Month: March 2016

Heartbreaker

heart_break_001Bona fide metamorphosis; I persistently mulled over the invented elements featured in that newest round of transformation; convincing myself in a desperate, self-soothing manner that I had thoroughly evolved that time around; besides, authentically believing in the fabrication myself was of crucial importance to ensure that all those around me bought into the act as well – the new me that is; proclamation of a wholehearted oath secured through the blood-soaked signature of sincere intentions and paramount promises – this time I recognized the remedy; this time I was cognizant of the solution; I predicted a warm embrace; I felt I had undeniably earned it; anticipating a warranted welcome with open arms; presuming all infractions would be expunged from my inadequate record – a clean slate; I had, in fact, led any questionable culmination to be in tune with the blatant fact that I was cured; that I had no control whatsoever over my thoughts or actions prior to this conclusion, citing, as any good alcoholic would, that my illness had made me that way – why should I suffer for it after the fact? 

stock-illustration-22467839-captian-at-wheel-of-shipI had diligently worked at making it come across as if my life finally rerouted back on track; a quintessential illusion; my master-minded manipulations continuously cultivated their effectiveness with every booming beat of a heart pounding on borrowed time.  My primary purpose became exclusively pursuing a hunger for that recognition; the validation of anybody noticing a job well done with me at the helm – whether or not it was “real” plays no significant role in conjunction with my ill-fated agenda; it was the obligatory recipe, fueling operation of the subsequent pride filled ego-trip that inundated my consciousness and generated sensational feelings of invincibility – like I got one over on everyone again; I had outsmarted and outplayed everybody once more; I, in all my glory, had engineered a masterpiece; let me reap the rewards of such tiresome work and let everybody else settle in with the idea that a new and improved Chris had arrived back in town – obviously that was the case.

fists-vector-3705Then reality steadily forced its way back up to the surface; and in succession with every time before that, defective words launched from my lips vanished and faded in the distance, getting lost in the background and swiftly becoming virtually valueless due to a lack of physical effort to fortify their fidelity.  The only real illusion was what I had erroneously convinced myself of in attempt to soften the relentless and never-ending, self-inflicted fists of life beating me into submission; the masterpiece I thought I had skillfully constructed around me wasn’t that at all, but no more than counterfeit concoctions of an ill-minded imagination; travesties of my sickness; corruptions of my curse – when all was said and done, I assuredly found myself further down the rabbit hole than where I had begun.

Common sense might offer up reasonable rationalizations as to the benefits of cutting out this way of living altogether, but when it comes to alcoholics and alcoholic behaviors, common sense is non-existent – on a side note, when I really get wrapped up in my analytical state and dissect it, I’m not all that sure I can even buy into the ideology of common sense being an entity at all; what is common to me may not be all that common to you; it’s a blurry line, at best; I don’t see the sense in any of it really.  Regardless of whatever sense it makes to cut it out, it’s imperative to remember that we are sick people; connections in our brains are, for lack of a better term, not entirely connected; it’s also imperative to remember that we cannot use that as an excuse or justification to continue on down a calamitous passageway, writing off any and all options that offer us the solution to our malady.  As with any of the countless other illnesses that live and thrive, we too must be treated, despite our awareness that no cure currently exists (“We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” – Big Book, pg. 85) – it is our responsibility to seek that solution; to be honest and truthful with ourselves first and foremost; if we ever expect to break the cycle of continuously trying to fool everybody, including ourselves, to no avail, that is what our predecessors have found to be required – in the end, no matter which way you slice it, it’s simply wasted time and energy not to give recovery a genuine, full-fledged effort. 

We are men and women, young and old; we are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers; we are somebody’s friend, we are someone else’s enemy; we are praised professionals running multi-million dollar businesses; we are homeless and forgotten, finding shelter in an alley behind the dumpster we scourged for our last meal; we are immensely intelligent and stunningly creative; we are charming, fun, and easily loveable; we are dark and lonely lost souls, never truly able to find a place where we fit or a setting where we feel comfortable; we are full of potential, yet time and time again we are left with more to be desired; we offer up bright and promising lives, although we are not always proficient in keeping true to our promises; we break hearts over and over again, hoping someday we can peel away from the perpetually poisonous pattern of building up expectations, just to become a major let down one more time.  Many times our intentions are good, but our outcomes are not; throw caution to the wind until we meet again, heartbreaker.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

(This is the start of a Character Study Series that will be ongoing. Periodically, I’ll throw in a story or experience I have had on my road to recovery.  All names are changed to protect identity.)

