From the time I took my first breath of air, I was set for a long life of battles. I come from a very long line of Alcoholics and some Mental Illness down my entire tree, with the exception of a few branches. Had I known the future of course I would have never took that first sip of Southern Comfort at the innocent age of 12. From that first sip to finishing the bottle I split with a friend I should have realized I was already pre-conditioned to becoming a career drinker. I never got sick I was very wasted but not one time did I get sick. I remember feeling a little rough the next day but not to the point to where I could not function. I played it off as I just did not feel well and my parents would have never dreamed I was hung over. It was a few years before I would hit that bottle that heavy but I did have a few beers here and there I learned how to hone in on my skills of hiding it and making the amount of booze in the house appear to be more than there actual was. See when ever I would be asked to go to the garage to get my dad a few beers, I would take double for me. I would stash them outside my window of my bedroom than once my parents went to bed game on. Well my mom closed our bar so she worked until 3 or 4 am but she never checked on me. See when I took my dads beer I would pull them closer in the front to appear there were more in the back, it took years before he caught on and started counting them. By the time I was 15 I was a season drinker a pro my tolerance was so high at that point I could literally drink 8 beers and function perfectly. Again more red flags right? well not for me I did not know what an Alcoholic was everyone around me drank a lot I grew up in a bar to me that was normal. I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do, I was proud of myself when I would go to parties with my peers and they are yacking all over themselves after a few shots and here I was pounding down handles of Jack like its water. As I sit here and reminisce of my war stories not one part of me is going “huh that was fun” I actually feel sad for the younger version of myself. I was diagnosed with server depression at an early age before I started the party phase. I think I was 8 when I got officially diagnosed with depression. There were a lot of tell tale signs I was often withdrawn a lot was due to the traumatic experiences I was involved in as a youth. So once I found that sweet feeling of the booze that was my cure, so I thought as the years went on so did my drinking and in 98 after my dad died I went off the damn reservation I lost everything that day, my soul left my body, my heart turned clod and black. My only purpose in life was to numb the pain at any cost. I start smoking so much weed that Cheech and Chung would have thought I was nuts. I would shovel snow in the winter to get money for drugs and alcohol, if I dd not have anything in my system from the time I rolled out of bed then look out I was an absolute prick. Which also added to the feeling of regret I now have with my mom, though I was never abusive to a another person or animal I did put a lot of holes in the walls, broke a ton of furniture, and destroyed many friendships. I was on a path of destruction and often times I sat in my room with my Dad’s loaded 38. police special revolver that I took upon myself to inherit without the knowledge of my mother. I would sit there drunk and stoned out of my mind barely able to make it to the bathroom in my bedroom without knocking shit over or falling. I take out all 6 of the bullets and would sit there with them in my lap adding one at a time spinning the chamber and putting it to my head. I never pulled the trigger (obviously) but the thought of suicide would never leave my mind, My life just seemed so meaningless to be t=honest the only things that stopped from painting my room with my sadness was my baby brother and my mom. I may have had a cold heart but it still loved my mom and brother more than anything. Sad to say those were not my only attempts I have had a lot none like the one in Jan 2015 that kick started me into a whole new happy look on life. I went for it for the first time in all my years of suffering by that point I was married with 3 amazing kids, so why the hell would that make me do something. I hear it all the time “you have a wonderful family” “why would you do that, I wish I had that” well let me explain why. When you have battled addiction and mental illnesses for as long as I have with the progression getting more and more server every year there is not a damn thing that could have been done except getting the proper help. I self admitted myself in the Pysch Unit at the hospital about a month before my dreadful attempt but only stayed 2 days and was self checked out. My thought was I need a break from the booze and weed for a few days I would be in control again. My mind was so gone at this point I am a diagnosed insomniac who went for a long time without sleep I was working insane hours at my job plus the substances I was using to get by. I was not taking my meds barley anyway. It is crazy to look back on my life and to feel like actually feel all the shit I tried to hide and stuff down eventually it was going to back fire on me. Through all of that though I will honestly say I have no regrets as far as the choices I made, sure I still share some sadness over some choices but overall no regrets on my life. I feel as I was meant to live through the things I lived through to do what I am doing today. Sharing with the world to help others who may be where I was, to give them HOPE there is a healthy way out. No one has to suffer for their whole life-like I did, well not whole because I am still alive and not suffering anymore. I made my 9 months of recovery and I am not stopping I am full force attacking all this negative bullshit from my past I will take every emotion head on no more running or hiding. I may never fully win this battle because it will always be a battle my disease never go away, but I will be on the winning side of my battle for sure. It will become less of a battle and more of a way of life, living healthy happy and sober, that is what I want so I am going to do it with the tools I continue to learn each day.
