Tag Archives: Clean and Sober

Against All Odds

Standing Your Ground

Standing Your Ground

For those who have not experienced addiction, it is hard to understand why a person can not simply “say no,” or “stop” their addictive behavior when they choose to do so. To a person who has not experienced the struggle of addiction, stopping is just “a matter of willpower.” I can not tell you how many times I have heard this. If only it were that easy.

Even if the addicted individual could just stop, they would not, simply because they fail to see the real cause of their difficulties. It is not the booze, drugs, sexual liaisons  gambling, etc. that is the problem; no, these things are relief from the real problem(s). In their addiction afflicted mind, the real problem is the boss at work, the wife at home, the troublesome kid in school, the multitude of people that “do not understand” them. The universe is against them. The world is out to get them.

AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) does not call alcoholism a “cunning and baffling” disease without reason. Addiction is one of the few diseases (maybe the only one) that actually tries to talk its captives into staying addicted until they lose their mind, go to jail, or die. Loosing jobs, family, homes, status, money doesn’t matter because the disease convinces us it is not the addicted person’s fault. The goal is triumph of the addiction over the soul of the afflicted; the ultimate result of this is death. This scenario can be applied to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex addiction, and many more addictions.

What makes addiction unique among diseases is that the addicted is the major catalyst for their own recovery and sustainability. They have to fight every day to succeed in staying clean/sober, etc. I was told more than a few times in the rooms of recovery that “For every 10 drunks out there, 1 makes it to the rooms of AA. For every 10 of these, 1 will stay sober for five years.” That is some scary stuff.

If someone wants recovery, they have to work at it … really hard … every day. Every day we are in recovery, we are basically granted a reprieve from our disease, for that day. The next day, we start all over again. If the work required of each individual for their successful recovery is not done, every day, the foundation of that recovery will erode and become unstable. Remember: Our disease is “cunning and baffling.” Our disease waits for these opportunities to undermine our progress in recovery.

So it is that we must stand our ground, and fight every day for our recovery. Sometimes, even in recovery, we are still going to have hard days. Some days will even be downright shitty. Life does not stop because we choose recovery. The assholes of the world are not going to stop being assholes. How we deal with all that is what makes recovery the better option for us. If we want to live, and have a chance for a better life, then we must fight the demons of our addiction(s), against the overwhelming odds that face us. Some of us will even succeed.

So You Think Recovery Is Going To Be Boring?


A good number of people who are new to the rooms of 12 Step recovery programs have a preconceived notion that recovery is going to be boring. “No more fun of any kind!” There are many reasons for this. For starters, everyone is told straight away that they must change their playmates and playgrounds. Well then, whatever will you do? Where will you go? Who would you go with? How are you going to fill all those hours that you previously spent feeding your addiction(s)? For most, spending time at home was not a priority, and for some, that was avoided as much as possible. Yep; recovery was looking more and more like a very boring proposition. On top of that, there is the fear of the unknown. Living clean and/or sober is such a distant memory for most. Addiction, even with all its associated detriments was familiar. Familiar almost always trumps the unknown because familiar is a comfort zone we know.

I have been clean and sober for 24 years. In those 24 years I have accomplished and experienced the following, in no particular order …

I divorced, married, divorced again, and have now been married 15 years. (Practice makes perfect, right?) I helped my current wife raise our youngest son. I finished an Associates Degree. I found out that I could draw and paint without being drunk, stoned or a combination of the two. I earned a level of proficiency in martial arts. (That’s actually still kind of amusing to me because some days I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time!)

I earned an MCSE from Micro$oft. I taught myself how to use and hack MACs (“Once you go MAC, you never go back.”) I taught myself Photoshop, some InDesign, and I am now working on Illustrator. I earned a diploma from New York Institute of Photography. I retired honorably from the military at the rank I wanted to retire at when I first entered the service.

I walk away from trouble as much as humanly possible now because I have nothing to prove to anyone and it is just the prudent thing to do in the long run. As much as I want to tell some people how much of an asshole I think they are, I don’t unless I am left with no other recourse because I have learned that most of the haters in this world really hate themselves and take it out on everyone around them.

My wife married me because she loves me (bless her silly heart), and because I am the only guy she has met that actually keeps his word. She thinks I am a “stand-up guy.” That means the world to me. My two stepsons and I get along well. I never tried to replace, nor did I badmouth, their fathers, and they respected me for that. They think I am a cool stepdad. My friends think I am a “stand-up guy” too. My wife and I managed to move into our dream home a little while ago. It’s not luxurious, but it is everything we ever wanted, and it is ours. I have also been able to spend more time with my brother, who is ten years younger than I. We were estranged for a time. Of special note: We saw David Bowie together, on the beach, in New York City, at night, and Earl Slick was his guitarist. This was our first concert together, and one week before Bowie had his heart attack and stopped touring.

