wants no part of that. It is fear, fear of the unknown. Think of it this way would you go into a pitch black tunnel in the middle of the night in a place you have never been without a flashlight? Me either that is what it is like for a person in active addiction to take that first step, even if they had many treatments non of that matters because the drug took over. I believe the first step should be helping a person find the staircase before offering a first step, I think once you get rid of the unknown and show what is expected then that person just might be able to get just enough control to take that first step, in some cases it is a leap towards the step. When I decided I was done and I wanted to go get help I was terrified I have been in active addiction for 23 years at that time. All I ever knew was my booze, and now the thought that I can never drink again scared the shit out of me. How was I supposed to get through the rest of my life without any escapes, how was I supposed to warn off the demons in my head without any help from drugs or Alcohol? This was all to grand for me to wrap my head around which is why I stopped myself and told myself one step, take that first step, then another. I knew I had to go up the stairs I did not know how many or if there were some stairs missing half way through but I made the choice to get going no matter what happen. I did and still to this day come to some missing stairs that I need to figure out how to get to the next stair without falling, I do it that is the difference I am doing not the addict me , just me the sober healthy me. There will be many challenges that come in life but trusting yourself and giving yourself permission to fear the first step is perfectly OK as long as you still take that first step and keep taking more and more as you continue through life.
A man goes into a grocery store to purchases some items, he was running behind for an engagement. He goes in and grabs his items and hurry’s off to the closet fastest line he could find. While in line there are two people ahead of him as the lady in front of him approaches the cashier she appears to be very agitated and the chaser who seems to be new is trying to rush the lady through and knocked several items on the floor the lady starts yelling at the cashier that it was their fault. The man who is in a hurry that was waiting behind the lady, instead of getting annoyed and upset at the lady who was being very rude to the new cashier he simply bends down and helps pick up the change. He sees the lady is very distraught he ask the lady in line very calmly. “Mam, is everything OK”? which the angry lady replies “NO” she began to tell the man, that her husband was in the hospital she is frantically rifling through her purse looking for her money. The man hands the cashier his own money and pays for the lady’s merchandise.
The whole point and moral to this story is that we come in contact with people in our everyday lives that seem rude. When in reality there is always a reason for this, now I used a very dramatic reason in this story when most of the time it is not that. We do not know we judge when all we need to do is ask, 57.7 million Americans suffer from Mental Illness which is about 1 in 4. The other side of this is Addiction which is at about 23.5 millions Americans and %50 of those have both. So taking this into consideration when adding up these variables we can now see things from a new perspective. Every second of the day someone is having something going on many people have many different ways of dealing. This lady in the story her was not so much anger but more of frustration not at the cashier but at the fact something was wrong with her life. Now I know we should not take out our frustrations on others for what is going on in our lives, but in some cases if is not intentional and this lady could have very well been the nicest person in the world. For her actions to one situation she will be judged as a nasty person. We can not predict how we live our lives from day-to-day many things can happen from one hour to the next, the key is to learn how to live your own world concerns, problems or issues so that you can teach and help others with theirs. Many people only thing one thing from anyone that is for that person to LISTEN to them. Not solve their problems by filling their ears with unwanted suggestions, but to sit there and comfort them. No matter how big or small you think their issues are it is not up to you to decide how something makes another feel. Being there however, is the best thing you can do, especially in the Addiction and Mental Illness world. Telling an Alcoholic who just lost a parent that drinking is not the answer is the absolute worst thing you can do, instead just be there your presence of being there and the trust/bond you will build just might be enough to get them through. I have heard my whole life to “get over it” “stop being depressed” “it is all in my head” well I have a response to this and it goes. Yes it is in my head but you can not get over a situation it takes time when a person such as myself suffers from a Dual Diagnosis it takes a long time to be able to accept things let a lone getting over them. I personally do not believe in “getting over” anything I believe that we should process through the situation and feel however we are going to feel about it. Who cares what anyone else thinks how you should feel, so the next time you are in a store or get cut off think about how that person day must be going for them to react the way they are. Remember when a traumatic thing happens in a person’s life they can not think so their actions will be all over and out of their normal characteristic, they may be the nicest person in the world but if something happens in their life that rocks them all their emotions become one big emotion which is fear,anger,grief and sadness all in one. No more being afraid to ask a person what is wrong, even if they do not respond to you in a positive way you will still know that you tried and who knows the act of kindness could go along way just might help a person who needs it the most.
