This is my life.
Recovery, Love and Life.
Change is constant.

 

The Real Deal

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Sometimes I get very caught up in all of the things that I am not doing. There is a lot of negative thinking that creeps its way into my head sometimes. I know that this stinking-thinking is not very good for me… for sure.

I think about how many meetings that I am not going to and people that I have not talked to in a long time. People that were there from the time that I first got sober in the Beacon House.. to some of the people in my SLE… to the couple of years that I was in the Monterey Peninsula.  It makes me feel just a bit ashamed of myself.

Maybe this is just a whole bunch of self-pity that is surfacing for me. Self-Pity has always been a thing for me.  I can remember being really really little and having an ice cream cone in my hands on a family vacation.  I was so excited about this cone. Then something happened.. I probably licked it way too hard and the ice cream fell off the cone. I remember looking at it on the ground and all that I could feel was sorry for myself. Like I had been wronged. I don’t know why this was one of those things that I can always remember…

Yesterday, I was in Rocky Mountain National Park by myself.  I was sitting on a rock and looking at the snowcapped mountains towering in front of me. I was not making a sound and all that I could hear was the water from the lake that was in front of me. There was wind traveling through the surrounding trees.

Everything just sort of fell away. All of the busy things that my mind has been doing for the past couple of months like airports, flights, hotels, my computer, email and expectations just didn’t matter for this second. I had a really big smile on my face and all I could feel was overwhelming gratitude.

I sat there on that rock and said a prayer to my higher power… incredibly thankful for all of the things that I do have. Saying a big thank you for my sobriety (which in my humble opinion is pretty damn strong). Excited for the life that I do have that is a direct result of all of those people that came before me.

I would not have been able to enjoy that beautiful vista, on that rock with that wind in the trees if it was not for my sobriety.

When it all comes down to it.. this is the real deal. This is what I always wanted my life to be.. and so much more those years ago sitting on the front porch of the Beacon House wondering if there was ever going to be a day when I could not crave a drink.

Thankfully, I don’t have those cravings anymore. There are just not there anymore and there are other things that I crave today… like being able to wear sweatpants all day on a Sunday.

Good and Bad Patterns

 

SF: One Sec Shots from Brian Emerick on Vimeo.

Do you ever notice that you ever notice that your life is just a set of patterns?

That is really what my life is… a whole bunch of patterns that I have cobbled together. When I really take a look at these patterns I can see some good and bad things that come up. I have had some really bad unhealthy patterns and then modified those patterns into something much better. Then even after changing the bad patterns to good healthy patterns… sometimes they go back to the bad side.

Years ago, when I was drinking I know that I had some pretty bad patterns. Some of these patterns I was really proud of at the time. When I look back on them now I can’t believe that I could have lived that way.. but I did. An example of these unhealthy patterns that I was proud of was the way that I would drink daily at the end.

I would come to in the morning and go straight to a local bar that opened early. At the time I did not think anything of it.  It was just what I did. After drinking a couple of beers and shots I would stagger home… sometimes not making it and passing out on someones front porch. I would sleep there for a little bit and then head to another local bar to drink some more… this pattern of drinking and sleeping… and drinking and sleeping would continue for a couple of months. This would help me get to where I needed to be. It was a horrible existence but it brought me the Beacon House.

When I was in the Beacon House and in my Sober Living Environment I would learn some new things that would help to change those patterns. Obviously, I was not around alcohol that much anymore but it was always there in my mind.  Every morning we would get up and make our beds and go downstairs for check-in. This was the start of creating a new healthy pattern in my life. At the time, I really didn’t know why I had to do what was being asked of me but I knew that it was much better then what I was doing before.

One of the things that was suggested to me early on was to schedule everything around my meetings and counseling sessions. I was never really a big fan of schedules so this was going to be a huge challenge for me. Idle time was a killer for me. If I did not have something to do then I knew that I would get myself into trouble. So what I did was pack my day with as many recovery related activities as I could. That was what had to be done.

These were some of my patterns that changed from being horrible… to starting to shape what I would become.

These can go the other way too.  Wait… I take that back. They are just different patterns. The ones that I have now are related to my work and what I have to do everyday to be successful in my job. They help me manage my time and keep me on top of things. They are much different then my past patterns. I am not drinking at 6am.. so thats good.

I am on the road a lot for my job. When I get home there are some things that I want to do to start to build some even healthier patterns. These are going to be around recover, yoga and food.

