Author Archives: barryk21

I Don’t Know

What will 2018 bring? I don’t know.

Will it be better than 2017? I don’t know.

Will I be a better person in 2018? I don’t know. (Hopefully!)

Will I stay clean & sober in 2018? I don’t know. (I’m gonna take that “One day at a time.”)

Will I have an opportunity to make amends in 2018? I don’t know.

Will some of my friends “fall off the wagon”? I don’t know.

Apparently, I don’t know much, do I?

What DO I know?

I agree with the wise Davos Seaworth that “Nothing fucks you harder than time!”

I have entered that age group where I have begun to lose friends and relatives with greater frequency, some of whom are not terribly older than myself.

As each day passes, it becomes more and more difficult to suffer the ignorance and rudeness of people I must deal with.

Dementia, Alzheimers, and strokes scare the shit out of me. I figure that I will survive a heart attack, or I won’t. A stroke can minimally affect me, or more likely, disable me in one or many different ways, none of which are predictable. Dementia and Alzheimers are both slow deaths where my awareness, cognitive abilities, and knowledge of self and the world around me will disappear, one day at a time, until one day, I may as well be a lump of coal.

There is so much that I have not accomplished. Some of this is just the universe at work, and some are my own poor choices, misplaced efforts, stubbornness, or just stupidity.

There is the awareness that some amends will never be realized and affected.

There is a growing certainty that time is moving faster for me and there’s so much less of it for me to work with now.

Decisions made have a far more immediate and consequential impact on my life now than in the past.

I really must buckle down and begin to focus more on the things I want to accomplish even as I attempt to pay bills, maintain a home, and relationships.

These are the things I do know.

There is one more thing that I know, without question: Without being clean and sober, nothing is possible except decline and death.

Just One More Day

Remember when were kids, and we wanted to stay up “just a little longer”? We wanted just one more cookie.  As we got older it was just one more kiss when we spent time with our lover. Just one more day as time off came to a close. Just one more…

Our addiction was the same way. Just one more drink. One more hit on that joint. One more snort of… whatever.

Things began to change as time went on and our disease gained a stronger grip. Soon we wanted one more chance to make it right with a lover. One more chance to make it right with a friend. One more chance to make things right with a supervisor, with our families.

I’ll be there on time. I’ll spend time with the family – I won’t go out drinking and slumming. I’ll put some money in the bank. I know she’s no good for me but…

No matter how “high-functioning” or how “together” we kept it, eventually, we found ourselves in a downward spiral into the toilet and everyone saw it coming… everyone but us.

These days, I’m closer to the end than the beginning. These days I want one more clean & sober day.  In fact, I’m grateful for one more day period because I have learned that there are no guarantees. Each day now is a chance to be better than yesterday. Try as I might, somedays, I fail miserably.

And still, I want one more day…

The Winds of Change

So, for those of you who have been following along, my previous post was about possibly losing things that are near and dear to me.

Well, Hurricane IRMA passed right over us, the eye itself in fact. We survived. While many in this state suffered to varying degrees, we came through remarkably well. Our home was not damaged. We did not lose power. We had running water. Were we scared? You bet.

As I mentioned, throughout the state, friends, and neighbors have been suffering through difficulties (some still are) including loss of power, no ice, no running water, backed-up plumbing, flooding, damaged or destroyed homes, damaged or destroyed vehicles, and other challenges.

In many ways, at least for me, this experience had many similarities to when I first got sober. Once Hurricane IRM was over, we realized how fortunate we were compared to so many others we know. There was that same sense of wonder and amazement I experienced when I came through be sober for a while. There was that innate knowledge that things could have turned out so much worse.

The hyped up-state and sense of worry and constant sustained sense of anxiety were all quite familiar, and so too was the mental and physical exhaustion that came with them.

When everything was over, there was a sense of relief, with the release all at once of the pent-up excitement, worry, doubt, and fear; a fear that was present always, no matter how much it was suppressed and pushed to the background.

Everything is not completely back-to-normal here yet. Some things are still not as abundant as they were before the storm such as gas, water, propane, and other supplies. Some are are yet without running water, properly functioning plumbing or electricity. It’s funny how much we take these basics for granted every day until we have to do without them.

Just as in recovery, there are repairs to be made, things to be put back in order, as they should be. Those basics we so take for granted become so mush more appreciated again.

This experience has once again, in a clear and practical way, shown me that recovery is just like life itself: we have to work at it, so it doesn’t fall apart and stop working.

One Day At a Time – Again

So … 80 wildfires are burning in 9 states. Hurricane Irma is heading to us. Two MORE named storms behind that!

When I am looking at something that is heading my way that is 450 miles wide, with a sustained wind speed of 185 mph, it scares the hell out of me.

Will Irma hit my area directly? Hopefully not. Even if not, it will still have a substantial effect on me.

The thought of losing my home shook me for a couple of days.

40 years of my art and photography, that my wife was kind enough to frame after I had stopped dragging it around the world with me after I retired from the military. It’s  irreplaceable, as is the artwork of my mother and father that hangs in our home as well.

Most of all, there is the house. This house is our dream home. It is perfect for us. Never in our wildest imaginations did we think we would ever have something this well suited for us, this comfortable, in our lifetimes. One of my wife’s greatest joys is working in the yard, fussing with this or that, and fussing with the inside of the house as well.  It is our refuge from the world. We love it.

And it could all be gone in an instant. Forever. All of it.

Here are the realities:

I can only do what I can do to prepare, and then, it is no longer up to me.

As long as I have my wife, I have everything I need.

Starting all over at 57 would positively suck, but I would still be better off than most.

It is a living lesson, reminding me once again, that life truly is “One day at a time.”

About People Pleasing

I used to be a people pleaser

In addiction, people pleasing is extremely important for a variety of reasons. If we keep those around us happy, they are less like to really look at us, look at what we are doing, or how we are doing it. The most important reason we people please in addiction is because it is a weapon; it is yet one more tool that we use to manipulate people and in turn, circumstances and outcomes.

Now, “normies” people please too. They do it for some of the same reasons addicted folks do, but mostly, to avoid conflict. For 99% of them, it is not a weapon that they rely on 24/7. Those of us blessed with addictions build our world, our survival on a few simple, but crucial principles:

Always control the situation so we are not found out, dismissed, fired, divorced, arrested, etc.

Hide our addiction(s) at all costs.

Hide the shitty things we do, physically, morally, financially, or otherwise to keep our addiction(s) under wraps. (The joke of that is that most everyone we deal with is aware of our affliction. Most often, even before we are.)

People pleasing keeps things calm, and easy. Less fuss, less muss. If we keep people happy, life is so much easier; so we believe. Now mind you, people pleasing does work up to a point. But in the end, whether clean, sober, or even as a “normie,” those we try the hardest to please so as to gain their favor, or alliance, will treat us as they would treat anyone else.

Another reason we sometimes people please in our addictions is to win friends, because we are lonely or we have a really poor self image and/or sense of self-worth.

In the end, by doing this we are dishonest with those we are trying to please, and most importantly, ourselves. Why? Because we re not being who really are. It’s the same reason we drink, dope, whatever; when we are under the influence, we can be someone, something else – anybody else but who we really are because we are not worthy.

That friends, is why addiction is such a stone cold motherfucker that takes so many lives. It’s the disease that always convinces us that we are shit, and there is no hope for us.

The beauty of being clean and sober is that we see things more clearly. In a good recovery program, we are more inclined to be ourselves, more often. We try to treat those around us as we want to be treated as opposed to currying favor being someone we are not.

People pleasing is not realistic and is not honest behavior. It has no place in a strong recovery.