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First, I had her read Stephanie's note so she realized it is special, not from a generic store. She absolutely loves it. Stephanie's story behind it gives her both a connection and a reason to look forward. --- Dale

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Welcome to My Blog

From time to time, whenever the fancy strikes me, I maintain a little blog about life in recovery and other topics regarding addiction. I hope you will take the time to read some of my entries. If you'd like to comment, just email me.

 
 
May 16, 2010

I’m a survivor of many events in my life.  I’ve survived addiction, I’ve survived parental alcoholism and I’ve survived a suicide.

My brother, may he rest in peace, took his own life 13 years ago this week.  I remember the day I got the phone call as clearly as it was yesterday.  It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was sorting through the laundry when the phone rang.   My cousin who rarely called me was on the other line.  She told me he committed suicide and then everything changed for my family.  Although my brother was mentally-ill and non-compliant with his medication and was at great risk for suicide, it still was an incredible blow to us all.  My family has never been quite the same since and I’m sure that not a day passes that we don’t think of him.  The emotional pain that comes from suicide is a complex amalgam of helplessness, anger, shame, guilt and sometimes relief.  

I was stoned throughout most of his funeral.  I managed to get a hold of some expired barbiturates and tried to numb the pain as I sat through the agony of it all.  After the funeral, I vowed to not do any more drugs so I could grieve properly, feel the pain I was supposed to feel and carry on with my life.  I managed to do it, without any meetings, without support groups, therapy or alcohol.  I managed to cope by sheer force of will and stayed clean and sober for about 5 or 6 months.  

But I had only fooled myself because it was a year later when the real sadness came.  The grief was like a swarm of malevolent insects that swept over me and carried me into a deep depression that I only exacerbated by getting high at every possible opportunity.   

I write this today not to justify my hitting bottom but because I wanted to share with you it was only after I had a significant amount of sobriety under my belt that I was able to really deal with my loss.   To mourn is essential and without clarity I was unable to process his death.   Before sobriety, my brother’s death was like a very delinquent bill that I knew I had to pay.   I would try to avoid it by getting high and I knew that I had to deal with it someday that it wouldn’t just go away.

December 20, 2010

 I may be clean and sober for nine years now, but alcoholism and addiction is alive and well in my family. I'm sick of it and I want it to go away, but I have to deal with it AGAIN and AGAIN. I want to share a letter I wrote a loved one today:


Dear X:

I know you are angry, confused and hurt right now. I know because I've been there. About 10 years ago, my life was a shambles, my marriage was falling apart, I hated everybody and felt the world was against me. Money was my problem, my boss was my problem, my job was my problem, my husband was my problem, my family was my problem, living in California was my problem. Turns out the real problem was that I was an out-of-control addict and my life had become unmanageable.

Only after I was clean and sober for a good long while I realized that these problems were really all symptoms of my addiction, my addictive thinking and my addictive behavior. Things didn't take care of themselves automatically but once I had sobriety, I had more clarity, more energy to deal with life on life's terms. Today my life is completely different, I've been clean and sober for 9 years. I haven't gotten high or drunk in that long and my life in not over, it's just beginning. Sobriety is a wonderful gift and it can be that for you too.

Even though I fought going and it made me very uncomfortable, I went to Marijuana Anonymous. There, I met great people who were in the same boat.  Alcholics Anonymous is a the same support system with people just like you--every single one. You won't feel so alone. It will seem strange at first but you will see there are very good reasons for everything that happens at those meetings. You will meet new friends who understand how you feel and you won't feel so hopeless. The meetings are free of charge. If you want to contribute a buck or two you can, but you don't have to. You don't have to say anything, you can just sit and listen but you need to keep going back. No judgment, no pressure. There are AA meetings everywhere in your city, all day long.

I know you want to quit. You can do it but it's impossible to do it alone. Don't white-knuckle it, get support, you are going to need it. Believe me, I quit 100 times on my own but ultimately failed until I started going to MA.