The reason that I included my friend Brian’s awesome video about San Francisco is because when I watch it.. it reminds me of all of the amazing things that I have in my life. The City is one of those things. I hope that you enjoy it!

Underestimated

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Hello friends,

I wanted to let everyone know that I am here and that I am active in my recovery. It may be a little different then it has before but I am thinking about it everyday when I get up and everyday when I go to sleep.

There are examples of what my higher power has given me everyday of my life. I just have to look around for them. They are always there. It might be the smile that comes across someones face when I saw hello to them or it might be the complete joy that I see on a friends face who just celebrated 8 months of sobriety. Life is a beautiful thing.

That same friend was talking to me about how amazing that it was that 3 people in his life had approached him asking about getting sober. Its so great how that works. He came to me about changing his life and then 8 months later he has 3 people that came up to him that wanted to change their lives. That is a beautiful cycle if you ask me.

What I wanted to talk to you about was something that has been happening to me pretty recently. It has to do with fear and how I underestimate myself.

I have been working in a position for the past 6 months that is far different then anything that I have ever done before. There is much more responsibility and much more accountability. I have a lot of freedom and autonomy with my position. In this job there are thousands of small things that have to be done and they all have to be done perfectly.

When I was promoted I knew that I could do the job but there was always just a little bit of doubt that was creeping around in the back of my mind. This is something that has always been there.  That nagging feeling that lives in the back of my head, that little voice that tells  me that I am not good enough and that I am going to fail. I think that everyone has that but for me I can always remember it being there… steering aspects of my life… keeping me from taking some chances.

Recently my role has changed just a little bit and I am on my own. I used to be partnered up with a strong coworker who was more of a leader in the position. I would follow his lead and learn as much as I could. Now, it is just me most of the time.

When this change happened my first reaction to it was to completely stress about all of the things that could go wrong. This air of failure was ripe, floating all around me. My reaction is to get really hyper and try to focus on so many different things at once. Its like I have had way too much coffee and am trying to do way too many things at once. Nothing gets done and things just keep piling up.

I started to make lists and prioritize things. It sounds simple but it was something that I had never had to do before. I had never needed to. I was just able to handle it. Well.. it that means getting all stressed out about tasks that I may had forgotten.. “handling it”. What happened was that I was getting everything done on time and the work that I was doing was really good.

After awhile the things that would have stressed me out were not stressing me out anymore. I was learning new things and conquering the fears that had been living inside my head for so long. Lately I have much more confidence in what I am doing. I know that I can do the things that I set my mind to. In the back of my head there has always been the fear but there has always been this feeling that I could do anything. My recovery has taught me that.

Right now I am on a path. I am doing what I have to do and I am ok with that for right now. There are many things that I have to work on and there is some fear that is still there. I know that there are new experiences out there that are what life is all about. Experiencing those things and overcoming them.

In my early recovery someone said something to me that really stuck… they said, “If you are comfortable then you are not growing”.

I think that fits me pretty well right now. 

Coasting

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One thing that I learned during my early sobriety was to be completely honest with myself and with others.

I think that it was one of the hardest things for me to do way back then. Maybe because I knew that there were physical effects that I could see when it came to my drinking. I didn’t know that there were these other things that I couldn’t see that were just as looming as my drinking.

Lately, I have been really busy with my work. Pretty much all of my time has been dedicated to it. I have been coasting with my recovery life. The life that is supposed to be the most important thing in my life. I am going to be honest with everyone… I went to my first meeting in almost 5 months last week. I have not been talking to alcoholics like I should be.. and I have not been doing what I need to do.

Thus is the ebb and flow of my recovery sometimes. There is a path in front of me that is lit very well. I know what I need to be doing and I know where I want to be.

In my heart I know that I am not going to drink or use… but at the same time I have seen this happen to people time and time again. I will see that they stop going to meetings and stop talking to people… and they go out. Thoughts that would have never entered their mind all of a sudden sound like a good idea.

Thanks goodness that I have an amazing group of people that worry about me and care about me. Thank goodness that I have this blog to write because it makes me aware of the things that I need to be doing.

Things are not all sunshine and rainbows in recovery and I know that. Those are the stories that I most relate to when I hear people’s shares in a meeting. No doubt that my life has become more then my wildest dreams could have ever imagined.  I travel all over the country for my work and I would have never have left my neighborhood when I was drinking. I owe everything to this program and to my recovery.

I just wanted to be honest with you all. I love you and appreciate you.

