Tag Archives: Sobriety

How 2 Wheels Changed Everything…

BikeDad

Dec. 21, 2007 is my sobriety date. I haven’t found the need to ingest any alcohol or other mind altering chemicals since that date. I’d love to claim that this occurred because of a personal epiphany or that I was suddenly struck with an urge to get healthy, but that would not be the truth. The truth was, as I was sitting handcuffed in the back of a CHP car, I decided to change my life…enough was enough. I had somehow contracted the disease of alcoholism (funny how that happens…I thought everybody blacked out and drank as much and as long as I did), and as a result of my actions while drinking…I had picked up my second DUI the night I was fortunate enough to be in that CHP car (as opposed to the Coroners van).

The State of California decided I needed to be without a driver’s license for 365 days. Damn. That was inconvenient. I had a life then. How the hell am I going to get to work, pick up my kids…do life?

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The answer took the form of 2 wheels. For the next year, I did life on 2 wheels. Entertaining my kids, work, grocery shopping…life was done on 2 wheels.

In a million years, if you would have told me I’d be a cyclist now, at age 55…I would have genuinely laughed. And I did at the spandex laden freaks I saw on the side of the road. Until I became one…

As I spent that year on 2 wheels, something clicked inside me. Every single time I set forth…those first few pedal strokes invoked a sense of freedom and youth in me I hadn’t felt since I was a kid on my Schwinn. And that feeling remains today.

Last year, I rode over 3500 miles. On the bike pictured above, I’ve ridden 12,602 miles. And I’ve become a cycling addict. Every climb calls to me like another challenge awakened…every long ride instills in me a sense of accomplishment and…well…life.

I’ve lost 30 lbs cycling and for the first time in my life, all my lab work at my annual physical was normal…hypertension: gone…high blood sugar: gone…routine labs: normal.

So it was with this justification that I decided to spend some money on my health and my future. I bought a “real” road bike. A carbon fiber dream that I’d been coveting for a few years.

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I haven’t even taken it out on the road yet. It just didn’t seem right until I eulogized my 2007 Gary Fisher Mendota…

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The two wheels that got me to the market, got me to work, to my meetings, to my kids…the two wheels that helped keep me sober and helped me quit smoking–the two wheels that profoundly changed my life and my health. I didn’t see it coming. Sometimes the best things in life work that way.

I hate to part with you my friend. And although you’ll be my campus bike when I get into UCLA in 2017…you’ll no longer be my daily rider. My daily meditation. My daily savior on two wheels…

 

 


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!

 


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…

 

 


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