Category Archives: Recovery

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.

Old Friends

Photo ©Barry Kerzner

Photo ©Barry Kerzner

So I’m driving in the car the other day and my Simon & Garfunkel playlist is permeating every corner of Earl, my “Hamstermobile,” from stem to stern. It sounds really good too, and I am relishing every moment, singing along. I’m thinking, “I’ve been listening to these songs for almost 50 years and they still have as much meaning for me as when I first heard them as a child. They still sound just as good, and they still move me to tears or make me smile, just as they have all these years.”

Recovery has a lot in common with the Simon & Garfunkel songs I listen to. The things that are read and said at meetings are the “hits” I have been hearing for almost 29 years now. “It works if you work it.” “One day at a time.” “There but for the grace of God go I.” Just like the the Simon & Garfunkel songs have different meaning for me as I live more and grow older, so too do the lessons I am taught in the rooms. The lyrics of the songs haven’t changed; it is me that has changed. I have experienced more, seen more, lived more, and my perceptions have changed because of this.

The song “Old Friends” has been a particular favorite of mine for many reasons. It is a look at a day that once had seemed SO far off, and now seems to be approaching with ever more haste as each year passes. The loneliness, the change, the knowing it can never be as it once was, none of it. Not my life, my loves, my heart; the consequences of the choices I’ve made over the years are more apparent and intrusive now. Some mistakes have no remedies just as some transgressions will not be afforded the opportunity to make amends for. Most of all, looking back on a life and seeing all the missteps and the realization that most can not be changed, or made right again, and the disappointment that comes with this. Knowing that we are shadows of the strong, rebellious, vibrant young people we once were. That is gone now even though it seems like it was just yesterday.

So it is with recovery in some ways. We have to let our mistakes go if we want to move on. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to make amends where appropriate and where it doesn’t harm others just to assuage our own guilt and/or regret. As we learn from our past, we move into the future. As we get closer to the end though, we are grateful for the time we have been given because deep in our heart of hearts we know that had we not remained clean and sober, we would not have had any of that at all.

Even as time is “running out,” we have to learn to forgive ourselves, which in some ways, if one has any conscience whatsoever, is the hardest thing to do. Once again, even now, we are left with the one basic truth:

one day at a time - serenity prayer coin pair