 

cowboy-roping2Grayson.  A man, that would undoubtedly self-diagnose himself as so dirty-minded, so salacious and crooked that if he swallowed a nail, he’d spit up a corkscrew – and trust me when I say that I’ve met people bred in Texas over the course of my life, but no one quite like Grayson. I was engulfed in his “southern charm” faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind could spread and it really, really caught me off-guard.  You can also trust me when I say I wouldn’t be surprised if this maniac literally did swallow a nail just to prove that point a reality. 

It was the first morning at the new house my treatment program had relocated me to.  Stumbling down the stairs like a zombie, still somewhat trapped between the stages of vague cognizance and completely comatose; still existing in an acute state of detoxification, I opened the back door to the patio and laid eyes on my new group of fellow addicts and alcoholics.  As a side note, It’s a phenomenally uplifting occurrence to be routinely greeted every morning by a cluster-fuck of weary, temperamental, and volatile degenerates who haven’t inundated or, more accurately, bombarded their systems with enough nicotine or caffeine to stabilize themselves quite yet.  I say this with the utmost sarcasm and I’m just another sorry unstable soul in this sea of dissolution – at this juncture in my journey seeking sanity, I had become so used to moving from house to house; so used to being hurled into a new pack and required to integrate myself, that at some point, it all started blending together and morphing into a twisted, new sense of normalcy. 

From the far reaches of my peripheral line of vision, I saw an intimidating, boisterous middle-aged man sitting with a cigarette lit in his mouth flicking up and down as he concurrently spouted off obscenities and dirty jokes to anyone that would listen.  I’m rather desensitized to this type of atmosphere, but Grayson proved an exception and quickly grabbed my attention.  His voice was gruff and featured the stereotypical Texas inflection; his ball cap wore with an extremely tight curve and displayed ragged tears in the brim – not because it was stylish, but because it had earned them from enduring life atop this man’s head for so long. Dirty, ripped jeans, prison tats, and an old, black wife-beater bridged the gap between his hat and cowboy boots.  Through the combination of smoke and the morning mist lingering between us, his eyes locked on me and he emphatically hollered in my direction, “well put on your sittin’ britches y’all, we’ve got ourselves a fish – looks like he just fell off the tater truck! Hey man – yer face reminds me of a wrench; when I see it my nuts tighten up.” – That was my introduction to Grayson; it wasn’t even seven o’clock yet.

To say Grayson had lived a colorful life up to the point that he found himself in Southern California would be an incredibly potent understatement; in fact, at first I wasn’t sure I could even believe there was any truth or validity to some of the completely unfiltered and farfetched stories that came flying out of his mouth, but as time went on and as I got to know this gentleman on a more vulnerable and personal level, I knew there was no falsification of the tales that he told.  Despite his tumultuous demeanor or his offensive and obscene sense of humor, he had a unique code of integrity; principles that had been ingrained in him by life over the years; hidden in a sense; they are the type of values that if you don’t pay close attention, you’d be blind to the fact that they were even there within him at all – the prejudice that he is just a crude, animalistic or undomesticated Texan with entirely no sense of morals or decency is, in all reality, the only real tall tale to be told; it’s merely a surface deep look into what this man and his life really is.

enforcer-300x222“The Enforcer” is what I grew to know him by as we hung around each other more often; fanatical stories of his under-the-table “career”; how he made sure those that were required to pay up, did in fact pay up for whatever debt they owed – no matter what, no matter how; and I’m not talking about how somebody is behind on a mortgage payment or hasn’t made up for owed taxes either; I’m not referring to the mainstream ideology of debt if you catch my drift; we’re talking underground here.  Stories of his madness further consisted of scandalous and depraved sexual conquests, tension filled run-ins with law enforcement, spine-chilling near death experiences, and the grueling, arduous life trapped behind bars.  It was fascinating that he was still alive, let alone in a head-space where he was seeking professional help under his own free will and not to satisfy the requirements of a court card.