I am on top of it.

There and Back Again

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When I was little there was something that I looked forward to every single summer. Without fail, I would look forward to the day that I got to board a plane and fly across the country. Every summer we would go to Maine to see family that we had there.

We went every summer. It all started when I was about 5 years old and lasted until I was 15 years old. The summers were filled with family, friends, the outdoors and pretty much everything that could make a summer for a kid like me. Other kids that I knew went to Hawaii, New York City, camping, winter skiing trips… but I always thought that my vacation was so much better then theirs.

People would ask where I was going and I would let them know. They would say how beautiful that Bar Harbor was and a lll that I could tell them was… “Yeah, I know… I have family there..”

The last time that I was in Bar Harbor was when I was 27 years old. The year was 2007 and it was the last year of my drinking. I was there for over a week but I have no recollection of anything that I did there…. except drink. This was the summer before I would hit my bottom very hard.

If you can imagine a very small vacation town were pretty much EVERYTHING gets around very fast. If someone trips and falls it is probably going to be in the newspaper the next day and your family is going to know even before you walk in the door. The town is very little and everything goes around.

My behavior got around the town. My alcoholic adventures were pretty legendary. I remember staying in a hotel on one of the main streets in Bar Harbor. The bars were a bit further down the street from my hotel but they were close enough to walk to. You can walk to everything in the town because its so small.

I was out very late every night. Staggering my way back to my hotel after a night of heavy drinking. That was the story of the last year of my drinking. Staggering home from whatever bar I was drinking at the night before.

This year, I went back for the first time since that summer. Over 6 years of sobriety was under my belt.

It was like I was seeing it for the first time with a new set of eyes… because that was what exactly was happening. I was seeing it with the eyes of a kid who was on his summer vacation. There are so many beautiful things to see that I just glossed over the last time that I was there. My eyes were filled with an alcoholic fog that was difficult to clear in the days that I was there in 2007.

So many things have changed since that year.

I did this

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Hello everyone. I am sorry that I have not been very present over the past couple of weeks. There are somethings that have changed in my life and have been monopolizing my time.

This is a very good thing for me. At the same time it has taken my attention off some of the things that are very important to me. I have been traveling a lot over the past 3 months and been working… a lot. In comparison to what I was doing before I feel like I am working much more then I ever have.

I have an all or nothing mentality when it comes to things that I am invested in. Well.. most of the time. When it comes to work, when I am given responsibility, I am fully invested. When it comes to my recovery, I am fully invested. I have had a hard time managing my time in the past and I think that this position that I am in has helped me with prioritizing and time management immensity.

Over the past couple of months I have had a direct hand in helping to expand my companies reach across the country. Its something that I would have never imagined that I would have done in the past. I am having a direct impact and I really like it. When we are done launching our service in a new market I can see tangible results right in front of me.

I have a pretty awesome job. Its a lot of work but that is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be able to have an impact.

I have had the opportunity to go to meetings in other places too. I have gone to meetings in Santa Monica, Austin and now Boston.

For someone who really had not traveled that much I have had the opportunity to go to many different places over the past couple of months. I have my recovery to thank for this because without it I am pretty much nothing. I have met some amazing people along the way that I know will be life long friends.

Its amazing how good I feel when I sit down and write out how I am feeling.

A Very Special Day

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Everyday in my recovery is a very special day for me. There is no denying that. Everyday is a miracle. There is something that is very special about today though.

What could be so special about June 10th?

Today is the 78th birthday of Alcoholics Anonymous. This was the day that Dr. Bob took his last drink and adventure began.

I always think about how this all started. How the organization that helped save my life and the lives of so many others started. How it was something that could have so easily not started like it did. I think about that day that Bill Wilson was in Akron and walked into that hotel. There was a bar that on his right and there was a directory of churches that was on his left. He chose the directory and made a call that got him hooked up with another alcoholic.

How did he even think that this was going to be some that would help him when all that he had ever thought about doing before that day was to drink. It was so hard to not make a right and head on into that bar. I don’t know what I would have done on that day.

There were so many times that I wanted to make the right decision and walk in a different direction only to have my feet and body turn right and walk straight for the bar. That was what had always been my remedy for so long. I am so happy that one day I chose to make the left turn like Bill Wilson did that day in that hotel. He reached out and wound up at the home of Dr. Bob.

I really wish that I would have been a fly-on-the-wall for that conversation. Wait, I feel like I have had that same conversation with countless numbers of people in my life. It has been repeated over and over again when one alcoholic talks to another alcoholic.. and the magic begins.

