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The Biggest Hurdle to Clear in Continuous Recovery isn’t the Drink or Drug…

If you’re new to recovery, in recovery, or struggling a little bit with your recovery, grab a cup of coffee and stick around a few minutes.  This one isn’t short, but it gets somewhere good.

I follow a lot of recovery blogs – I’ve also unfollowed as many, or more… and the unfollows are all due to a personal flaw of mine.  I find it difficult to sit back and watch someone blindly walk through their recovery and fail, only to blame that failure on a symptom of the problem.  Worse is to watch someone continuously put themselves into positions that make failure inevitable, let alone more likely.

My problem is that when I decided to quit, I didn’t mess around.  Even at 22 years old, barely old enough to drink legally in the USA, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, my drinking career had come to its inglorious end.  That didn’t come immediately, though.  I was sent to inpatient treatment at a working farm (back when they detoxed you right, I was still hungover, with alcohol in my system, when they sent me to the pigsty to shovel pig $#!+.  Cold turkey, baby).  The day of my intake, I fully planned on doing my time in treatment, just long enough to get out of trouble with the law, to return to my drinking.  Two weeks in and I’ve still got the shakes, night sweats, nausea… That’s when I knew if I kept drinking, what was left of my existence would suck.  I’m one of those lucky few whose liver can’t keep up with my stomach and melon.  Based on liver enzyme readings, doctors gave me till I was 30 for my liver to completely shut down if I kept drinking as I was.  Folks, dead at thirty.

So, that brings us to my decision to quit, to really quit.  I was fortunate enough to not involve my ego in that decision – I didn’t care what I had to do, I just wanted the pain to stop (mental and physical, remember, I’m going cold turkey).  This is the beauty of doing things the hard way, my friends.  By relieving the symptoms of detox with drugs, you lessen, even cheapen, the experience of the detox.  My detox lasted weeks and it was f***ing miserable.  There’s no way I wanted to go through that again.  The fear of reliving my detox helped to keep me sober.  If it’s not as painful, it’s not as big a deterrent to picking up a drink again.  Anyway, my ego…  the one thing that I knew when I quit was that I knew nothing.  I had no clue how to stay sober.  I couldn’t make it more than a few days with my best effort, so I’d do whatever they told me to do.  I’d have stood on my head in the corner if that would have done any good (though I didn’t make that public knowledge, lest someone take advantage of it for a good laugh).  They handed me a book and said the instructions for how to stay sober are on the first 164 pages.  Do that and you’ll have a chance, so I did.

I also didn’t have a major problem with “the whole God thing”.  Let’s just say I was comfortable with not knowing anything – even at 22 when we know everything.  I considered myself a “recovering Catholic” right from the beginning.  I didn’t get the whole “fire and brimstone” God that I’d been taught about since I was a kid, so I took baby steps and I talked about my hang-ups… then, because I’d put my ego on the shelf, I actually listened to others who had figured that out already, and I tried to do what they did.  Eventually I came up with a concept of God that worked for me – that didn’t require me to stand on a hill with a trumpet, extolling God (in fact, I often have a problem with God’s cheerleading squad – they’re just as insufferable as the tiny minority who are anti-God and loud).  However you choose to look at it, I made a deal with God on the day I decided, for real, to quit drinking.  I thought, “God, I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll give this recovery thing everything I’ve got, if you’ll help me”.

That was it, nothing more, and the weight that was removed was immeasurable.  Well, immeasurable at least until I did a Fifth Step, that was so awesome I still can’t quantify it without sounding like a USA Figure Skating announcer (ridiculously over-the-top enthusiastic).

Sometime after leaving treatment, and with a full desire to continue my sobriety, I walked into a bar with my six-month coin.  Actually, it wasn’t any bar, it was my bar.  My stomping grounds.  I can’t remember why I went in there, it wasn’t nefarious and it wasn’t so I’d be tempted – in fact, it wasn’t even at night… Anyway, I spoke with the owner for a bit, and let him know I’d quit and wouldn’t be around anymore.  He said, and I can still remember this 25 years later, “Wow, I didn’t know you had a problem”.  All I could think was, “Wow, you’re not very perceptive.”  A short while later (a couple of months maybe) I was at a bar across the street with a good friend from school, celebrating his birthday with a local police officer friend of his…  They had beers, I had a near beer.  I’d been sober for going on eight months and drank that near beer without issue.  Then I ordered another.  I drank that one half-down and froze.  I stood up, apologized and said I had to go.  I left some cash on the table and walked out the door.