Here's how to find a meeting: www.AA.org They won't sell you anything, they will just give you information. Give it a try, at this point you have nothing to lose.

Tell me how your first goes, I'd love to hear about it.

Love,

Stephanie

October 18, 2010

 

 

 

 

I went back home to my hometown recently after quite some time to visit my aging mom.  Going back home is always an emotional journey for me and although I look forward to visiting, I still can’t help but be filled with some dread about revisiting the place where I grew up and remembering what it was like growing up with alcoholism. It was only a decade ago that I used to visit my parents with plenty of drugs in tow that I managed so foolishly to hide in my luggage and on my person.  When I think about the risks I took carrying illegal drugs over the border it makes me sigh and shake my head in disbelief at the insanity of it all.  How incredibly lucky I was that I was never caught or sniffed out by airport security dogs.  I can only thank my lucky stars and Higher Power for that.    

Going back to my hometown with almost nine years of sobriety under my belt is really no different than before.  I still have to face those ghosts of my past only now I don’t have to stuff my feeling down with dope.  No more sneaking off somewhere to get high to better deal (or so I thought) with my beautifully dysfunctional family. It gets a little easier every time I go back. The key is to not focus so much on the dark past since that is behind me now but rather allow myself to feel and understand that it is normal to notice those old scars.  Although faded, those scars are still there and it’s okay to touch them.  They are part of me and I remember how I got them and how I survived.   

 June 16, 2010

Marijuana has become the most widely consumed illegal drug in the world. Since 1990, marijuana usage has doubled in the US and Canada. Today’s marijuana is so potent that the United Nations has considered reclassifying it as a different drug from the 1960’s counterpart. Although there is still a perceived notion that pot it is relatively benign, it is far from being a soft drug. The main reason is that today’s marijuana has been re-engineered to produce a high level of Tetra Hydro-Cannabinol or THC, its active ingredient. The levels of THC in the 60s and 70s was anywhere between 1-3% as compared to today’s pot which contains as much as 18-25%, a very significant increase.

In recent a CBC documentary called The Downside of High, the link of between marijuana use and schizophrenia in teenagers was examined. Some very important questions were posed as to whether today’s pot smoking teenager may be setting himself up for a lifetime of mental illness. It seems that today’s teenagers are most at risk of potentially developing permanent and irreversible mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder from regular marijuana use.

Research suggests that THC can send some people into a state of psychosis, a symptom of schizophrenia. While marijuana use alone can’t trigger schizophrenia, evidence suggests that a teenager with genetic susceptibility is most at risk. Studies showed that if these at risk kids begin smoking pot before age 16, they are very much at risk and their chances of developing schizophrenia are quadrupled. The reason is that too much THC can interfere with a teenager’s neural-pruning, a kind of streamlining of the brain. In other words, marijuana use can have a detrimental psychological effect on developing brains.

It work likes this. The hallucinogen in marijuana or THC causes an increase in dopamine, the chemical in the brain that controls moods. An increase in dopamine heightens awareness which can lead to hallucinations associated with schizophrenia. Since the brain has its very own endo-cannabinoid system, the pot smoker will overwhelm his brain with additional cannabinoids already contained in marijuana’s THC. Over repeated usage, marijuana can deregulate the endo-cannabinoid system. Deregulating the endo-cannabinoid system in teenage brain can leave long-lasting and sometimes permanent effects. In addition, today's potent strains of marijuana have little or no cannabidiol or CBD, a natural occuring buffer in marjuana that reduces the psychotic properties of THC.  CBD has essentially been bred out of today's stony pot. 

The bottom line is that today’s pot contains an obscene amount of THC. While some kids can smoke to their hearts content and not be permanently affected others will risk their mental health. If there is any genetic predisposition of mental illness in a teenager, marijuana usage can trigger a psychosis. Since no genetic testing is currently available right now to rule out schizophrenic disposition in teenagers, one can hope that education can deter a young person from smoking pot.

