Tag: 12 Steps

Storm of the Century

6021b919fdbb70ace0dd3da86819e3b0Consistently rising tides breach the banks of destitution, freeing a spirit from being engrossed in depths of total darkness; as if a storm surge of clarity finally saturates a consciousness deserted – delivered from unabridged ignorance and robustly thrust into a thriving enthusiasm to embody virtue; to actively hunt what is honorable and heed what is noble whether or not that lies in the face of adversity – disseminating the region masterfully concealed within where brute, unrefined strength of character is essentially derived from; to finally comprehend and pledge adherence to respect these convictions of the heart – the most grueling but scrupulous means of gaining entry into the expanse of genuine inner peace; to unleash an authenticity that has been extinct since undergoing the digressive transformation which paved a course for total corruption; existing solely in the duplicitous – to commit premeditated murder on the complete and comprehensive interest to satisfy self alone. 

If nothing changes – nothing changes; I trust there is general agreement that insanity can be defined as repeatedly behaving in the same, old fashion, but expecting a different result each time; when priorities waiver off course, the fundamental motivations for seeking self-transformation will find themselves floundering – lost again in the shadows; misaligned with the objectives and misdirected away from original intentions – intentions to ultimately lead a fulfilling, purposeful and, at the very least, manageable life – in every accord; substituting one unhealthy escape for another unavoidably mutates into the solution – what holds value in the heart or the mind inevitably takes charge and transcends to rule as a life’s higher power – whether or not this is deliberately calculated; sooner or later these seemingly harmless coveted comforts convert into law of the land, all the while sinking sturdy, deep roots in the process and re-emerging with force as the newest form of chains binding the soul, resigning peace and tranquility to serve as no more than ideals to be desired yet again.  There is no shortage of stories, including my own, where people abstaining from the use of substances are still finding conclusion in angst, torment or flat out misery.

Who or what is coveted and sought after for influence over our personal lives sheds light on an enormous treasure trove of information, pin-pointing the current residence on our respective spiritual journeys – or lack thereof – it’s knowledge just waiting for harvest, if we tend to the field; if we consciously make the decision to incorporate practices of self-awareness into daily living.  As substances are wiped out from the canvas of our being, we are undeniably left to sort through the rubble and sift through the remnants of a storm that ravaged the landscape – we are chartered with the task to rebuild; how well we reconstruct and fortify our defenses will fundamentally measure how well we are able to weather the next one – so on and so forth.  Are we striving to stand up and be an example of what we feel the core of our being instinctually believes to be right?  Staying true to ourselves?  More often than not, do we give in and go along with the antics of the crowd because that overwhelming threat of fear or disapproval sinks in, that we will not be understood or accepted?  That we will be labeled as different?  Do we engage against our better judgement and adopt ideals in calculated cruelty, deliberate dishonesty and voluntary vileness if that’s what is required for us to fit in or fly under the radar?  Are we going to remain firmly planted or are we going to crumble and falter under the raw power and the sheer strength the next storm manifests?      

usedI feel for the sad state of our culture where a steadily increasing amount of folks are so morally and spiritually bankrupt; where insecurity and disconnection run rampant; where flaunting arrogance or cultivating money and power as a frontline defense suffices, all the while deriving any semblance of invalid self-worth by ensuring others feel less than; where disrespect for people, places and things has become par for the course – where we can just use or abuse each other as if the human race as a whole has digressed merely into disposable objects to be tossed aside after ultimately deceiving ourselves into believing we have been satisfied.  If we truly desire change in our life, simply taking drugs or alcohol out of the equation is not enough – continuing to exist as undesirable miscreants that perpetually deplete healthy resources rather than replenish them, or each other for that matter, is unacceptable; if the spiritual malady or characteristics of irritability and discontentment cease to depart our disposition, we might as well sustain the fraudulent solution found in mind-altering substances and preserve their pre-established position, allowing them pass to remain flowing freely through the dead, arctic veins of our spiritless corpse.

There is a favorable medium in all of this; an even balance to be found – we can sing along to the lyrics of our favorite music without the words necessarily reflecting our personal views – a song cannot persuade us, nor be used as an excuse, to objectify women or shoot up a school; the reverberations of pleasurable sound can simply be a powerful tool to embody the upward flow of spirit; we can enjoy the creative craft of film or television shows without having to impersonate the characters we identify with and behave in a way that disrespects the world around us – we cannot rob a bank or go on a killing spree because Hollywood’s influence has glorified violence; there is a time and place to joke around with our friends, just as there is a time to be aware of our surroundings and act as a responsible, respectable member or society.  We were entrusted with the gift of freewill, it is our responsibility as individuals to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

