Tag Archives: Maintenance

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.

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!


Hidden Faces

So, you’ve been on the road to recovery, working your program diligently. Things are going well for you. Seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel. You are working the steps, going to meetings, and things have improved.

There is still a nagging feeling though, like you have forgotten something; something is still left undone, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it might be. It really should not be that hard to figure out, and it is the one thing that will bring you down even faster that guilt. What can this thing be, you ask? Baggage!!!

Baggage is the tattered remains of your past. It is the wreckage you left behind in your wake as you blew through people’s lives. It lives in you, rent free in your head, 24/7. It is all the aspects of your life from the past, waiting to be resolved. They speak to you when you wake and as you lay down to sleep each night. Sooner or later, they must be dealt with. This is where the 4th through 10th steps come into play. Taking inventory, making a list of persons we had harmed, trying to make amends to those we had harmed where possible, asking our higher power to remove our shortcomings. These things must be done in order for us to heal and move on.

There are going to be things we did that can not be undone for a variety of reasons. People die, they move, or, maybe they just do not want any part of us anymore. We must make every effort to make amends where possible, without causing harm when we do so! We will not absolve our souls at someone else’s expense. For those who do not want to accept our apology, or give us a chance to make things right, we have to respect that. We can not fixate on it; we accept it, move on, and hope one day for the opportunity to make that amend. Perhaps when the party we have wronged sees that we really are trying to live a life in an honest recovery, they will afford us the opportunity to set things right. However, we can not beat ourselves up over things we can not change. If a person we harmed has died, obviously we can not make an amend there, can we? In this case, the best thing we can do is live the best life we can, being the best we can be every day, clean and sober.

We can not let our baggage sit, tucked away, collecting dust, buried somewhere in our heads while we say we will deal with it “another day.” This will destroy us completely. Moving forward in our recovery means facing our fears, confronting our past, and setting things right as much as is possible. So, claim your baggage, unpack it, sort it, deal with it, and move on.

Take A Chance … On You!


Steps (St. Augustine, FL) Image ©Kerzner 2012

What am I gonna do now? Where am I gonna live? Are they gonna keep me at work? Is s/he gonna divorce me now? What then? What about the kids? What about insurance? How am I gonna show my face at work now? Jesus: playing this game straight? How the hell am I gonna do that? What the hell am I gonna do now? I’m done. Jeez …

We all remember those thoughts going through our heads when we hit bottom, no matter what the situation was; drinking, drugging, gambling, sex, abusive relationship … whatever. We were at Ground Zero. We were lost, scared, confused, and a hair’s breath from hopeless! Think about that: It’s probably as fresh and real now as when we went through it, however long ago. We had to start all over, with the very basics! We had to unlearn all the dysfunctional personal and social habits that were ensconced in our very psyche. In some cases we had to learn other basics that had been denied us due to circumstances: reading, writing, or balancing a checkbook (because we couldn’t, didn’t and/or were not permitted to handle the finances). We had to learn how to relate to people without our charades, crutches, and facades; you know, all the lies we told ourselves and everyone else. Oh, and by the way, we had to find new playmates and playgrounds too. Now, who wants to stand up and say that all of that was not a terrifying mess!

Guess what? We picked up the pieces of our shattered and damaged souls, and with the help of others, we traveled the road to rebuilding ourselves. That has been a lot of hard work and we did most of the heavy lifting. Hopefully, we are now at a point in our recovery where we are minding the basics and doing daily maintenance. Life isn’t roses every day, and some of us lost a lot (maybe even everything); but things are a lot better than they were. Best of all, we now have hope.

So friends, realizing all of this, why would you tell yourself you can’t go after the dreams you have for a better you? Having done all you have done (believing at the time that none of it was possible), why would you doubt yourself? Go ahead: Take a chance on you!