Disclaimer: It’s a long one...I ain’t wrote in a while, sorry.
Sooooo yet again, it’s been a while. I’m finding that my lack of writing has a further-reaching impact than simply not keeping my blog current. The commitment to writing obligated me to have ongoing introspection and catharsis. Turns out, they are pretty huge to my sanity and inevitably internal peace. Emotional sobriety is a term that basically describes inner peace and/or rational thinking. I’d say I’ve been on an emotional relapse for about the past 8 or so months. Can’t say where this one is headed from a reconciliatory perspective, so, as per usual, I’m just going to tell on myself, and hopefully, God honors my transparency with some clarity.
I’d written In Due Time back in October riding a spiritual high. I’d termed this time “reaping season“ because so many seeds sown at the start of my recovery were producing a lush harvest and all at once. It was not lost on me that this was a direct byproduct of doing The Work. December 10th marked four years of sobriety and I brought in that New Years in my new home meditating and recommitting myself to the work. In that New Year’s prayer, I arrogantly told God, “Bring it on!”, because I knew that the bigger the trial survived, the bigger the growth...and growth is what we do around here.
Little did I know, God was gonna take me up on that.
Life was basically on cruise control and then I took my foot off the gas (Complacency Kills). I’m pretty sure New Years was the last time I had an extended and deliberate meditation. Prayer and reading had all but ceased and y'all already know how sporadic my content output has been over the last year and change. Considering how many hours I invested in those practices daily, cutting them out couldn’t produce anything good.
The main reason for me pushing for a bigger place was to have the extra space for my son. Those of you who’ve been following the blog all this time know the magnitude of me actually wanting that(Wanted: Emotion 1 & 2). I asked his mom for two more nights out of the week, my hope was to move him in with me half the week and have him going to school in my town because the schools were better. Without allocating blame, things just didn’t go that way, I actually started seeing him less. I was hurt and frustrated and the result was a major decrease in my desire to pursue the matter...insert COVID.
March 17th was my last day at my weekend server job due to some airborne virus that made people really sick and some die. Oh, and my town was gonna shut down. I had no idea what that was gonna look like so I wasted no time catastrophizing, panicking, and then overreacting.
Do you know what my biggest fear was? Being alone. It wasn’t catching it, not food, not money (yet), simply being stuck in my house with only my dog. I live in my town alone, like no family. From my absence, while drinking, we didn’t cultivate the typical familial relationship. I know they love me and I them, but we really only communicate on holidays and birthdays via text. My father lives in a bubble all his own and I talk to him even less than my sisters. My son and daughter are shutting in with their families as all of my friend group are with theirs. What started becoming glaringly evident was that I am no one's priority.
When I think back to a short 4 years and a half years ago, my house would’ve been the quarantine hub. Now, I was just a dude with his dog; so what do I do, find distractivities. I thoroughly landscaped my entire property, bought a steam cleaner, did my carpets, painted my entire house, and replaced all of the outlets and light switches. I did everything under the sun to not feel this loneliness except connect to Source. When I ran out of that stuff, I sought a COVID companion....ok, companions. The only gain from that was realizing that I can’t be around anyone I don’t actually care for, for any extended amount of time.
Then comes the COVID money. I was decently responsible with the extra funds for a while. I paid off some debt, got some pics to hang on the walls (60+ canvas prints), bought a couple of plane tickets for vacay, and stacked a few grand for license reinstatement and whatever financial burdens that would entail if they say yes. When the 12-weeks ran out, I could no longer receive unemployment for the job I'd lost so now, I'd be living off of my one income and the saved money.
As if my mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial situations weren’t enough to manage, then the cops go and kill 3 more people.
I tried to write about the killings but I had zero growth or positive perspective to offer. I’d always felt a step removed when it came to Black Lives Matters. I wanted change but it was a cause I was fighting for rather than from. It was when two civilians killed Ahmaud Arbery while jogging, that's when it hit home. I was not different, above, or outside of this in any way and it became infinitely more real.
I’ve been afraid before and I’ve been angry before, but rarely simultaneously and never to this degree. If I had an interaction with a person about this, who wasn’t adamantly against it, I informed them that, “I wish, hope, and pray it happens to someone you care about and that you live to suffer with it.” My theory was, if it's okay with them, then it's okay to happen to them. They deserve the experience they support. Y'all, I made frikin t-shirts. I craved suffering for these people and outwardly projected that (I mean, they do.). My only saving grace was that it's just not in me to actually harm people.
When I assessed the situation in an attempt to write on it, I realized what I was feeling was hopeless. Delving further I see that hopelessness is not a spiritual state. Hope is fueled by the presence of evidence that lends itself to my desired outcome. That means people, places, and things, all of which I can’t control, dictate my optimism. This is why faith is imperative. Faith is trust in the process. This allows a situation or outcome to be anything and I can forego any need for optimism because I have knowledge that no matter what, it’s for my good. The problem was I had not been fortifying my faith.
I’m basically spiraling out and putting on a face as though I’m not hating existence and then comes my birthday. This is the day I magnify all the ‘should’s’ in my life. “I’m turning 40 and I should have _____ and I should've done _____, therefore, everything in my life is shit.” ←that’s basically verbatim. It’s pretty much a self-loath day. I hid away and ignored all my friends who’d actually tried to celebrate me...all while self-talking myself into depression declaring that no one cares. I’d lost my vigor for life. I mean, I had no desire to die, I just didn’t care if I lived. Keep in mind, this is in sobriety. This is also exactly how I felt toward the end of my drinking.
