Full of Gratitude

When I arrived in the city I currently live, I knew one thing above all else – I had to get involved in my recovery. I only have to look at the last year to see how my life as blossomed into what it is today – who I am today. For me, today and every day is only possible because I am sober.

A year ago, I was full of shame, guilt, resentment and fear. Here I was again, despite all my knowledge of recovery, going to rehab. From the time I stepped in the cab until I was dropped off on the doorstep of rehab all I could do is cry. Why are we here again? What happened? What do we need to change? The list was long and I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive another day without a drink.

From the beginning I was told I had a story to tell – I just had to tell it. I had a wealth of knowledge and experience – I just had to use it. Alcoholics don’t like being told what to do. I still don’t sometimes. I had to put everything aside, as best I could, and simply do as I was told. Why? When I had control of my life and did what I wanted to do – how did that work out? It didn’t. It was time to do something different. A month after rehab, on today’s date a year ago, I stepped through the doors to my new life. Now what was I going to do? I got involved in my own sobriety.

I knew the importance of meetings, sponsorship and working the steps. After a month of getting to know my new family, I got a sponsor who took me through the steps. We started from the first page of the Big Book and read every word, paragraph and page. I had other addictions (gambling and codependency) so I sought their Fellowships. It was only through my persistent work I stayed sober “One Day At A Time”.

Time has flown by. All I have to do is look through my front window and there is the house I opened the doors one year ago when I got here. How so much has changed. I am grateful for each and every minute of it.

Minor Milestone – 8 Months Sober

Eight months ago, I woke up in a daze. “My Gods, I’m really getting a chance to do this again?” Deep down, I was scared like a child lost in the dark. I took a deep breath. My fear was slowly washed away as I practiced gratitude for waking up alive and sober. A new journey began.

Every day since I do the same thing – practice gratitude when I wake up. There are so many alcoholics and addicts who don’t get a chance to live the next day succumbing to their addiction in the night. I believe we are all on this Earth for a purpose. Therefore, I take every opportunity to appreciate those things around me because where I was headed was my own grave.

Things had to change since my last sobriety of ten years. In the last eight months I have learned so much about myself. It was only through my experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous I was able to stay sober.

After my short stay in an impatient treatment center, I immediately got involved in my local recovery community, specifically Alcoholics Anonymous, to begin working on myself. Instead of waiting seven months, I immediately got a Sponsor who took me through the Twelve Steps. Every day, I attend at least one meeting, if not two. I’m also involved in CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) because it was in part due to those behaviors which got me to where I am today. I immerse myself in several commitments (coffee, chairman of meetings, District meetings, etc.).

Early recovery can be rough at times. Adopting the principles of AA helped me live “One Day At A Time” and “Living Life on Life’s Terms”. We all have “good days” and “bad days”. Today, first and foremost, I 100% don’t drink. Secondly, if I’m having a bad day – I get out of myself. SELF has always been the problem. I have been “given spiritual tools laid at my feet”, so I need to use them: going to a meeting, trusting in my Higher Power, speaking to my Sponsor, helping another alcoholic / addict or sometimes just being kind to a random stranger – try it sometime!

The work continues no matter what life throws in front of me. As long as I stay connected in Alcoholics Anonymous “practicing these principles in all our affairs” one day of sobriety suddenly becomes eight months. It’s an amazing journey with much more to come I’m sure.

As my Sponsor says at meetings:

Sobriety is to be enjoyed, not endured.

I’m grateful to be alive,

I’m grateful to be sober,

and I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thanks for letting me share.

Easter 2019 – Back in Time


My roommates Mother, and sometimes his Aunt, come and visit on a regular basis. A few times they have asked me to come to dinner, drove us to sober events in the area, etc. Last weekend I was invited to their homes for Easter. The whole experience reminds me how our Higher Power brings people into our lives for a reason, if we choose to believe such things. The experience brought me back in time reminding me where I had been and where I am now.

