Tag Archives: AA

Six…

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Happy Birthday to me.

Yesterday actually.

I turned six…

Years of sobriety, that is. Yep, six years have passed without my ingestion of alcohol or drugs.

Although I rarely think about booze or drugs, and have absolutely no craving anymore, it’s kinda a big deal…

Well over a decade ago, a shrink I was seeing for depression suggested I go a year without drinking. His theory was that if I’m not an alcoholic, this shouldn’t be a problem (this is actually a pretty standard metric in the recovery field; and this guy knew damn well I was alcoholic, he was just trying to get ME to admit it).

I made it 13 days before I decided he was an idiot and I had no problem with alcohol. That I was a miserable wreck those thirteen days seemed to escape my grasp at the time…

I first drank at age 17 and it was immediately and magically the elixir I had been looking for my entire life…it changed everything for the better…until it didn’t.

I suffer from a disease that causes me to deny that I have a disease and I am eternally grateful that I eventually screwed my life up to the point that I had run out of solutions and was willing to surrender.

And that’s the key…surrender. My mom used to be puzzled about my drinking because, as she said “you have such strong willpower in all the other areas of your life”…

It’s like that for all of us drinkers. We MUST drink…it’s the norm, not the exception. And willpower is often a liability.

Anyway, Happy Birthday to me! I’m quite blown away that I’ve gone this long without the substance that literally ruled my life for so many years and equally stunned that I rarely think about it. Don’t get me wrong, I participate in standard treatment for this disease on a regular basis, but I rarely actually think about alcohol.

I’m pretty open about this part of my life with family, friends, and co-workers. Some disagree with this position but I firmly believe that, for me, if I hide it, it controls me and by putting myself out there, I’ve become a resource for others.

And that’s what keeps me sober.

So thank you to those individuals with whom I’ve had the honor of helping the last 6 years.

Here’s to another day!

 

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Just In Case Tomorrow Doesn’t Arrive…

take five design

Yay me.

Five years ago at this moment, I was sitting in the holding cell of the County jail awaiting release after my second drunk driving arrest.  The man next to me was talking to himself, and despite my utter and profound shame and self-loathing, I was struck with how damn unfair it was that this young man in his twenties, found himself in a place for criminals like me.  He was clearly very mentally ill, and whatever he had done, the penal system was not a place for him.  It was sad.

Then there was the guy laying on the floor, obviously a young gang member, who knew the ropes when it came to jail-house meals…he deftly ate what was edible and bargained with the mentally ill kid for the leftovers.  And the place smelled like butt.  There’s no other way to describe it.

I was released around 1pm that day after being arrested around 1:30 the previous morning.  I was in a blackout and driving over 120 mph on the freeway. I knew I was an alcoholic and I had tried to get sober for the past 9 years, but there was a part of me that believed I could control my drinking…that I could drink like other people did.  I just needed to moderate. I was able to put together 15 months of sobriety at one time during that period.

I was in law school at the time and I had just completed my first set of mid-term exams…I had done well and decided I deserved a celebration.  Two drinks I told myself, that’s all.  I swore to it and was certain I would keep it at that.  I had over 8 beers, one Crown Royal on the rocks, and a pint of Vodka in my car that night.  As I sat handcuffed in the back of a CHP cruiser, I decided that I had in fact lost all control over my ability to regulate my alcohol intake.  I also made the decision that regardless of my prejudices against a particular twelve-step program, my fears that it was a cult and that I would be brainwashed, I committed to joining it again and staying sober.  I realized at that moment how lucky I was to be alive but even luckier that I hadn’t killed someone that night.

I spent 40 days in jail for the second DUI and this blog title, “Conversations with the Moon” refers to my nightly sojourn outside at precisely 8pm every one of those nights to look at the moon and talk to my daughter Maddy.  We had agreed prior to me going in that this would be our way of communicating.  I didn’t want my kids to see me in the jail.  It was just something I couldn’t do to them.  So Maddy and I chatted every night at 8.  Well, at least I did…she was leading her own teenage life at the time, so you’ll forgive her if she had other things to do.

So here’s the deal, in case tomorrow doesn’t come, Mayan calendar-wise, wish me a happy sobriety birthday…if I make it to midnight tonight, I will be celebrating five years of sobriety.  It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I have grown in ways I could never have imagined and am eternally grateful for my sobriety and my sober and trustworthy relationship with my wonderful kids…

 

 


The Anarchy of Faith…

I’m not a believer in Jesus or the Christian concept of God.  I don’t believe the bible is the word of God.

I believe in a higher power that I cannot entirely identify.  In a nutshell, the easiest way to understand my belief is the concept of Karma.  Do good things, think good things, and good things will happen.  I believe it’s a function of physics, string theory if you will, that maintains a harmony, a homeostasis within the physical universe.

