Day 78 – This Insidious disease


Last night was a little harder night.  I was going great — on a bit of a natural high from the day and from what amazing possibilities are percolating.  I caught myself thinking…”wouldn’t it be a great night to have a nice glass of wine with my dinner.”  Or, needing to relax from a busy day, “wouldn’t it be nice to curl up and watch TV with an ice cold beer.”  I haven’t had any cravings to USE – but I let myself start THINKING about DRINKING.

Instead I chose to draw a hot bath and soak, meditate.  My normal metal cup had been moved this weekend by a friend who was helping to clean house.  He put it back in the bar — it is half of a Bacardi Rum shaker (metal cup and glass used together).  It’s not a drinking trigger for me at all – it goes well with the bathroom; I use it to rinse the tub after soak baths; it looks better than a plastic cup.

The cup wasn’t the problem.  I went to the bar area, which had been cleaned out of liquor already.  Except…I saw…a special bottle of aged rum.  I had left it behind wanting to give it to a friend who would appreciate it.  Or, perhaps, subconsciously, I left it behind for me.  I wonder which…

All of a sudden my head was filled with lies.  Remember, this is the only disease which wants me to believe I don’t have a disease.  “Your issue never really was alcohol – it was drugs.  You’re ok to have one drink.”  “You don’t have to give up wine or good alcohol – you’ve been able to control that part.  It’s the crystal meth.”  And the all but insane, “You had a great first day – you’ve gotten through being fired with amazing strength.  You deserve to celebrate with a hot bath and a nice shot of aged rum from Puerto Rico — a gift from Carlos in Puerto Rico.  This is all worth celebrating.”  No, I take that back.  It’s not all but insane…it IS insane!

Nonetheless, I wasn’t there at the time…I was at “all but insane” or “far from insane.”  I poured the shot glass…I smelled the rum.  Familiar scents and memories — good ones — came flooding back.  My mind was playing insidious tricks with me.  It knew better than to hit me with drugs this time.  It went for the subtle smell of rum.

I brought the shot into the bathroom — the tub already filling with hot water; my readings (from NA!) and meditations sitting on the edge of the tub platform.  I thought about calling my sponsor to stop this and talk myself through.  Then I looked at the shot; I could smell the rum permeating the bathroom as the steamed air began to fill up the room as well.  I started to play through how relaxing it would be — how GOOD the rum would taste.  That was much more enjoyable than talking to someone!  I was caught up in the moment.  I was caught up in the lies of this insidious and cunning disease.

Then I thought of all I had going for me — of all the progress I have made.  I took the shot and poured the rum down the sink.  I rinsed the sink out; moved the glass out of the bathroom; and lit a candle to burn of the smell.

I was in relapse again.  I didn’t drink or use — but next time, I may not find the strength to stop it.  I used some of my tools – but not enough of them soon enough.  I played with this temptation WAY too long.  I didn’t cut it off a the root..I fed it with nutrients…I let it pop its head up through the gentle, warm soil…I allowed time for the sun’s rays to beat down on it to give it life.  I nurtured it and encouraged it just enough to find a budding plant.  And then, only then, did I rip it out and kill it.

That’s NOT what our Lenten series at church means when we ask ourselves, “What are you growing for Lent?”

The bottle still needs to be out of the house.  And I realize now that the 3-4 bottles of red wine I’m storing to “give to a friend” must also go.  Today.  I win this battle one day at a time — I must fight this battle one day at a time.  Not tomorrow — not “when I feel ready” — not eventually — TODAY.

Yes, one is a bottle given to me for my 30th birthday party in England.  It’s been from the UK, to NC, to Puerto Rico, to here.  I’ve been saving it for a special occasion — it’s one to keep for 10+ years.  So now would be about right.  But, I’ve also been to hell and back since then — seen the bottom of my addiction — faced the choice of life or death.  By the grace of God, I chose life.  With that same grace, I must be realistic and pull out all of the stops with the same fervor, joy and determination that I have had about my recovery in the past days.  I must “ride the wave” and keep on the path.

