An Uncomfortable Feeling

Something is going on with me, whether it is physically, mentally or spiritually. It started yesterday. I had a nice lunch with another sober friend and when I got home – something just changed. Suddenly I’m feeling restless, irritable and discontent.

WARNING:
This is a mental dump of what is going on in my brain, so it’s long. I’m just having a bad day

Yesterday when I woke up, I felt tired as I do most mornings now. There is a problem with my room getting enough, if any, amount of heat during the night. The landlord came over who I had never met before but was warned about his attitude After this experience I hope I don’t have to see again. He reminded me of a typical slum landlord – one who just wants the money and scoffs are the idea when you bring up a problem. So I deal with the circumstances – wearing two shirts to bed with a sweatshirt, sweatpants, sock and a heavy blanket. This arrangement will only be for a couple of months but I do need to start planning naps during the day to compensate for the lack of sleep at night.

Everything is starting to annoy me. I try to not let things get under my skin, no matter how small. Stupid little things are going to happen throughout the day. Yet more often than not I find myself saying, “WTF?” Afterwards I’m irritable because I can’t get things done the way I want them done (selfishness, I know).

For instance, yesterday as I’m attempting to post my readings on this blog, I noticed the editor changed to this “block style”. Okay, WordPress warned us, let me give it a try. I spent two hours formatting the damn thing. Fine. I’ll just change to HTML and make the corrections. Unfortunately, just like Microsoft, WordPress has put there own crap in the coding. UGH. Grudgingly, I admit defeat. So be it.

Lately I’m getting tired of treatment groups. Since I started I have made all appointments and groups. I intentionally missed a treatment group yesterday and even right now.

The whole process with this facility has been laughable. It took me a month to get in there right out of rehab. My counselor is always forgetting our individual appointments by not telling me he changed the appointment and forgetting to tell me or double books me with someone else. He doesn’t take me out of groups as we discussed and agreed upon. Meanwhile, I get weird looks or questions from staff, “Mike is everything okay? Oh, you missed group(s), so you have to wait to talk to Mr. X. Mike, this isn’t like you, you usually call us if you missed group. It happens at least once a week and its frustrating.

Luckily I have an individual appointment with my counselor on Friday. I would like to discuss dropping me down to two groups per week. Honestly, group therapy is not working because I’ve been through it. Hell, I use to teach it at an old job. Even a group facilitator jokes, “I know Mike has the answer . . .”

One group I would like dismissed is Men’s group. Either the facilitator talks most of the group or one particular person runs his mouth off about something we hear week after week after week. Sadly, the facilitator happens to be my counselor too. Besides, I have no interest in talking about women (Hello – gay and obviously my counselor knows this) nor do I want to talk about football, construction or cars.

The other group is Stress Group. Every group we “check in” with our stress level from one to ten. My response every week, “Zero”. I’m grateful to have certain things taken care of for me. However, I do respect the frustration of the rest of the group who doesn’t have this opportunity. I’ve been in their shoes. So I offer my experience. But again, its hearing the same thing over and over week after week from the same person. Most of them aren’t in a 12 Step program either. Hey, it’s there lives. So be it. But its stressful for me just being in a Stress Group where no one wants to listen!

Lastly, I’m really trying hard to work on codependency issues. In the last couple of weeks, a few of the guys in the residential program relapsed. For me, it was something I knew it was coming. All I can do is wish them the best and if approached offer my experience, strength and hope. However, most don’t believe in 12 Step programs anyway. The problem is other sober people are not handling it well and I can see it on their faces, as well as in their own behaviors. Perhaps even my own. I want to jump right in and “fix” it. I can’t, I won’t. I have my own issues right now.

My roommate and a friend of ours in the rooms had a troubled past with each other. They thought it was a good idea to get involved with each other. My roommate learned his lesson after weeks of turmoil. Our friend, on the other hand, has a host of issues of her own to deal with. I’m trying to keep an arms distance with her because I don’t want to be sucked into her own drama and shit. But I still want to be a friend and a listening ear. She was the one I had lunch with yesterday. All we spoke about was either my roommate or her issues (which she claims are mental health issues). It’s draining to listen to it all. I offer suggestions yet get a response, “Oh, that’s not going to work…” I end the lunch with, “What happened to honesty, open-mindedness and willingness?” Then I was honest saying I was tired, it was time to take a nap when in reality I just wanted to run away.

I’m uncomfortable. I don’t like it. This dump has helped some. But I really need to take an honest look at what is really going on (selfishness, self-pity, etc.). I’m DEFINITELY going to a meeting to bring up this topic than quietly listen! Hopefully, I can change this mood around.