April 1, 2010

I came across this website I would like share with you. The site belongs to musician Brad Mersereau.  He has devoted it to his sister Laura's memory who sadly did not find her way to recovery and died at 46 from alcoholism.  It is a very powerful reminder that addiction in itself is a form of insanity, it affects our loved ones profoundly, destroys lives and that some of us won't make it to sobriety.  

The following is an excerpt from his site, one of a series of very poignant letters he wrote to her after she died.  

June 14, 1999    

Dear Laura,  

Janet & I had just returned from a Seattle/Silverdale weekend trip when we received a chilling midnight phone call from your nephew, Dwayne. He said you had died, and my first reaction was disbelief. How could this be? You had attended an AA meeting with me recently, and admitted you were an alcoholic in recovery. I thought you had been sober for 6 months. As it began to dawn on me I was the only one left from our family of origin to deal with your disease, I felt disheartened and totally numb inside. We learned from doctors in the following days you sustained a perforated ulcer causing toxic peritonitis. You put on high heels but never made it out of your house the evening of June 13th. A quarter-century of hard drinking caused you to die prematurely 4 months and 6 days after your 46th birthday. The addictive path was your choice at every turn, but what a loss.

Do you remember your intervention at Portland Adventist Hospital Thanksgiving week of 1998? You screamed, “Poor little rich boy” in a futile attempt to disrupt the proceedings. Doctors, your trust officer and I agreed in order to live, you had to stop drinking. Do you remember your mandatory outpatient follow-up treatment in Oregon City? You resisted mightily my driving you to a required appointment where the counselor stated plainly: either stop drinking or expect death within 6 months. You never attended any further scheduled appointments. I told a friend during Christmas season 1998 you would die within half a year, and I still couldn’t process Dwayne’s phone call. None of us knew that women sustain health complications due to alcohol abuse at an accelerated rate when compared to men.  

You and I did a surreal dance with your alcoholic disease for over 25 years … or was it a symptom? Do you remember numerous stays at Damasch State (Mental) Hospital in the 70’s and 80’s? You had been dual diagnosed affective-schizophrenic and bipolar and prescribed appropriate medicines. Do you remember when I found you a new shrink? After Rick, your husband of almost 19 years, died from alcohol-induced health complications, you found solace talking to a psychiatrist.

I wish you had not self-medicated with booze. I tried to be your champion and your advocate, Laura. I tried to be a good brother. We were the only two who shared the common thread of children linked inextricably to Dad’s addiction until he stopped drinking for good in 1965. We both survived his bipolar episodes from 1965-1970 but I left you to cope alone after heading for Whitman College in the fall of 1968. Now what? Thank God for Janet! I miss you like crazy.  

Love, Brad  

I hope you take the time to visit http://www.bradmersereau.com.  You can listen to some of his music and he has a special page for sobriety anniversaries where you can add your date and share your own experiences.  

Thanks for having a look.

 March 1, 2010

It seems like everyone is talking about sex addiction these days.  This whole Tiger Woods scandal has put sex addition into the spotlight recently. 

 I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times about whether sex addiction is a real disorder or disease like drug or alcohol addiction. The article argues whether extreme sexual acting out is an obsessive-compulsive disorder, a sign of depression or simply nasty behavior.  I’m sure the same thing was said at one time in history about gambling addiction and for that matter drug or alcohol addiction.

I asked one of my friends who happens to be a recovering sex addict and he offered his sincere opinion on this debate.  He feels that an addiction is an addiction, whether it is a by-product of depression or a compulsive obsessive disorder is really a mute point.  There are varying degrees of severity and methods of abuse.  It all depends on the individual.  There’s no clear-cut way to tell who is and who isn’t a sex addict.  How do we really define what is normal amount of sex versus what is abnormal?  It has to be on a case-by-case basis, and it requires self-awareness and intuition as much as it does a clinical diagnosis. 

We can’t speak for Tiger Wood or David Duchovny since we don’t know enough about them or the choices they made and why they made them.  Addiction is not just about the substance or activity itself – it is a proxy or outlet for feelings and events that we are unable to deal with for one reason or another. 