Grayson was outside having a smoke one night as I pulled up in my car at our sober living house.  As I walked passed him to head inside for the evening, he very energetically and, in his own distinctly Grayson way, let me know I had a tail light out on my vehicle – I believe he said I was “so oblivious that I couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with a hole in the toe and directions on the heel” – or something like that.  I thanked him for letting me know and continued on my way.  The next morning, I walked out to my car and there he was, standing at the front passenger side door, the signature cigarette as always locked in and animated in his mouth.  At first I was confused; what did he want? Did he need a ride somewhere? He hadn’t mentioned anything or asked me for one. 

As I got slightly closer, he yelled something to the effect of, “I reckon you’re about as handy as hip pockets on a hog when it comes to fixin’ a tail light, so that about puts the rags on the bush, you need a fuckin’ invitation to your own ride? C’mon!”  Before I knew it, I was buying a tail light at the auto parts shop and he was fixing my tail light.  As we headed back to the house, he attempted to charge his phone unaware that the power outlet didn’t work.  We were right back at the store and I was purchasing new fuses.  He fixed that too.  I think I maybe spent a total of fifteen bucks for everything – a bill that would have been significantly higher should I have taken it to a shop for the repairs; that was the real Grayson though – kind, compassionate and willing to lend a helping hand to someone in need.  Nothing about helping me was intended for him to benefit, he refused anything in return; and trust me, with his background as the enforcer, I tenaciously tried to compensate him for his time – but he was happy just spending time with me, shooting the breeze, and doing some man shit. 

Zorro-Mask-Eco-friendly-Pulp-White-Mask-Halloween-Masks-Cardboard-Blank-White-Masquerade-Face-Half-EyeThe man behind the mask was really looking for the same thing I was – a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning to this whole deal on Earth; he got lost along the way just as I did – I realized how in many ways we were the same just as much as we were different.  We were both walking through life with haunted souls, infected with the same malady, and in need of the same remedy – just because the footprints of his path were marked by cowboy boots and mine marked by Chuck Taylor’s doesn’t mean we didn’t end up in the same place – Grayson is an incredibly respectable man, a brother in the fight, and I was truly blessed to have crossed paths with him on our respective roads to pursue a purpose-driven life.  Had I judged him right off the bat because he was different than me or wrote him off as bad news, I would have missed out on a very impactful part of my recovery; I would have missed a valuable connection, an incredible experience, and I would have continued on my road with a closed-off mind acting or living no better than where I started. 

Religiously Spiritual

desktop-backgrounds-beach-sunset-wallpaper-2

I’m walking now; exclusively powered by instinct and muscle memory; life has momentarily transitioned into a state of tranquility, shifting back and forth between bouts of conscious rumination and subliminal stillness. This unworried feeling is foreign to me; remarkably unlike the artificial, bottle-fueled abyss I have so often been self-destructively hurled into time after time.  I welcome it; a rare condition of mind I can only compare to winding up enthralled in an episode of lucid dreaming, but rather than feeling awake actually locked in a dream, I’m actually awake feeling locked in a dream – a role reversal I ungrudgingly usher in – a breath of fresh air readily embraced.  Satisfying warmness inundates my face as the sun locks me in its crosshairs, firing the rays of its life-bearing light into my soul; its glare creates a prism effect as I gaze down the beach; the blur of distant objects; these metaphorical indications of what’s to come vehemently scream warnings not to be concerned with what the future may consist of; procuring the blind faith to accept that everything is blurred out in a condition of ambivalence for a reason – acceptance is key, staying locked in this moment is not only enriching – it’s vital.  

Invigorating sand sneaks up through the divide of unsheltered toes – a tender and rugged euphoric fusion yielding to my presence and giving way to every step; if only each aspect of life was so accommodating; if to the exclusion of everything and everybody else, my wants and needs were habitually met without question while concurrently encompassing absence of shame or guilt – not the case however; those narcissistic thoughts only intend to lead towards supplemental suffering and the means to conserve my sickness.  This place is my constant in a world overrun by variables; right here I am free; an authentic solitude unaccounted for back on the mayhem occupied streets of society; streets which persistently lie in wait a couple hundred yards away for my assured return – I retreat here in the surf to charge a worn soul, revamping my spirits in order to survive when I set foot there once more.  Flashing a quick glance behind me, I catch sight of the tide gently over flowing impressions left by my feet; footprints of my past washed away into nothing but a recollection – evoking a subtle truth that what took place back then is finished; it cannot be modified or revised; it’s gone now; so I stay the course; trudge on; press forward – a happy destiny still awaits; magnificence obtains its majesty over the duration of the ride.