Today I manage to make it to 9 months of recovery, which is so amazing and awesome. I do not feel as my addiction is a huge concern for me anymore, however does not mean that I do not respect it and keep it at the fore front of my mind. I am able to go to places where people are drinking and have it not bother me. I do not go to these places unless I have to I also always have a few plans of escape. The company I keep all know me and know if I say I need to go no one will give me grief about it. I am lucky to have the support I have but I also give myself credit as I choose the people I want in my life. I will never go into a situation not knowing what to expect or having a few plans of what to do, certain situations call not a non immediate retreat so there I have my “me time” plan. Where I will go somewhere like outside to my car and just re-group my thoughts, in my early recovery I never stepped foot inside of any place that I thought would be a concern for me. Knowing my diseases is key I know my triggers and now have the proper tools to think it through. I no longer relay on others to save me I save myself I have built up enough confidence in myself to be able to be put in any type of situation. I always say now I could be placed in a room full of booze with no consequences and I guarantee I would not touch a drop. Only because I found me I like me I love the fact that I can do so much and think clearly. I know where using will lead me and I will be damned before I ever do that to myself again. Granted I would also never put myself in a room full of booze either that is just not smart. I may have trust in myself but I do could never know the circumstances going into a situation so I just do not even plan on ever being in it. My other vice I do need to break and overcome is smoking I have been a cigarette smoker for as long as I have been an Alcoholic the two kind of go hand in hand. The verdict is out on what was better to do quit everything at once or do it in steps, I personally believe it should be up to the person doing it. Sure many studies will suggest both sides but knowing yourself. For me I knew there was no way I could stop everything at once would have been setting me up to fail some people can do that I know me I know how my mind works. So my next challenge is put down the smokes I have a date in mind which also gives me motivation. Seeing how far I have come already in my Mental health and recovery I know believe I can quit smoking it is one of the most hardest things to kick. I have been doing it for 23 years and have had many attempts to stop. The true addict many times to stop many times failed, I will quit because I am getting sick of it no one I hang around with or on my wife’s side smokes, just me so that in its self is motivation along with I want to be around for my kids and want to break the cycle I have trapped in for my whole life.The only way I can do that is by leading by example to show my kids what I have been through and how far I have come how hard it was for me to get there. In the hopes that they see that as power to not get wrapped up. I realize my kids have a 50% chance of carrying these diseases so the more I work on myself and break my own cycle that percent will drop significantly no matter what the gene is in them just a matter of becoming active or not. To some degree everyone has some form of the gene in them our family histories are far to vast for this not to be true. Just a matter of it becoming a cycle or not. I am going to start the generation of my family not being in the cycle. Mentally I know I still have a long way to go I am still battling a lot of things just am more able to get through them, I may be in a shitty mood for a while but I will be sober. My nightmares came back so that makes my days really interesting if you are someone who has nightmares you understand it stays with you, I am not having my night terrors anymore thank God I hope they do not come back I will take the nightmares and really messed up dreams. I describe my dreams as being written by Wes Craven and Directed by Steven Spielberg they are that intense and creepy. In the same sense I re-assure myself in the fact that those horrible dreams are just a way of my mind getting out and processing through all the bad shit that has happen in my life. I used to spend a whole day in trying to break my dreams down and interpreting them in to my life to figure out why or how I came to that, now I just wake up say “shit that sucked” go back to sleep or get up for the day. Either way I try to move past and accept that I am healing which is always a painful process. All in all I am aware of everything which will make me stronger in the fight the power I need to get past all of the negative thoughts and feelings, I am making my future brighter every second of every day just takes a lot of time and work.