7-deadly-sins-1Whether or not we find it advantageous, human beings as a whole have evolved into a civilized entity over the ages.   Civilization demands law and order in spite of feeling these strong pulls or natural effects of the animalistic instincts ingrained deep within us; but there is some method to the madness as to why we have these instinctual necessities directly wired in – we need to feed, rest and procreate as a means to continue on as a species.  However, we do not need to participate in any of these inherent tendencies at the expense of our neighbor – sadly, more times than not, that appears to be the case; there is no shortage of testimony related to the crown prominently worn by the seven deadly sins.  Still, we don’t have to wait for the scales to tip in the other direction – some of the largest, most influential trends throughout time have begun with the actions of few.  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

Supremely Extreme: A Mid-Detox Dream

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“This isn’t real…this isn’t real…this isn’t real.” – walls ripple like waves of the sea; bends and twists; maneuvers that defy laws of physics.  “This isn’t real…this isn’t real.” – distorted figments of my imagination emerge; balloons conceal an ivory white ceiling and confetti spills out; at first a jubilant blizzard, followed swiftly by vibrant, assorted shreds of celebration drifting softly through the air prior to final descent, reconstructing the floor into a resounding work of art.  “This isn’t real…this isn’t real.” – a phantom silhouette develops in the window; moonlight launching life into its shadowy, dark form; catlike eyes shoot sinister shots striving to slaughter in every direction; an impetuous endeavor to claim itself a new victim. 

“This isn’t real…this isn’t real” – there are crowns on the clowns slipping in and out of the walls; little green men running loose through the halls; a mermaid lies resting at the foot of the bed; kittens wearing mittens of green, blue, and red.  “This isn’t real…this isn’t real.” – a paralyzed body shelters this lively, vigilant mind; bathing in sweat, permeating through stiff motel sheets, irrepressible shivering stays steady despite this interminable excretion of moisture.  “This isn’t real.” – desperate now for this ostensible nightmare to end…a battle of eyes to stay opened or closed. “This isn’t real!” A sudden, silent spine-chilling void in the room; the phantom is gone, the moonlight shines free – no more balloons or little green men, no more confetti or kittens in red; the clowns wearing crowns have retreated back home, I’m finally left in this room all alone.

Delirium Tremens: commonly referred to as DT’s – a psychotic condition typical of withdrawal in chronic alcoholics, involving tremors, hallucinations, anxiety, and disorientation. 

This “fun” new feature added to my personal history of detox symptoms has just started to occur while sobering up during each of my last two consecutive relapses; the disease progresses, and as I have recently experienced, trailing right on its coattails are the effects of withdrawal.  Unwillingly it has hurled me orbiting into the next realm of my life which has been lived primarily for the extremes; where law and order cease to exist; balance is non-existent – readings from my scale of viability cannot be perceived as anything other than an eternal enigma; I’ll invite fellow drunk, Billy Joel, to break it down for us:

“Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot, Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got, Maybe I’m headed over the hill, Maybe I’ve set myself up for the kill, Tell me how much do you think you can take, Until the heart in you is starting to break? Sometimes it feels like it will,

Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes,  Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens,  And if I stand or I fall,  It’s all or nothing at all,  Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes”

-Thanks Billy, you’re truly an inspiration.

It haunts me at night and plagues me by day, this battle between extremes – diving deeper down daily; making myself lost within the manipulative maze of my mind; I get sent spinning off course, analyzing and dissecting how much my circumstances digress every time I unleash the active disease to showcase and prove its persistent progression.  I consistently collide with these disheartening dead ends; retreating and rerouting in hopes to discover an innocuous way out, knowing full well there is no exit at all, safe or otherwise – not in the maze of this mind at least.

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How do I restore a balance, or probably more accurately, establish one for the first time?  I feel faced with a question that may never birth an answer.  How do I embody a genuine value in my life while I flounder at rock bottom, when I couldn’t even see a value in it when I had risen to the peak?  I begin to believe my life is merely living at each radical end of the spectrum; a human ping-pong ball; a bunch of drivel adjoining time and space in the superfluous intervals; pounded back and forth by the paddles of life.  I physically fight; I mentally fight; I spiritually fight; I become drained and discouraged; critically and cruelly cast down – up to date my record corroborates a uniformed overpowering – but lucky for me, all it may take is that one crucial win to be set on the right course.   

Who Ya Gunna Call?