The infinitesimal amount of alcohol in a non-alcoholic beer triggered something in my melon that took me straight back to the day before I went to treatment.  I was scared.  I drove to an outpatient treatment center I’d been through a couple of years earlier and asked to see my old counselor.  She saw me and I explained what had happened.  She explained that I had been as close to a relapse as a person could get without actually relapsing.  Let’s just say I understood.  I thought I’d been doing good.  After some analysis with that counselor, though, I found that I’d been falling away for almost a month and a half.  I called my sponsor on the way home.

That conversation was interesting.  He gave me a few pages to read from the Big Book and asked me how I parked my car, whether I pulled into a spot nose first or whether I backed in.  I told him I pulled in nose first.  He said I should back in to every parking spot for the next month and that he’d tell me why after the month was up.

I did.  For a month I backed into every parking spot I could.  At the end of the month he let me in on why.  He said, Jim, I had you back into parking spots for a month because it was easy and if you weren’t willing to do something that easy without complaint, there’s no way you’d be willing to do what it takes to stay sober.  It was more than fifteen years before I found a reason to walk into a bar again, and that time it was with a sober friend who also happened to be my salesman from work… and that was the last time I was in a bar.

This goes back to that “stand on my head in the corner” thing.  Most people, especially nowadays, would question backing into a parking spot to stay sober.  They’d say it was stupid and useless and tell me how stupid I am for requiring such a stupid thing…  All the while, proving exactly why they can’t stay sober and keep relapsing.

Motherfucker, I said stand on your head in the corner and it’ll help you stay sober.

It did me.  Folks, my biggest hurdle in the way of my recovery was me.

 

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I Ride 120 Miles a Week in the Off-season and I still Have to Pass on a Donut in the Morning

I walk into the gas station for a cup of coffee to sip on for the trip to the office… and there it sits, looming in the corner, whispering sweet nothings at me – it’s the donut display.

Of course it’s not whispering anything to me, the donut display case, because donut display cases don’t whisper.  They don’t talk, they don’t wink, they don’t do anything humans do.  They just sit there and, with those beautiful rolled and deep-fried pieces of sugar-coated chunks of goodness, look good.

The whispering and temptation are all in my melon.

And you’d think, after all of this time, after all of the years, the thousands of posts, millions of words, 45,259 miles, the diets to stay at my riding weight… you’d think it’d get easier, right?

But do you think it’s easier or harder to walk by the donut display in the morning without reaching in and grabbing a cruller after all of that?  At this point, who really cares?  It is what it is.

As I get older, it’s almost comical how much more careful I have to be with my diet – it also doesn’t help that my daughter and I have become Food Network junkies and actually try recipes now…  Eating boring food isn’t such a big deal, but when food becomes vibrant, excellent, even restaurant quality at times… well, pushing away from the table becomes a little trickier – especially when you take into account my ridiculously active lifestyle.

Still, as the saying goes, “you gotta dance with the chick who brung ya” (actually it’s a bit more crass than that, but you get the idea).

Things could be worse, though.  Taken in context, this little problem isn’t even a blip on the screen.  I’ll walk into the gas station this morning, plop my buck on the counter and walk out with my cup of coffee – and maybe I’ll flip the bird to that donut display.  One thing is for certain, I’ll be walking out without a cruller.

No matter how crazy life is, mine is still really awesome, and being fat would make it suck a whole lot.  It doesn’t get any easier, I just have more to lose…

Fighting Weight is One Pound Away, and Three Months Early.

I’ve been on a fairly radical diet for a couple of weeks now. It’s radical in its simplicity, of course, certainly nothing special. Here, scooch in closer… I’ll whisper it to you.

I don’t eat much. An apple and banana for breakfast and a power bar for luch, then I eat a sensible dinner.

To break it down, I’ve got 100 calories each for the apple and the banana. 300 for the granola bar, and figure 1,000 to 1,200 calories for dinner. Do the math, that’s 1,700 calories a day.