I have been fortunate enough to have acquired a couple of guitars and amps (again, my wife humors me, silly girl), and I am learning to play guitar again. I am a writer and editor for the premier online blues magazine and have been able to meet and interview several musicians of note. I’ve had several wonderful experiences having my guitars signed too. Roy Clark said he thought my Strat was beautiful and wouldn’t mind having it himself. Duke Robillard signed it and looked at me and gave me a wry smile. Jimmie Vaughan gave me an approving nod as he signed it. When Willie Nelson handed my Strat back to me and I thanked him, he stepped back, held his arms open in a big hug, and smiled at me. Everyone in the room applauded – it was just an amazing moment. By the way, I named my Strat “Mary Kate” because in my twisted mind, I pictured Scarlet O’Hara’s father calling it “Mary Kate” in that Irish brogue of his.

Nowadays there are people who trust me with their livelihoods, their families, their vehicles, their property, and their friendship. This is no small thing because when a drunk/addict first enters recovery, most often, no one trusts them. Now don’t get me wrong: Recovery has not always been a picnic. There are struggles too; life doesn’t take a break just because you are in recovery. There are still disappointments. There are still things I have not accomplished yet. There are definitely obstacles in my path at times. The difference is that I am better equipped to deal with them now. My perspective and outlook have changed. I have better tools to deal with life’s trials now. I don’t beat myself up over what could have been, or stupid, selfish things I did. I can’t change the past. I have made amends where possible and appropriate. I live in the present and work toward the future. I do my part every day as well as I possibly can. Most importantly, I try to give back and help others in any way I can. Most importantly though, I am grateful for everything I have and get to experience every day. Every new day is a day I might have never seen.

Given everything I have discussed here, if you think recovery has been boring for me, well, nothing could be further from the truth. You are in for the ride of your life and it will be anything but boring, I promise you!

“You can’t stay sober today on yesterday’s sobriety.”

The Voice

“You can’t stay sober today on yesterday’s sobriety.” I saw this today and thought to myself “Boy is that the truth!” It really does not matter WHAT we are recovering from, we can not rest on yesterday’s progress, can we? Could be a car wreck, bad relationship, really bad, abusive relationship; drugs, sex, booze, gambling … it really doesn’t matter, does it? So, the question arises, “Why not? I’m doing OK. Why can’t I take a breather and take it easy a little bit? It isn’t going to hurt anyone.” In AA, we refer to this as stinking thinking, and this is precisely the thinking that will get you dead.

Think about where you came from … the hole you had to claw your way up and out of. Think of the pain, the struggle, the education. Perhaps you only had a few people care enough to help you, or maybe you were one of the fortunate ones that had family and friends rally around you, give you a hand up. Maybe you were never in jeopardy of losing your job, your home, your way of life. When I hit bottom, I was facing losing everything. The only friend I had was me and that was doing me a whole world of good (sarcasm!). A couple of my superiors took pity on me because they thought I had potential as a human being and I made them laugh: they thought I was redeemable, and repairable. I busted my ass to get sober, go through withdrawal, get educated, go through counseling, confront the truth.

The day after Christmas this year, I will have 24 years of being clean & sober. Every day, I STILL have to work to stay clean & sober. Things are good now. I have accepted who I am, shortcomings and all, and I try to better the things I can. I still work on educating myself, doing the steps, trying to help others, and staying clean & sober. At this point it would be really easy to ease up a little and not stay buckled down on it. Deep down though, I know that that is the voices calling to me. Those voices are calling me back to places I never want to go again. My recovery has meant that I do things that people do not understand, and often take the wrong way. Once I got squared away, I made up my mind that never again would I be with people I didn’t want to be with, in places I didn’t want to be, spending my money, and wasting myself and my time. To this day, I don’t do this and sometimes that causes friction. I am extremely particular about who I call a friend; not because I am stuck-up, but because I don’t settle anymore. I do my best to live up to the standards I hold others to. Somedays I fall short; but I do not make it a habit because now I care.

Addiction and codependency are sneaky: they will lie and cajole you. They will caress you with lies and a false sense of independence so that you let your guard down, becoming less vigilant. They will say “It’s been a long time, it’s OK. Live a little. Have fun.” There is nothing fun about being in a shitty relationship, even if it is with yourself: actually, especially if it is with yourself. After all the work we did and continue to do, one day at a time, we owe it to ourselves to continue working on us. Don’t give in – don’t rest on the success of yesterday. It will kill you.

Welcome … Glad you could stop by and visit for a minute.

In the coming months this site will discuss how to work towards our goals & chase our dreams. Along with that, we will talk about eliminating roadblocks and excuses that slow our progress. We will also talk about out our fears: how they paralyze us, and keep us from moving forward.

These issues and discussions apply whether you are seeking a job, writing a book, getting over a relationship, are struggling with addictions, or find yourself clean and /or sober.

You will also find this space useful if your were in an abusive relationship or family situation, and are wanting to move on and better yourself.

For those that have been told;

“You’ll never amount to anything.”
“Nobody wants you.”
“You can’t do that. Who are you kidding?”

You CAN do whatever you set your mind to. There are people who want you for you. And you WILL amount to something … you can do what you want with your life because it’s yours now.

I look forward to talking with all the people who participate in this conversation.