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Green and gooey, this monster-like mass continuously compelled to consume; an insatiable appetite reaching realms of relentless proportions; sludgy, gross gunk left in its wake; a subtle producer of vague chaos; any given kitchen stood a better chance standing its ground against a feral, famished pack of teenagers – padlocking the refrigerator and pantry won’t keep this annoying apparition away.  Home was the Sedgewick Hotel when we first met this anti-social, unfriendly ghost and the staff put up with its shenanigans for as long as they could, making every effort to keep things in check and the establishment functioning flawlessly.  By all accounts, Slimer cared solely about stuffing its face – an affirmative inconvenience, however, nothing uncommonly menacing or violent took place as far as ghosts go.  But in time and under certain circumstances, even that became too much of an encumbrance; it could no longer be contained – situations were becoming increasingly dicey; action was necessary; the issue required resolution.  So who did they decide to call?  I think we all know so I’ll spare the dramatics – Bill Murray & Associates came in and took care of business.

Some kids were militant in their loyalty to G.I Joe while others found their strength getting lost in the pages of comic books.  I was all about the Ghostbusters, for a stretch of time, and when I think about the personality Slimer embodied, I can, to this day, relate my own flaws and character defects to it – particularly the imagery of Slimer chowing down at the room service cart, slabs of food falling straight through and directly down onto the floor of the hotel hallway.  To me, Slimer sort of represents a manifestation of the empty-void I sense within myself – endlessly consuming, in spite of never being filled; leaving behind my own version of unsavory slime wherever I may roam – the wreckage of my past.  For a time, the people nearest me could handle an occasional drunk incident and look past a hangover or ten, chalking it up to living through my early twenties – it’s normal, that’s what folks do in their early twenties – true for many; false for me.  I can’t pin point it, but the day came where I brought my destiny to fruition and crossed the line, flipped the switch; an irreversible switch and a line I could never retreat back across – much to the chagrin of myself and everybody in my life, Bill Murray & Associates weren’t available to save the day.

With the Ghostbusters being a generally impractical option, “who ya gunna call?” when that uneasy emptiness inside starts creeping its way into consciousness or our own “slime” in life reaches capacity, breaching the banks of our river to ruin?  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that once we pass that threshold of no return, the ensuing situation is left beyond any measure of human aid; that a spiritual remedy is required to remain rational; to rise from the depths of distress and climb to that ostensibly unattainable crest of contentment – shattering the sadistic cycle of suffering; autonomy at last.  Still, there is one troubling dilemma blocking my path – I haven’t quite locked in on what spirituality means to me; I’m not confident in what I believe to be my higher power – two crucially important aspects of long-term sobriety that could potentially occupy that void which bedevils me; an antidote to the alcohol, the over-eating, under-eating, women, sex, Netflix binges, isolation, and every other unhealthy Band-Aid solution that materializes in this muffled melon of mine.

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Most treatment centers or rehabs that promote the 12-step path to recovery hold at least one group therapy session to address what qualities your individual higher power might personify.  Everybody then randomly screams out different traits like, “all powerful” or “forgiving” or “unconditionally loving” – occasionally something to the tune of, “major pimp” or “swagged out playa” slips through the cracks – kids these days, ya know? But I think you get the gist; all the while the group facilitator is writing these random, yet positive personality traits on a dry-erase board in list format.  When the board is filled, the facilitator turns around and says, “why not let this be your higher power?”  Now – that’s all well and good, in theory, but it just doesn’t do it for me – I still can’t put a face on it; what do I do? Put Bill Murray’s face to all these character traits and call that my higher power?  Maybe I can pray to Mr. Murray temporarily, but I’m trying to determine or compute what my long term, eternal higher power actually is – for real; what it actually looks like to me; and much to my dismay, I’m not confident that Bill can be my permanent solution. 

There is a lot I still need to look at within myself; a lot of rigorous, honest work to be done – but I’ve recognized that this time around things are slowly starting to feel a little different; my approach and attitude has reached a point of sheer desperation – and no matter how big the mountain gets that stands in my way; no matter how far down the rabbit hole I am or how much life wishes to brew up storms of shit and send them my way, I sense a slight feeling of ease wash over me from time to time; like it’s going to all work out how it’s supposed to.  I’m not sure why I get this feeling; maybe it’s because I feel I have nothing left to lose at this point; an authentic “rock bottom” – and as for answers; I don’t have them; for now, the question prevails: “who ya gunna call?”

“50 Shades of Addiction”

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I spend a lot of time exploring the darker side of addiction, both generalities and my personal experience, because I have spent a lot of time in that darkness; the human mind has a propensity to be attracted to what’s lost in the shadows; the lowdown dirtiness of it all; the shock factor.  Folks may act as though they don’t like to see, hear, or talk about it because it’s “uncomfortable” or “inappropriate” – “what about the children?!?! ooooh lawdy, help ma Jesus” – yet turn on the news or look to our entertainment choices in movies and television – even novels; darkness sells – bigtime.  Facts are facts and the verdict is in.  In any case, I thought I would lighten things up a bit for a change and have a little fun, or at least make an attempt at it.  Although addiction and recovery should be taken seriously, it’s not always a bad thing to poke fun at ourselves or the insane behavior we exhibit along the way; a portion of recovery is to have fun and enjoy life, isn’t it?  Dare I say, I’m seeing a light in the darkness?  I picked out a few of the more colorful to breakdown and analyze…