Sure there is the physical part like drinking, drugs or the sex but it’s also about escape from emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and countless other negative feelings.  It’s about compensating for something else but in this case using sex as the vehicle instead of coping.  Sound familiar? I thought so.

 November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving is a special time but for me, it marks another year of sobriety.  I now have eight years of continued sobriety. During those years, I have experienced the same disappointments and achievements in life as I always have but the difference is that I was able to handle life on life’s terms-- just using my instincts, some common sense and I hope, good judgment.  It’s been a tough yet wonderfully liberating experience.     

One thing that I found a bit of challenge is dealing with friends and family regarding sobriety.  For one thing, my 80 year-old mother has no clue about my using past.  She and I live over 3,000 miles apart, each in separate countries. I am grateful that she did not witness nor was affected by my behavior during that dark period of my life.  I decided telling her would just confuse and hurt her. 

Then, I have my older passive/aggressive sister who tells me that I’m not an addict anymore and I should stop calling myself one.  She doesn’t understand the concept of being in recovery.  As far as she’s concerned, I quit and I’ve recovered.  It somehow embarrasses her that I refer to myself as a recovering addict.  Now, I’ve learned not to refer to my recovery around her, it’s not worth the aggravation.     

Now when it comes to new acquaintances in social situations where alcohol is involved, it can be a little more difficult.  There are people out there who are simply distrustful of non-drinkers or find it weird when people don’t imbibe.  Some people are just uncomfortable around clean and sober people period. They may view us as holier than thou and that we think we are more virtuous or maybe they think we are judging their drinking. In my early years of my sobriety, I would make up excuses when asked why I was not drinking. My favorite was "I’m on medication" but then I would always would feel ashamed of myself for this little white lie.  After all, there is no shame in sobriety.  It’s really a lifestyle choice.       

Today, I just explain that I’ve chosen a life of sobriety and it works for me.  Most people will just accept and respect that choice but others may comment in one derogatory way or another, like “no drinking…no smoking..no drugs? I could never do it ..I like it way too much.”  I just reply, “You know, that’s what I thought at first; but now, no feeling is as euphoric to me as sobriety.”  This retort may come across as high and mighty but I stopped caring about what others think a long time ago.      

Happy Clean & Sober Thanksgiving.

 June 10, 2009

We are a prescription drug society.  Not a day will pass when we will see an advertisement describing some medical condition and the pill that will help it.  An astonishing amount of advertising about insomnia has surfaced within the last few years.  It is estimated that one of out of six people over the age of 15 has problems falling or staying asleep. 

My co-worker has been taking as he describes a “tiny dose” of Clonazepam because he experiences “middle-of-the-night” insomnia. He wakes up every morning at 2 am and has trouble getting back to sleep.  His solution has been his dose of benzodiazepine.  He’s been doing this for the past year but he claims he’s not hooked.  But I know deep down that he’s terrified of stopping this drug.  Yet his doctor continues to renew his “tiny dose” of Clonazepam even though benzodiazepines are very habit-forming.   

Often insomnia is transient and normal sleep comes but other times we turn to our doctor for help.  Some of the more popular drugs doctors prescribe for insomnia are benzodiazepines since nearly one quarter of patients who experience insomnia suffers from anxiety.  Short-term, low dose therapy of benzodiazepines is given to the patient.  The result--patient gets immediate relief, gets sleep and life is manageable again.  However, if the low dose therapy continues past a few weeks, chances are the patient will develop dependence to this drug.  Doctors continue to prescribe benzodiazepines for the short-term but ultimately many patients renew their prescriptions beyond the three week period and develop a dependence on them, even at low doses.

As a recovering addict, I know a thing or two about habits and I have had my own issues with insomnia and taking meds to help me sleep.  I became intrigued by my boss’ story and did a little research regarding benzodiazepine dependence.  Here are a few statistics:  

1. Even at low doses, benzodiazepines are addictive with 23% of people becoming addicted after 3 months.  

2. Benzodiazepine use after longer than four weeks results in psychological and physical dependence.  

3. Withdrawal symptoms even from low doses occur and include:  anxiety, perceptual disturbances, distortion of all senses, dysphasia and in rare cases, psychosis and epileptic seizures.  

