Back in the Sober Blogging World

Hello, all. I’ve created a new blog, Recovery102. I won’t update this one anymore, but I’ve removed the privacy filter so others can find it and hopefully learn from my experiences and story.

It’s good to be back. I hope everyone is well, and I look forward to catching up with you.

-Robert

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Blogging Break

I’ve had the feeling since December that I need a blogging break. School starts next week, and I have some creative projects that I want to focus on. Could I do both? Maybe, and if so, I’ll return sooner rather than later. Something in me is telling me it’s time to change and realign my energy. I spend a lot of time on sobriety blogs, and they were key in my first year of recovery. I’ve met some wonderful people (at least virtually) who’ve been of tremendous help.

I’m already sending out poetry and getting a few acceptances, which is great. I want to dial in on my fiction craft when I’m not working on poetry. I’ll say more on this on my other blog.

So if you don’t see me for a while, please don’t think I’ve gone off the rails and started drinking again. I’ll probably be back, and if so, I may start a different blog entirely. I confess to being motivated by A Woman Without Wine‘s decision to create a new blog for 2016. I’m not ready to do that, but perhaps I will in the future.

I’ll leave this post up until January 11, and then I’ll make both blogs private since there’s no way to simply deactivate a WordPress blog. If you want me to drop you a line if or when I re-enter the blogging world, drop me a line at sober_dragon@yahoo.com.

Onto new adventures, people…be well.

me and star wars stuff

Me, sober for one year (and two days)

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Two Lists (Part Two)

So here I am at 4:38 AM, drinking water, and staring rather blankly at the computer screen (well, I was until I began typing). My dog woke me up for a 3:30 AM pee break, and I was completely awake by then time he finished and trotted back into the house. This is pretty normal for me these days; get up rather early (or in the dead of night, as my wife says), eat a little bit, have a cup of coffee, and read or write for a while. I used to stay awake, doing my own thing until rousing the children for school or, if it was the weekend, waiting until they came downstairs. Lately, though, I’ve been crawling back into bed and catching a few more hours of sleep.

This all comes from listening to my body, something I’m much better at than in the super-early days of sobriety. When I drank, there were times when my body sent clear messages like, “Robert, how about we don’t drink today, huh? Or at least drink less?” And I’d ignore my body and continue poisoning it. I’d force myself to drink, especially in the end. It was a horrifying thing.

These days, I sleep when my body tells me to, eat when I’m hungry, and drink when I’m thirsty. Aside from coffee and the occasional soda, I drink water, and I drink a lot of it. I always have, even when I was drinking alcohol, and I even fooled myself that I was healthier for it, though my wine consumption (it was usually wine, with vodka second, beer third, and whiskey last) far outweighed my water intake.

Anyway, on this my year anniversary of being sober, I’ll write the second of my two lists inspired by the blog Time and the Bottle. This one is “What I Expected From Drinking.” It’s past-tense, since I no longer consume alcohol…

…and it’s going to have to wait while I catch a  little more sleep. My eyes are closing as I type. I still half-expect that to be because of drinking, even 365 sober days later. More in a bit.

cat sleeping

Okay, I slept more and have some coffee on this chilly morning. To the list.