FreedomFor me, meditation isn’t practiced in a dark, candle lit room, burning incense and playing music to the tune of Kumbaya in futile efforts to clear out all of my conscious thought life – it’s a stroll along the shoreline, being mindful or connecting with the texture of the sand and the sounds of the ocean; it’s hiking up to the peak of a mountain and overlooking the valley below or walking a trail through the woods, searching out the stunning sight of a secluded, jaw-dropping waterfall.  The sole purpose of meditating is to engage in contemplation or reflection for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness – the beauty is, there are no set guidelines or boundaries – it’s ambiguous, it’s personal; we are all free to customize meditation to how it best suits ourselves – something religion can and will never offer us.  Spirituality, for me, is simply an assessment of my interior being – the life, power, and energy in my mind and body; I have the ability to honestly conduct this assessment in a meditation style customized to my personality.  Adopting this is so pivotal for my journey due to its genuine cleansing of my soul; when the tank is empty, I require fulfillment; as long as I’m replenishing my spirituality tank with positive vibes, I’m not being permeated with the desire to escape.

I think the word “meditation” itself can initially come across as off-putting or threatening, immediately turning culpable folks away in contempt prior to investigation; its uninviting, pre-determined ritualistic nature or religious connotations supply enough reasonable doubt to justify these conclusions in the eyes of skeptics.  Although there are many religions that embody meditation as a part of their rituals, it is by no means all encompassing – at least not if we are able to open our minds up to the innate differences separating religion and spirituality into entities completely independent of each other – and they are, no doubt, quite different.  Every religion around the globe incorporates specific traits or qualities which make it just that – a religion.  This includes a definitive god (i.e. Jesus, Allah, Yahweh), a creed (i.e. rules or belief system), rituals (i.e. communion), prayer (i.e. The Lord’s Prayer) and organization or hierarchy’s (i.e. priest, pastor, parishioners, church buildings, etc.).  The saying goes, at least around the rooms of twelve step programs, “Religion is for those who are afraid to go to hell; Spirituality is for those who have been to hell and never want to go back.”  The spiritual aspect for me is, as I stated earlier, simply the assessment of my inner being, which meditation allows me to complete – no rules or guidelines or hierarchy’s; no definitive god, at least not in the sense that major religions of the world are concerned; just connection, self-awareness, and mindfulness; that’s all, plain and simple. 

gi-letting-go-butterfly11I’m not religious; far from it actually, but feeding the spirit inside me through how I exercise meditation and incorporate it into my life plays a large role in why I can now achieve so much acceptance and feel so much peace, even considering all I’ve been through and all I still face – it allows me to take a step back and realize I cannot “play god” in an attempt to control how I believe things should be; that everything will fall into place as it should, which is perfectly fine – and that is enough.  Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bother me in the least that there are people practicing or taking part in any of the multitude of organized religions either – millions do, so who am I to say there is not any validity to it whatsoever – that would be insane or at the very least, intensely egotistical; I believe people should follow their own paths and partake in what works on their own individual playing fields – it’s just not my path and I know that now – I’ve tried it and my experience was fueled by deceptions and contradictions that render it highly unlikely for a return – but that’s just me.  By the way and in case you are wondering, yes I do have a higher power, but that, my friends, is a tale for another day.

“Just Hear Me Out”, Me

canstock3161281Justification and rationalization aplenty.  When referring to a life that lacked many things, these two were, by no means, on that list; my muzzle could rattle off scenario after scenario for days on end as to why I did this or how I need to do that – and that’s coming from a pretty quiet, reserved gentleman.  So, what’s the problem?  Contrary to popular belief about addicts and alcoholics, the problematic justifying and rationalizing as a person living with the disease does not refer nor pertain to physically picking up and taking that first drink or drug.  It does, however, start to set a series of events in motion that will eventually lead directly to it.  This is why you will hear so many in recovery refer to the relapse happening far before the actual drink or drug is taken.  My head defaults to a system that has been in power and control for years; governing my life in a single-minded and tyrannical manner.  The system, which is not absent in many normal people as well, is basically this: a thought or behavior with subsequent punishment or a thought or behavior with subsequent reward – it became the basis for every decision that I made; whether or not it was a completely sound and conscious decision at the time really had no effect or influence on what I perceived as the final outcome; at least that’s how I see it when I look back on the life patterns in myself. 

