Category Archives: Sober Living

Hello Recovery, Hello Amends

adelle-hello“Hello”

Adele’s “Hello” hit the air a couple months back and by now it’s starting to get on everyone’s nerves because it is played so much you almost want to say “goodbye” and not listen to the song. This song hit me hard when it first came out. I remember the day it hit the air, I had to pull over because the words immediately catapulted me back to my first year in recovery…amends.  Such a painstaking phase of my first year in recovery, don’t get me wrong I grew but it was painful growth.

Adele goes on in her song to say “she’s called a thousand times and hello from the outside”…I could relate… I had gotten out of treatment, I was outside of bondage of my disease and I had a clear head to start calling and make the amends that were much needed to those I had wronged.  Although I thought I was reading to do all my amends my sponsor had me do them in the order she thought was pertinent, and so I did.

I made those and amends and thought I had let go but Adele broke me all over again head, heart and soul…she brought back every emotion that I felt that year in a three minute song.  At the first part of the song she talks about healing and how time was supposed to heal wounds but she hadn’t done much healing. I felt that pain, getting out of treatment and anxiously waiting for the healing that was supposed to happen.  I knew that I would need to do my amends to start my healing process, I had wronged so many people and I needed to clean my side of the street.

Five years ago I picked up a phone and called a friend to make an amend that I knew would not go well at all.  I was nervous, hands shaking, my heart was about to pound out of my chest and she answered…I didn’t want to make this amend but my sponsor had told me I was emotionally ready.  I wasn’t feeling very emotionally ready as soon as I heard her voice come over the phone.  The first thing out of her mouth was, nothing changes if nothing changes…so, have you changed?  I didn’t expect her to say anything like this so I was taken back, I swallowed hard and fought through my crackled voice and said Hello.  I went on to tell her I was sorry and I had gotten out of treatment and I was working on my first year in recovery and she remained silent.  I kept talking and telling her how I’m working a really good program with a really good sponsor…she was still silent.  I finally said her name and looked at the phone, she had hung up.  That was a hard amend, I tried my best, I did what I was supposed to do.  Did she hear everything? Did she know I truly meant what I was saying?  I don’t know the answer to those questions and I never will and that isn’t my responsibility and that wasn’t my side of the street, I cleaned up mine and I made that call.  Adele’s song tugged at my heart…I wanted to tell her I was sorry for breaking her heart but I never got that out.  I guess I will never get to tell her myself but maybe Adele can do that for me.

Here I am almost six years later and the world “Hello” from one song took me back to that heart pounding, voice crackling moment.  I have to thank Adele for letting me feel my past in a very soft gentle way.  Amends can be difficult but the growth that comes from amends is so precious.  Short term loss can be long term gain…so I took the short term loss of a friendship but through AA and myrecovery.com and I have gained so many more relationships.

Adele’s last words in her song “At least I can say I tried, But it don’t matter it clearly doesn’t tear you apart anymore”…I could add and say it doesn’t tear me apart anymore either because I have grown and let everything go, these are the great gifts given to us by our program of recovery!  Stay strong everyone!

If there was every any doubt…I am an Alcoholic!

beerLast night, I almost had a slip.  Well, I kinda, sorta did have a slip…I just hit my 9 month’s sober anniversary three days ago.

My daughter was here in town, to move her stuff out of my garage, etc., to her new place with her fiancé in DC.  They borrowed my car to run some errands and came back to be picked up by her father to go to see her brother’s lacrosse game.  They brought back beer and we sat out on the patio.  I went in to get my last diet Pepsi to toast the move with them.  I had been saving it to have after dinner, but I got it anyway so that I could have something to toast with.

Her father came and picked them up.  They left their empty bottles in the recycling bin outside.  I hung out on the patio by myself for a while before I went back into the house.  When I went in I passed the recycling bin.  I could smell the empty beer bottles.  I walked past them and went in to read for a while before I fixed dinner.  I could still smell the empty bottles…cunning, baffling, powerful.  I finally went out to get the empties with the intention of rinsing them out and putting them back in the recycling bin.  I noticed that one of the bottles still had a little left in it; not much, but a little.  Before I knew it I drained the bottle.  It was just enough to get a taste.  God, it was good!

