Friday, August 31, 2012

What Is In Store For the Future

If you have not heard there has been a lot of transition in my life. My daughter was born on the 12th and there were some complications. She was in the NICU for several days, but we were able to bring her home on the 17th. That was the good news. The bad news was that she had 2 holes in her heart, an artery that was supposed to close at birth was still open and she has cataracts that will need to be removed. Needless to say, I have been very busy between work, doctors appointments and the upcoming event on September 9th from 2-8 at the Ash Grove City Park. I have been slacking!

Here is the game plan for the future. As of Friday, the 14th of September I will begin publishing a blog every Friday at noon. It will be called Feature Friday. Every other week I will have a blog up that will review a chapter of a book I am reading, and that will be put up on Wednesday at noon. I will also be attempting to lose weight and overcome my addiction to comfort eating and sloth. That will be up every other Wednesday, starting the 12th at noon. Weight-loss Wednesday one week, then Wisdom Wednesday the following week and a personal blog every week for Feature Friday. Nifty, huh!! This way you will have two blogs to read every week and you know the time they will be published.
I have been doing a VLog daily, and putting it up on my YouTube channel, BetterLifeInRecovery. I have had several of them which have been put on here. I want to know, is having them posted on here something that would interest you? Hopefully so. I will not be posting them on here daily but I will be posting a weeks worth at a time. So, for now I will say good day to you. I will be posting next on the 14th once I have had an opportunity to go to Barnes in St Louis to have my daughter looked at and the BLiR event is over. She was looked at, and there will be a surgery on the 5th and another on the 12th of October.

In closing, sorry for the long gaps lately but life has been calling and my family comes before this blog. I will talk to you all in a week. Thanks for sticking by and reading what I have to write. I hope you enjoy reading and listening to it as much as I enjoy putting it up here! If you have any questions you want answered or anything you would like to hear me talk/write about be sure to get ahold of me: email, facebook, twitter or leave a comment on here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cross Addiction or I Didn't Cheat.........We Only Made Out

So as I talked to clients about cross addiction last week and some things occurred to me. Cross addiction is pretty sneaky, as is our addiction.......period. It is why we say addiction is cunning, baffling and strong. My addiction is in the back of my head: running on a treadmill, lifting weights and doing research on the computer trying to figure out how to get back back into the front of my head where it was before.

My addiction does not like to be an occasional desire I struggle with. My addiction was much happier when it was a compulsion and I always gave in. It liked to be an obsession that I constantly battled. Now that it is not in the forefront but on the back burner it constantly looks for ways to get me to crack the door. If I open the door just a smidgen, then my addiction can kick it off the hinges and invade my life again. It is not content to be a passing whimsy I have on rare occasions, it wants total control. It wants to be the only god that I worship.

There are many ways that my addiction hits me head on. I may walk by a car at Wal-Mart and see someone snorting a line. I may see someone shooting up in the car next to me at a red light, like one of my friends did last weekend. It may even use a movie where it shows me how much fun drugs are, or music that glorifies partying and drug dealing. Next it uses a television show that tries to depict how evil drugs are by showing how they have negatively impacted someones life. To get the point across, it shows them shooting up. FYI, seeing the register is the biggest trigger I know. Stop showing it!!

Those are all very in your face triggers. That is the strong side of our addiction. That is why my addiction is on the treadmill and lifts weights. But my addiction has another side. It is the cunning side, the one that sneaks up on me like a ninja then whacks me with one of his weapons. One of the main weapons in the addiction arsenal is cross addiction. So what is cross addiction?

Cross addiction is simply us finding a replacement for something we were once addicted to. Say we quit using drugs, bet we begin binge eating. Maybe we used to be an alcoholic and we have stopped drinking, but started smoking marijuana. Our addictions range from drugs to alcohol to food to sex to shopping to shoplifting to chaos and everything in between. When I quit doing drugs, I began drinking. If you fast forward to several years down the road, I would wake up with the shakes at 5 in the morning and have to drink to get the shakes to stop so I could go back to bed. But I could justify it.

