Having the Strength to Accept the Things That I Cannot Change, the Courage to Change the Things That I Can, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference

I married a woman; she is extremely bull-headed, has very intense emotions, and is 12 years my junior.

She has moments where she is extremely out of touch with reality, I can sit with her, I can try to explain to her what it means to be an adult, and we can go back and forth in her on a. what it means to be an adult, b. discussing, VERY delicately, why she feels that she is 100% sane, and swill not hear otherwise, period.

My wife is not insane, she is roughly 75% crazy, but she is definitely not insane.

No matter what I do or say, I CANNOT change my wife! And yet, just as an addict does, I constantly try to talk sense into her.

A lot happens in 12 years, and the fact that I have been alive, and had that much more experience then she has, seems to make absolutely zero difference when it comes to trying to explain to her, even a little, about how life works.

So I keep trying, failing, trying, failing, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I would give a tremendous about, to be able to have the strength that it would take to accept that fact that I cannot change her, even an ounce, even an iota.

I have learned in my life, that there are certain things that I can, and cannot change.  My wife, obviously I cannot.  On a good day, a VERY good day, maybe, I have control of the space in-between my ears.

I make mistakes; I don’t listen to my wife fairly.  I don’t let her express her thoughts and ideas fully, hardly ever. Why, most likely, because I am insecure, and afraid that perhaps she is brighter than I am in many areas, and has many more earnable skills than I have.

I would literally give nearly everything that I have.  To be able to change myself, to have the courage to dig down deep reach past all my issues, and change to become the man that she wants, the husband that she needs, and the man that she deserves.

The wisdom to know the difference is the hardest part.

Clearly, if I, had the ability to know the difference, between these behaviors, my life would be a much happier and more complete one. By Far!

It is my fault, because I am an addict, albeit a sober one, that my relationship, and in fact most of my relationships are pretty dysfunctional. The title of this post comes from the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is also one of the only concepts that I personally consider being of any much value, where that particular program is concerned. Again, this is simply my personal opinion.

I have been and G-d willing will continue to be one of the lucky ones where recovery is concerned.  I have made great strides towards being able to fulfill the concept, which is again, the title of this post.

The problem with being an addict is that we repeat the same things over and over again, expecting different results. I dearly love my wife, I dearly love my son, and I dearly love my life.

I would rather die, than lose them.

What I must clearly do, is to teach myself in whatever way it takes, to: Have the strength to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!

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How To Handle a Good Day

For quite a long time, an addict does not have a good day. In fact, the addict may indeed, have forgotten what a good day even feels like.  Their life has become a desperate back and forth of “gotta-get-it, got-it, gotta-get-it, got-it”, and time, has become one giant blended mess, of using and seeking to use.

The addict, will NEVER know a good “sober” day until they are both clean, and cleaned out, over an extended period of time.  Holistic programs are in my opinion, the best and fastest way to empty out the garbage and replace the addict’s cup, with the clean person’s chalice.

Now, once an addict is clean, sober, sane, and sensible either again or for the first time, the days begin to separate, time begins to take on a form, and slowly, very slowly, the life of the addict begins to make sense, and eventually, they can begin to distinguish one day from the next.

Finally, we have come to the point, where the addict can have a good day. However, in this early, or really in any stage of recovery, a good day can turn into the WORST day of all! An addict is so familiar with being a screw-up, so used to people expecting him or her to fail, that their having a good day can quite nearly cause them (and certain of their family members) to go into anaphylactic shock on the spot.

“Hey mom, you will never guess what happened to me.  I actually had a good day today…mom?”

Seriously, active addict and good day are NOT synonymous! Once, however the addict is under control then good days may begin to flow freely.

I have been sober for quite some time. And with complete honesty I can say, that the vast majority or my days are happy ones. Today, I do not even need to consider how to handle a good day, because most of them are, however when I was in my early sobriety, even the thought of having a good day was enough to scare the life out of me.  And believe me, it did not matter, at all, what people said, how much they assured me of success, my anxiety shot right through the roof, and 98% guaranteed, by the end of the day, my sobriety had someway, somehow made it out the window!

Things did, however get better, and not even so slowly. The more meetings I went to (because those were my A.A. days) the better I felt, and I went to A LOT of meetings.  Often, I made two meetings a day.  The more quickly I emptied out the bad, the more quickly the good could come in, and so good days began rolling in rather quickly.  Perhaps too quickly, in retrospect.

In the beginning, I had not had very many good days, and therefore, had barely the slightest idea how to handle them.  Also, the beginning of anyone’s recovery is dangerous, because very quickly, they discover, much to their great relief, of course, that that actually know everything!!! Ah, sure.  And yet this is unfortunately haw most of the, feel.  So, combining good days rolling in quickly, mixed with a very early recovering addict who just happens to suddenly realize that they know everything, leaves you with an extremely (potentially) explosive situation.  This type of situation is clearly not a good one.  And if one happens to have chosen to deal with A.A. philosophy for the time being: Enter the wise and knowing Sponsor.

A good day is very scary for the newly recovering addict. However, it does get easier the longer one is sober. As I said today MOST of my days are good, and for this, I am very thankful indeed!

How to Explain Your Addiction to Your Kids

First of all, G-d willing, by the time you have children, you are far beyond your addiction.  Most people, I suppose, have children sometime in their early to mid 20’s, have or will soon graduate university, and have realized that their partying years have come and gone and it is finally time to grow up and accept the responsibilities of life.  These individuals will, hopefully only get the standard questions, around the time that their kids hit late high school, or college age about whether or not, and perhaps how their parents partied during those same years.