I think I went into shock.  I couldn’t believe I had done that.  It’s as if my arm was not my own.  I totally freaked.  I quickly rinsed the bottles out and hurried up to get them back in the bin.  I didn’t know what to do next, so I sat down and prayed.  What went through my mind next was a nightmare.  It’s as if all the work I had done in the last 9 months was gone.  I had visions of the past and of the future, all rolled into one.  I was alone.  My [sober] roommate was out of town.  I found myself thinking I could easily go up to the liquor store and get a six-pack and no one would know…cunning, baffling, powerful.  I could blame the “empties” on my daughter and her friends.  No one would question that…cunning, baffling, powerful.  All of a sudden I saw myself in the future, buying beer and hiding it around the house…saying to myself that I could “just have one” from time to time… cunning, baffling, powerfulNot!  Been there, done that!  I prayed harder.  I prayed to have God remove this obsessive thinking from me.  I thought about calling my sponsor, I was too freaked out.  I thought about getting to a meeting, I was too grubby from moving and too lazy to take a shower and make myself look nice.  I kept praying and I kept praying.  Finally, the obsession seemed to relent.  I threw on a hat to cover my “bad hair” and went up to the convenience store to get some more diet Pepsi.  When I returned, I realized that I had gone right past the liquor store, twice, and didn’t even notice it.  Never was I so glad to pop the top of that can of DP!

The next morning I woke up uncomfortable.  I was thinking about what a close call I had and I began to wonder if one tiny sip counted as a “slip”.  I was obsessing again.  I knew I had to tell someone, that I could not keep this secret.  In my morning prayer and meditation I heard “call your sponsor”.  If I did not tell someone it would become a secret that would fester and undermine all the work I had done so far… cunning, baffling, powerful.  I called her…she was just getting up.  She congratulated me on not acting on the obsession, but, said I should have called her last night.  She also told me not to beat myself up about it, to be grateful that my program was so strong that I stopped myself.  I know today that it wasn’t I who stopped me, it was God.  I should have called her, but it still would have been too late to stop me.  Like I said about my arm, it seemed to have a power of its own…cunning, baffling, powerful.

I’m supposed to go to a wedding today, a friend of my daughter’s.  She is a young woman I used to drink with at happy hours when my daughter and I both worked downtown.  I am not going to go.  They can use my car.  Today I will spend in gratitude that I did not go out last night.  Today I have a plan to stay sober and I am so grateful to this program for giving me the tools to do that.  Today I will call another alcoholic and tell them this story.  Today I will clean up my house.  I will continue to create an environment of peace and serenity. Today I am grateful.

What Did I Learn From This Today?

 One – If I ever had any doubt about being an alcoholic, I do not anymore.

Two – This program works!

Feel Good Sponsor vs. A Real Good Sponsor

It has been a couple years since I have had to do the “sponsor search” but I remember what it felt like and how many mistakes on finding a sponsor I made the first year I was in recovery. Now I’m not saying what I say is the only way or THE way but it is what helped me and maybe it will be something that can help you.

When I first got sober I heard these three words over and over again “Get A Sponsor”…when I first walked into treatment I really had no idea what that meant and I was too ashamed to ask. I kept thinking it was someone who was going to pay for something…yeah, I was that naive. After 20 days being in treatment I finally asked my roommate who was leaving…”are you getting a sponsor?” She said oh I already have one set up and I meet her the day I leave…me still slightly confused asked the next logical question…how did you know to ask a girl? My roommate laughed and sat beside me on the bed and said…”oh sweetie, you don’t know what a sponsor is do you?” Thus began my knowledge of what a sponsor actually is! So we are all clear, they don’t pay for anything and your sponsor is not your own personal piggy bank!

So you may ask yourself what is with the title of this blog…Feel Good vs. A Real Good Sponsor…I only named it that because I chose the Feel Good and it got me in trouble so now I have a Real Good which is keeping me on the path in recovery.

The Feel Good Sponsor…

I got out of treatment and I knew I had to find a Sponsor…okay, how do I do this…what do I say…what should they look like…there were so many questions and I didn’t have any answers because I never asked when I was in treatment (first mistake). When I got out of treatment I was fragile, emotional and unstable. I found a Sponsor that I thought would comfort these things and help my “fragile” state and by that I mean have pity on me, not actually HELP me let it go.

My first meeting and I spotted her right away…she was sweet, first one to say hi and offered me coffee. I never listened to her talk but I liked the way she looked…because the amazing addict in me deep down said…I can manipulate that. I was on the path to destruction before I even hit the pavement. I asked this nice lady to be my Sponsor and she said she would and told me to meet her at the same meeting next week. Really (my thought process), that’s all I have to do…meet you hear next week and I’ll stay sober…no other strings attached, no other work to do? This is going to be amazing!