4. Many doctors have a little training or knowledge of the addictive nature of benzodiazepines.   

5. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is often a long, drawn out, difficult process and should be done under medical supervision

If you want to learn more about withdrawing from benzodiazepines, please visit this link I discovered for very useful information: http://lonelylinks.com/ashton.htm

 April 8, 2009

When I was using, sometimes I felt like I was living in solitary confinement.  My addiction was my incarceration--a lonely, frightening and lifeless jail of my own doing.  Now that I’m clean and sober there is a whole dimension of solitude I’ve learned to embrace rather than fear.   

During my first year of sobriety, dealing with solitude was difficult.  Like many others entering recovering, I had to let go of friends who used and using patterns I had developed that were social.    Although I had developed other social networks with the program, I still couldn’t be with people 24/7 and those hours spent by myself were probably the hardest part of my first 90 days. I remember how being alone clean and sober felt so overwhelming. I had come to realize that in the past, whenever I was uncomfortable being alone, I turned to drugs to fill the void.  Then that isolation became my solitary confinement.  Rather than just enjoying the silence I would fill it with clouded, drugged out ruminations. The alienation I felt in addiction was a separation from my own feelings.  I had lost the ability to be alone.   

Solitude in sobriety is a wonderful thing since the silence I feel now is not negative but a device I use to tune out everyday noise and be present with myself.  Taking the time to be with my spiritual self in solitude is to be present with my Higher Power, my Higher Self and provides a moment to heal from the heart.    

 February 14, 2009

I just wrote an essay on why sobriety anniversaries are so important.  Check it out at http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Importance-of-the-Sobriety-Annivers

 February 6, 2009

It's a rainy, foggy day and although I like the rain, today's rain is reflecting my dark and somber mood.  I had all these plans to be productive today but somehow I let my mood take over, simply relenting to the dark side.  The problems in life overshadowing my plans, poor me.  In my using days, these kinds of days really lent themselves to being stoned.  I felt crappy so I got high.  It would make me feel better, an instant bliss until it wore off and I'd get high again. Then one day it just stopped working, I'd get high but I still felt depressed. That drug-induced euphoria was lost and I was caught in a cycle of trying to recapture that euphoria.  

Now in sobriety, I look back at those foggy days with a truly unromantic heart. In fact, whenever I start to romanticize about my druggie days I have to stop myself.  Sure I had some great times but really, the bad times and feelings far exceeded the good. I've heard this kind of reminiscing in meetings and sometimes Iet myself go along with it for a moment or two but it really serves no real purpose.  It's like pining over a long-lost love who is gone and even if he came back, he wouldn't be the same. 

 December 31, 2008

We've heard it before that people in recovery have it especially hard during the holidays.  Everything from bad memories associated with drinking/using, to seeing loved ones out of control, to having to resist those urges to partake in a little holiday cheer like the rest of society.  The holidays are the ultimate test of the addict/alcoholic's commitment to sobriety. 

I personally don't like the holidays much.  I'm not a very christmasy person, not being traditional makes me feel bad, not giving in to the mass-consumerism makes me feel guilty and not being with all of my family makes me feel sad. Although I've learned to recognize these feelings, they still get to me every year. Thank goodness it's almost over.  

This year, I had to turn down an invitation to a New Year's Eve dinner party because I knew there would be drugs there--my favorite drug to be exact.  Although the drugs would not necessarily be out in the open, I would know they were present and like a well-trained bloodhound, I could very easily sniff them out. 

So I'm not going even though I'd really love to.  I feel cheated but it's my own damn fault.  I created the addict in me and I have to accept that.  Shitty as it is, it's just my reality now. Like the old saying goes...if you don't want a haircut, don't hang around the barber shop. As cliche as it is, it's so true.  I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe, clean and sober holiday with continued happiness in sobriety for 2009! 

