In February of 1987 I was getting ready to attend a sales meeting at work. This was nothing new; I had been attending sales meetings for a couple of years at this place. I had been having some good sales months and so I was pleased about the attention I was getting. On this morning, however, I woke up late. I didn’t have enough time to shower or even comb my hair, so I walked across the hundred yards or so from the door of my apartment to my job and went in. My physical appearance must have been pretty close to the way I felt that day – hung over.
I had been up for the biggest account in town, and after our meeting the buyer objected to my bosses. Perhaps he detected alcohol. The next day the owners called me in and offered me a fair deal. Either get help or get on down the road. Over the next several months I was in and out of treatment a couple of times. Then two men visited me in my hospital room and offered me a chance to get into recovery. They invited me to a fellowship meeting when I got out of that place and I accepted with reservations. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.
Over the next few months I started to get an idea that there was more to life than the way I had been living it. I began to have a real desire to stay clean and sober. The people at the fellowship were happy and laughing, and they were free! No more life revolving around alcohol. They really did know what it was like and they could do it so why not me? Then when I had about 90 days my wife, who lived a thousand miles away, had some problems of her own and wanted to know if I could take care of the kids for a while.
That lasted until they were grown and gone. There have been many things that I became grateful for over the years, including a relationship with a Higher Power that I learned about in the rooms of recovery. I am grateful to God and to those people who came before me in recovery for the chance to live and for the life I have today. There has been no shortage of problems as time goes by, but today that’s a part of living life on life’s terms and not mine. I have been able to work and earn a living, pay my taxes, contribute to society and give something back to my community by helping the next person that seeks recovery to find it, like I did.
What stops so many from finding recovery is the lack of people who are willing to stand up and say “I am successful and I am in recovery”. So many people see the alcoholic or addict as that hopelessly self-centered person full of resentments and anger – or under the bridge. Recovery is possible and people in recovery are successful, respected members of society who have a great gift to give. We make good friends, good employees and good neighbors. Ben B.
I get to help individuals new to recovery uncover different social, physical, and human recovery capital; during this process I am reminded of what areas and ways I have grown. Physically I have a savings account with more than negative $50.00 in it. Socially I am able to approach not only members in the Recovery Community, but potential business contacts and future friends. I am reminded of the skills and educational background that I do have and am able to continue. In helping individuals build and rebuild these capitals, I have learned not only a lot about these people but a lot about myself. As a motivator I get to help people discover or rediscover hidden assets and talents they have forgotten they had and I show them different fields/jobs that they could use their talents in. I help them get stoked and looking forward to getting out there and getting a job. Also when it comes to relationships with other people, I help them see that they are not completely "horrible" people. For example, a man that I have talked to self proclaims himself a rude crude and selfish man. I reminded him of an instance recently of how he helped out a girl that just had a seizure, and how he took the time to help her out in any way he could. I told him of the concerned look in his face and asked him how felt afterwards. Showing people the little examples in their lives that we tend to over look helps them see that they aren't completely rotten to the core, and that there is room for change growth and a new way of being. In that way I believe we act as counselors. Although counselors do it in another way I believe it means more and it is special when it comes from just another regular Joe. As a teacher I introduce others to a new way of thinking. How do I do this? I use examples from my life. One that I commonly use is about the boredom that I feel normally happen in early recovery. Not knowing people, because old friends and hangouts are now out of the picture, it is easy to get swept into the dull drums and isolate ourselves from the world. I teach them the little sayings that are heard in the rooms of a 12 step meeting and what they mean to me. For example, "An addict alone is in bad company." This can mean a variety of things, but for this instance of boredom they learn that they have to get out of their own funk by calling another addict in recovery. So many times I have heard that my voice and these "catch phrases" echo in others ears in just the right moments. When this happens they remember they are not alone, and don't have to isolate today. I have not spent a long period of time behind bars, and in order to help someone that may be looking to that in their future, I direct them to someone who has. And what legal actions may happen. In essence helps me utilize my tools. Today I know that I don't know. In letting someone in on that secret it reassures them that it is okay not to be all knowing and all powerful. I have accumulated different contacts while having to work with CPS caseworkers, Judges, and treatment center counselors, and in doing so I am aware of different services and establishments that can/may help an individual in different situations. These people and service providers are tools that I use on a daily basis, and in doing so I can help someone in need. I recovery coach a young woman that has a past of sexual abuse and trauma, so I have directed her to a program that deals specifically with those issues. Does it benefit her, definitely! I know my limitations and boundaries and am not afraid to let others know that. In my early months of recovery I was given a coin to remind me of my best friend who died with three months clean. On the front it says, "Self, God, Service, Society". These things make for a strong foundation of recovery. When I work on myself and do my God's will and work to serve others and society at large, my life is that much better than it was when I was in active addiction. I have been to taught to be of maximum service to God and to the people around me, and in being a Recovery Coach I am able to make a small dent in the world around me and a huge change in my own life. Joseph Sanchez
What Happens Next ???????
By: Jessica R.