And so the rituals begin; every group, clique, or crowd has developed their own traditions which become revered and sacred over time; shoes off; form a circle; pass to the left; burn incense (preferably Nag Champa); display paraphernalia, choose the one which best suits the situation and, perhaps most crucial, have plenty of junk food on hand – these are simply some of the classics without delving into particulars or individual details.  There’s generally no contest implying that stoners are an interesting breed of people – intensely philosophical in a “spaced out” sort of way and thoroughly intellectual about subject matter entirely irrelevant to anything happening in the present moment…perhaps entirely irrelevant, period.  Somehow, someway, over the course of a cypher, all problems in the world are solved – typically however, the same conclusion is always met: if everybody in the world smoked weed, there wouldn’t be any more problems because all would be “chill”; the universe would unite in perfect balance and harmony – peace symbol necklaces and hemp blanket jackets for everyone…que up ANY Grateful Dead song and get lost in translation; they all sound the same, sorry deadheads – put down the joint and you’ll see.  Strangely, stoners can see or make the number “420” in or out of anything and, sticking with the theme of numbers, they are practically profits in the realm of fractions for whatever reason.  Meals for the average weed smoker predominantly consist of a buffet of items that do not mix together; a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch paired with a Taco Bell burrito isn’t uncommon and all of a sudden those hot dogs rolling on and on for centuries behind the glass at 7-11 start to look intriguingly tasty – it would actually go quite well with a Pop Tart and that can of cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving dinner.  In an encounter with individuals high on cannabis roaming through the general public’s daily life, one may notice random laughter which cannot be made sense of – do not take offense, they are not laughing at you…or me, birds, trees, clouds, air, rain, buildings, cars, street signs, or the sky; they are, more than likely, laughing at nothing.  It happens – often.  When coming in contact with their apartment or car for whatever reason, don’t be shocked to find an alarming number of empty Visine bottles, that too happens – often.

Let freedom ring!  All those thoughts and ideas floating around inside the brain that should remain there, don’t remain there.  Evolutionary barriers that were put in place for a reason go down and the decision maker doesn’t make such good decisions anymore, but it doesn’t always start out too bad.  A long night of drinking with buddies has, for lack of a better word (and trust me I wish I had one), led to many “bromantic” situations.  “You know what dude, I like, really, really love you, bro…like I should say that more often, why don’t we? like, like it was just meant to be this way, you’re soooo my wingman for life!” and on and on, usually involving some type of unnatural hugging, and the next morning all parties involved try to act as though not a memory could be had – some portion of the conversation or events can usually be recalled, but it’s ignored nevertheless.  An alcoholic beverage is sometimes referred to as, “liquid courage”; most of the time this fabricated boldness only proves to work against whoever ingested it – the guy at the party who thought it would be a commendable feat to jump from the third story balcony onto a parked car or the fella suffering from napoleon complex that picks a fight with the biggest, toughest guy at the bar – neither of which are effectively wise decisions, but watch an episode of “Cops, Spring Break Miami” – that packages it nicely, topped with a bow.  On the subject of out-of-control, drunk college guys and gals, it’s not out of line to say alcohol could be a contributing factor to the over-population of the world, is it?  Walk of shame, ladies? One high-heel on, the other broken and stuffed into your black hole of a purse, smeared make-up and joker-like hair, cursing your girlfriends by name in your head for letting you do this – again, cannot confirm whether or not a stop at the pharmacy for “plan B” is necessary so it’s just wise to do it exclusively out of precaution…need I say more?  Didn’t think I was going to let you ladies off the hook now, did you?

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Out of all the various types of addict and the unavoidable tragic, odd behavior that plagues us, my personal favorite; the most entertaining, maniacal, crazed, and winner by a landslide is, no doubt, the tweaker.  Without question, methamphetamine thoroughly sends a person flying aimlessly into another dimension altogether.  The shadow people; they’re out there in the bushes – they can be spotted while peering through the blinds of a motel room or from across the parking lot – they can never be caught though, just a bunch of tweaker Peter Pan’s out there that’ll never quite get it, so don’t bother trying.  As the shadow people retreat for a bit, that desktop computer starts to make itself known; it’s breathing out questions into the room like, “how do I work?” or “what’s inside these outer walls? Take a look why don’t you.” Before the questions are done being asked, the entire computer has been dismantled and laid out all over the floor around said tweaker.  Then, a sudden, but brief noise resonates outside – it’s probably nothing, but it could be a S.W.A.T. team or the U.S. Army finally ready to invade – run to the door and lock all 14 deadbolts; move the couch in front of it for extra security; peer through the blinds again – nothing there, it’s drones…they’re using drones!  Must hide; wait; cameras were planted in the light fixtures, or behind the paintings, or in the television – they’re might be one in that disassembled computer.  No.  Nothing there – wait; the webcam! They’ve tapped into it; they know everything – they’re coming for sure now…I’m finished!  After a few hours of running back and forth between peering through the shades and hiding in the closet, the pieces of the computer look like they need to be put back in place – okay, computer reassembled – time for more tweak.  It’s been five days, no sleep – more tweak…..S.W.A.T.……drones………..shadow people……………..disassemble…………………reassemble……………repeat.