You read it about it almost every day, you seen a “famous” person who got into trouble because of drugs or alcohol. The first response by society is “wow what an asshole” but that is so unfair. Millions of people suffer from addiction and yet the first reaction is to judge them. I am going to use Lamar Odom as an example here because I read so many negative things about him. This is a man who suffered great loss in his life but because he has a certain status in the media he is an outcast. Just because a person has money does not make them exempt from this disease. When I read or see something on the news about a “famous” person who is loosing a battle with addiction my heart drops for them, I feel for them my heart hurts for them. When a person no matter who they are how much money they make they are human. They are hurting no one does drugs for the hell of it there is always and underlined factor to this. The media focuses on the fact of his status and how much he spent rather than the disease its self should be bringing awareness and pointing out the fact NO ONE is safe from this. The stigma behind addiction is so ridiculous and people everyday are loosing their lives because of it. If you have two people walk into a room one person is an Alcoholic and the other has Cancer if they are the same age, both have good jobs and the same amount of money. The person with the Cancer will be greeted with open arms and offerings of “if there is anything I can do” while the Alcoholic will be judged and made out to be their fault they chose to have that disease. They are both terminal disease, they both can come out of no where and to a degree somewhat treatable depending on the severity of them both. The point is that they are both disease and yet only one is accepted among society, why can’t a person with addiction be treated the same way the outcomes just might be different. If you welcome a person with addiction with the support they so desire the acceptance from their peers. The the under lined issues have a far greater chance of being noticed. There is no difference Addiction is a life long disease just a matter of being in-active or active just like anything else with the proper treatments it can be treated properly. It is simple change the stigma save more lives, another example when society sees a person on the corner asking for money their first thought is “They are probably a crack head, and made their choice to be homeless” does anyone really wake up one day and say to themselves “I think I am going to give up everything I have, I am going to do drugs and live under an overpass”? I think not. That is the stigma that NEEDS to be broken change needs to happen people need to be educated and made aware of the truth of this disease. It is cunning and powerful and can take you at any given second. Sure many people can be social drinker snow, but if people are not aware of the dangers and stop thinking “It will never happen to me” then before they know it they can not even get through the day without planning that next happy hour, that next drink, fix etc. I am not exaggerating here it is the cold hard facts about addiction. I know from my own experience for years I did not even realize how much I drank half the damn time I would say “I do not know how many I had I did not keep track” that is red flag number one, drinking sop much you lose count. It took me years to realize I was an alcoholic then it took me longer to accept it then even longer to finally do something about it. Addiction is a master manipulator of the brain it can fool you and will do anything to get that next drink or drug it is the king of denial. The best and most common thing is comparison “I am not as bad as that guy” “I have a job, a wife kids, I own my house” all the more reasons to stay stuck in the vicious circle of this deadly ride. It is the most powerful thing on the planet and the biggest enemy of ourselves. Once it takes control of the mind then that sweet loving person you used to know is know held hostage by the grips of addiction. Does not make that person a bad person consider them being possessed by the demon of control, manipulation and despair. Change needs to be made awareness needs to be made. I put myself on the line and the wire by sharing my stories to I will no longer be judged for my diseases.
With a 100 billion neurons ( Human Cells) firing the human brain is the most powerful computer we have. Which would explain why there are so many things that could go wrong, with so many receptors all going at once it is very easy for a few of those wires to get crossed. Which will result in many different abnormalities such as Addiction, Mental Illnesses and so much more. The drug of choice no matter what enhances and excites the reward system in the brain, depending on the drug some will give off a euphoric feeling while others such as Alcohol appear to give off a “good” feeling really is disrupting the balance of the brain’s chemistry, so while the person who drinks feels good for a while after that feeling of “good” comes down the need for more Alcohol increases which depresses the brain. The more a person drinks the more the body craves which will turn into that vicious cycle. I can speak of Alcohol because I am a recovering Alcoholic I used to drink to party, then I drank because I wanted too, then I drank because it was my right to drink. I used to say I am (name my age) and if I want to drink I can if I want to, I would then drink to numb pain which then became the cycle I would go on heavy binges then I would stop for a week or two, then I would drink in moderation. Now moderation for an Alcoholic is not getting shit faced falling down drunk. Which was my reason and loop-hole I would force myself to stop after a few beers so then I could “earn” that binge where I would go balls to the wall. In the height of my binges especially this past year if you stuck me in a room filled with booze I would not only drink as much as I possibly could but I would do it from the time I woke up to passing out and I would have kept that pattern up til I got sick or died. The power of my addict in my brain is so powerful that if we were going to a birthday party or any get together my first thought was is there going to be booze? How much? I would stress on it til I would finally just prime it up by drinking as many as I could before my wife and I left but also trying to hide how many I pounded. I would just fixate on it so much then once we got there I would watch the clock to see how many I could get down without anyone noticing how much. I hide my drunkenness somewhat well but the age-old secret to that is the addict is always the last to find out they are an addict. As hard as I tried to be sneaky and even joking about it to play it off it was like I wore a billboard that said ” I WILL DRINK ALL OF YOUR BOOZE I AM AN ALCOHOLIC” its just no one will ever tell a person because they feel it’s not their place. Well that is where everyone needs to erase that line in the sand step up and say something ( please do not confront a person while they are on their substance) there are right ways and wrong ways to approach a person about their substance I suggest calling a toll-free addiction number and getting help from a trained professional or if you are close with the person just simply tell them you care and you are not telling them what to do, but you are concerned about their habits. In a non threatening way my experiences with this is the best way to go about it. I wished my addiction was recognized 20 years ago, then again I also do not live in the wish-land, or the I should have’s . The brain can be such a powerful weapon if used correctly I am trying to learn new things to educate myself on everything I can about Mental Illness and Addiction, my thing is I have this awesome weapon I just need to arm it with the proper tools then and only then will I have enough tools to battle off the evil that try to take over my mind. Everyone no matter who you are what you have done or do, everyone can learn new things take away the bad chemicals from the mind let it heal and build up a new wall to keep out the bad shit. I truly believe with the power of proper education on brain chemistry and the disease and potential threats of the mind that it can be stopped. It is all a matter of how much work you want to put into it, for me the work was an easy decision because I came so close to loosing my life and I look at my three kids and think “damn, I came so close to missing all of this” that my friends is my power to stay on my sober path, along with getting the message out breaking the stigmas and getting people the help they want. There is not one person who suffers from addiction that sad when asked what do you want to be when you grow up “An Alcoholic” “I wanna be a drug addict” no one wants to stay in the lonely dark hole of addiction, the brain wiring that they have will suggest other wise but I promise you once a person is free and clear and are able to work through their underlined issues from their past. Once they are giving the proper tools to work on them selves and to see who they are as a person and learn to love themselves. Then the cycle and chain will be broken life will be given back to them a new way of living can start free and clear from the pain and misery of what was once their everyday life.