 November 13, 2008

As I approach my seven years of being clean, I ask myself what is the one true thing I've gained.  That one thing would be freedom.  Freedom from the isolation and secrecy of addiction. Freedom from not having to score my next stash.  Freedom from my self-loathing and mood swings. 

Keeping that dirty little habit that spun so out of control from my husband, my family, my non-using friends, my co-workers and from society in general was a constant preoccupation.  Like most addicts, I really tried hard to conceal my habit and for the longest time, I was convinced nobody could tell I was stoned.  But really, I wasn't fooling anybody.  In fact, I've had perfect strangers ask me point blank, if I was high.  I remember feeling so exposed, shameful, sly yet defiant during those moments of confrontation.  I would deny it of course but I felt guilty and dirty about it later.  

Now, seven years later, I don't have to lie, sneak around, or steal anymore because those tethers are gone and for that, I am truly thankful. 

 September 17, 2008

This blog entry is dedicated to all the women out there who suffer from uterine fibroid tumors.  Approximately 40% of menstruating women suffer from fibroid tumors.  Symptoms include heavy, long periods, cramping and pelvic pressure   Left untreated, these fibroids can make you anemic and your life miserable.  Up until recently, I was part of this statistic.  Ladies, there is a treatment option out there that doesn’t involve a hysterectomy, a major surgical procedure with a recovery time of 6-8 weeks.     

Fortunately, there is a procedure called Uterine Artery Embolization.  UAE is a non-invasive surgical technique that shrinks uterine fibroids, maintains fertility and is performed under local anesthesia. This medical technique takes only 30 minutes and has quick recovery time of one week.  I had it done about two weeks ago and I’m already experiencing its benefits.  In a few short months, my periods will be so much lighter, with little or no cramping and I will not feel like my life revolves around my menstrual cycle.  If you suffer from fibroids and would like to learn more about this amazing procedure, go to http://www.fibroids.com.   

As a recovering addict, I must share with you the dilemma I faced about managing the pain after the procedure.  As there was some pain involved, and at times some pretty intense pain for the first 36-72 hours following the procedure, I had to accept the fact that I would be heavily medicated with Oxycontin or Perocet, both of which are highly addictive opiates.  My fear of course was getting a taste and wanting to chase the high like in the old days when I was using.  And although I’ve never been an opiate addict, I still am an addict nonetheless and that never goes away.  

The first thing I did was tell my doctor about my drug-abusing past so that he was aware and would not prescribe any additional meds after I would run out of those prescribed for the post-surgery.  The second thing I did was promise myself that I could not throw away almost 7 years of sobriety on leftover meds.  I promised myself that when the pain was over, or even when it was down to a dull roar that I just had to stop the meds and toss them.  And you know, I did it, and I feel like I haven’t forsaken my sobriety but I realize that I could have easily emptied those bottles.   

It’s not impossible however for those of us in recovery facing issues involving managing temporary pain, to accept the pain as just that, temporary, and, above all,  to stop those meds before they start to control you

 May 16, 2008

I am among the millions of people out there with occassional sleep issues.  For the past few years, insomnia has come and gone.  

When I was using, getting sleep was really not much of a problem since I was self-medicating and in a state of perpetual buzz.  I never seemed to get enough sleep and I almost slept too much.   

Today, I am clean and sober yet blissful, uninterrupted, deep sleep is sometimes a challenge.  Is this an after-effect that many addicts/alcoholics experience in recovery?  Was I too stoned at the time to notice insomnia?  A good night's sleep is priceless and nothing beats natural, unmedicated sleep.

On those dreaded nights I am struggling to get to sleep, I have to really ponder over whether or not to take a sleeping pill. Do I tough it out or do I sucumb to the meds?   We insomniacs in recovery have to consider the psychological implications of choosing a pill to sleep.

The pharmaceutical industry pumps millions into advertising those new sleep aids that are touted to not be habit forming.  Big Pharma has gotten away on a technicality.  They claim that the new generation of hypnotics are non-habit forming because they are chemically different from the older generations of hynotics like benzodiazapines.