  1. I Expected Alcohol to Ease My Anxiety – It did, in the beginning. When I drank socially and didn’t think about it every day, a few beers with friends was the perfect compliment to an evening. Alcohol took the edge off, as it were, and I didn’t have so much that I woke up hung-over. If I could have stayed in that world, I certainly would have, but somewhere I crossed the line. It doesn’t matter when; it just matters that I did. As I drank alcoholically, my anxiety increased. It all became a terrible cycle with me drunk and freaked out much of the time. As I’ve said before, my anxiety has gone down since I stopped drinking, and the medication I take is allowed to work.
  2. I Expected Alcohol to Turn Me into a Fun Person – There were time that drinking made me goofy and fun to be around…I think. I suppose what I wanted it to do was make me into an instant extrovert: simply take an introvert, add wine, and whamo! You have an extrovert who’ll go to any party, take random road trips, and propose wild ideas at the drop of the hat! What fun! That didn’t work. Alcohol rewired my brain and altered my chemistry, but it didn’t change my fundamental nature. Instead, it tried to kill and bury it under layers of deceit, venomous inner voices, and crippling self-hatred to the point that I wondered why anyone would ever want to be around me. So I isolated more and more. So much for being the fun guy at the party. The narcissistic, gloomy, bitter guy at the party? Check.
  3. I Expected Alcohol to Make Me a Great Writer – I bought into the myth that great writers drink, so I was in good company. Never mind the fact that alcohol killed many of them, or that some of my favorite writers got sober and wrote better as a result. In a twisted way, I figured I had to drink in order to remain a writer. It was like a secret club. I’ll admit that one glass of wine would loosen me up and sometimes I’d write something I was proud of. Usually, though, I blow through three or four glasses of wine and write pig slop that I recognized as pig slop, so I’d get depressed and drink. Then I’d host a big pity party for myself and, to mark the occasion, drink even more. I’d swear one of two things to myself: either I’d find the right combination of alcohol and inspiration one day and stick to that, or I’d give up drinking and writing completely because surely I couldn’t write sober. Wrong. Within the first two days of sobriety, I was writing. Within a week, I had some decent poems. Within six months, I was sending out poems to markets for the first time in years, and now I’ve had two pieces published with two more slated for later this year, all courtesy of sobriety.
  4. I Expected Alcohol to Make Me a Better Father – This is one of the most shameful parts of my story (and I know what Brene Brown says about shame, and it’s still shameful. I don’t wallow in it, but I’ll continue to call it what it is). There were times that drinking made me Fun Dad, but not usually. Groggy Dad, Angry Dad, Moody Dad, Absent Dad, Cranky Dad, Talks-Too-Much-About-Stupid-Stuff Dad…all of that, I had in spades. What my children need and deserve is Sober Dad. And my wife deserves Sober Husband. I don’t confuse sobriety with perfection, and those of you with children know how difficult the job can be. But I’m present and accounted for; my children can count on me to be there for them without anything clouding my thoughts or flooding my system.
  5. I Expected Alcohol to Continue Being My Companion – Several writers in recovery talk about alcohol as if it’s a bad boyfriend or a lover who turns out to be toxic but they can’t seem to leave, and I understand that. When my addiction counselor Katie proposed the idea that my primary relationship for the last several years had been with alcohol, I felt something click. She was right. My life centered around alcohol, and stopping drinking felt like the worst break-up in the history of the world. It was physical, emotionally, and spiritually devastating…for a while. And then things got better. And they continue to get better.

Whew, I wrote more than I thought I expected, but that’s okay. It’s my sober birthday, so I can be a little effusive.

One year, people…one year. Woo hoo! And for Rachel

baby goat BABY GOAT.

 

 

 

 

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Two Lists

A while back, Time and the Bottle posted two interesting lists regarding drinking and sobriety. The first list was “What I Want from Sobriety” and the second was “What I Expect from Drinking.” On the eve of my one-year sobriety date, I thought I’d post my responses.

First, what I want from sobriety (and what I’ve already gained):

  1. A True Sense of Myself – Since I’m always changing, even from one moment to the next, this is a relative thing. Still, there are core truths that go deeper and have staying power (my love of music, dedicating to writing, and so forth). More than that, though, I want sobriety to keep me clear as I discover who I am through the ups and downs of life. It’s not always pretty, but it’s authentic. I was told in very early sobriety that I would re-discover myself, and it’s true.
  2. Less Anxiety – My addiction counselor Katie assured me that a lot of my anxiety came from drinking so much, and I wanted to believe her. Even though I still take medicine for generalized anxiety and can still freak out from time to time, I no longer have terrible panic attacks, and while I often prefer solitude and tending to my interior life, venturing outside the house doesn’t fill me with dread. Granted, I take medication for anxiety, but at least it has the chance to work without alcohol constantly flooding my system.
  3. Better Relationships – This is primarily with my immediate family, especially my children, who are still quite young. Parenting is stressful (and often feels downright impossible), but expecting alcohol to make the job easier is ridiculous. Sobriety continues to let me look into my children’s eyes and truly see them and experience life with them. That’s hard to remember sometimes when they seem hell-bent on destroying each other, but I know it’s true.
  4. More Focus on My Passions – Folks in the recovery community told me that I didn’t get to choose what I numbed out when I drank; if I looked to suppress the so-called “bad” feelings, I also suppressed the ability to experience contentment and joy. I also arrested any real momentum with writing and creating music. I certainly continued to make music and write, but I spent more time thinking about it and less time doing it. That’s not the case anymore.
  5. Hope for the Future – I came to a point in my drinking when I was utterly assured that I would die due to alcohol. I didn’t know what shape that would take, and I didn’t much care. It was a terrible place to be, and before rehab, I felt completely alone. I’d never experienced that level of hopelessness and complete despair before, and I pray I never do again.

