One of the realizations of recovery; sure it's nice to get back some of the "things"
we lost due to addiction. Once we have the essentials, it's time for an appreciation
for the things we have; without seeking to accumulate the trappings of excess.
There comes a certain point where we discover how essential our relationships
with family, friends and co-workers are. That is the true measure of health and wealth.
Just knowing that we can be trusted by those closest to us, is important.
Trust me, no one loves "toys" more than I do!
What I've discovered is, I now get more joy out of giving,
than I do receiving.
I guess I'm finally growing up.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Posted by Fireman John at 10:06 PM
Monday, November 26, 2007
...but the thoughts still persist.
I often hear people speak of the moment when they "got it".
That's the point in recovery where they broke the cycle of relapse.
Some folks reach this conclusion after a year of continued sobriety.
This puzzles me somewhat, because I don't feel it is possible to make such
a claim with any certainty.
For me, the thoughts of a drink or line continue to pop up at certain times.
Whether it's a movie, commercial, or a person I drank with, those memories
of the years of social drinking still persist.
I can recall the smells, tastes and feelings of my favorite cocktail.
It's reassuring to say the obsessions' been lifted, because I'm not
consumed with the thoughts anymore.
My subconscious mind reminds me through dreams, of the various
stages of my imbibing.
It isn't upsetting at all, to have these dreams; like some folks who wake up
sweating and horrified like they relapsed.
All in all, I have come to accept the fact that the thought is normal for me.
The important facet is to prevent acting on those thoughts.
You will never hear me announce the words, "I got it..."
When I start to reminisce about "the good old days", I just look at
the picture above; and remember...
What used to turn me on; eventually turned on me.
Posted by Fireman John at 2:51 PM
Sunday, November 25, 2007
What a simple, all encompassing message of acceptance.
I believe the past is history; the future a mystery...today is a gift!
that's why it's called the present!
"Stop deciding with our mind, what we want our heart to feel"
Many times it is better to resist the urge to analyze and micro-manage our life,
and just let things happen.
Letting go of the past is vital for us, to end the cycle of guilt and remorse.
Life is meant to be experienced in the here and now. Why waste mental energy
reliving the past or fretting about some future plans?
Allowing things to happen, people to act and react, can all occur without
any thought or concern from us. It can be hard at first, for the addict who
is used to trying to run the whole show. The freedom gained from letting go
can be immense. No more expectations, letdowns or resentments; what a concept!
Most AA folks know the slogan, "let go, let God"; 4 simple words with a powerful message
Posted by Fireman John at 7:08 PM
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Well thats no longer true after 4 years without a drink, and 7 away from cocaine.
It is fascinating to me, how the addicted brain processes information and stimuli.
I'm sure the combination of booze & coke created some distorted reasoning.
For anyone who has used the 2, that I refer to as "the match made in hell",
you can recall the discovery of a drug that allowed the ability to drink more!
The road to improved brain function has been slow, but steady.
There were no instant flashes of brilliance, I can assure you!
The whole process reminds me of the resilience of the human body.
I guess the lesson learned from my years of abuse was, drinking was not
something I got better at, the more I did it!
Finally another annoying slogan comes to mind;
we will suddenly know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
Someone told me I would get my marbles back after a few years;
I want to know "when do I get to play with them again?
Posted by Fireman John at 8:06 AM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The great debate about the perception of something as
half empty or half full, continues to sometimes baffle me.
Recently I discovered a unique way to view the glass.
The idea is to see the glass as already broken; interesting yes?
This stems from a Buddhist teaching that life is in a constant state of change.
Everything has a beginning and an end. The glass is made and will eventually break.
The comforting twist to this is when you expect something to break,
it's not a surprise or disappointment.
This allows a measure of gratitude for the time you have had with it.
I know this sounds a bit passive, but it allows us to make peace with the way
things are. This new perspective can prevent a sense of loss, replacing it with an
appreciation of the ebb and flow of life.
Posted by Fireman John at 10:40 AM
Monday, November 19, 2007
I always got a kick out of Nancy Reagan's famous slogan; "Just say no".
Mass media would like us to believe it is all that simple.
Whether it's smoking, sex, drinking or drugging, all we have to do is
talk to children and young adults about these vices, and all will be well.
What a load of crap!
Kids are going to experiment with some or all the above, regardless of
how much education they get from parents or school.
I see it in families with solid parenting, where one child won't touch as much
as a cigarette, and the other is drinking and drugging at 15.
Much of what kids do is determined by the crowd they associate with.
Sure it's good to be open about those subjects, but it rarely acts as a deterrent.