I was nervous about going. Back in the day when actively drinking between 2004 and 2007, Candor, NY, was my “stomping grounds”. I was later reminded of my friends GW, CP and “Griff” who I had not thought of in more than a decade until now. These were “my three best friends”. All extreme alcoholics, two with extensive criminal backgrounds. At times I thought, would they recognize me or what happens if I see them? As much as I could I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind.

As we headed for Candor in the early afternoon, all I could do is stare out the window. I just love the peace and serenity of country living. The other two were having a conversation in the front. I usually call my roommates Mother by her first name. She insisted, “..call me Mom. It’s okay. You’re part of our family now.” She asked about my past, how I had known “Griff’s” family and my experiences. As I told her I was transported back in time when I would be riding in the GW’s car down the country roads and through the “back hills” to get to our destination. Both of us drunk, with cans of beer between our legs mostly likely heading somewhere to get more beer. Our thought was you can’t always visit the same place otherwise you’re considered an “alcoholic”. As we finally drove into town, I felt a relief. No longer was I the person which used to live here over a decade ago.

After we got settled in their house, Mom drove us to a meeting in Owego, NY. The last time I was in a meeting in Owego, NY, was Feb 2018, right before my relapse. From July 2017 to then I had made meetings. After, I started making excuses, never to return and relapsing. As people filed in I began to recognize people. Shaking my hand John (an old timer at the meeting) said, “I do know you from somewhere, right?” I simply said, “Yes” leaving it there. I even saw another old timer from Binghamton who knew my old Sponsor when we all lived there. Knowing it was a “Beginner’s meeting” I was prepared to do a short share of my story and relapse experience. Halfway through the meeting I shared telling them where I had been and where I am now. Knowing the geographical area, many were amazed when I said I walked from Van Etten, NY, to Elmira, NY taking me ten hours to get there, walking into a facility straight off the street getting the help I needed. Hopefully I inspired the few newcomers that were there. You are NOT alone and recovery is possible.

Saturday night, I had trouble sleeping. I was flooded with memories of my old self. I kept coming to tears thanking my Higher Power for helping me become the person I am today. Eventually I woke up at 5:30 am and just went out to enjoy the sun rising. I had myself a deep crying session and I wasn’t one bit embarrassed about it. From that moment on, those memories subsided. Afterward, I was able to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with my extended family for Easter.

The whole experience just strengthened my commitment to my new journey in sobriety. I need never forget where I can from. Today, a few of the Ninth Step Promises are coming true, again.

The Ninth Step Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

. . .

Big Book pages 83 & 84 Copyright © Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Memories – The Raw, Unedited Truth

As mentioned in the post, The Pack Rat , I dug out my old journals from the beginning of my sobriety. They were tucked away in my filing cabinet which I haven’t opened since I moved here in July. I have a notepad dated, “12/1 – 12/28”. During my rereading and transcribing, I had to take breaks of crying and deep breathing. I just learned that parts of my story I have told for years are a little off – oh well. It is my hope this helps people of all kinds dealing with addiction or someone they know with addiction. This is the raw, unedited truth of what goes on in a person’s head of an active addict.

Now I have to admit something. The first four days, which I spent in detox, I don’t remember much at all because I was doped on Valium. Now, I have to bring up a point. Alcohol is the only substance in which you can die as a result of withdrawal symptoms. This argument, which I have had with countless others, is something I will perhaps share later. The point is my tremors were so bad and the concern of more harm to my body so great I was given “drugs” during the withdrawal process. Therefore, this whole entry was actually written on the first day of my stay in rehabilitation.

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Friday, November 31st to Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Hardest Day of my Life

One of the hardest days of my life. Woke up at 3a.m. cracking open a beer or maybe it was six. My mind started to wander. Thousand thoughts going through my head. Can’t recall everything it was so fast.

** blank for three hours **

At 1pm I had my last beer. Something snapped, I’m not going to Gary’s. I’ll just make coffee. As soon as that first gulp goes down and smoking a pack of cigarettes in the process I was going to ask Gary for a beer. But my first intuition strongly told me, “No!”. I kept my word.