I do not claim that the physical act of taking the first drink was not justified or rationalized in the process – it certainly was – but it was not the primary means of such deliberate action.  When I do something positive in my life, my head automatically starts to formulate a reward – it’s how I am wired and I am justifying said reward, whether it be food, an impulsive purchase, or any other life pleasure that provide instant gratification, because I did something virtuous and noble rather than simply conducting myself in a positive or productive demeanor because it was the right thing to do; a fundamental lack of integrity – whether or not it was to directly benefit me or not should play no part in the thought process – but it always does; human nature?  Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean I cannot or should not try harder to stay conscious of these underlying intentions or motives as to why I am thinking or behaving in any particular fashion. 

When the roles are reversed, which is far more existent in my particular situation, my mind defaults to formulating a proper punishment that must be inflicted upon myself; I view myself as unfit and unworthy; I deserve pain and suffering to the maximum degree.  So on and so forth; but the problem was this – I justified taking a drink as both a punishment and a reward – I did something good, lets celebrate! I did something bad, lets numb and escape that unwanted feeling. This cycle, or system, of reward and punishment that plagues me continues to produce the menacing and treacherous symptoms like irritability, restlessness, and discontentment – in other words, the kryptonite of the alcoholic, leaving no chance for long-term recovery. entitlement

Then the shift starts to take over and the entitlement rears its ugliness; I stay sober for a period of time and now the world owes me something? All of a sudden everybody should just welcome me back into their lives with open arms? Look at me! Over here! Do you see me? Look at what I’m doing! Trying to find work again, preparing for schooling, attempting to pay my bills instead of avoiding them, getting out of bed in the morning and contributing to my life and the life of others.  Don’t you see?  Commend me; tell me how good I am; I deserve it god dammit!  I’m doing exactly what an adult should be doing and I demand recognition!  I’m special, aren’t I? 

untitledWow – what completely absurd and irrational thinking; talk about self-centered; talk about egotistical and pride filled jibber jabber.  What type of raving lunatic cannot see that as being an irrefutably unjustifiable and foolish view point? – that nutcase is me; it’s exactly how my mind sees it.  I will start to rationalize my return to active addiction by feeling a lack of support or understanding.  I’ll start to tell myself lies like, “even when I’m sober, my friends and family don’t get me, my drinking was never the problem all along; these other people were the problem; I’m just sober and alone now; I might as well go back out and try this drinking thing again; at least it’s dependable – it really wasn’t that bad anyway.”  The lies only escalate from that point into, “I’ve already lost everything; I cannot have contact with my children; my career is gone; my divorce is final with totally unfair and unreasonable conditions; my house had to be sold, leaving me legally homeless three-thousand miles away from everything I once knew – what’s the use? It’s already too late.”  These I can now recognize as critical red flags; that my mind and disease are in a very bad place – attack mode; and although these are true scenarios I have to deal with, it is by no means the end of the world – and that, I must always, always remember.     

Much to the tune of self-deception for a lengthy period of time, I was not drinking to tolerate the world around me or what was taking place in it like I so often preferred to believe; I was drinking because I always managed to reach that pivotal point where my only option became drinking in order to tolerate myself.  That was my ultimate justification, whether or not I chose to see or accept that is debatable, but thankfully, my eyes have been opened to embracing that as being the case.  I hated myself; loathing and detestation of my mere existence; I couldn’t stand to be around me, but rather than address the problem head on, I backed down from that confrontation of myself in attempt to ignore the problem altogether; secretly praying that it would magically disappear; a truly unrealistic expectation.  So every time problems didn’t disappear, I already found my solution drowning in a bottle of liquid escape – and it worked, that is, until it didn’t. 

foggy-mirror-rectify-it-with-petrolium-jellyI took extreme measures to avoid myself, which did not solely involve indulgence directly in that anesthetizing solution.  For instance, before I would even consider walking in front of the bathroom mirror in my home, I turned on scalding hot water in the shower so the steam would fog out my reflection – I couldn’t look at myself, staring into my own eyes was too painful; the occasional tears streaking down my cheeks when it got to be too much; tears of shame, guilt and remorse; I chose not to feel them and I didn’t want to see them either – but I still couldn’t stop being that miserable excuse for a human being.  I was always qualified to justify self-destruction, but under no circumstances prepared to warrant self-improvement – all because I didn’t love or accept myself – I didn’t know how; I didn’t think it was possible, so I never tried.  Today things are a little different.  I don’t love the things I once did, but I don’t hate myself anymore – I can look in that mirror and know that I am at least giving it my all; doing the best I can, and learning to trust in the process.

