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January 3, 2012 / soberlivingsanjose

Happy new year …

Happy new year to all.  Hopefully you all made it through the holidays sober, safe and sane.  I always think of a new year as kind of a clean slate.  It’s an opportunity to have a whole calendar year of sobriety, one day at a time.

New years is big on resolution making.  It’s a good time to check in with our intentions and goals for 2012.  Most of us intend to continue going to meetings, maybe take on some sponsees and deepen our commitment to being of service to those in recovery.

I like to look back on the year just past and take stock of what I did right and where I can improve.  First of all I stayed sober another calender year!  I helped others stay sober.  I was there when friends needed me to be there for them.  Things at work are going really well and I was able to give some extra money to some family members who don’t have much.  I sure could never do that when I was spending all my money getting loaded.

As the years go by and I accumulate more sobriety I also achieve a higher level of serenity.  Being more calm helps me deal with the inevitable stress and problems that arise.  Having said that, I continue to work on being more patient and more kind to others.

We can always increase our capacity for kindness and compassion.  First we must practice kindness to ourselves…Don’t beat ourselves up too much.  Don’t be so critical.  When we treat ourselves with kindness that feeling just naturally flows out to others…

And as addicts and alcoholics, we know that being kind, i.e. helping others is the single best way to stay sober…It worked for the founders of AA and it works for me!

Yours in sobriety!  John R

October 18, 2011 / soberlivingsanjose

Life on live’s terms

“Living life on life’s terms”  We often hear that phrase in the rooms during our Recovery.  But what does it mean?

 

What it means to me is “Taking life as it comes”.    The good and the bad.  The pleasant with the unpleasant.  The serene with the frustrating…And taking life without taking anything mind altering to “change the way we feel”.

 

Learning to just be with things as they are has been a huge lesson for me.  I get frustrated, angry, sad, etc., but I don’t pick up a drink or a drug to change that.  Instead of drowning my feeling and emotions in alcohol I’ve found that by “letting those feeling in” and experiencing them fully and mindfuly, I can see them for what they are…just thoughts and emotions that move through me like the clouds across the sky…Within minutes my feelings have changed.

 

With the help of the 12 Step Program, I’ve learned to move through life with more acceptance, serenity and a more relaxed and humble attitude.  Life can be a pretty wild ride at times.  The “ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows” come by one by one, or sometimes, seemingly, all at once.  By not chemically altering my brain, I am much better equipped to deal with the full range of human emotions in a skillful and adult way.

 

Life on live’s terms means not reaching for the bottle every time I get anxious or upset.  That used to provide the “ease and comfort” I craved, but over time that habit created way more anxiety and reasons for being upset than it ever alleviated.

 

Through prayer and meditation I’ve learned to just sit with things as they are and to realize fully that “this too shall pass”.

 

 

September 27, 2011 / soberlivingsanjose

On Relapsing and the Causes Thereof

“Relapse is a part of recovery”  You hear that in meetings all the time.  And for almost everyone, that’s true.  Almost everyone relapses on their road to recovery.  Most people relapse many times before they finally “get it.”

For me it was always the same reason.  I thought I could drink just a little. “I’ll just have one or two drinks and I’ll be fine.”  I NEVER could.  Every time I started with that first drink, the obsession to drink more would come over me, and before I’d even gotten through that second drink I was already planning where and how to get the next bottle and the bottle after that.

Like many people in early recovery, I thought I could do it my way.  I wasn’t a real alcoholic–I could drink a little and it would be okay.  I was a master of self deception and self sabotage.

One time I was living at a sober living house.  Things were going along just fine, I had plenty of work, I had my rent paid and was feeling good.  The thought came into my head “I’ll just have a little drink–it’ll be fine.”  So I did.  But of course I didn’t have just one little drink.  I had one or two pints and then one or two more.  And there I was.  Drunk off my butt at the sober living house.  Of course it wasn’t long before the manager knew I was drunk and I was booted out with just the clothes on my back and told not to come back until I was sober.  So I stumbled down to the liquor store for another bottle.  After that I was really stumbling around.  The cops pulled up to me as I was walking along, gave me a sobriety test and promptly handcuffed me and escorted me to jail.

 I passed out not long after being thrown in the drunk tank.  I woke up with a massive headache.  The hours dragged on and on until they finally let me out.  I got back in the sober house within a day or two, but it cost me another month’s rent.  I wish I could say that was the last time I relapsed, but unfortunately, it wasn’t more than a few months before my delusional thinking got me drunk and kicked out of the sober house again.

Next week I’ll tell you how and whyI changed my thinking  and have maintained sobriety for 3 1/2 years.

September 5, 2011 / soberlivingsanjose

11th Step

The 11th Step begins “Sought through prayer and meditation…”.  In early recovery I paid little attention to the meditation aspect of the eleventh step.  I wanted to take action and sitting around meditating seemed silly and non-productive. 

Eventually, I began to explore and practice meditation as a relaxation exercise, a way to relieve stress and anxiety.  It proved very effective and had none of the side effects of my other relaxation device–alcohol.

I learned meditation techniques through guided meditation recordings and began a daily practice of meditation and prayer.  This proved tremendously effective in bringing mindfulness and awareness to my suffering.  I found myself much calmer, less reactive to things that used to bother me. 

I joined a meditation group, Dharma Punx, that offered recovery based meetings.  I went on meditation retreats and during long meditations I looked at the root causes of my suffering and how I used alcohol to hide from my fear and shield my self from pain.

I found Buddhist teachings of compassion toward self and others and following a path of Right Action and Non Harming resonated deeply with me.  Mindfulness/awareness as a means to get around the things that used to cause me to drink has proven to be a highly effective tool that fends off the craving and desire for alcohol.

The Buddha taught that craving, desire and attachment are the highest causes of suffering and in his Eightfold Path he lays out the way to end suffering.

July 19, 2011 / soberlivingsanjose

Sober Living Environment–What’s it Like?

    Your day starts off well because you wake up and you’re sober.  No big hangover or headache.  No regret about what you did the night before and you even remember what you did the night before.  You roll out of bed and you remember, “Oh, that’s right, I have a roommate.”  In a Sober Living Environment (SLE) everyone is required to share a room.  There are usually two or three people per room.

     It’s different than rehab where you’re there 24/7.  In an SLE you can work or go to school while you live there.  But before you go to work there’s usually a chore to do.  It’s a small chore, vacuum the living room, sweep the back porch, mop the kitchen floor, something like that.  It’s an every day thing but it only takes about 10 minutes.  It’s not bad becaue you know everyone else is doing their chores too and the house is nice and clean.

     Usually someone’s up really early and they have a pot of coffee brewing.  So I grab my cup and off I go.  After work I come back to the house.  It’s clean and tidy and I can relax in the living room and watch TV on the big screen.  I chat up my housemates and we unwind before dinner.  There’s a barbecue out back so a couple of us fire it up and pretty soon we’re having a nice meal.

     After dinner we usually go out to an AA or NA meeting.  We hear a speaker, we talk some program.  We’ve got another day of sobriety under our belts.  Back home I kickback and watch a movie or read in bed.  I know I’ll get a good night’s sleep because quiet time starts at 10 and there are no crazy drunken friends coming by loaded at all hours.

July 19, 2011 / soberlivingsanjose

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