Because they are classified as non-benzodiazapines they claim they are not habit-forming however they work on the brain exactly the same way, using the same mechanisms as benzodiazapines So if they work the same way wouldn't it be logical to assume they ARE habit-forming?  If not so much physically but psychologically? Another thing is, we don't really know what the long term effects are of these new sleep aids.

Entire nations of people is getting hooked on a pill just to fall asleep and stay asleep.  We must learn to manage insomnia, not give in so easily to taking medication for something that every living creature does naturally -- sleep! 

 April 23, 2008

It seems not another day goes by that you hear about some famous person going to rehab.  In this age of celebrity, being in recovery has almost become fashionable.  Mind you, I am not usually into in celebrity gossip but when I hear about "so and so" going into rehab again, I can't help but take an interest.    

Maybe it's because I believe that celebrities in recovery are good publicity for recovery.  To most people, stars seem to be these indivduals that are larger than life but when they wind up in recovery, it only shows how really fragile the human condition is.  

Being in recovery has become so mainstream now that it is no longer is taboo to admit it, celebrity or not.

 March 28, 2008

Other people's drinking sometimes gets to me. A few months ago, I witnessed a house guest and very dear in-law of mine get drunk every night on California Merlot. Now this man has been drinking wine with his meals most of his life but within the last few years he went from consuming a half bottle of wine to two bottles a day.

His drinking reminded me of my own late father who drank only with his meals, like most Europeans. Growing up I witnessed too many drunken scenes and they still haunt me sometimes.  For many years before sobriety, I carried a lot of resentment about my father's alcoholism. 

The month before my father died, I had about 10 months of sobriety under my belt.  I was planning to visit him and tell him how much his drinking hurt me but he died a few days before my flight. At the funeral, I remember looking down at his dead body thinking is this the man who terrified me growing up? Is this the man I was ashamed of, loved yet hated?  This thin, hallowed figure I barely recognize anymore was indeed my father and at that moment I forgave him.    

Learning to let go of blame and guilt is never easy yet forgiveness is one of the many gifts that sobriety brings.

 March 13, 2008

The other day while I was at work, (yes, do have a day job as being an artist doesn't pay all the bills), one of my co-workers made a comment along the lines of, "Why would anyone celebrate being sober?"  To that I replied, "For some people who have nearly destroyed their lives with drugs, alcohol or any other addiction, one more year of sobriety is a big freaking deal."  Of course, my co-worker is not in recovery and for people outside the community, the idea of celebrating sobriety seems quite frankly weird.  

That's okay because I thought it was weird too until I started taking those chips.  After several relapses, I remember going to meetings and watching other people taking chips and bitterly thinking, "Damn it, if they could do it, then so can I.!" I was really a little jealous.  

I decided to do it and I stayed clean and it was the toughest thing I've ever done in my life, even tougher than successfully casting resin!  Speaking of resin, I've just introduced a new line of sobriety pendant hearts and paperweights to commemorate that incredibly special day!  I'm also working on some pendant necklaces for men.  So stay tuned...

 February 17, 2008

It's been a little over six years now that I've been clean and every now and then I have a dream that I'm about to use.  Usually it's the same dream too that basically challenges my sobriety.  In this dream, I am typically alone and low and behold, I seem to have found a stash of dope that I've completely forgotten about. So there I am in the same place I was years ago, excited to have found this buried treasure and wanting to have some right away. But in this dream I somehow know I've been sober and I'm battling these feelings of wanting to use just this one time yet afraid of being discovered. Then I am suddenly interrupted by somebody and I hide the stash promising myself I'll get back to it later. The dream suddenly ends before I have a chance to use.  I don't even get to experience the feeling of being high again. Is this a good thing or a bad one?  

I'm sure that most of we recovering addicts/alcoholics have had these kinds of dreams and continue to have them once and a while.  When we wake up, we probably breathe a sigh of relief and say, "It was just a dream...thank God I'm still sober."