For those who can't say no; you can caution them that 1 in 10 will become an
alcoholic or addict, and those are the statistics and the chances they take.
Posted by Fireman John at 11:04 PM
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I couldn't resist posting this pic about blogging.
The question I've been asking myself is, should I
include additional unrelated content in my blog?
It is getting to a point where there are only so many
What I would love to see is a reality show from the
sober house. Now that would be interesting; but the
confidentiality aspect would prevent us from doing it.
Just completed another boring weekend at the Y.
It's just not challenging after owning a fitness center
back in the 80's.
Deb is recovering from major surgery; still in pain
but in good spirits. Even the dog senses her pain.
Step-daughter, hubby, Aden and newborn Logan
have been here to visit Grandma.
We had to ask one of our residents to leave; after asking him
to take a drug screen, he admitted to taking opiate painkillers.
It's never easy, especially since I was asked to leave a sober house
for drinking 7 years ago.
The reactions of folks who are caught can vary from,
sadness, anger, denial, and occasionally gratitude.
Hope you had a safe weekend(& more fun than me).
God knows how many people were injured or killed
this weekend due to alcohol and drugs.
All we can do is remain available for anyone seeking help.
Posted by Fireman John at 11:42 AM
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Tuesday we welcomed a baby boy into the family.
Wednesday Deb had surgery.
Dad canceled his trip to our house.
Tomorrow a new house resident will arrive.
Today's reason for not picking up a drink;
If a waiter tells me, "we have a full bar"...
I reply, "not full enough for me".
My life is good today; I have everything I need.
I don't want any more 24 hour coins.
Eleven months from now, I hope to get a 5 year coin.
I still hate the leaves on the ground; my philosophy...
God put them there...God will take them away!
Posted by Fireman John at 9:57 PM
Monday, November 12, 2007
Excellent piece exploring the difference between sobriety and recovery; thanks to About.com.
The Definition of Recovery
The Definition of Recovery As a result, the panel came up with a working definition of recovery as a starting point to promote better communication, research and public understanding.
In their paper, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, the panel defines recovery as "a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health, and citizenship."
"Recovery may be the best word to summarize all the positive benefits to physical, mental, and social health that can happen when alcohol- and other drug-dependent individuals get the help they need," the expert panel wrote in their article.
There Is More To It Than SobrietyAccording to the panel, sobriety -- complete abstinence from alcohol and all other nonprescribed drugs -- is a necessary part of recovery but not sufficient enough to consider someone in true recovery.
The panel also listed three levels of sobriety:
- Early -- one to 12 months of abstinence
- Sustained -- one to five years of abstinence
- Stable -- more than five years of sobriety (these individuals are said to be at lower risk of relapse)
Giving Back to SocietyThe panel admits that the "personal health and citizenship" portion of their definition needs refining, but that both elements are key components of recovery.
Personal health refers not only to physical and mental health, but also to social health -- participation in family and social roles. Citizenship refers to "giving back" to the community and society.
Achieving Stable RecoveryMany people are able to quit drinking or taking drugs and feel that this is all that is required to achieve recovery. The Betty Ford panel of experts believe, however, more is required to achieve a sustained, stable recovery from alcohol or drugs.
Achieving the other components of recovery -- personal health and citizenship -- affects not only the person trying to recover, but his or her family, friends and society as a whole.
Source: The Betty Ford Institute Consensus Panel. "What is recovery? A working definition from the Betty Ford Institute" Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 20 September 2007.
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Posted by Fireman John at 10:40 PM
Sunday, November 11, 2007
First and foremost; addiction is a brain disease
There is no spiritual cure for a physical and mental illness
Showing up is mandatory, growing up is optional
Even in sobriety people die, cats run away, and dogs get hit by cars
Financial security is not a promise merely a possibility
I am not the Pickle that can turn back into a cucumber
there are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle
I came to AA to get sober; I didn't get sober just to go to AA
Addiction is a multifaceted illness; there is no single solution for me
Relationships are not recommended in early sobriety for a reason
Two sickies don't make a wellie
Alcohol is a gateway drug... to hell
I will never criticize the so-called dry drunk; if fear of the wife's rolling pin,
or the judge's gavel keeps you away from a drink that's fine with me.
Years in the program do not equate health
Relapse is part of recovery; first-time success stories are rare and lucky.
The best amends are performed, not spoken.
Character defects are not removed; but can be improved.
This may be a simple program, but successful implementation can be difficult.
There is nothing that a drink or drug can ever improve.
Patience is a virtue... encountering idiots is a guarantee.
My worst day sober is not better than my best day drinking.