My intake, adjusted for my active lifestyle and that it’s winter, is 2,750 calories, give or take. That’s a deficit of 1,000 calories a day over 14 days… 14,000 calories /3,500 is 4.

Here’s the problem: That first two weeks sucks. Getting used to limiting lunch to a few hundred calories is not easy or fun.

Another thing that sucks is that I’m not a happy fellow after my 5pm ride. I have to eat, and fast. My wife has had to be a bit of a saint too, and she has.

The cool side of that though, is that after that second week it gets easier to stay on the path – and the weight reallt burns off when it’s easy.

So, call it two more weeks, maybe three and I’ll be ahead of the Spring game… and none too soon – I wanna ride (even if the weather isn’t cooperating yet)!

They say to drink a lot of water, I just filter mine through ground coffee beans first… Thanks Again, California. You give New Meaning to the Phrase “Stick in the Mud”… Ya Dopes.

Trigger (heh) warning: I don’t particularly like California or Californians. I don’t like their arrogance or the fact that, somehow, they’ve come to rely on politicians who continually screw up all things good and happy, causing everyone to hate everyone else. This post will reflect that disdain for politicians, Californians and other general sticks in the mud. This post will not be my fit in my usual PG category posts. You have been trigger (heh) warned.

California is at it again, taking the best in life and exploiting it to remove all of the joy and happiness, bastardizing scientific research in the process… and all in the name of your safety. It’s kind of what California does (that gives me an idea, but we’ll get to that in a minute). In California, nobody can ever be happy, people must live on the screwed up edge of: “We must do more! We MUST remind the people of how necessary and brilliant we are!” I don’t like California because its idiocy tends to infect the rest of the US. When they threaten session, I say they can’t get there fast enough.

In fact, did you know the self-esteem movement, that which has likely led to more unmarriageable men than any other single “idea” in the history of humankind, can actually be traced back to California? Better, and not surprisingly, the science that was used to back up the need for changes to the education system was skewed and manipulated to support that lunacy.

Well, California is at it again, this time training their keen brand of idiocy and ignorance on coffee.

See, according to California’s “Council for Education and Research in Toxics (CERT).” coffee causes cancer (specifically a chemical created in the roasting process). Now, if you don’t know already, the study used to suggest that there may be a link to the chemical and cancer was conducted using the overdose method, where testers take the maximum tolerable amount of a chemical and inject it into a small animal. If the small animal gets cancer, bingo. The rub is that the small animal would have to inject something like the equivalent of 486 gallons of coffee a week into its body to cause cancer. Then you have to adjust that to human proportions… And folks, I’m not over exaggerating… I’m under exaggerating. In other words, there’s just no freaking way.

In fact, and let this sink in for just a second, The American Institute for Cancer Research lists coffee as a food that fights cancer. Allow me to channel Samuel L. Jackson for just a moment. Mother f***er, click on the mother****in’ “Research” tab. I’m not even going to copy and paste the quote, mother****er. Better, have a look at all the cancers coffee is shown to fight. Hey, here’s a mother****in’ idea, what does the World Health Organization say about coffee? Well, let’s see:

The World Health Organisation has cleared coffee of causing cancer

So, in other words, everyone else on the freaking planet has discovered that coffee is actually good for you, and in many cases decades ago, but that’s not good enough for the anti-science fun police in California. They’ve deemed it necessary to make convenience stores label coffee as a possible cause of cancer.

Here’s that idea I wrote of earlier…. How about a little truth in advertising, there California? I want the next commercial from the tourism board of California (whatever that bureaucracy is named) to include a disclaimer that while California may be one of the more beautiful places in America, its political apparatus foments hatred and division of its people by constantly attacking happiness itself and that human contact should be kept to a bare minimum lest you accidentally bump into one of those who support a life devoid of happiness and are infected with that resident’s penchant for supporting those attacks.

Motherf***in’ @$$#oles.

The Extra Mile

Climbing

Cycling:  Because when You Love what You do to Stay Fit….

Why do I choose cycling?  When you love what you do to stay fit…

You don’t have to rely on silly quotes to get off the couch, you can’t wait to get out the door….  And only then do you understand why those quotes never really stuck in the first place.

Now that you’ve finally begun, don’t quit…

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