Dear Daughter

Lullaby-Logo

Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s going to buy you a mocking bird…

Dear Daughter,

I know it’s hard to understand why I couldn’t stay, but somewhere along the path, your daddy lost his way; then a little birdie came to me with good advice to say; I listened hard and held on tight, then up and flew away; that’s how it had to be, so away I had to fly – so very, very far from you, up, up into the sky. Now in California, I could only think of you, but to be a better daddy meant a mission to renew.  The daddy that you need, a man that isn’t scared; undeniably reliable and no longer impaired.  Wherever we may lay our heads, no count how far apart, I see you in my reflection and keep you safe inside my heart.  Somehow, someday you will have to learn that life’s not always fair; press on my dear, and never fear, I promise I’ll be there – then there are the ones who choose to never understand; this disease left daddy ostracized and banished from the land; but it cannot break our bond, nor ever empty my affection; it fuels my fire to inspire the remedy to their rejection.

And if that mocking bird don’t sing, Papa’s going to buy you a diamond ring…

Dear Daughter,

1604375_10155340130775055_4152994143614805638_n
(Dancing with my Daughter, St. Patrick’s Day 2015)

A diamond is forever, and you’re my diamond in the rough, so no matter what else happens, you’ll forever be enough.  We live, we laugh, we learn, but the time comes when we fail, get back up and try again, that’s how you will prevail.  And when you get distraught; or disgruntled; or disgraced, you can know that I have been there too with mud upon my face.  I’ll never offer judgement when you’re not winning the race, just an understanding; just a warm embrace.  So my dearest daughter, please hear these words I speak, I’ll advocate to bear the weight as we’re climbing towards the peak.  But if your daddy stumbles; if I should tumble down the drop, promise me to carry on and make it to the top.  Your destiny is way up high, just work at it and take it, I have no doubt you’ll knock it out and ultimately make it. Your definition of success will be revealed – go along, and what you’ve known as set it stone, might always have been wrong – I challenge you, sweet baby girl, to forge yourself a dream; the highs and lows are how it goes, revel in the in between.

 

And if that diamond ring turns brass, Papa’s going to buy you a looking glass…

Dear Daughter,

I wish I could undo so many things that I have done, not taken us for granted; but made us number one. I regret it every day, that I couldn’t see it coming; I was wrapped up in escaping, indulging in life numbing.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you or you made any mistakes; I made a choice and lost it all – sometimes that’s what it takes.  But I have started to lose sight of that dark and stormy cloud, forever hanging over me, so I can make you proud; and the time that we have lost, isn’t time that’s lost forever – you are my heart and soul, baby girl, my shiny little treasure.

And if that looking glass….ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Chris, Reservation For One…

ico_409_banner_reservation

I can sense in myself that this is it; game over; I can’t explain why, but I finally feel finished this time, with “feel” being the keyword as well as the most frightening one in my vocabulary – but King Alcohol has beaten the living shit out of me, stolen everything, and left me overwhelmingly convinced of its mastery and sheer ability to remain undefeated; that no matter what I do, that will never change; much respect; no more rematches; I concede that I will never hold the coveted Championship Belt.  My condition was, to say the least, grim upon arrival; physically ill, mentally wrecked, and spiritually more dead than ever as I dragged myself through the doors of the admissions office in the treatment center I’ve come to know as home.  They mercifully granted me a pass to embark on the fourth attempt of rehabilitation through their program; like they had taken me in and adopted me as a child of their own – it’s been nearly an entire year since I first touched down in California and the majority of that time has been spent within a residential treatment home, a sober living home, or a cheap, trashy motel room – I can’t count out a night or two spent seeking shelter inside my Jetta either; I might as well just be honest and throw that into the sad mix of situations I’ve encountered over the course of my west coast adventure.