As the day of the 17 year anniversary starts to approach I find myself in a battle, not that I am going to go off the deep end. More of being scared because I have never had to deal with any feelings regarding my father’s sudden death. I always had the escape of a drink or a drug. Which is the unknown for me of how am I going to deal with it? That is a scary question, of course I have all the confidence in the world in myself that I am in such a better place than I have ever been before in my life. Which I think has a lot to do with the fear because I see how hard I worked to get where I am all the pain and I had to endure to get here. I never want to go back in time and be the person I once was, I understand that I will never be that person just on the simple fact that I don’t want to be. I am not going to do or be something I do not want to be or do. I wish there were better words to explain the full impact of how I feel so that others could understand that it is not a matter of positive thinking, that only carries me so far. I really need to work here I need to face everything that I buried for the last 17 years I have to face it alone. Even though I have a very wonderful supporting wife and family/friends I still have to go at this alone because I am the only person that feels the way I do. I don’t even know what I feel which is why its hard for me to write it, for so long I blocked it out of my mind. For the first time I since his death I believe I am actually grieving which I never did. I ignored everything I felt drank it away, and deflected my anger into other aspects of my life. This time around I am doing the complete opposite just in me writing my blogs about how I feel is a million steps forward and will be in favor as the day gets closer. I decided that when the day comes how ever I feel I am going to validate that and not try to make an excuse for how I feel. I am not going to shelter my feelings, ignore them or hide from them. I am giving myself permission to feel this may not be the past piece to my puzzle of torment but it sure is a big one. By me facing what I have not for so long will only push me further in the correct direction, in the long run I will look back and be proud of how I manage to face a loaded gun and not get my head blown off. I am enough tools and support that I am not worried about a relapse not even on my mind, well its on my mind but not for a plan its on my mind so I continue to respect the power of my Addiction and Mental Illness I will never let myself forget how much control that can take over me if I let my guard down. Every second I remind myself that I need to respect these diseases and know that if I want to stay stronger I need to continue to work hard. Eventually it will be second nature and I won’t have to work as hard but for now in my first 2 years of recovery I need to. That is my main defense and will be the key in me staying stronger than my illnesses and getting through this extremely hard battle I am going into. I think of the day as my title bout so I am mentally preparing may sound silly and extreme but my addiction is extreme and ruthless. So I have to prepare set a what I like to call “The JR Plan’ always have 3 outs in any situation I feel may pose a potential threat to my recovery I have 3 outs at all times. If one of those means that if the day itself is too much then I will spend the day in bed if I have too and give my self permission to do as, however on the condition that I revisit where I left off and continue to work through and process my feelings. Like I said I am not ignoring anymore. Over all I know who I am inside and how strong I can be I am pretty ruthless myself along with being pretty damn resilient when it comes to these situations. I have determination to right my life and to live a healthy free of misery enjoyable remainder of my time on earth.