What a feeling it must have been for them both after they had been sober for a while and went out to recruit the third person for the fellowship.

I am very glad that he made the choice to turn left…and made that phone call. That call saved Bill’s life, Dr Bob’s life, my life and the lives of millions of amazing people.

I have many friends in my life. I would have none of them if it was not for the miracle that is Alcoholics Anonymous.  Happy Birthday old friend.

Thank Goodness this is not Willpower

Willpower?

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So I have been sober for awhile now. At least when I look at my whole experience through my minds eye.   For me its just how it is now. This is what my life is and that is how I think of it.

I really don’t question it because it always just works. When it was presented to me at the beginning I really didn’t have any other choice. I just knew that I didn’t want to die and this what was right in front of me. I have something that is bigger then me that has just taken care of it.

Everything that was up to me…. was taken away from me. All of the choices that I had once enjoyed I had lost the privilege to make anymore. These were now squarely made by something that was not me. I like it like that.

Sometimes I forget this.. but it will always come back around to remind me.

The reason that I am bringing this up is that someone who I had just met told me that I had incredible “willpower”  when they heard that I had been sober for 6 years. We had talked about drinking and alcoholism. The person even had someone that was in their life that was alcoholic.

All that I could keep thinking was how lucky that I was that it had nothing to do with willpower…. whatsoever. If it were up to me I would have messed this thing up years ago. If it were up to my willpower I would probably be dead right now.

Bill Wilson always said that self-knowledge was not enough. I made that mistake the first time that I left the Beacon House. I felt that I had all the knowledge that I would ever need to brave my new sober life but obviously I had another thing coming. No matter what I thought of myself my higher power always had a better plan.

I am very thankful that this who thing does not depend on my self-will. In most cases my self-will will destroy this whole thing.

Amazing Distractions. Are the worth it?

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There is something that I have been wanting to talk with everyone about in this forum. It is something that was a very essential part of my early recovery and I wanted to give my experience to anyone that may need it.

What is this major topic that I want to talk about?

I want to talk about dating and romance in early sobriety and how it effected me.

When I got sober everyone who knew anything about sobriety told me that it was a very bad idea to get into a relationship with anyone during that time of your recovery. I listened to these people and I decided that I was going to do what I wanted to do. This was really the only thing that I did on my own.. something that I didn’t follow other peoples suggestions on. Of course it was something that I had to experience to get the full story of just how bad it was for me.

One of my first sponsors asked me a pretty simple question when I asked him if it was a good idea to get involved with anyone at about 3 months sober… He asked me to “examine my intentions” with the person. What was it that I wanted to get out of the relationship. Why was I entering into it?

I could not answer the question. All that I could say was that I was not entering into the relationship with any ill intentions. I knew that I didn’t want to hurt anyone.. but I could not answer his question.

I had a couple of different relationships in my first year of sobriety.

I can tell you right now that one of the major effects that it had on me was a distracting one. It distracted me from what it was that I should have been doing in the first place. I should have been listening to the experience of others and not getting into anything.

This was a perfect example of my “self will run riot”. I thought that I knew what was best for me in my early sobriety on certain subjects. I really thought that I knew everything about relationships even though I don’t think that I ever had a healthy one in my life with a female.

The moral to this story is that early sobriety is the time to get work done. I used woman as a distraction in my early sobriety. If you asked me if I regretted it I would tell you that I didn’t because I met some life long friends that I might not of ever would have met. I could have done without the distraction though.

I hope that this experience helps some people out there that have questions about it. I know that I did..

Tunnel Vision

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I don’t know why it takes death sometimes for me to take a look at what I have in life.

I am very good at being grateful for what I have but sometimes I feel like I lose a little perspective on it. I fail to take a step back and really take a good look at just what has happened to me over the past 7 years or so.

Where I was… what happened to me… and where it is that I am right now. I was having a conversation with someone that I know from work.  We were commenting on just how different that our lives are now from what they were just a couple of years before. All of the things that have changed for the better and for the worse. Mostly for the better.

I lost another friend of mine way too soon this evening. She did not pass from alcohol related issues but that really doesn’t matter to me right now. The point that I am trying to make with this post is that it takes something like this to happen for me to just stop and take a look at what I have and how it can be taken away in an instant.

I was close to death and I have encountered other peoples deaths. Sometimes it takes something like this to just shake me out of my tunnel vision.