Than later in the afternoon I thought about what I called, bad thoughts. I had no intention of killing myself physically but images of, “What is going to happen now? Will I lose everything: my home, possessions and family [written almost unreadable].” Unconsciously I thought, “It doesn’t matter ‘cus no one cares.”

So I made the decision to start smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. The tremors started to get extreme. I couldn’t think straight. Moox swings from one extreme to another. Absolute balling to extreme anger. Tasha wasn’t much help as she was in heat. I was going to wait until 8 or 9 am to Gary for a rid. But at this point I was afraid that if I did anything I would snap into some unconscious alter ego. If done, with thoughts of “wanting everything to end.”

** Sleep – Valium kicking in . . . ***

But wasn’t again it was something consciously I was thinking it was my fear that subconsciously something was going to happen. Because if I snapped, did something to harm myself, no one really cared and days later when my body was rotting in my trailer.

At this point I had drank another five cups of coffee, smoked another pack of cigs and the nerves were on edge. At times I would walk around the house in my underwear trembling until I could repress the emotions. Another breaking point coming…

The thing holding me from calling 911 was Tasha. She’s in heat and she annoyed the hell out of me. Licking my feet, smuggling next to besides my body and the keyboard. The instant yapping put me in a rage. I would shoo her off the bd, she would return up above my head. I wanted to punch the wall or throw a book at her. Two hours later went by she got the hint and slept somewhere. Meanwhile, I crawled into a fetal passion [position] for two hours try[ing] to fixate myself on something to clear my head. Bad thoughts again.

[Middle of the night, December 1 . . .]

I talked to Jeanne. After a long conversation with her she got quite concerned. She demanded I call 911 or ask the neighbor to drive me. She was very worried to let me go but had to go to sleep herself.

Two hours went by…

I wasn’t going to call 911 for EMS or cops. Confidentiality my ass. Before I was an EMS member, confidentiality has non-existent. Nor has I wanting to get Gary. He’s an alcoholic too and I know he would gossip. Bad thoughts, shaking, mood swings from right to left. I didn’t know who [how] much I could take.

Jeanne was going to call CCP at Binghamton General. But she had other priorities too. So at least by [???]

I still couldn’t concentrate. I ended up watching TV on the internet to pass time. Coffee got cold, I was change [chain] smoking.

Laster that morning Jeanette called back. After just a few moments, she said she felt that I was much worse and was very concerned for my safety. She was going to call CCP Bing because I had other criminal concerns. Mood swing. If I incriminated myself what would happen. She said not to say a word but she wasn’t sure. She asked for my address. She would call CCP and get back to me. I expected a case worker or EMS and cops to show up. I started cleaning my pigsty.

Behold a cop I meant before showed up at 1100. We talked for an hour or so. He contested that he didn’t feel leaving me alone was going to be a good idea, so he was going to drive me to Binghamton General. On the way there all I could think about was my arrest for DUI. Also, “What am I doing? I have literally no life. Tasha, WTF?” He didn’t say a word the whole way. He directed me to ER. I was met by an ER male nurse.

He took prelim info. I was a crazy caze [? – hot mess?]. I couldn’t clearly explain but after some talking I was called down. Than the admin clerk that was quick. Maybe fifteen minutes later I was in the ER. No question I was going to Detox unit. I was lead to a room. Nice – three patients and just me present. It’s cold as hell in the ER.

I was at the ER at 1:15pm. As usual I was left to my own thoughts, not good ones. Mood experiences. I would ball about crying. I could return, what about Tasha. The trl (trailer) I could care less about. I thought of moving to some state to start over. At pts [points] I would stare at the walls to keep sane. I had mixed reactions – bell would go off and I wanted to punch the wall. Other balling moments. At one point luckily when the detox guy came in I was a mess again. Flight or fight mood. My hands were clinched. I had a thought $4 in my pocket, I don’t know where I am, I didn’t know where I was but I could get a beer, find a store and get run over and I wouldn’t care. He confirmed I was getting a bed and admitted.