Going back to when I was a young lad, I always felt as if I was never good enough for anything. For example: I would try many different things in my life, I played drums for years, I was in Karate, I was writing music I had to apply so many different things in my life but I never once completed any of them. When it got to the point to where I felt it was hard my self confidence just evaporated, then onto the next idea or new thing I thought I could be good at. This went on for my whole life I dropped out of school when i was 16 I went through many jobs, the mental part for me was so much chatter going on. I never felt like I was able to be good at anything so I always gave up, or ran away from it. Going into my adult hood I would just stop trying I always had dreams, goals and aspirations but never brought myself to the point of really trying. My thought was if I don’t even try then there is no way I could fail. With my anxiety and depression hitting all times highs then lows then highs I now had a full blown teeter totter in my head of emotions. Then so much regret for not trying anything I felt useless and weak. My overall feeling about myself was that I was so worthless I could never do anything right even the things I had some success in I always found the negative in it. The concept of thinking positive was so far out there that I actually started to believe I was cursed. That the universe wanted me to fail at everything, that the people that were around me, friends, family co-workers always thought deep down negative about me. The thought of people liking me for who I am was impossible and would never be true; people were only my friend because they felt sorry for me. I literally hated myself and my life I hated everything about me I just drugged through life being pissed at the world for making me still suffer. I could not for the life of me pull myself out of a negative feeling longer than a day sometimes even an hour was too much to ask for. Then my drinking started becoming a huge pattern of destruction that I just did not give a shit anymore. I was “happy” when I was buzzed then next day I woke up sober was ten times worse than the day before. So I would drink again then I would get this kick that I have a problem so I would control it, well that only worked for a short time because no matter what I did I was never happy. There were many things in my life I should have been happy about the truth was I could not get there. That only made me feel guilty so now I have shame, guilt, hate, sadness, grief, blame and worthlessness all at one time, it would come and go in and out of my mind on an hourly basis’s to the point where people were really starting to wonder if I was Bi-Polar which turns out I do not but I do have the early onset of Server Depressive Mood Disorder along with PTSD which all makes sense now. I remember waking up everyday being so made that I had to get out of bed, I started to really hate being alive. I used to fantasize about being hit by a truck, or shot, or just in a bad car crash. From an early age I remember having suicide intentions and thoughts as I got older these started to turn into elaborate planning. Like I said though I felt I could not do anything right so I even convinced myself to believe that I could not kill myself because I would most likely screw that up as well. I really felt as if though I was put here on earth to suffer. Now I am in a completely different mindset in fact I am the opposite I could not give up on something if I tried, and I tried many times. Over the last few days I have had some let downs some things are not working out as I planned so timelines are being pushed back. So in my discouragement I want so bad to say forget it and be done, I physically and mentally cannot give up. So I am now learning that no matter what happens the more I try the more I push and the more I fight everything works out for the better. It is just a matter of how I want to view the world, either I can view it as the world is against me and wants me to fail, or I can look at it as life has difficult challenges and the trick to life is to keep going when the world pushes me I push back with more force. Sure I could sit here and point out all the negative shit but instead I choose to find the positive it is much easier to deal with life that way, the greatest thing about this whole new outlook is that my depression is pretty subdued now. I wake up tired but ready for the day I no longer want to die and have not had a suicidal thought in eight months. All because I refuse to give up that has giving me so much confidence in myself I believe in myself for the first time ever in my life. I suggest positive affirmations every day it helps also I set small goals for myself that are very achievable which gives me all the more confidence in myself.