A foreign desperation has set in; a rock-bottom I haven’t known; new depths have been reached, again – it’s now becoming quite convincing that an alcoholic of my condition can always manage to dig a deeper pit, that in all reality, my true bottom is most likely six feet under in a wooden box – you know, a forever nap in the dirt.  I was lost and completely confused – I could not figure out for the life of me why or how I had picked up that first drink – things were starting to turn around; life was, for all intents and purposes, gradually getting better.  I merely stopped in at a gas station to pick up a cold, refreshing Coca-Cola, which in fact I did buy, in addition to one shooter of Jack Daniel’s that jumped off the shelf from across the store and into my brown paper bag – very acrobatic stuff for a tiny little, plastic bottle.  The insane thinking that one measly drink could do me no harm took over; that it would calm me down and take a very satisfying edge off – a tiny taste, that’s all.  My disease in its baffling, sinister power overthrew all logic and reason; it noticed I was off-guard and took full advantage of the situation – I came to a week later, in the middle of the desert, somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas – that’s how I roll when I hand over control – that is, when I hand over control to the wrong higher power.

33886499-Scared-emoticon-smiley-cartoon-Stock-Vector-face

I’m scared; petrified really, although I loathe admitting it and intuitively go to extraordinary lengths not to show it – even though I’m working more intensely than ever to prevent another disastrous bender or spree.  It’s that hair raised on the back of my neck type of fear; where cold blood courses through my veins and tender, blue eyes roll over black in automatic defense of such unpleasant feelings or emotions – “drown it out!”, my mind screams at me, “you know how to make it stop!”.  Reservations that I may one day take another drink cannot possibly still find places to squat or hide-out in patient existence within me – not after living through hell on Earth; not after pleading for and welcoming death as a far more appealing option than continuing to sit still, trapped in a nightmare too devastating even for Stephen King to think up; not after finally coming to terms with and accepting the reality that my soul is only further and more emphatically tortured by the diabolical aid of a drink.  No – surely no person, thing, event, or situation could ever cause me to retreat back to that horrific place where the unfortunate living must lay amongst the dead – or then again, could such a thing or situation really exist?

A large part of getting and, more importantly, STAYING sober is identifying these reservations, not hiding from them or pretending they are magical, false figments of my imagination like I’d much rather do – and it doesn’t matter how insane or far-fetched the reservation is or seems, if it would cause me to take that first drink, the sheer prevalence and power of that alone needs to be acknowledged, understood, processed, and dealt with.  “Why?” my head asks me.  Why do I need to do this seemingly unnecessary work?  Work that feels like wasted effort; time that could be spent doing something far more important or productive.  The likelihood that I will be around to experience an apocalyptic event is pretty low on the totem pole, so who cares if I would drink over the impending demise of our planet?  Right off the bat, entertaining, nevertheless, responding to the questions or ideas formulated in my head is never, ever all that smart of an idea; the great lie is my fantastic ideas being reasonable or well-grounded.  I’d be much better off following the direction of my heart, but somewhere along the pathway from my ticker to my noggin is a disconnect that I haven’t yet been able to fully bridge – perhaps I never will, who knows.  Secondly – contrary action – do things differently than I have always done them and reap different results that I have always ended up with; pretty damn simple, but so fucking hard.

toy-loneliness-grief-sadness-autumn-nostalgia-cold

So, in the unfathomable event that something truly horrendous were to happen to my son or daughter like the development of a terminal disease, passing away in a tragic accident, somebody hurting them, violating them, or even taking their life; how could I possibly handle that rationally without resorting directly to the drink for instant numbing and escape?  What if by some miracle I hit the lottery rendering me financially set for life?  I’d never have to live on the streets or beg for help; I could buy all worldly pleasures, pay problems away, and enjoy any other comfort or desires when and where I want.  What’s to stop the drink then?  These are two unlikely, but possible scenarios which could arise one day – and at the heart of these reservations, which I didn’t think I had or at the very least chose to ignore, lives selfishness and self-centeredness.  Yes, the ugly root to nearly all of my issues rises to the surface again – frankly, I’m pretty sick of finding selfishness mixed up and wrapped around every facet of my life.  Is it selfish that I’m sick of my own selfishness?  I’m just going to leave that one alone… 