There you have it; a little comedy out of tragedy.     

Holy Heaping Hypocrisy

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It’s been nearly six years since the first time I was admitted to a detox for substance abuse.  I was nervous and scared; I was relieved and excited – although I had no idea what to expect out of the whole experience.  As far as I knew, I was going to be “cured”.  I’d move on with my life refreshed, renewed, and relieved of my little bouts with overindulgence in the drink – all over the course of seven days that I committed to “saving my life”.  I clearly had no clue what I was truly up against; the miscreant within me and its inception of surfacing; the dawning of a war in its infancy that would prove to rapidly mature into adulthood.  That first day in detox, I was asked what I believed to be the difference between “Religion” and “Spirituality”.  I didn’t have an answer, just genuine confusion followed by a cold, blank stare – my entire life up to that point they had been lumped together as one in the same in my mind.  “The difference”, a fellow addict blurted out, “is that religion is for the people afraid to go to Hell; spirituality is for those of us who have already been there and never want to go back.”  Even in my medicated state, fundamental for safely combatting the potentially dangerous effects of alcohol withdrawal, I could identify with what that meant; how it made complete and total sense.  Two things took place in that moment.  The first I was conscious of, although I wasn’t going to burden myself with acknowledgement of it; I knew deep down that someday I would ultimately be faced with one question – was my solution going to be that of a spiritual nature, or would it be found somewhere in the depths of religion?  The second I wasn’t consciously aware of yet, but would masterfully become versed in over the course of years to come – contrary to my belief at the time, I had not encountered anything resembling a trip to Hell…yet.

I know now I’m not a religious guy, by any means, which is a direct result of my experience with the church and its parishioners – granted, I do believe the church does some good in regards to community outreach, but it can come across like more of an ego-boosting, “pat on the back” kind of deal to make church goers feel better about themselves; a pity party for the less fortunate before receding back to their nice, comfortable homes, quickly self-absorbed into their own luxuries in life.  Furthermore, I doubt I could ever see past the hypocrisy of their message; how, for the most part, religious folk talk the talk, yet don’t walk the walk; how families stroll through the divine doors of God’s house with a fraudulent smile, kids in tow all dressed up to the nines, acting as if life’s so wonderful and this place is heaven on earth – always secretly trying to prove their family is somehow better than the rest; singing and praising the Holy name of Jesus, who, for all intents and purposes seemed like he was a decent dude, but ten minutes after driving off the “Holy grounds”, mister Holier than thou guy is frantically honking at another driver on the road who didn’t hit the gas the exact second the light turned green, all the while flipping the bird and screaming obscenities out the window – I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever done that, and I don’t even buy into the ritualistic insincerity of the religious horseshit anymore; you can trust me when I say patience isn’t a strong suit of mine either.

Marriage?  The sanctity of “Holy Matrimony?  Two people becoming one body, one flesh – “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”  That is rarely taken serious anymore.  The divorce rate in this country according to the American Psychological Association: “About 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.”  I myself am included in these statistics because my own wife, who came from a very “Christian Family” and whom I met at church, was secretly seeing a co-worker on the side and filed for divorce because of my disease of alcoholism.  So much for “pledging herself to me” or “in sickness and in health”.   It also seems rather convenient how the pastor or priest always finds a way to both boldly and subliminally mention throughout the entire service how gravely important it is to give financially, or tithe, of which the amount is “suggested” to be ten percent of the household income – and, on top of everything else, if God is so almighty and powerful, how has Satan been able to take over such an overwhelming share of the market?  From where I’m sitting, Heaven is experiencing quite the “bear” and God appears to be terrible at making investments.


“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew, Chapter 28 starting at verse 18.