Today marks eight months of my recovery and sobriety, I would like to give some insight on how I made this far. It all goes back to when I was admitted to the Psychiatric Unit back in January, for an attempted suicide. I made a promise to myself that no matter what else life was going to through at me I would accept it an continue to live. No matter how good or bad life can get I would remain humble and true to myself. This was a lot harder than it sounds as I had to dig really deep in the cellar of my mind, I had to reach in and grabs one demon at a time by the throat. The I had to face that demon and kill it once and for all, was a very long process and I am still cleaning out my closest. The difference is I do not have to go so deep I somehow manage to bring all my horrible life experiences to the fore front of my mind. So then I could pick and choose to deal with them in any order I choose. I literally would stare at myself in the mirror of my hospital room and yell at myself a few times I got a little carried away as the hospital staff came rushing in my room. Trying to convince staff on the Psychiatric floor that you were doing a healthy exercise and not going more insane was actually pretty easy, they believe me “whew” I would break myself down to nothing spend that time and reflected on everything. I was locked up for a week so I had nothing but time, I was not going to let it go to waste I never once felt as I did not belong there. I knew I was given a gift, a second chance at life I saw death I came really close to not having a life. By me breaking myself down and rebuilding my confidence over all self-worth I was able to get a whole new perspective on my life, my addiction and my mental illness. Then the time came for me to get out of there which i was ready after seven days I was dying for a cigarette, sad but true one more thing I need to kill. So I got out then I was home for an hour before I got a call from my in-patent treatment facility where for the next 28 days would be my home. I took advantage of everything offered which was really easy considering I was the first and only patent there, they open on a Monday I was there on Tuesday. Which I also used my alone time to continue to work on what really matters myself. I always knew I could beat the demons but was always so afraid of facing them, until I made the choice to finally confront all the shit from my past and finally put an end to it. Again by doing so I learned many new ways of dealing with the stress of life, I re-trained myself on how I think. I put in so much work that I was exhausted literally was spent at times I felt as if my head was going to spin right off my shoulders. After completing my 28 day program I then went to an out-patent treatment where I would spend roughly three months there. That is where I really started the work on me see after being out in the real world for about two weeks my pink cloud was set on fire by life. So this flying high I got the world new-found power I thought I had just blew up in my face. The stress of being a parent ,from my job which I had to leave, our living situation and all the bills that were piling up. “Man I just want a drink” I said to myself a few times but always seem to play the tape forward and see the future of what would happen. See understanding my addiction and my mental illness is very key to my recovery. With that knowledge and respect for both of my disease I am able to predict the future, I know my patterns always the same for the last 23 years. I start out having a beer or two once a week no problem, then few times a week, then turns into once a week I would drink a lot but not on other days which increase by this time to three to four times per week. The before I know I am getting smashed ever weekend and drinking what ever I can get my hands on, then my wife would express a concern so then I would”cut back” then same pattern all over. So I know how my addiction treats Alcohol so I will not feed it, if I can keep my addiction at bay by not drinking any alcohol then my addiction can not manipulate me. By me refusing to feed my addiction keeps my brain healthy which in turns gives me full control over myself. A feeling I have never had but always feared of loosing, I know have a choice either let a bad situation get to me so badly that I feed my addiction and destroy all the progress I have made in my mind. I can take what life has to offer accept that every day is not going to be “perfect” that life has ups and a lot of downs but by reaming my control I can navigate through life on a easier level no more just coasting. Think of addiction like this, addiction is like hitting the stop button on your life, hitting like having a drunk auto pilot that can’t drive for shit. When you start to obtain recovery and sobriety the you boot that auto pilot out the door and hit play. Meaning you start to actually live your life, everyone has issues in life using substances just makes it all worse eventually that car of life that is on auto pilot will run out of gas. Then what? Death that is what there is no rock bottom there is only death you can not come back from that no lesson to be learned it was too late. So I am pushing for HOPE I dedicated my life stories to inspire others to show them that life can be fun without drugs/alcohol, it can be lived no matter the issues. Like I mention many times I am in recovery because I worked on my not just putting down the chemical. No matter what has happen in your life forgive yourself learn to live with you and be proud of who you are as a person, never let someone else dictate who you are only you have that choice.