If in that unthinkable scenario of losing one of my children, I run off and drown in a bottle of oblivion, I’ve completely turned it into a situation all about ME and how it effects ME and why not pour another glass of ME, ME, ME!  It completely turns the attention away from the value of their life and what it meant, making it instead, all about – you guessed it, ME!  There is no honor or respect in that – it’s simply selfish, no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it; by doing that I choose my own selfishness over a healthy grieving process with family and friends where we have the love and support of each other in honoring a beautiful, innocent life lost far too soon – as difficult and completely life-shattering as it would be, that’s the best case reaction in a genuine tragedy.  I would love to think I could be strong enough to handle it, but I’m not so convinced – and I don’t ever want to test the theory.  Now, obviously I pray I never have to face such a horrifying event, but I should acknowledge that the reservation does exist within me; ignoring it will never increase the chances for long term sobriety.

danger_skull_sign_orange

And so once again I’m faced with more challenges than I anticipated along this journey where danger lurks around every turn, but that’s the funny thing about anticipation and why it’s irrelevant to so many aspects of recovery – through acknowledgment I can work past it; working past it supports growth; growth breeds change – and change ultimately leads me further away from taking that first drink, in all its misery and unavoidable company, rather than falling one step back towards it.

In a Perfect World

dreamscape-5-lorainek-photographs

What I Want: A healthy connection to my commander and chief, the power I seek which oversees my life; away from the pain, and the torturous strife.  The thoughts floating through my head are not devilish lies; they’re straight from the heart lacking harmful disguise.  Words from my mouth don’t deliver a sting and my self-centeredness doesn’t ravage a thing; it doesn’t cause hurt, mayhem or disgrace, instead it brings much needed love in its place – it’s merely by fortune of association, that the sensation of elation brought translation of salvation.  The isolation I crave isn’t turning deranged, certifiably anti-social or forever insane.  My world is just as I left it or perhaps improved when the power has approved that I be removed.  And as I valiantly return from my latest sabbatical, the home-coming parade isn’t gloomy nor fallible.  Irresponsibility exterminated; unaccountability extinct; undependability and distrust have entirely collapsed; and sole author of the anarchy will no longer relapse.  It leaves me genuinely fulfilled and authentically content as I consent to prevent the next tragic event.

How I Get There: Humility and Grace.

celtic-moon-goddess

What I Want: A queen by my side; a best friend – accepting of my darkness; walking hand in hand towards the light; validation as a man, as a human and companion; my quirks are accepted, I don’t feel rejected; I’m just being me, no mask or façade, no – just being me, tender and authentically odd; she sits with me in the silence, the stillness, we’re free – vitally in tune with emotions, she sees what I see – she doesn’t give up; she’s all in ‘til the end, a fighter, a lover, and best of all, she’s my friend.  She gets all my humor, whether fair or off-color; she fires it back and that’s just why I love her.  This queen is no stranger to the struggle of suffering at great lengths, but as we rise from the ashes they formulate into strengths; trudging through the valley was a necessary journey, and although it was stormy, it began to restore me; it prepared me for my predestined ascent to the peaks, where I’ll look back below discovering why I was weak.  Our bond is real, stronger than steal, foundation reinforced, it’s built solid of course – I treasure the value of her mind, her body, and her spirit; love, I embrace, and now choose to revere it – the three become one which cannot be undone.  She’s perfectly balanced; perfectly made – I’m never alone and no longer afraid. 

How I Get There: Honesty and Patience.  

What I Want: Washboard abs and olive-toned skin; soul-piercing eyes and a chiseled, strong chin.  To be a powerhouse standing six feet or taller, not down here at five-six – which is quite a bit smaller.  I’d stroll with a swag up and down the main drag; I’d give a high-five to all those I pass by; steering clear of the fear would appear crystal clear – persevere my dear because our year is here.  A contagious smile keeps me safe for a while; the words that I speak are wise and unique.  They come, far and wide, to confide in my pride; departing alive with a drive to survive, thrived when arrived – refreshed and revived.  I assist, I lift up – provide aid to the needy; selfishness executed and no longer greedy.      

How I Get There: Acceptance and Gratitude.

What I Want: To be happy, joyous, and free.

How I Get There: Honesty, Open-Mindedness, and Willingness.