I have learned that recovery is a life long learning process. Naively enough I always thought that the process only applied to the addict in recovery. And why shouldn't it, isn't addiction just "their" problem? The reality of addiction, as well as recovery, is that everyone is affected by the consequences caused by the disease of addiction. Trust, love, support, and the bond between families are severed by the irresponsible behavior of a person who is a habitual substance user. Therefore, if addiction affects the entire family, this implies that recovery will also play a major role in the lives of family members. Recovery then becomes a life long learning process for EVERYONE. I was impacted not just by my mother's addiction, but also by her recovery. I could sit here and write dozens of examples of how my mother acted out on her addiction and how that had an adverse effect on me. I am sure that there would be many readers who could empathize with me. Basically, all of these memories would depict resentment due to the lack of communication, respect, and understanding between us. Her apathy and distance almost seemed second nature and I learned to adapt to it by disassociating myself from her. It was not until my mother accepted her disease and started positively changing her life through recovery that I truly understood that this had happened between us. As she began her path to recovery I also began a journey of self-discovery and understanding. It was as if my eyes had been opened and I was able to feel and not mask my feelings just like a person in recovery learns to do. I was going through changes and my mother's continuous efforts to become part of my life helped me realize her previous absence. Often times I feel that it is her recovery that gave me the opportunity to face and deal with issues that I had repressed. I continue to deal with issues that arise as my mother pursues her path to recovery. Just because my mother is no longer a substance user does not mean it is not complicated and difficult at times. The changes that she goes through consequently impact my life. But this time we have a strong basis with which we can address any problem that may arise. We continue to grow and change, but this time we can grow and change together. I see a whole new person that continues to make positive changes in her life. It is sometimes unbelievable that in the past I felt like I did not have a mother, and now she has turned into the person I admire the most.
Who and What I Really Am
I can remember my first drink and how it made me feel like it was yesterday. It was a rare warm summer day in Amberg, Germany. I was 13 and had made a decision that it was time for me to become a "MAN". As I sipped German Bier from my liter mug, the world around me changed dramatically. The lights got brighter, the girls got prettier, the music sounded better and life was good. Although I wasn't able to drink every day to recapture that feeling in those early days, I found every opportunity that I could at 13 years old to do it as often as possible. I had found my best friend that was to become my worst enemy. As I look back on my drinking life, I am amazed at the lengths I went to find 5 minutes of peace every day. I spent a lot of money and time looking for the precise moment when an umbrella would open up inside of me, and I could take a deep breath, look around me and say to myself, "it's alright". That feeling might come after the fourth drink, the seventh drink and many times not at all, but I kept looking for it. Towards the end, I would wake up every morning, stumble to the bathroom and say to myself in the mirror, "how could you do that to yourself again, I'll never do that again" and meant it when I said it. Invariably as the day wore on and I got to feeling better, the sun would eventually go down, the lights would come on in the clubs and I would stop in to have just one on the way home. The next morning I would wake up, stumble to the bathroom and say to myself in the mirror, "how could you do that to yourself again, I'll never do that again" and meant it when I said it…and on and on. I did not come into recovery voluntarily. I was a Senior Field Grade Officer in the US Army and knew that I could get away with whatever I did. After all, it had always worked before. I finally did something that brought my problem to the attention of my superiors, in this case a 3 Star General. Because there appeared to have been booze involved, I was sent for an alcohol evaluation. I jumped at the chance to be enrolled in the military's in-patient treatment program because I was sure I could get myself out of trouble, the heat would blow over and I would eventually be able to go back to doing what I liked best…drinking. Somewhere during that six-week treatment program something happened to me. I'm not sure why, but I began to hear what was being said around me at meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. I began to identify with some of the things I heard and even began to try some of the things that were being recommended. I am still trying those same things 16 years latter and have not had a drink in that period of time. I wish I could say that everything turned out happily ever after but it didn't. Some of the most tragic things in my life have happened since I've been sober. The difference now is that I have learned how to cope with everyday life with all its promises and disappointments without having to rely on artificial mind and mood altering substances, booze in my case. It has been a sometimes-painful journey but I have been rewarded beyond all my expectations. I follow a simple program and use each of the tools on a daily basis, trust in the God of my understanding and most importantly, don't take myself so seriously. I've come to know who and what I really am; a garden variety drunk that gets a daily reprieve by following some simple steps: don't drink and go to meetings.
The Prayer of St. Francis, which has been adopted by many people in recovery, states that it is in giving to others that we receive; that it is more desirable to understand than to be understood. As a recovering alcoholic, Recovery Coaching has given me the opportunity to practice these principles and to expand my own recovery. The process of listening to someone new in recovery and relating my own experiences puts me in touch with my own beginnings and keeps my own experience and emotional memories green. My own recovery has been an interesting journey, beginning with hopelessness, surrender and ultimately, spiritual awakening. I believe that I am truly a miracle of recovery. As I share this journey with others, I share in their awakenings and get to experience the continuing miracle of recovery. Dr. Bob, one of AA's co-founders said this: I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly, I do it for four reasons: 1. Sense of duty. 2. It is a pleasure. 3. Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me. 4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip. I agree with Dr. Bob. I am one of those recovering people who believes there is no one who can reach the alcoholic better than another alcoholic. I truly believe that the privilege of doing this saves my life, one day at a time. Patricia Guerin