This would be a relatively simple answer to a relatively simple question if the parents had stayed within acceptable limits and partied like normal late teens, early 20 some things during those years. If the parents were addicts during those years, the answer becomes a bit more complicated, but can most likely still be explained via the answer of fairly normal college stupidity.

If the parent is a still an addict by the time their kids are old enough to ask, well that, that is a different story all together.  Depending on what stage the addicted parent is at, the harder it is to explain.  If the parent is at the stage during which they still require rehab occasionally, then convincing the kids that dad/mom are at some ski resort/spa, in Colorado for 28 days, may get a little tough after awhile you know?  If the parent needs in-house treatment, well then, good luck, I suppose.  “Hey, didn’t I have a dad?” “Sure honey, but he’s in Japan for the next 3 years working as an advisor to the Prime Minister.”

Obviously keeping these types of excuses up for very long would prove extremely difficult if not impossible.  So what then, would appear to be the best way to handle discussing your addiction with your children?  To not have to explain it at all!  Namely, ending your addiction either before you have children, or, before your children reach an age where who have to explain.

Listen, everyone understands that one should be at a stable point in life before they have children.

Unfortunately life does not always work out as we plan. There are literally a dozen ways to get off of drugs.  There are 12 Step programs, Eastern medicine programs, and especially holistic programs, which I prefer by far.  Many of these other programs work quite well and if they work for you, in your time frame then by all means use them!!! In my opinion, holistic is the best because it takes into account, the entire person at once.  The “whole” addict as it were.  The holistic approach deals with mind, body, and spirit.

It also deals with the family immediately, so that there are no more secrets, no more lies.  There can be no addiction, if every channel that the addict can possibly use to get their drugs is cut off.  The family is made aware, all of the friends are made aware, doctors and therapists are all made aware, and once everyone knows, it is extremely difficult to sneak around or “Doctor Shop” to get drugs or “medications”.

My advice?  Find a good holistic doctor, and discuss everything with them.  Tell them your entire life story.  The more you tell them the better, because the more they will have to work with.

Believe me, you DO NOT want to get the point when you will need to sit down with your children and explain to them why you are (still) an active addict.  It would be one of the most difficult and most painful experiences of your live.

FAR more painful than the withdrawal of quiting!

How to Handle a Rough Day

Judy Blume, a very famous novelist, and realist once wrote – “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why am I Always in the Pits?”  It has been my opinion, that I am not always in the pits, nor is life ALWAYS a bowl of cherries.  Some days are better than others, some are good and some are a little rough around the edges.  Different people, are, of course different, and handle situations differently. The woman, who lives next door, may go out, but a pint of ice cream, and bury her sorrows within.  The man who lives upstairs, may journal his night away, hoping that tomorrow will be better, if he only breathes slowly, takes a nice long hot bath, and just leaves it all behind.

Personally, I take a nice long nap, put my worries to bed for a couple of hours, and then wake; refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated, much more able to handle what ever that particular day has brought along with it.  A rough day means change.  If change did not bring on the rough day, then change in most certainly required in fixing it.  Most people do not like change very much.  Most people like their little bubbles where their comfort zones are, where they do not feel threatened by the outside world, and can simply relax, knowing, that no matter what, they will at the very least, be safe, and protected.

A rough day pops the bubble. Perhaps a little, perhaps a lot, but it pops that bubble nonetheless.

Look, nobody likes a rough day.  There routines are totally blown, they have to adapt, even for a while to a new way of doing things, feeling differently, reacting differently.  A rough day is a rough day. It’s not peaches and rose blossoms, it stinks, perhaps really stinks, and it truly just is what it is.

The wonderful thing about a rough day, is that there is an entire list of ways to make it better!!!

  1. Breathe – Slow down.  Count to 10.  Think to yourself, will any of this matter next week, or even tomorrow? In all likelihood, no.
  2. Why are you having a rough day?  Make a list, and number it. (Much like this).  Why? Laying things out clearly in front of you makes them MUCH easier to break down, and conquer 1 by 1.
  3. Remind yourself, that nothing is insurmountable.  That there is nothing, absolutely nothing that you can’t confront and overcome.
  4. And finally, that there is nothing, absolutely NOTHING that you cannot do if you send your mind to it!

When one is cursed with the desire of addiction, having a rough day takes on an entirely different meeting.  A rough day, can lead to the day when their life ends, or, their life ends, as they knew it.  An addict, unless he or she has beat their addiction, or learned to not let it affect them, even under the worst of situations, can be derailed by a rough day. An addict without the proper “recovery toolbox” – The proper tools to say sober, is upturned quite easily.

I have seen people with 10 years of sobriety fall off of the proverbial wagon when they let enough rough days build up without dealing with them as they come.  A rough day is nothing.  EVERYBODY has them.  Most people get home, pour themselves a nice glass of wine, kick their shoes off, turn on their favorite political debate program, and let the day slowly slip away.

The addict or alcoholic, gets home, kicks off their shoes, pours a nice tall glass of diet cola and proceeds to call their sponsor, or if they are involved in a holistic program, various individuals who understand, exactly, what kind of day they have just made it through.  The rough day, the bane of any addicts recovery, but, in no way necessarily the end.

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