I wrote a good-bye letter to Crystal Meth during inpatient.  Sounds like I need to write the same for fine wine and spirits…

Watch this space for said letter…

Advertisements

Day 75 – Another step in my journey


A letter to friends…


Let me start this update by saying I continue to be grateful beyond belief for the many blessings in my life today — on my road of recovery. For those who may not be aware, I went into treatment on December 21, 2009 for drug addiction.  Over two months later, I’m doing well in my recovery. I was in rehab for a month of inpatient and partial hospitalization. I returned to work on January 20th with a new lease on life. I completed six weeks of evening outpatient therapy on Monday of last week and will continue a life long road of recovery.

For those of you who have seen my “Step One Video,” you have seen how God was watching over me in the past years. Everything that has happened in my life has prepared me for being where I am today — for learning to “fall in love again” with myself, for who I am, and for who I am becoming. I am reconnecting with close friends and family with whom I’ve grown distance because of my active addiction. I’m rediscovering who I am is — not what I do. I’m not defined by what I do.  I’m a human being – not a “human doing.”  Quite simply, I’ve been reminded I’m a child of a loving God, here to find and leverage the abundance of life to the best of my abilities. I’ve been blessed with gifts that I have squandered and underutilized — but now I see the possibilities through conversations and in community. For that I am truly grateful. Full stop, no reservations.

Ten days ago on a Friday at 4pm, as expected, I was informed by the local police that a warrant for my arrest had been issued. [The charges relate to a search of my house in December after coming close to committing suicide via a drug overdose, followed by a call to 911 — the event that led to my treatment and recovery.]  Although I was glad the police were courteous and notified me of the warrant, I had a rough weekend nonetheless.  I found myself running from my feelings and falling into old routines to numb myself. By the grace of God, I didn’t use drugs or drink — but I was in relapse. Spiritually and mentally, I relapsed — this is as much a spiritual and mental disease as it is a physical disease. I didn’t use the tools I’ve learned in recovery to short circuit the cycle soon enough to maintain a healthy, balanced outlook. Thankfully, God didn’t abandon me – nor will He. My devotional reading that morning was about anxiety…”God didn’t bring you this far into recovery to abandon you.”  Lesson learned.

I was encouraged to turn myself in. Three days later, on Monday March 1, I did so. I had things arranged with my lawyer and a friend.  With gratitude for the speed and simplicity, I was released after being in jail for 4 hours. The judge set an extremely low bail given my charges because I had turned myself in.  “If you were going to run, you would have already done it by now,” said he. The only other funny part (well there were lots of little tidbits) — I was actually walked over from the jail to the courthouse for the hearing…outside about a block and half!  Had any of my friends been there, I could update my facebook photo with me wearing my little orange jail outfit and handcuffs!   But, alas — better to have a good memory than a bad picture!  Or in this case — a bad memory instead of a good picture 😉

My next court appearance is in May. With my charges, there are provisions for this being my first offense to have some of that reduced and serve just probation. But, let’s not get ahead of things. It is what it is…I’m at peace…and God’s hand continues to be in my life. For that I’m very thankful. I knew at the time that my actions warrant whatever comes — it’s only by the grace of God that I’ll see less than what’s due. I’ll continue to leave things in His hands and focus my mind and energy on my recovery and helping others.

On Friday March 5th, following my employer’s policy on Substance Abuse, I informed my management and HR of my arrest and the nature of the charges. At 4:30pm that afternoon, after a 19+ year career, I was terminated for violation of that policy because of my arrest. The reason I was given — working for a pharmaceutical company, substance abuse is taken very seriously as it could jeopardize the firm’s reputation. The firm never states in writing there is zero tolerance — but essentially, that’s what I learned. I understand their decision. I don’t agree with the steps they took – but I understand the decision. Ultimately, I am responsible for my actions which led to these consequences. I wish things had turned out otherwise — that other factors would have been taken into consideration relating to my treatment. I’ve been honest with my management and HR since I returned to work on Jan 20th about the possibilities of legal action.  I am sad that they lacked the integrity to be equally honest with me about what actions would result should I be arrested. I’m disappointed… angry… and feel betrayed by a company to which I gave many years of faithful and dedicated service. My feelings are all healthy and expected reactions. But for my health, I must work through them — to feel and process them in due time but not hold onto grudges or resentments. Resentment is at the heart of a relapse — at the heart of much addictive behavior — and that I can not afford.  


Step 1 teaches me to admit that I’m powerless over my addiction and that my life had become unmanageable. In admitting powerlessness, I must eventually come to the point where I surrender my will and my life to my Higher Power who can and will restore me to sanity. On Friday, I finally understood this on a deeper level and “worked” that first step even harder.