 December 26, 2007

I've been very lax in my blogging lately due to the demands of the holiday season. The holidays...such a challenging time of year for us in recovery.  I sometimes like to refer to the holidays as the "hellidays" since we are bound by the traditions that put great social pressure on us, force us to be with family we would rather not be with and we have to do this clean and sober.   And let us not forget the pleasure of watching others drink and get drunk.  More than ever, we notice the drunk drivers on the road, shake our heads yet recall how many times we may have gotten behind the wheel clearly as impaired and as dangerous as that person driving ahead of us. As an adult child of an alcoholic, most of my memories of Christmas are not so great.  Some of us still have a family member or a friend who is wrapped up in the disease of addiction and have not found serenity. I pray that they will one day find it too.

 October 19, 2007

What could be more frightening than the prospect of relapsing? A friend of mine just relapsed and although he’s back in recovery and has been clean for about 9 months, he relapsed long and hard for about 2 years. 

What he said to me was very poignant and I wanted to share this with you. He said that within the first week he started using again, he was back to the same amount of substance and using it with the same frequency as he had over 10 years ago. Scary isn’t it how your mind and body doesn’t forget? Amazing yet chilling how addiction has own special memory and it can easily and very readily start up right where it let off.

 October 13, 2007

This entry is for all my customers who take a moment during their busy day to let me know how pleased they are with their jewelry.  When I get a compliment, it feels so worthwhile to continue doing what I'm doing.  The feeling is better than getting high.  In fact, it is one of the best natural highs I could ever wish for.  Again, thank you my sober sisters for all your kind words and support!

 October 5, 2007

When I think about sobriety and all the wonderful gifts it brought me, I can only thank my lucky stars that I'm still clean.  I try not to remember the past with bitterness in my heart because it really only causes pain and it is negative.  Sure, it's easy to say when I was using, I was so this or so that..and, at first when you are finally sober, you need to recall how you used to be. 

God knows how many ambitious or worthwhile projects never got done because I was just too stoned. Guilt can really destroy a person and it's not healthy to dwell on the past. Simply recall enough to remind yourself that you never, never, ever want to go back there.  Life is too short to be stoned 24/7.

 September 28, 2007

I think most of us addicts/alcoholics know a thing or two about boredom.  In fact, I know that one of the many reasons I used in the past was because I was bored.  It was like, I'm bored, I can't concentrate on anything right now so I'll get high.  Boredom became this monkey on my back that led me to using more and more.  After I cleaned up, I had to still deal with boredom and it was not easy finding things to do that required my full attention. 

Luckily, I discovered this little hobby of mine which gave some focus and something to do with my hands.  Believe me, I still get bored but now sobriety has taught me how to deal with it a little better  I learned that you can't always sit back and be entertained.  You need to commit to things that bring you joy and satisfaction but anything worthwhile takes effort and some discipline.

 September 21, 2007

Serenity isn't just about the 12 steps.  It's about coping with life.  This last year has been a real roller coaster for me.  I had some successes and I also had some health problems that frightened me so much that it made me even sicker.  The Serenity Prayer became my mantra and I began to pray hard and often when the fear took over.  

 We often think this prayer is just for folks in recovery but really, so many people have turned to it in difficult times.  I am inspired by my aunt, Colette, who lost two daughters to Cystic Fibrosis.  She watched her daughters slowly and inevitably die over the course of fifteen years.  When I showed her my artwork, she shared with me how the Serenity Prayer got her through the toughest years of her life

 Sepember 14, 2007

This is the first time I write a blog and honestly don't know what I"m doing.  So here goes...

 I've been clean for 6 years now and although I appreciate sobriety, it's been quite a journey.  As most of us in recovery know by now that after you pass the "honeymoon" phase of your sobriety, the little problems and bigger problems in life still come and go.  The only difference is, that being sober, you have to cope for real without any "help" from your habit.  It was hard at first for me but I'm getting better at it.  I just keep reminding myself that it's too easy to give up and give into addition.