Devistating News and The Story of the Monk


The irony of getting my life together, is that my children’s father has gone on a downward swing in the meantime.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  When we got divorced, it was because he was mixed up in meth, and I couldn’t help him.  He pulled himself out of it, we became close again, and then I spiraled out on alcohol.  Up and down; up and down, the pendulum swings between us.  It’s like the extreme ebb and flow of parenting in recovery and relapsing.  I’ve spent nearly three years sober, and I’ve been diligent this time around.  I’m not going to relapse again, but I wasn’t expecting a phone call like I received yesterday.

We’ve been divorced for ten years, but we’re raising children, so we try to keep a civil relationship.  He has supposedly been sober for several years now.  He disappeared in September, and I suspected a relapse.  I expected a phone call, any minute, that he was dead, but it was his voice on the other end of the phone yesterday… “Hey Red,” (his nickname for me), “I’m in a lot of trouble.  I relapsed and I’m going to be spending some time in state prison.  Possibly two years or more.  My court date is in a month and a half…”

The weird thing was, I didn’t flip out on him for disappearing.  He is like a brother to me, and the love I have for him is unconditional. I totally understand addiction, and I know what he is feeling is one hundred times worse than anything I could say to him.  I practice living in the moment, and being in total acceptance of whatever it is that comes my way.  I trust the Universe is constantly supporting me, so I surrender, but I cannot deny that I am devastated; hurt; saddened; heart broken, stressed and anxiety stricken. 

There is story I keep in the back of my mind for situations like this.  It’s about a monk who lives by himself in a village.  One day a baby is delivered to him by the angry parents of a girl who says the monk impregnated her.  The monk takes the baby in without question, saying, “so be it,” and for several years he raises her.  When she is a toddler, the parents come back with their daughter and apologize to the monk; for he is not the father.  The girl was afraid to tell the truth about her pregnancy, and in order to keep a boy from getting into trouble, she lied and blamed the monk.  The family took the toddler back into their care, and the monk, without question says, “so be it,” and goes about his business.

I believe the monk practiced, “Life on life’s terms,” beyond anything that I could ever imagine “being,” but I’m giving it the good ole’ college effort today.  It is not for me to judge what comes my way in this human experience of mine.  If I am open to receiving, and trusting in a higher purpose for my life, I should ask no questions.  I should trust that this is par for the course of my recovery.  I won’t sit here and lie about how I felt yesterday.  It was the first time in a long time that a shot of alcohol tempted me in my disoriented state of shock and anxiety.  I reached out, however, and told on myself for these alcoholic fantasies I was having.  They were old tapes playing.  Back in the day, receiving news like this would have been a perfect reason to drink.  I’m still shedding old skins and practicing NOT picking up a drink.  This was good practice.

Four months of a meth relapse, and my ex is looking at state prison time.  Our daughter will be well into her teens when he gets released, and our son will be an adult.  I will be in my forties.  The old part of me wants to scream at the top of my lungs and slap this man who is supposed to be a father to my children, but the recovering person in me wants to be like that monk in the village.  I remind myself today that I am not in control.  I’m not the conductor of my life; I’m merely a passenger on a spiritual journey. 

Speaking at Meetings

Your Voice Matters

One of the visions I have for my life, is to be a speaker who brings other people back to themselves; the person they most likely know the least.  I don’t have to look too far ahead in the future to see this occurring.  I’m asked to speak at meetings often enough, and each time I share, my story becomes a little more refined, clearer, and I begin seeing myself standing in front of an audience sharing a message of self-empowerment to a full auditorium.  What I love most about speaking, is how the people relate to me.  I don’t spend very much time on how ugly it looked to be a drunk.  We all know what that looks like, and what it feels like.  We don’t go to meetings as a pastime (most of us anyway).  We go because things got ugly and we needed to find our way out of hell.

When I speak, I share about how disconnected I was from who I am today.  I tell my peers how I was always looking for something or someone outside of myself to feel better, and how when I got into recovery, I discovered that I was the one whom I was searching for all along.  When I began reconnecting to myself, the love and power that filled my soul, was so far beyond a fix or a high, that I no longer imagine ever going back to that way of life.  Why would I stay sober if it was anything less than incredible?  If life sober is worse than life drunk, why not stay drunk?

After I speak, other people share, and this is when I get to be blown away.  You never know who is going to speak up and say something that simple matters so much. I end up going home feeling ignited and motivated.  People relate to me, adding more to my own story.  It’s like collective momentum that builds in those rooms; where each person gets to plug in for an hour and recharge their sober battery. The greatest thing about speaking, is that I get to set the mode for that hour. I get to choose how my story reflects on the faces of the people I’m speaking to. I like making people think, and I like when people think about, or hear something in my story, that they’ve quite possibly never considered… like how God isn’t something outside of themselves. Some people don’t realize this because a higher power seems so obscure.