I surrender…

I know my Higher Power will take care of me, as He has demonstrated so clearly over the past months. I have amazing peace amidst this loss because I now more fully understand Step 1.  It is through surrendering I find peace. It is through maintaining peace and a connection with my Higher Power, the recovery community and my feelings that I will stay clean and sober…just for today.

I’m grateful for the work that God is doing in my life. I can not ignore my part in these events — my behaviors and choices are at the root of my situation and I’m simply grateful to be where I am today…alive and in recovery. This past weekend, unlike the relapse I had a week ago, I found the strength and courage to use the tools I’ve learned in treatment to get me through each day thus far without a relapse. I am grateful for the people He has placed in my life who support and love me in spite of my humanness. I am grateful for the miracle of life — because today, my being alive is a precious gift that I no longer take for granted. He is doing for me what I was unable to do for myself.


I know who’s in control — as long as I stop hopping in the driver’s seat, I’ll be just fine 😉  I can honestly see this already as a blessing.  The timing and circumstances are unfortunate — but from this I will learn much which will only make me stronger.  I will spend some time figuring out what is in store for me in this next chapter of life.  I pray simply to know God’s will for my life and the strength to carry it out.

Day 74 – Learning the 4th Step in the 1st Step


I spent a month in rehab, learning the tools that would serve me in recovery. During one session, the speaker talked about there being 4 steps in the 1st step. We admit we’re powerless…we accept we’re powerless…we accept that we’ve accepted we’re powerless…and finally, we surrender. What I took away for my journey is it’s easy to come to admit my powerlessness in the relative safety of an inpatient treatment center – my “step #1.1.” And that’s valid and real. But, it takes some time – and some experience “living life on life’s terms” before I more fully understand what it means…and reach the point, through some “life tests” and “lessons learned,” where I truly surrender.

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been through 2 very trying experiences that put my new tools to the test. They challenged my thinking – was I really understanding…was I really trusting my Higher Power…was I really working my program of recovery? In the first situation, I called some friends in recovery and caught myself before using. But, I now realize I had already entered into relapse by that point. “You can be in Recovery or in Relapse – but not both at the same time.” During the second situation, I came a lot closer to using. I asked for help knowing I was facing a stressful time – but held onto some “open time” that led me to invite someone over to use. I stopped the cycle before I was able to follow through — but again – I had already relapsed mentally and spiritually. Through sharing those experiences in group, I realized I had become complacent already – after about 72 days of sobriety. I had fallen into auto-pilot on a plateau…and it was time to move off that and keep the path of recovery moving upward.
What I know realize is those two experiences were “accepting” (step #1.2) and “accepting I had accepted” (step #1.3). I made it through the challenges, and learned a lot through sharing and listening to others. I realized how I need to allow myself to feel “enough” when tough situations or losses come along, less I ignore or numb those feelings — only to surface later in a relapse. So, I became aware that I was working my way through that first step…Step 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 were over…one more step to go!
Today it came. I was fired from my job for violation of our company’s substance abuse policy. On Monday – 4 days ago (experience #1.3) I turned myself into the police after having learned a warrant had finally been issued for my drug overdose & 911 call in December — the event that led to my treatment and recovery. Following company policy, I reported that to my management and HR this morning at 10:30am. At 4:30pm, after 20 years with my employer, I was terminated for violation of that policy. The reason — working for a pharmaceutical company, substance abuse is taken very seriously as it jeopardizes the firm’s reputation. The firm never states in writing there is zero tolerance — but essentially, that’s what I learned.
I surrender…
I know my Higher Power will take care of me, as He has demonstrated so clearly over the past months. “He didn’t save me from the ocean waves only to drag me onto shore and beat me with a baseball bat.”
I have amazing peace amidst this loss because I now more fully understand Step 1 — that I must surrender my addiction and my unmanageable life to my Higher Power. It is through surrendering I find peace. It is through maintaining peace and a connection with my Higher Power, the Recovery Community and my Feelings…that I will stay clean and sober…for Today.
I’m grateful for the work that God is doing in my life. I am grateful for the people He has placed in my life who support and love me in spite of my humanness. I am grateful for the miracle of life — because today, my being alive is a precious gift that I no longer take for granted. He is doing for me what I was unable to do for myself.
March 5, 2010