I’m going to wait on the other list, which may take the form of a letter to alcohol. Maybe I’ll pen it tomorrow when I mark one sober year.

Be well, and happy, sober Monday to all.

 

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I Caught Your Eye (poem)

I normally don’t post my fiction or poetry here, but I wanted to share some good news. I published my first *poem in MockingHeart Review. You can check it out here, if you’re so inclined.

So far, I have two more poems coming out in 2016. Woo hoo!

*There are actually two poems. I forgot about “The Girl with Chameleon Skin,” which is the first poem that appears on the site. If you’re interested, I also wrote a short musical piece to accompany “The Girl with Chameleon Skin.” You can listen to it here.

 

 

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2016 – Sober, Active, Creative, Kind

S.A.C.K. – it’s not the world’s best acronym, but it’ll do. I couldn’t come up with just one word for the year, as some have done, but the four words sober, active, creative, represent how I want to live out 2016 and my life in general. Sobriety is the key to everything for me, and I work every day to maintain it. Some days, I have to work on it harder than others, like yesterday when the snakes in my brain were particularly active for no other reason than they’re…well, snakes in the brain, and that’s what they do. I ran through H.A.L.T. (speaking of acronyms) and that checked out, and still I thought about drinking a lot, and not because it was New Year’s Eve. That’s never been a big deal for me; I just drank on New Year’s Eve because that’s what I normally did.

I told my wife I was struggling with a bad attitude and general grumpiness (as if that wasn’t apparent), but I made it through the night. My little one and I watched the 1976 King Kong, and my oldest woke up just before midnight to watch the ball drop. After that, I hit the pillow…and my sober eyes popped open at 5:00 AM. I haven’t had a lot of time to myself these past few days, and if I’m going to get it, I need to wake up early. I’m sleepy, but I can sneak in a nap later today.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I thought about all of you. I hoped that wherever you were, you were okay. If you were sober and clean, all the better, and if not, today’s a new day. It’s obviously a new year, too, but we can all start over, every moment of every day.

I hope this post finds you all well. Happy 2016.

 

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Family + Holidays – Drinking…

…= not so bad. Not great, mind you, but it’s family. It’s not supposed to be all smooth sailing, with or without alcohol in the picture:

ram dass

Yep.

I didn’t spend a week with my family (mother, father, brother and his daughter, and my brother’s fiance). It was just a weekend, but I still got worked up. I focused on my breathing and told myself everything would be okay. Like I said, it was okay, but it’s hard to believe that when you’re in the car and driving to Red Lobster to eat lunch with a ton of people and you know at least a few will be drinking.

I didn’t have any cravings, but I was always aware (hyper-aware, really) of the amount of alcohol on the table. The parents of my brother’s fiance accompanied us to lunch, and the father had white wine of some sort and the mother had what looked like a cosmopolitan. My brother’s fiance had a glass of red wine. All three of them sipped their drinks like…well, you know, people who aren’t alcoholic and don’t pre-drink before lunch, guzzle three drinks minimum during the meal, and make sure there’s drinking in the picture after. The father even left a little wine in his glass at the end, and I wanted to scream, “What the fuck is wrong with you? You can drink, so do it! Order another and slam it down! DO IT! DO IT NOW!!!!

samuel l

If you leave even so much as a DROPLET….

Good to know the ol’ alcoholic bone is strong as ever, and more importantly, that I can laugh at it. I didn’t laugh too much at the time; I drank a lot of water and spent time with my niece, which helped more than anything. That, and seeing my children open their gifts as we celebrated early Christmas. By that point, I’d finally settled down, and my stress headaches had mostly gone away. I’m glad I saw my family, and I’m glad I didn’t have any cravings to speak of. I still think and operate like an alcoholic and may for a long time to come. That’s okay.

I want to thank those of you who took the time to respond to my previous bog posts because reading your replies over the weekend helped immensely. I don’t have WordPress on my phone, something I may rectify, and I purposely stayed away from a computer so it didn’t become a time-suck. But reading your words at the end of Friday and Saturday night grounded me, and for that I’m grateful.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well. Happy sober Tuesday to you.

 

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