It starts in Mt. Pleasant MI I had just moved there and had been there for about two weeks. I moved to the middle of the state to live with my mother and two brothers, one brother who is also my baby brother who is severely handicapped non ambulatory. I was living in Sterling Heights MI with my ex at the time so I was coming off a two-year relationship when I moved to Mt. Pleasant I was broke no job I was living on the couch at my mother’s house. I had a car that was in the worst shape ever, My older brother and I would frequent a bar few blocks away. On this particular night April 10 2001 my brother and I debated on going up to our new local hang out to shoot some pool. Well it went back and forth my brother did not want to walk the few blocks. By this time it was around 9 pm so I just decided to walk by myself, I had gotten about 4 houses when I realized that I could not walk into a bar by myself the social anxiety was still active. So I came back into the house where my brother told him if I called a cab he would go with me. “Done deal” so I did and wow that cab was fast we were having brews in no time. I think we were on our 3rd game of stick it was my turn at shooting and for some reason I happen to look up at the back door, soon as I looked up my future wife walked through the door. I to this day do not know why I stopped what I was doing and just looked up, it was weird like a magnetic force. My future bride and her college friends were playing shuffle board on the table about 4 ft from the pool table we were playing. The night was going great I tried to peer through the thick smoke clouds to catch more of a stare at her. I was automatically fixated I could not think straight, OK so party because of all the booze and weed in my system but I still think her amazing beauty had a lot to do with it. So as the night went on the more booze was consumed I will admit I was all kinds of fucked up. A dude that I kind of knew there came up to me and said “Hey man, I wanted a picture with these chicks but that girl only will take a picture with you” my response to this was “Dude if you are fucking with me I am going to blast you with this pool stick” He was not kidding. I know I am dramatic at times like I said I was twisted on the stupid sauce. So I walk up to her (Wife) and say “So..um..you want a picture with me?” She was like “Yes duh” So I did and the rest of the night turned into a huge flirt fest, I mean I was twelve all over again. I would tap her on her bottom with the end of my pool stick she would giggle, I would make drunken dumb jokes she would giggle. The time of the night where the joint was shutting it down for the night so she came over to me we said our goodbyes I got her number and BOOM a tongue in my mouth. Not sure why but this freaked me out could be I was coming off a relationship so naturally I got scared, not sure but I kind of pushed her back not hard just like WOA slow your roll there drunk random bar chick. A few days went by I finally got up the stones to call her, and every night for the next few weeks we would talk on the phone for hours, I mean hours dusk till dawn. It was fifteen days after our first night when I asked her to be my girlfriend now there is a lot more detail to this but I would lose my point. I was giving off a lot of mixed message as I really like her a lot and was afraid that she was a rebound. I did not want to screw anything up, so I took it slow really slow. After two years of dating in MI she graduated with her under grad and moved back home to her home state MN. One year later I followed her we stayed together in that time with me flying and driving out to MN many times. We met in Chicago for an awesome weekend, after six years of dating I proposed to her and after a year of planning we got married. Fast forward to today we have been together for 14 years and in a week we will celebrate our eight year wedding anniversary. We have three wonderful kids I really am happy with my life. This is the longest I ever have been sober in our entire relationship, I will celebrate eights months tomorrow. I just need to go to bed tonight sober which is my goal every night. So at this point I believe in fate I truly do ,I believe my wife and I were meant to be together, neither one of us were supposed to be at that bar at that time but we ended up there. The whole message here is never stop in life take a chance and let people take a chance on you, no matter what happens good or bad it was meant to happen for one reason or another.
Since my new-found life in the sober recovery light, I have almost driven myself back to insanity with always trying to keep myself strong and positive. I am now realizing that can be just as harmful as always having negative feelings. By trying to bury myself in this over dramatic positive happy picture then I will just fade back into fake feelings again. So how can I balance this and give myself permission to be angry, or hurt, scared or even let down? Without the overwhelming fear that I am not supposed to feel that way, because I am not that person anymore. What I am not human? Somewhere I need to take whatever I am thinking and put it out on the table so I can examine it closer. Maybe the more logical thing would be to accept that I am allowed to feel certain ways and being mad or sad does not mean I am going to run out and buy the biggest bottle of booze and sit under bridge to pound the entire thing. It just simply means that I am a human that I am in touch with my feelings. I am just about to eight months I still have a lot to learn about sober living from what I have learned I think I should be able to redirect myself back to sanity. I just need to stop telling myself I always have to be strong that sometimes it is OK to be weak, weak does not mean failure giving up does. Being weak getting in touch with my emotions does not by any means I have given up, if anything I would think it was a step in the right direction. After all since I am an addict I am used to ignoring my feelings and drinking them away, pushing them so down deep for the better part of my life or worse part. So if I can just get past the point of the negative feelings associated with me becoming “weak” because I express them in a healthy way that I am having a rough day, or that “Yes I thought about having a beer” again does not mean I am going to but ignoring those thoughts makes me not human. I think a lot of the times people in recovery fear that if they voiced that they had a moment of weakness to the “thought” of using came to mind that everyone would lecture or condemn them. Unfortunately that is probably true for some people depends I do not agree with it I believe that as humans in general we need to have that moment of weakness. Finding a balance to where you have a longer stretch of positive thoughts, feelings and actions versus the negative ones is key. The fact is clear if you are in recovery you will during points of your recovery have weak moments to where the thought of use comes to mind, that is the true definition of a relapse acting on it decides whether or not you actually relapsed. I need to understand and tell myself that as long as I do not fixate on the thought or start making any plans I am moving the right direction. Now with this said I am not saying that people in recovery should purposely think about using there is a difference between the mind of an addict in recovery taking that route of thoughts and the addict wanting to have those thoughts. Purposely thinking about using will led to using, since I have given myself some permission to have natural emotions I found any thoughts about using I used to have just kind of faded away, I am not dumb I respect my addiction I will never let my guard down and think to myself ” glad that is over I will never in life think about that again” I would be a fool and would be setting my self up for failure. It is OK for me to be weak from time to time.