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“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope…” – “There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” – Alcoholics Anonymous


I’m fairly certain that what Jesus commanded His disciples to do, and what Bill W. suggested those afflicted with the disease of alcoholism are pretty similar; a common denominator of carrying a message.  In fact, the bible actually takes it a step further; literally commanding they force Christianity upon people – convincing that conversion to their beliefs is a necessity and the only path for eternal life.  I don’t really like or even necessarily feel comfortable expressing my views and opinions of religion because it becomes highly controversial and folks start to go bananas; the endless wars, mass genocide, poverty and strife between nations of the world caused by it; I write honestly and truthfully about what I’ve been through as an alcoholic, including the darkness that comes along with it, and now it is embarrassing to be associated with me; you’re offended?  I’m writing this post because I’ve received some criticism lately for sharing my experiences with alcoholism and my journey of hope for sobriety; opinions not from random people who may happen across and read my blog; critiques not from friends who may or may not identify with some of what I have to say or have been through; this was a blatant judgement and demand that I stop writing about my experiences from a cradle Christian member of my own family – the one who’s been sheltered from the darkness of this world and loves to serve as spokesperson for the rest; that I stop carrying the message of my personal experience, strength, and hope like my fellowship suggests that I do – stating things like what I write is vulgar; “filthy, grotesque, and obscene” were the exact words I believe; my family should not be subjected to such content – they shouldn’t have to be associated or embarrassed by having a person like me tied to their reputations as members of the church; that they’re, so called “church family” could read it and judge them.  I’m pretty sure that if you are a Christian, there’s only one who can declare judgment on anybody; it’s certainly not a parishioner.  I’m not going to apologize because I write honestly and truthfully about myself and finally found an outlet for self-expression.  Have they not read the bible as the devout Christians they claim to be?  I’ve come across some rather “filthy, grotesque and obscene” content within its pages – should that be taken off the shelves of bookstores around the world?  The bible is, at the very least, rated R.


“She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses”. Ezekiel 23:20 NIV

“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 23:1 NRSV

“If a man has sex with an animal, he must be put to death, and the animal must be killed.” Leviticus 20:15 NLT

“You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them.  The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.” Deuteronomy 28:30-31,35


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I don’t think I need to go on and on with the multitude of examples that are found within the Holy book; you know, the “filthy, grotesque, and obscene” – and please spare me the excuse of reading it in whatever you deem the “proper” context is.  It doesn’t matter the context, the words and sentences would be considered offensive to most church-going people – but the television pastors that live in million dollar mansions and churches around the world avoid that content for the very reason of its offensive nature; folks want to go to church to feel good, not hear what their God and their book claims to be the truth.

Our country was founded by Christians who desired escape from the captivity of living under British rule.  These Christians wrote a set of rules as which to live by and subsequently, Amendments were made.  The very first one prohibits making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of speech, etc.  Basically – you do you, and I’ll do me – lets be civil human beings and agree to disagree, you know, because that is what our democracy allows us to freely do – we have Americans fighting to protect those rights every single day while we’re standing in line at Starbucks or bitching about this, that and the other thing; special interest groups and their selfishly insane agendas; people losing their livelihood over it because everybody is scared to say or do the politically incorrect thing.  Guess what America – nobody here in the United States was ever granted the right not to be offended – change the channel, switch the station, visit “safe” sites on the internet and protect your own baby ears and eyes from what is actually happening around us as a human race; that right you do have – maybe it’s time you start utilizing it and stop casting blame and judgement on everybody and everything else.

Peace, Love, and Tolerance

-Chris   

Clearing the Cloud of Confusion

 

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“I got my own self by my side

And mentally we gotta be free

I see the wickedness coming full speed

But I hold together like the ball needs the seam

I’m trying to do something not nothing,

You’re trying to hold me back and that’s fine

Nothing you say or do is worth my time

Good day to you, I respectfully decline

And now I’m coming stronger than ever

You say I’m a fool I say whatever

I’m in it for the good vibes together

And the love lasts forever

No time for the wicked, If you’re in my line, I’m a go around the side and still bring it

Sky is the limit, Out of my way, You can’t get me down”

-Rebelution, “Sky is the Limit”

An unusually brisk, overcast morning befell us for what was a normally bright, sunny, and vibrant environment – even in late January – even in the cloudy, emotional wake of my recent relapse, where I came to, in the middle of the desert, in a motel somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with virtually no clue of what, when, why or how this could have happened again. Other than finding out it had been a week since I checked in, the rest is and will remain a mystery other than what I learned about through third party accounts and following a rather confusing and nonsensical paper trail. This particular day, my treatment center had made arrangements for us to venture out on a hike; part of the physical aspect of resyncing mind, body, and spirit; in my case, a personal attempt to honestly harmonize them for the first time. The expedition started with a steady descent, accompanied by my latest rehab battalion, into one of a plentitude of canyons located along the Southern California coastline.