My average day sober is way better than my average day drinking.
Posted by Fireman John at 3:28 PM
Friday, November 9, 2007
Life begins when we first put down the drink or drug.
The addictive cycle is not life at all, just merely slow living death.
Compulsive drinking and drugging became a way of avoiding people and responsibility.
Social drinkers do not have the same thought processes as alcoholics.
Most people can put the drink down without having to ponder when they can have
the next one. There are those who still use alcohol as an accessory; but for us it was an absolute necessity.
There is a sense of liberation when we begin to lose that compulsion to drink.
When I think all the physical and mental energy wasted in planning, purchasing and consuming
all that liquid courage, I am absolutely amazed.
There wasn't much energy left over for any real-life activity.
Drinking and drugging was like a ball and chain; constantly weighing me down, sapping all my reserves.
Now I have the freedom that is mentioned in the promises; the ability to think clearly, act rationally and calm the chaos in my head.
Serenity is not something that just happens. it is a process that requires honestly, action and continued effort.
I am constantly reminded that this is not always the easy path; self appraisal can be difficult for the egotistical, prideful addict.
On occasion I need to be reminded how out of control my life really was.
In addition, I have to accept on a daily basis, that I cannot pick up that next first drink.
I never know what the next day of sobriety will bring, but I am aware of the downward spiral taking a drink would cause. This may sound simplistic because it is. There is no big mystery or secret to maintaining recovery.
It is simply taking the next step forward; not forgetting the past, but vowing to never repeat it.
Posted by Fireman John at 6:46 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I have no way of knowing when I made the transition from heavy drinker to alcoholic.
The whole process was so gradual it is impossible to pin down an exact point in time.
Social drinking was natural and normal for many years. What started as an innocent complement to parties and family gatherings, slowly and subtlety began to increase. Why wait for a party when I could get that same feeling a few times a week?
In a few years that became every day. It was becoming more normal to drink than not.
The allure of the buzz became too much to resist. I had reached a point where it was a need and not just a want.
Something in my mind had changed; I was spending way too much time planning, buying and consuming booze. My pride and ego wouldn't allow me to admit I had a problem.
How hard could it be to get the "control magic" back again?
I found out it wasn't hard... it was impossible!
That was the difficult truth to accept; and I managed to deny it for many years.
Today, I accept that you can never go back; it's like a bell that can't be on un-rung.
Posted by Fireman John at 12:20 AM
Monday, November 5, 2007
Anyone else prone to seasonal affective disorder?
This time of year with less sunlight and colder temps, my mood and tolerance levels drop.
I just don't enjoy fall & winter like I used to.
Fortunately for me, I get to travel to Arizona every January.
I am able to stay with Deb's parents and sister Marianne. in a nice 55 & over community
complete with pool, hot tubs, and fitness room.
There is a noon meeting every day where the format is open topic discussion.
The cool part for me is being referred to as the "kid", since most of the folks
are retired and a bit older than me.
Since it's Monday, my work week ends today, until the next shift at the Y on Saturday!
Wheeee....I love retirement!
Anyone else getting spam-slammed by Micky?
He usually writes negative comments to all my posts; I read them for comic relief!
It is so ironic to claim to be a Messiah; then spew angry, unprovoked insults.
Oh well, maybe he will find a chapter in the Bible that addresses loving thy neighbor; without judging them.
Posted by Fireman John at 10:45 AM
Saturday, November 3, 2007
"Intoxication is not without its benefits. A blood alcohol level of .05 may help an inhibited person perform more effectively in social situations. On the other hand, intoxication is implicated in 65% of murders, 88% of knifings, 65% of spouse battering, 55% of violent child abuse. "
Herein lies the grand paradox of the very thing that attracts us initially; for some it may also unleash inhibited violent tendencies. I can attest to the progression from the simple mellow glow, to the angry simmering rage. That is not to say I ever acted with physical violence against anyone, but was subject to being verbally abusive.
In my previous post I stated that I hate this disease, mainly because of the widespread physical, mental, emotional and criminal consequences caused by alcohol and drugs.
I just want more folks to experience the calmness and sense of normalcy that comes with time. It's not that real life trauma will cease, it is about dealing with what life has to offer, good and bad, without reverting back to drowning or numbing our feelings.
There are times when a drink or line looks attractive to me; but I have to remember the path it leads to...fear, guilt, remorse and a total loss of all I had worked for. Is it worth it? We think not! The "quick fix" is no fix at all. I still don't have all the answers, but at least I know some of the questions. First question everyday is, do I want to stay stay sober more than I want to drink?
Posted by Fireman John at 12:19 AM