Life After Detox and Rehab

During my years in the recovery community, on both sides of the coin (as a client, as well as a professional), I learned a great deal of the resources that are available to recovering addicts, if they choose to use them.  Some recovering addicts believe after detox and a short stint in rehab they are ready for the world.  Proven research, as my own experiences can testify, show greater success of recovery when recovering addicts get involved in a sober living environment.

What is a sober living program?  Many organizations offer recovering addicts a transitional program allowing a recovering addict to live independently while also preparing them for real world experiences. I will use a metaphor  of building a house to help better understand this process.

Phase I – The Halfway House

A halfway house provides recovering addicts a place to live while going to treatment and relearning the basics of daily living. This environment can be compared to building the foundation of a house. I lived in a house with thirty(30) other men who were all at different stages of their recovery sharing responsibilities for not only our recovery but the recovery of others.  It provided the structured environment many addicts need in early recovery while also providing support when times got rough.

For instance, we were given various responsibilities to be done daily. As active addicts, we tend to deny ourselves these basic needs. Eating three meals per day was encouraged while attendance at dinner was mandatory as a “check in” opportunity.   Cleaning our rooms, making our beds, keeping up with personal hygiene, our own laundry, etc. were all monitored.  In addition we were required to attend all treatment and other appointments. For the first couple of weeks, we were required to sign out of the facility with another individual going everywhere with that person.  They became responsible for us, as we became responsible for them.  It was only after all these responsibilities were fulfilled were we given the opportunity for “free time” (which was very rare).

This type of environment can be very difficult for any addict in early recovery.  In active addiction things were done when we wanted to answering to no one.  This environment was a complete reversal of those attitudes.  Hostilities broke out all the time as attitudes and behaviors clashed.  I can remember it taking me every fiber in my being not to physically harm others I was living with at the time.

Without the support of treatment, recovery meetings and the professionals there to help me, it wouldn’t have been possible for my success to move to the next phase of sober living.  I was now given a choice.  Either I could move back into the community (living on my own) or move into the next phase of sober living.  After listening to “suggestions”, I chose to do the later.  A decision I would not regret.

Phase II – Supportive Living

Organizations have various time frames for moving from one phase to another phase.  For me, I lived in the halfway house for three months, then transitioning to the next phase of sober living called “Supportive Living”.  In this environment, I was paired with another individual in our own apartment.  The expectations were the same but our freedoms were expanded.  We were responsible for our own activities while being actively monitored on a weekly basis.  This phase can be compared to building the frame of a house.  With a strong foundation, I was ready to begin building the frame of who I was going to become in the future. Over the course of eight months, I had two roommates of different experiences.

My first roommate tested all my skills I learned while in the halfway house, as well as the new skills I was learning in sobriety.  I learned the true meaning of defects of character and shortcomings.  He showed me the person I didn’t want to be.  Failing in all areas of daily living and responsibilities, he later relapsed (as no surprise to me).  The experiences only strengthened my own sobriety.

My second roommate was more committed to sobriety like myself.  At first we got together fine.  We both completed our treatment programs.  We were required to begin volunteering to gain work experience, as well as given a chance to further our educations.  I began a degree program at a local community college.  As time passed, we began to shape our own lives and our differences clashed.

Yet again, I was given a choice.  Either I could go back to the community to live on my own or continue to the next phase of sober living known as “Shelter Plus Care”.  By this time I was actively involved in Alcoholics Anonymous with a home group, Sponsor and going through the Steps with my Sponsor.

Phase III – Shelter Plus Care

After eight months of living with another recovering addict, I chose to live in my own apartment, do my own thing, while still having a professional support system, if needed.  The only requirement at this phase of residential living was to remain sober and meet with a counselor once a month.  At this point in my life, without going through the other two phases, I could have never survived on my own.  It was time to build the roof of my house, put all the finishing touches on my house and open the front door.

At the beginning of this phase, I was in college and held a part-time job to help pay for my own expenses living alone in my own apartment.  This continued on for two years as I successfully graduated the local community college earning a Associates in Applied Science in Computer Science Information Systems.  Due to the lack of computer science jobs in my area, I turned my interests to my next passion, chemical dependency.

I was already volunteering time at a local detoxification facility.  When a position opened as a full-time employee, I applied.  This would potentially cause a conflict of interest because the employer was the same organization providing my sober living experience.  Thus, a decision was made to finally move back in the community living on my own with no more support besides my own.  I was ready.  So I accepted the position working with the same organization that provided me all those materials to build my house.  I had come full circle opening the door to my house, letting people in to show them how I built my house using a sober living program.

Conclusion

If the recovering addict puts all his/her energy into their sobriety, listening to all the suggestions and making the right choices along the way, the results are amazing.  During this process, I learned so much about myself, both strengths and weaknesses.  It offered the opportunity to explore and handle all types of situations on my own while providing professional support if the need should arise.  Such programs provide the recovering addict the needed resources to build their own house, if they choose to use them.