By this time it was six. Still in street clothes. I was given a prelim physical and the history assessment. Dinner at seven. I was in bed by at [8 pm ?] but woken up 2-3 hours for stats and meds.
Good night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pack Rat

I have to admit over the years I have become quite the pack rat. With my move to a new home, I vowed to change. Thus far, I have done quite well. But there is a reason I tend to keep everything, “‘Cus one day you may need it?” **chuckles** Well, it’s paid off in a major way. I have now recovered my written journals at the beginning of my sobriety.

I keep saying “it’s my last journal entry”, so I admit I am wrong. The first entry in my written journal for Dec 1st is eight (on a sheet o“f 6in x 9in) notepad paper. As I look at the 2 notepads and another 8 x 11in notepad, I apparently kept journaling until almost the end of September 2008. There is a lot to go over.

While I would love to record them all here, I’m not sure if I have the time.  Then again, I may get inspired and do it anyway. I haven’t made that decision.

Here is a timeline of my early years in sobriety:

  • December 2007 – 4 days spent in detox & another 24 days spent in an inpatient treatment program
  • January 2008 through March 2008 – lived at a Halfway House program
  • March 2008 through January 2009 – lived in a Supportive Living program
  • February 2009 through August 2012 – lived in Shelter Plus Care program
  • September 2012 – graduated from program and began living on my own

I was in “treatment” for an extended period of time because honestly I didn’t trust myself. Fortunately, I was provided with a structured environment which provided opportunities which more responsibility was put on me the longer I was sober. It all paid off in so many ways.

So here we are ten years later, still sober!

 

Memory Lane – Things Couldn’t Get Worse, Could They?

For those of you reading the “Memory Lane” series, one of my last journal entries in 2007 was Memory Lane – Hitting My Rock Bottom .  Things couldn’t get worse, could they? Oh but they did – a lot worse. These two days, November 30, 2007 and December 1, 2007, were the worst and the best days of my entire life.

Complete insanity took over between November 28, 2007 and November 30, 2007. Though I had written in my journal I had hit rock bottom, I had not. Could things get any worse? Oh yes, yes they did!

Where did my addiction take me?

home_spencer_routeWhile my memory is fuzzy (still after ten years of sobriety), I do remember one thing – the insanity of getting beer no matter what the cost. I was living in Spencer, NY, with no car, no job, about to get evicted and all I care about is getting more beer.

Since I was “cut off” from so-called “friends”/”neighbors”, I had to find my own way to the store to get more beer.  The only option was to walk to the local store, almost 3 and a half miles. I remember it took approximately an hour and a half to walk to Spencer. With my last two beers tucked in my jacket, off I went up the country road to the store. Three hours later, after purchasing a 12 pack, I had one or two beers left. Back to the store I went. This was the last couple of days for me. Walking back and forth to the store until either I was to drunk to walk or passed out at home. Then I ran out of money and beer.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

At the time I didn’t know the physical consequences from my drinking. Well actually I knew one – tremors. However, there are a host of other conditions that may present themselves during withdrawal. I experienced them all!

Before his death, I remember my father writing a check for me seeing his hand shake uncontrollably the writing was unreadable he tore the check writing another one. Over the years, I had noticed the same condition. When I wrote checks, I couldn’t recognize my own handwriting.  I developed a distaste for writing anything.

I distinctly remember not sleeping at all. There were so many emotions rapidly firing in my brain: anxiety, confusion, fatigue, fear, etc. This included hallucinations. My mother, when she was alive, was in a nursing home having hallucinations because the nurse had forgot to take off multiple nicotine patches. My sister and I recall her talking to a man in the corner who wasn’t there. I was doing the same thing saying to myself in fear, “You’re not there. Stop talking. Go away!” As the hours went on, the withdrawal symptoms got worse:

This is my last diary entry (I didn’t realize I wrote one until now):

December 1, 2007 @ 3:49 am. Mood: scared.