As I talked about in the previous blog “Death made me an Orphan” I was going through a lot of emotions writing that. I feel as the time gets closer to the anniversary of my father’s death, I feel myself starting to get anxious. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach up to the gathering of tears in my eyes, I still do not understand why I still feel this way. I mean it was a huge blow to me the day the Doctors came in and told me and my family that my dad, my hero the man who was supposed to guide me through life and shape me into a man, was brain-dead and there was nothing more that could be done. I remember feeling so angry I almost knocked the Dr. out I felt this overwhelming emotions of rage, sadness, grief, confusion and above all disbelief. Now some could argue that I was not a kid with just turning 18 but I would disagree as I just turned the “adult age” but that was a time I needed my father to mold me into a man. I need guidance I needed to be shown how to live as an adult from a male perspective. How could this be ,my dad is gone forever? now with it coming up to 17 years of his death I find myself reverting back to the day at the hospital. I think this time is going to be even more of a challenge for me since I no longer have that “friend” to help me throw the hard times, yes, I am talking about my buddy Alcohol since we are no longer friends I have to deal with this on my own. I can not tell you enough of how scary that is for me, these past 8 months of sobriety have had some challenges but nothing will compare to this one. I thought I was “OK” and “over it” that is where I started to not respect this disease and I forgot how powerful it truly is. That this is a huge moment of weakness for me and I need to be very careful as the time approaches be aware that my addiction is just waiting in the dark shadows waiting for me to forget about how strong it is. It just wants me to let my guard down for one second to come in and take me over. For the last 16 years I would drink a lot just before the dreadful date and get completely annihilated on the day of, this is the first time since my father’s death I will be sober during. I am jumping ahead of myself I know one day at a time but I always have to make myself think of being sober through this, that is how I remind myself of how strong I am. All I have ever wanted the last 16 years was to have a conversation with my dad even if for an hour, I need to tell him so many things that I have carried all this time. Sure I could talk to him and I do but it is not the same to me I am talking to myself, that is where I struggle I need to hear him say he forgives me and he still loves me, I need to feel his large hands around me embracing me in a giant bear hug, I need to hear his voice and laughter. With out those things I feel empty I do not feel complete and I still carry tons of guilt, people tell me all the time “You know your dad loved you” ” You know your dad would forgive you” my response to that is “How”? maybe it is the belief I talk about I just can not accept this in my heart. My father was not a petty man by any means so I do not think he would hold that against me, however the last thing I ever said to him was “fuck you” there is no way on earth I can just think to myself “eh, its fine he does not care about that” if I maybe refused to take out the trash maybe but not something this harsh. I have been trying for years to come to the terms that what was said was said and nothing can be done about it, I try to not live in the past, I try to tell myself that I was a young dumb kid. None of that makes me feel better nothing anyone could ever say can make me believe that it is all peachy and roses. I realize that this is a huge thing for me to get past believe I am trying my ass off, this is the first time I have ever spoke in this much detail about my feelings about my father in a public sense, actually there are only a handful of people who truly know. I live with the shame and guilt for my mother loosing her house after my dad died, because instead of me pitching in and being the man of the house I choose to self wallow and drink myself into a stupor along with being stoned 24/7 I should have done more for my mother she sacrificed everything for me and my baby brother and all I did was drown all the pain away. I blame myself for my mother’s death because had I been there for her she would not have had to turn to Alcohol herself would have never gotten Cirrhosis of the Liver maybe should could have had a better more comfortable life. Instead I went off locked myself in my head for years and self destructed. Again no matter what is said I can not shake these feelings and I fear that they are going to take me over again. I refuse to ever be that person I was I have to mend things by being there for my wife and kids, I still fear it in the back of my mind which means my addiction is poking through just enough to make me doubt my ability and to bring all the pain to the front. I knew going into this journey of the new healthy me I would have a lot of shit I would have to deal with for the most part it was fairly easy. So I thought I guess this was just waiting in shadows. I have a lot of support and tools I use on a daily basis’ so I just need to keep those close. This next week I fear will be the biggest challenge I have yet to face I have to do everything in my power to stand up to this illnesses I own and confront them head on. I am terrified in doing so because facing the fact that I will never ever be able to talk to my father for the remainder of my life is more painful than anything that I could ever do to myself the fact that I never told my mom that I blame myself for her life after my dad died will also be carried with me. I am very aware of the damage that my Mental Illness and Addiction can do to me especially now I guess I will need to keep that front and center of my brain as I try to get through this next week. I do not think I will ever stop wishing my dad would come visit me in a dream ever dream I have had with him he has never spoke, most of the dreams are him coming back that he was never dead. I have had this reoccurring dream for over a decade. Now I am having the nightmares about it all over again, I have heard from so many people saying that loved ones visited them I wish my dad would come to visit me in my sleep just to say “hey dude its cool” I guess by this wish I am just hurting myself a little each time, or I am setting myself up to fail. Either way I do know one thing, that love and admiration I have for my parents will always be strong in my heart, no matter what I know deep down they love me. Just wish I could hear it one more time.