Almost immediately, I got the distinct feeling that this slide down into the foggy, gray canyon was metaphorically speaking to me; representing where my life plummeted to yet again by a series of bad decisions, disrespect for the power of this disease, and becoming complacent in my program (or lack thereof by this point); the seemingly never ending downward spiral that, when all is said and done, undeniably requires a decision to be made, if I even survive the whole ordeal in the first place. The first is to continue on downward; just give up altogether and succumb to the almighty power of Alcohol, slowly fade away into misery, despair, and ultimately concede to its mastery over me. The other, to admit defeat, fully surrender, and start the ever increasingly difficult backtracking; laboriously forcing myself into the uphill battle to regain some semblance of self-respect, dignity or, at the very least, an ability to look myself in the mirror without filth and disgust staring back at me.

At a certain point, we happened upon a fork in the trail; yes, a literal option to go one of two ways; not referring to a metaphorical, “fork in the road”, ladies and gentlemen. As a unit, we chose the way to proceed and our pilgrimage continued on to wherever it was we were going to end up. I’m rather confident in my belief that nobody really had any idea as to where this path led; we could have been marching towards the cult-like initiation ceremony featuring some insanely bizarre chanting and a human sacrifice for all I knew, but hey, wouldn’t that be quite the story to tell, huh? Fortunately, for whatever imaginary person being sacrificed for the, “greater good”, of some looney belief, we never came across such an event; I apologize to all you sicko’s out there for not having a tale of human sacrifice to share today.

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(The Abandoned Barn we Came Across)

After a while, a clearing in the forest presented itself; lingering fog remained settled in between the range of hills that towered over us. A strange sense of uneasiness flooded over me; like I was in the presence of something mysterious or experiencing an infrequent phenomena of sorts. Off to the left of the trail in the field was an old, abandoned barn surrounded by chain-link fence and topped with barbed wire; a spot where graffiti artists and taggers would come to create and express their art; a form of art that I have always found fascinating and different; an entire subculture devoted to it in fact – one of which I am not nearly knowledgeable enough or qualified to comment on, but I have met a few people and made some friends in recovery that were involved in the scene.  Whether it be considered criminal or not, in my opinion it’s one of the coolest and most creative ways to be rebellious if those were the cards you’ve been dealt as an individual. It was, however, also a place where junkies and alcoholics would come to become isolated from society, in the darkness, traveling through time and space with no purpose or direction – just a needle, a bottle or, perhaps both.

(A Glimpse Inside)

Amidst my fascination of this whole experience, which was starting to feel very spiritual and meaningful for me, I envisioned myself seeking shelter in a place like this if I continued down the path I’d been traveling; one of relapse after relapse – loss, loss, and more loss; pain, suffering, misery – to the point that, where from a societal and legal perspective, I’m technically homeless – the address on my driver’s license is that of my treatment facility’s main corporate office because I had nothing else to put; I’m no different from those folks hanging in that abandoned barn that suffer from what I suffer from, except in the cases where other serious mental illnesses are in the mix, of course. I went from living with my wife and kids in a household pulling in around $120,000 a year at one point, to being technically homeless, and it all happened pretty quick. I feel like I’m already living on borrowed time; time that is going to expire. I’ll be given no more chances to get it right; just a six-foot hole in the ground with a stone on the surface; name, dash, and some numbers; a dash that I really don’t want representing a life wasted or purposeless – but my fear and reality of the situation is that’s exactly where I’m headed if I don’t fully give myself to this thing called Recovery right now.

As we made our ascent from the canyon that day, rays of sunlight started piercing through the clouds, burning off the layer of fog down below; healing that dismal, gray environment. Coincidence? Maybe, but what I really believe is that the God of my understanding has been with me all along, and that day, was showing me He has not left my side and does not ever intend to, no matter what I do or how many times I fail, as long as I keep trying; I can’t say that about many people here on Earth, that’s for sure – at some point, most give up on me, or are embarrassed by me, or don’t want to acknowledge who it is I am in the interest of protecting their own interests or reputation and that’s just how other people are. I’ve made promises that I have not kept; there are those that have made promises to me that didn’t keep them, there were mutual promises made between myself and others – whether they were in the presence of God, of family, of friends, between friends or family, or even with employers. I guess in the end we are all just human and we all have our own struggles; I have to be okay with that – all I can really do is eventually clean up my side of the street and accept whatever it is that happens from there. The important part is that I have to be okay with me; with loving me. I have to be okay believing something, whether or not I call that something God, is bigger and greater than myself.

I threw my shades on and coasted the rest of the way back out of the canyon, enjoying the comforting warmth and essence of connecting with nature and feeling an authentic gratefulness to be alive.