OK, that’s about as ethereal as I will get on this blog.  Let’s get down to brass tacks.  My failed marriage and my efforts at compromise.  I moved out on Thanksgiving day 2004 and was legally divorced the next year.  I was too immature (at age 31) to choose a mate and I was at a point in my life that I really had no business committing myself to anyone.  I was a sick puppy, emotionally and mentally.  I had/have an allergy to alcohol (and drugs) that cause me to break out in handcuffs.

On the day the Mayan’s predicted the world will end, God (well, you know, my concept at least) willing I will celebrate 5 years of sobriety. That’s a good thing.  What continues to be a challenge is dealing with the wreckage of my marriage.  Without getting into specifics, I am constantly challenged by my expectations with regard to my ex-wife.

I am not in the same financial position she is (long story involving our late son and an inheritance) and therefore am unable to provide the material possessions to our shared children (18 y/o girl, 16 y/o boy) that she is.  In addition to creating a modicum of guilt, it creates an inequity that consciously or not has apparently allowed her to essentially provide for our kids a “home” that I cannot.  I get it too, she provides the money for college, the cars, the clothes…pretty much anything they need financially and dad provides health insurance…and whatever I can spare from my meager earnings.

Before you break out the violins, I’ll cut to the chase.  I can’t compete on the material level, and while I’ve done everything within my power to provide an example for my kids on how to be solid, quality young adults, at the end of the day, they will generally choose the material over the spiritual.  Here’s the deal…I truly harbor no resentments at them, I’d likely do the same.  But what I do hope is that someday in a moment of introspection, they will appreciate the fact that I have been there for them…I’ve been solid where oftentimes the other half wasn’t.  It would make it all worthwhile if someday they expressed to me, not so much appreciation, but just simple recognition that where I couldn’t provide the bling, I provided the emotional security that they needed.

I’m no saint…and any recovering alcoholic will testify to the fact that removing our security blanket can cause moments of madness…I’ve experienced that and my kids have suffered as a result.  But at the end of the day I’ve done the right thing…I’ve fought the good fight.

I’m starting to feel like this narrative is coming across as whiny.  I don’t mean it too.  I want to speak to the other parents of divorced kids who quietly fight the good fight against the odds and yearn for the illusive recognition that may never explicitly come.  The recognition that we ultimately must have the faith that our efforts will manifest itself in the lives of our offspring.  And the hope that we can survive the loneliness and fear that oftentimes accompany doing the right thing.  I have to believe in Karma…and that we will be rewarded.


How Many Have to Die Before We Call It What It Is?

How many of you think drug addiction is a disease? Or do you consider it a moral failing?  The product of a weak-willed person, someone with a poor constitution. What about alcoholism?  Disease? Or another moral failing?

Our community lost a promising 23 y/o young man this month.  I didn’t know him personally but he was part of my tribe, my community. I read his obituary and looked at what was probably his senior picture. Poster boy for good looks and clean-cut living. This death on the heels of another high-profile death in our community…the quarterback of a local football team, son of a former NFL player…dead as the result of a heroin overdose.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the ignorance of the rest of us. These are not bad people. These are not weak-willed human beings. These are sick people suffering from a disease. Alcoholism and drug addiction have long since been recognized by both the American Medical Association and the Supreme Court as a disease. By definition: a chronic, progressive and FATAL disease. Yet we as a society continue to treat the sufferers as lepers…criminals…outcasts.

Do we imprison our cancer sufferers? Do we shun the person with diabetes as someone who “just can’t handle his sugar”? No. But when it comes to drugs and alcohol, our social indifference kicks in and we stigmatize, we lock-out, we imprison.  The United States has the largest prison population in the world and the overwhelming majority of these prisoners are addicts and alcoholics. Should we forgive their crimes because they are sick? Of course not, but we need to reevaluate what is a crime.  Possession and under the influence penalties are ridiculous. Locking someone up for feeding their addiction is like busting the diabetic for possession of a Snickers bar. The criminal justice system is not the answer.  Compassionate, accountable recovery is.

Until our society as a whole has the moral courage to recognize this for what it is…a disease, we will continue to mistreat it. And we will continue to kill our young.  We are not exempt. You are not exempt. Jail does nothing to treat the underlying disease; it only manifests the problem and continues the lie.

So as you judge the alcoholic or addict next time, try to remember that they are suffering from a chronic, progressive and fatal DISEASE…if enough of us do this, perhaps it will save some lives, reform our prison system and finally begin to address the root problem.  If not, we will continue to bury our young. This is not getting better folks…only worse.

RIP Aaron. I’m sorry we couldn’t help. Shame on all of us.


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