There are millions of people are active in their addiction, and a lot of people who are also “sober” but not in recovery. The difference is that being sober just means that you put down your substance, in order to be in recovery you will need to work on yourself as well. Being sober is not about putting the substance down it is about educating yourself so you will no longer have the need to fill your voids with a chemical. It is about stripping your inner self down to the bones, to learn about what it is exactly is the reason why you started using in the first place. Every addict starts out the same it starts out as fun, then an occasional party into once a day then before you know it BOOM out of control and not knowing how the hell you got there. Always knowing you have a problem but not being able to shut the switch off. Especially for Alcoholics like myself once that booze hits my lips game over. I could stop at one or two but for some reason I never wanted too. Then it so out of hand that I was powerless over it. The drive and will to drink was a constant pounding in my head. So when I made the choice and I made the choice to get sober I knew if I did not strip down to the bear bottom of my soul and dig through the over flowing closet in my head of all the shit that had piled up over the years. Then there was no way I was going to be able to stay sober. So i did just that I took the time I was given over a month alone without the safety net of my wife to catch me if I feel, alone without the aid of any substance what so ever. I was in a way forced to face every demon in my life was just a matter of time before I knew I would eventually have to face them. So figured that was the best time while I was in the hospital the in the in patient treatment. Dealing with my demons was by far the most terrifying, challenging thing I have ever done in my life. I was more afraid of that then I was being away from my safety nets. In order to be in recovery I had to have things I was and am recovering from, it is not the addiction it is the under lying factors that fuel my addiction. Think of it this way how many people do you know that are truly happy in their lives, if any I bet they do not have addiction. Happy people have no reason to abuse any substance they feel that their lives are complete or they have the faith in themselves that they can make it complete. They are content with being them, addicts are not they feel as though they are invisible to the rest of the world and not a single person can understand what they think or feel. Almost always addicts feel that their lives are so much worse than the others and they do not deserve to live. They are in a constant battle in their heads to the point to where the addiction takes over. Addiction is cunning and powerful the greatest manipulator of the mind, addiction is more powerful than any form of will power. Why I personally get pissed when I hear people say about an addict “I can’t believe they would go use, they have a family” addiction does not care what you have, who you are, or how much money you have. I have said this many times addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer, however all the behaviors of an addict where l;earned somewhere in their lives, where it was from a parent or parents who were addicts, relatives, friends so on. The best things about stuff that is learned is that is can be unlearned and new healthier ways can be learned to take the place of the bad ones. It is work I will never sit here and try to tell anyway that the road to recovery is easy, it is all in the perspective of the person living it. The fact is no one has had a worse life than any one else, what might seem not a big deal to you could mean the world and could be a matter of life and death to another. Another thing I talk about a lot is judgments and assumptions, assumptions are the mother of all eff ups, judgements is nothing more than our own fear projected on someones life. It is a defense mechanism that we have had built-in us since the stone age. Just a matter of how we use the power, for the greater good or for evil. Addictions turn it to evil recovery makes it for the greater good. So if you are a person with an active addiction and you can not figure out why you can not just be sober, why you may have tried many times to quit but had so many relapses, ask yourself this questions then think about it do not answer them right away. “What has happen in my life?” “What do I really want for myself?” and finally a question that sounds so simple but for many so hard to answer. “Who am I as a person?” let those simmer in your mind for a while when the time is right you will know when to answer those. Nothing is supposed to be easy in life but solving some deep dark issues in ourselves will make life more enjoyable so when those hard times come we will understand how we react to situations, how we can figure them out on our own without any substance what so ever. There is no such thing as a fully recovered person I will always be in recovery there is no magical cure for addiction it is a terminal disease just a matter of being active or in remission.