Title:  Mental Breakdown

This is the worst day of my life. I’m having a breakdown. I’m tying to wait until 8am so that I can call Gary to drive me to Binghamton General and use his phone so that I can talk to someone. This is so hard. Keep taking deep breaths!

The insanity continued with thoughts of something I had never contemplated in my life – suicide. I was convinced, I was alone in the world. There was no other option for me. As the first snow of the year had started to fall, I thought I could take myself in the backyard, slit my throat and just die! No one would find me from weeks, if ever. No one cared.

This was the darkest, deepest place in my life.

I had no hope.

 

 

 

Memory Lane – Hitting My Rock Bottom

 

As I read the last final entries of my diary in 2007, I feel like I’m reliving those moments right now but without the alcohol in my system. Someone, who I recognize now as my Higher Power, was sending me signals; I just want’s listening to anyone by the voices in my head. The only word coming to my mind is CHAOS!

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Journal Entry – I’m Just a Drunk (11/28/2007)

Yesterday, my neighbors found out that DSS (Dept of Social Services) underpaid them for years! So one got $5700 and the other $3000 paid to them in benefits all at once. One friend got me a carton of cigarettes and loaned me $100 for fuel. The other neighbor I spent three hours at his house getting drunk. This morning I woke up at 8:30am. I forgot, drunk me yesterday, forgot to buy coffee. So I cracked a beer open. NEVER have I done so in the past. My rule is to wait until 12 noon. But I bought a 30 pack last night. So its done, its stated here…I’m a fracking (as they say on the new Battle Star Gallatica show on Sci Fi) drunk! This is definitely my bottom, there is only one way that that is UP!

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Summary of events going on at this time:

  1.  I was three months behind in rent. My landlord had enough threatening to evict me by December 1st for non payment of rent.
  2. I had committed several criminal offenses to be where I was at the time.
  3. I had just received my HEAP fill for my fuel tank (so I had heat!). So, that $100 got spent somehow (I don’t remember where it all went). Perhaps I gave it to my landlord but that wasn’t likely.
  4. I still had no food in the house. I was living on coffee and beer. Now I had no beer.
  5. Laundry had piled up in my laundry room. That was the least of my problems.
  6. Yet, I had hope – something was about to happen.

Of the other events that happened at this time, I can only name a few. What wasn’t written in my journal was my so-called friends and I had an argument, so they cut me off. I was truly alone in the world. However, running around in my house was my cat, Fate.

I had received Fate from another mutual so-called friend (another alcoholic), Rick. He had a large litter failing at selling the kittens. She was my world. Yet, I never got her neutered. She went into periods of “heat” which drove me “crazy”. What I did next was imaginable but happened. When she was in “heat” she would whine, drag her arse on the floor all the while crawling toward me. For me, it just broke me. Without a thought, I grabbed her by the scruff of her neck throwing her across the room, she hit the lower portion of the opposite wall, landed on all four paws and continued to whine at me. I was in complete SHOCK – what the F**K had I done? I cried and held her for hours after the incident.

As my own selfishness consumed me, I didn’t see the “signs” all around me. Only now, as I read back on my entries, do I see something.

Horoscope for 11/27/2007

You feel stronger than ever now and ready to take on twice as many challenges as you have lately. It’s a good time to lay the groundwork for any major plans you’ve been making in the recent past.

For some reason I posted this poem:

New Beginnings
By Lady Sayuri
11-19-07

New beginnings
Arise each day
Lessons we learn
Along the way
Change is inevitable
Metamorphosis within
Progresses us forward
An evolution begins
Embrace these waves of change
Momentum moves us higher
In our vibrational frequencies
The Divine inspired

I can only feel my blood pressure rise as I re-read this entry.  Despite the chaos, the signs were there. However, in active addiction we are consumed with a host of “bad” feelings which we dwell on. Typically this is called “The Committee”. The Committee, for me, consisted of Me, Myself and I. “The Committee” argued constantly. We should do this . . . We should do this . . . We should do this . . .

The circle spins and there is no end . . .