So my first year, was exactly that…no work, saw my Sponsor one time a week at the same meeting. I made coffee maybe once, I put my chair away and that was about the extent of my recovery. Meanwhile everything at home was on a bullet train on a crash course…I got pregnant. I found out 4 months into my recovery and I was scared. I was scared but who was I going to talk about it? I never spoke with my Sponsor and an AA meeting was not a place to chat about pregnancy. So I held all my feelings inside and buried them deep waiting for the day for my baby to come and my emotions would explode. That was what happened, no other fancy way to put it. I exploded! Every emotion that I felt my first year in sobriety came crashing over me the day I gave birth. Postpartum depression set-in and it was off to the races for me, relapse was eminent.

While that first year I had never used drugs or alcohol I had relapsed emotionally and that was all it took to relapse me totally. I chose the “feel good” easy- to- fool Sponsor and that didn’t get me anywhere but back where I started, in treatment.

The Real Good Sponsor…

When I got back to treatment I felt defeated and lost. I kept asking myself what I did wrong and where could I have done better? I started to open up to the counselor that I had and she asked me some very key questions that started to give me answers…did you talk to people in the program, did you tell your Sponsor what was going on in your head, when you picked a Sponsor did you listen to them speak about their recovery (what they used to be like, what happened and what it is like now). These questions helped me figure out that looking for a REAL good Sponsor was a must. Someone who knew what a program of recovery looked like. I needed a Sponsor who wasn’t going to let me get away with minimal service work, never calling, not reading the big book and never going through the steps.

I never even went through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with my first Sponsor and to be honest I didn’t even know all of them, so sad. I knew I was starting from ground zero but that was a good place for me to start.

With an amazing counselor that gave me great direction, I knew I was going to be able to find a Sponsor that would help me walk this journey of recovery. I was looking for someone who walked the walk, was embedded in the AA community, had their own Sponsor, had and was continually working the 12 Steps of AA, was current in AA meetings and had a home group. This sounds like a huge list of musts but I knew I was risking my life if I only wanted to do the minimum from a feel good Sponsor. I needed a Sponsor that knew when I was giving them monkey gravy and not the honest truth, in other words…someone who would put the mirror up to my face and call a spade a spade. I had an ocean of character defects and I needed a Sponsor to guide me through them to help me show up in life the way I should so I wasn’t drowning in them anymore. I knew my Sponsor wasn’t going to be my best friend but they were going to be someone who was friend enough to tell me when I needed to change. It takes a lot of guts to tell someone they aren’t living life on life’s terms, taking their will back and not following a program of recovery but I would rather a Sponsor do that then hold my hand and tell me it will all just blow away. Now this is just my experience, my journey and maybe the feel good Sponsor would work for you but I got honest with myself and knew that I needed a real good Sponsor to help me stay honest and help me become the person I am today. I did find that woman and I will be forever grateful! She walked me through some of the hardest years of my life.

I love the end of the promises that tells me I it’s not going to be easy, you are going to have to…WORK!

“Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” Alcoholic’s Anonymous p83-84

If I did the work I was going to reap the rewards. My recovery would not always feel good so I knew, for me, my Sponsor wasn’t going to be able to always have that feel good, loveable and I can take care of you charm…she would be my strength when I was weak. Take it from me get a real good Sponsor…no matter the bumps, heartache, stress, shame, anxiety, anger, resentments…they will walk you through it all with the work that needs to be done! Work, work, work…the miracle will happen! Will it be easy, NO…worth it, ABSOLUTELY!

Early Recovery Struggles

Hello my name is Joe and I’m an alcoholic and an addict! I came through the retreat on December 5th of 2012 and my journey ended on January 4th 2013, the retreat saved my life!!! I was addicted to crystal meth and it was running my life inside and out. I needed help and couldn’t find a way to tell anyone, one night things got out of hand with my fiancé and me. The next day I went to my mom’s to stay a couple days, two days later my fiancé came over to my moms and with that urgent look in her eyes saying we need to talk. Continue reading

Sober House Living

Many of us, myself included, are hard headed, stubborn and believe ourselves to be completely self reliant. Of course, those attributes have directly contributed to where we find ourselves today: sitting in a treatment center. Our self reliance has completely failed us. In order to stay sober, we need others in AA to help us. This realization is the beginning of our new journey and leads into the topic of living in a sober living home.

The last time I went through treatment, it was highly recommended to me that upon leaving treatment, I should move into a sober house. Deep down, I knew this was the right thing to do but it was nonetheless a smack to my over inflated ego and pride. My ego/self reliance told me I was better than that. It told me I didn’t need to share some bedroom in some grimy sober house with people who didn’t have jobs or not much of a future. Continue reading