Extreme Takeover: Alone Edition

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It’s happening again; the routine hostile takeover that seizes rationality and aspires to exile me back down, flailing into the abyss.  I sense being singled-out and alone – that I’ll always be alone; the redundant ride on this merry-go-round is starting to throw me for a loop, planting seeds of doubt that this is ever going to get any easier; questions of whether or not I can endure resisting its unreal refuge, day in and day out, until I draw my final breath; questioning if I even want to – it can seem at times like I’m fighting an already decided war.  I want for “normal” folks to understand what it’s like; what I go through; how addicts and alcoholics don’t want to be trapped in this fight that can feel unwinnable, that I didn’t ask for this anymore than a diabetic asked for unbalanced blood sugar; how there is no intention to hurt the people I love; how to explain something that most people don’t want an explanation for.  The stigma is already in place; the idea that I can just “use some self-control” and “stop being weak” is a widely believed theory amongst the general population – that theory is wrong.

Taking a leap of faith to surrender, seek help, and regain the power of choice to live a fulfilled life, however, is my responsibility as an alcoholic; just as any other ailing person would seek a remedy – that’s where the real strength actually lives; it’s why using the disease concept as a scapegoat not to get better is no excuse; it’s not an acceptable reason to keep falling down the same rabbit hole over and over again – help is out there, but it must be sought, and I can’t do it alone.  It takes hard work and willingness; there are no shortcuts; shortcuts inevitably pave the way right back to active use – no way around it – the addicts in recovery that go back out tried to beat the system – I know because I’ve been there; a multiple time offender in fact.  Active addiction demands my undivided attention, it doesn’t donate towards a luxurious life; it strips the lovability and integrity that used to support a foundation of character; of responsibility and motivation and that internal drive to attain greatness – all that can be restored, but again, it must be sought – and it’s not at all easy.


I envision my average morning routine; the tantalizing aroma of fresh brewed coffee spilling over me, rejuvenated and renewed from a healthy night’s sleep.  As I stretch out and open my eyes to a new day, I take in a deep breath of the cool breeze filtering from an open window; fresh, crisp air mixed with the smell of coffee is heavenly; I can immediately sense a great day is in store.  Tropical tempered water collaborates with the pleasant scent of mountain springs body wash and runs down my body producing a cleansing, muscle relaxing massage; everything I have to accomplish during the day ahead temporarily disappears as the surge of hot water cascades over me; sending me into a meditative trance that soothes mind, body, and soul – time is no longer of the essence.

I enter into in a staring contest with myself; the image in the mirror looks and feels confident; everything fits – pants, shirt, and shoes mesh together like they were designed solely for each other – every hair on my head shaped and in place; it’s all coming together perfectly this particular morning – reminds me that life can be enjoyed.  Stimulating music streams into my ears from stereo speakers as I turn the ignition.  Throwing on my shades, I open the sun roof and allow beams of daylight from another gorgeous SoCal morning splash over me – I’m ready to go.  I hit the main drag; cruising along now; everybody else parading around and starting their day as well – this town is alive.  Intersection after intersection, green lights glimmer in my favor, like I timed the drive accordingly.  I look to my left; children play in the park before school; their innocence; their lack of total understanding for this world; I think back to when I was sheltered inside that comfortable bubble; I think about my own kids and what they’re doing right at this moment – I think of how happy it makes me that they can just be kids; worry free to enjoy the simplicity of their world – I envy them for that same reason.

Glancing ahead of me, the road is wide open; a rarity opposed to the normal bumper to bumper traffic, so I lay on the gas a little more as I come up on the next intersection; green light; the exhilaration of freedom anesthetizes my consciousness, I feel light, unconquerable; nothing could take me down from this natural high – the daydream image of this fantasyland where seas part in my presence and I am “ruler of all” is mesmerizing, but swiftly met by the sound of screeching tires, shards of broken glass, bent and twisted metal, sirens echoing with flashing lights dancing around the surrounding area…feeling weak…fade to black…darkness.

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Blindsided; another driver runs a red light, turning my seemingly perfect morning into a life-halting catastrophe – in a split second.  That’s what it’s like; that’s the hostile takeover that occurs when the desire to indulge in a drink floods over me – just like that; out of nowhere and virtually impossible to defend unless premeasures are taken daily; essentially constructing a force field against random and unrelenting attacks from any and every direction.  To clarify, this car accident scenario has not actually happened to me, but it’s a way in which I can portray the devious and ever-surprising nature of addiction in its rawest form; that maybe a person who does not understand the addicted mind could possibly place themselves in my shoes and see things from an inside perspective – of course, there will always be the folks, like I stated earlier, that don’t want an explanation and no matter what the evidence suggests, will never buy into the disease concept of it anyway.  For that, I practice acceptance and understand that what other people think; the opinions floating around out there are just that: opinions – everybody is entitled to have them, and it doesn’t change anything in regards to what I have to do on a daily basis to get and stay sober, recovered, and free.