Public speaking rates at one of the top fears for most human beings, even above the fear of death. I used to be terrified of speaking to a crowd, yet I still have this burning desire to do it as a facet of my career. Each time I speak in the rooms, my fear is eradicated. I’m discovering myself having more fun speaking; and if I’m having more fun, so is my audience. I think it’s pretty incredible that I’m offered so many opportunities to refine my public speaking skills inside the rooms, where people are incredibly accepting and receptive.

I wrote this today because everyone’s voice matters. If you are asked to speak at a meeting, you should always say YES! There is something in your story that will have an affect on someone else. We all relate to one another, and we all want to hear a fresh voice, along with a different perspective on things. Don’t ever let this opportunity pass you by, because not only will you be honoring your recovery, you will discover yourself more motivated after that meeting, than you ever have sitting back in the chairs listening.

Your voice matters. Your voice matters more than you even know.

Dating in Recovery and Relationships After Sobriety

Dating in Recovery

Many of us who have suffered in our addictions discover that we are addicted to more than a substance, once the substance is eliminated.  It is difficult to go through recovery in the beginning, and so easy to become distracted with a new love interest.  It is heavily suggested that people do not date for a year in their sobriety, but how many of us do it regardless of the suggestion?  I know how lonely I felt in the beginning of my recovery, but I also know when I got really serious about staying sober, I got serious about the suggestion to not date.  It is such a slippery slope, and if you are truly in recovery, the one person you need to learn how to have a relationship with, is yourself.

Recovery is an inside job.  There is a lot of emotional baggage that comes with our addictions, and though we don’t need to jump in and dig out everything all at once, we have to be very diligent about things like integrity, being honest, being present, and taking life in slowly rather than running through it like we did in our addictions.  Facing ourselves on a day to day basis, as a sober individual, is like discovering a whole new world, and then learning how to maneuver in it.  If you expect to be a good partner just because you are finally sober, think again.  There is a great deal of self-worth that must be established before you can be healthily involved with another human being, after several years of self-sabotaging.  There are habits that need to be broken, and behaviors which need to be looked at and changed.  This takes time and patience.  Recovery is something that takes a lot of inner healing, and self-love.  It is not fair to yourself, or anyone else, to take away from the process.  A relationship is a very big deal, and it also brings up a lot of emotional energy, which you may not be ready to face right away.  People bring up our emotional baggage – it’s just the way the universe balances us out, so that we have the ability to face it and then to heal.  In early recovery, it isn’t very wise to bring up all that turmoil through the likes of another human being.  It’s difficult enough doing it one day at a time living with yourself and everything that comes up for you on a day to day basis.  It’s even more difficult when the honeymoon phase of a new relationship ends, and you are sitting there raw with a partner without a drink in your hand to make everything seem dreamier than it truly is.  Anyway, don’t you want to learn to take care of yourself before you take on the heart of another human being? 

As far as continuing a relationship that was already established before you get sober, well, this is something very personal that must be dealt with delicately.  There are many factors that contribute to a person’s addiction, and sometimes, it’s a co-dependent partner.  Everything shifts when one person becomes sober, including the dynamics of a relationship.  Many partners are not comfortable with their newly sober mate, and on the other end of the spectrum, some partners are extremely supportive, but no matter what, nothing comes easily.  It takes work for both parties, which is why support groups can be extremely effective in helping people through relationship changes.  

We do not realize while we were busy getting high and drunk, how little changes in day to day activities can affect our moods, our state of being, or our focus.  We diluted life, so there was either UP, or DOWN.  There was no taking true responsibility, nor was there any clue to the nuances of day to day life.  We had drama, for certain, but we didn’t really know what we were feeling, because we were always trying to change how we felt.  Being sober is being raw, and this is kind of exciting, but it can also be confusing and scary.  Sometimes I change moods so often in one week, I question if I am mentally stable, but what I really get out of this, is that I am no longer able to hide behind a bottle, so I’ve got to face myself and all of these moods.  Instead of fighting myself, I look at my diet, my intake of vitamins, my sleep patterns.  I get curious about myself and take an interest in what is going on with me.  My point is, it takes a lot of time to establish our own patterns and to get to know ourselves when we are sober.  Having a partner brings up even more emotions, so it is really worth it to take that full year, or even longer, before you begin sharing your life with someone else. 

It’s a question you need to ask yourself – AM I SERIOUS ABOUT MY SOBRIETY?  If the answer is yes, then you will quickly clear a path for your life so that you have the space to run the distance.  Don’t let people get in the way of your recovery.  Don’t be distracted from healing.  Don’t be anxious to do anything because it will all fall into place at the exact right time.  It just will, because it simply does.  Life falls into place if you will only allow it to.  You will meet the right person, and you will be healthy enough to love that person when they come.  Just give yourself some space and allow yourself to do this thing without all the nonsense in between.  For once in your life, love yourself enough to abstain until you have no doubt that you are able to truly and unselfishly love another human being.