One fateful Saturday I went to help a buddy out at one of his properties and while digging a hole I experienced extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and my heart rate was at 161 (God bless the AppleWatch). We immediately diagnosed it as COVID and I hurried to urgent care to get tested. The ride there felt like hours and the results seemed to take years. Having smoked for years and knowing that COVID affected compromised respiratory systems, I assumed if I had it, I would likely die. Death became an actual possible outcome for me and I quickly recognized that I was very much not okay with dying. Something's gonna have to give.
Throughout my time in sobriety, my feeling of connection has ebbed and flowed, it's natural. I am just in one hell of an ebb that feels deeper and longer-lasting than any prior instance and it's scary. I have no desire to drink, which is great, but I’m miserable and that is simply unacceptable for this sober alcoholic...and I'm kinda the shit when I'm on. The thing that’s kicking my ass is that I know how to fix it. For whatever reason, I can’t bring myself to get on my knees to pray, close my eyes to meditate, open a google doc, or crack a book. When I’m working with other people and we've discussed actionable solutions but they've tried none, I say, “That’s fine, but understand that lack of action is a decision to stay in the same place.” I KNOW what to do but couldn’t bring myself to do it.
The culmination of it all was this past week when I found myself in a frikin ‘relationship’...it lasted 4-days. I totally recoiled and shut it down. Like, what the hell am I doing?! I mean, the situation could've been pretty dope but, who knows. The reality of it is that abandonment and trust issues make it hard as heck for me to allow myself to be cared for. The fact is, it was impulsive and affected someone else's emotions. I don't have a right to do that.
The “breakup” phone call ended on Thursday about 10 or so minutes into my 7pm meeting. I almost didn't go. I'm glad I did because that meeting turned out to be everything I needed (Zoom meetings have been saving my ass btw). There were only 5 other people there so it made it easier to freely speak on where I was. I owned that I was not spiritually well and how it had spilled over into my thoughts, actions, and outcomes. I owned my shit and admitted being whooped by it. Then it happened, someone got me, they knew exactly where I was coming from and offered experience. What I’m going through is not breaking news, which means it’s endurable and fixable. For some reason, something clicked and that night, I prayed.
Falling on my sword, I just said, “I’m lost and I don’t know what to do. Please open doors to help me get closer to you again.”
Friday morning I got a text from a good friend and writer who was also looking to break through a block and process some things she was attempting to work through. She suggested that we both write. For some reason, I listened and I started this blog then. That afternoon I met with a person in early recovery. When he reached out to set up the meet, he said why he wanted to talk to me was because I was "always so happy and it seemed like nothing ever got me down.” LOL. Within that conversation, I got to really reflect on all that got me to the place I’m trying to get back to. By the end of the conversation, I'm feeling noticeably better and now we’re hammering out plans to meet at least weekly for Pickle Ball(?).
Saturday morning was spent with my writer friend. I adore her for a bevy of reasons but a stand-out thing is her passion for more knowledge, understanding, and growth. She rarely asks surface-level questions and she always wants to find a way to do and become better. We talked at length about the things going on in our lives and how we had fallen off on the practices that helped keep us balanced. By the time we parted ways, we too agreed to meet a few times a week to write and read.
Saturday night, I wound up in a group chat with the fellas I grew up going to church with. There wasn’t a ton of growth or spirituality talk, we just hung out and caught up. It felt so good to connect and those boys had no idea how badly I needed to laugh and just be. And here it is Sunday and I just met with my sponsor for a good bit. I laid it all out there and he too was able to relate and by the end of our talk, we agreed that I’d re-work my steps and create a schedule to designate my time to work towards the things I want to accomplish.
All of that was God doing for me what I could not do for myself. I prayed a 4-second prayer and in 4 days, doors have been opened. I’m not out of the woods by any means, the follow-through is 100% on me but now I have options and accountability.
Cunning, baffling, powerful: Terms used to describe the insidious nature of alcoholism and ego is the exact same. For me, the value of prayer, meditation, reading, and writing (the Work) are in their ego-deflating effects. Chasing God kept me from chasing external fulfillment. When I stopped doing the work, I started noticing and craving all the things that fed my ego. I slowly began to prioritize satisfying my egoic wants over my spiritual needs...to a point that it made living undesirable.
Honestly, all throughout COVID my homies and I had a weekly card night. They scheduled a night away from their families so I wouldn't be alone. Group trips, 4 days in Beaufort for 4th of July, a week in Boise not to mention all of our smaller random meetups...I was neither alone nor uncared for. What I was, was ungrateful so the only thing to placate was better or more.
As I’m winding this down, I see that this has been an uncharacteristically recovery and God-heavy piece. I often use the term Source because God is not everyone’s source and that is perfectly fine. Source is simply something bigger than self that one can rely on, live in, and filter through. The Universe, love, and truth are awesome substitutions if the whole God thing is icky to you. If you don’t believe in God, why pray? I call prayer the great brain hack. It’s not who you pray to, it’s that you pray.
Our words carry power and influence, even over ourselves. Once we’ve laid those desires out, there is a change mentally and it is instantaneous. I’m not saying that the skies part and the requests of your heart are laid in your lap. I am however saying that as you lay those desires out, honestly, there is an immediate shift in thinking and perception. We start looking for and expecting answers and with minimal conscious effort, we start to see doors where there were once walls. I could’ve met with anyone from AA any time or asked my writer friend for writing/reading plans months ago...it wasn't until I asked, that I saw responses.
I know this is most certainly not the most profound piece I've written. All I want to offer here is hope. Tangible evidence that lends itself to the belief that no matter how distant you feel you’ve strayed from your best self, you are never too far to turn it around. An honest appraisal of where you are and how you got there is a start. Knowledge of what provided you balance before and people who hold you accountable is a decent second. And then the humility and willingness to ask and act and things can really start to shift. Even if just a modicum, you need only enough to step outside of pride and perceptions and Just Ask.