You know, alcohol is legal so I am not doing anything wrong. In fact, I can control my drinking sometimes. I could never control my drugs. That was how it started. Alcohol lulled me to sleep. It snuck up on me, then clobbered me on the head. It allowed me to put myself in a very uncomfortable situation, then it took advantage of me.

Here I am in a relationship with sobriety. I was not in recovery yet, but I was sober. I cheated on my sobriety with alcohol, but I could justify it. Imagine you are in a relationship. You go out with another person, but you justify it to your partner. "Are you seriously jealous? All we did was held hands and talked. Okay, me might have kissed a couple of times. What's the big deal? All we did was make out. It's not like we had sex!"

That is what I did when I started drinking. I did not see it as a problem at first. It was harmless. We just sat on the couch and talked. But over time, the relationship deepened and I needed to take it further and further. It advanced from talking, to hugging, to kissing to sex. I need to remember that if I am truly in a relationship, cheating is cheating. It does not matter if it is a kiss or sex, one is as bad as the other. Same is true with sobriety.

A relapse is a relapse, whether it is your drug of choice or not. That is like justifying cheating by saying, "We might have slept together, but I don't even like her." So you risked losing your recovery for something you didn't even like? That is the least thought out reason I have ever heard of. Instead of finding ways to cheat, say no. IF YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT, YOU PROBABLY DON'T NEED IT. Cheating is cheating. I would not accept it from my wife, and I will not accept it for my recovery. Neither should you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

My very first VLog script and VLog

Hi, my name is David. I am going to be starting a vlog. One of my friends told me that he thought it would be a good idea, and after thinking about it I agree with him. I talk in colleges, schools, churches and communities about the dangers of addiction and the power of recovery. I often have people call me, email me, tweet me or talk to me in public with questions about the struggles either they or someone they care about are going through and what they can do to help them, or sometimes just understand what they are going through. I think that I am a great person to answer those questions. Here are the reasons why i am a great person to answer those questions. I was abused as a child and started fighting as well as using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope. I eventually ended up in prison after being on probation, house arrest and in and out of jail for several years. I have used drugs IV and was involved in the manufacturing and distribution of meth as well as many other drugs. I am diagnosed Bipolar, PTSD, generalized anxiety, antisocial personality disorder. I have attempted suicide and have died and been brought back 6 times after overdoses and car accidents. I cannot count on two hands the number of friends that I have lost to addiction. I now have 3 1/2 years of what I consider true recovery. I have a bachelors degree in psychology and sociology. I have a masters degree in social work and I work at a substance abuse facililty and drug court as a counselor. I am starting a nonprofit to go into communities and schools to let people know that there is a better life in recovery. So in this vlog I will talk about the things that have helped me in recovery as well as the things that have enabled me to go from an agnostic to a Christian and how God has changed my life in ways that I can only attempt to share. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. Put them on facebook, tweet me, email me or use the comments on youtube. I will answer all questions in a vlog for you if they are asked. I hope that you find this helpful, as I know sharing my faith and recovery will be helpful for me.

Better Life in Recovery Testimony - Beyond Repair 2012/07/29

This is the testimony/sermon that I gave at Life Fellowship Church. It is the story of my life, from sexual and physical abuse at a young age which led to anger, depression and substance abuse. After 25 years of substance abuse and multiple attempts at stopping that included jail, prison, rehab, medication and multiple therapists I thought that I would never be able to overcome my addiction. Then I decided to give God a chance, and since the night I made a deal with God I have not used.

In my finding recovery God placed a couple into my life that loved me to Christ. If not for them, I would not be where I am today in my life. I would be dead. Looking at Paul and Ananius and the correlation between me and the couple that entered into my life, I ask the congregation to challenge themselves to go out and see what Paul they can be an Ananius to.

Moral of the story is that no one is beyond repair, but if we do not go out into the world and show everyone God's grace and love then we are not living our lives right!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tactics by Gregory Koukl Chapter 11 - Steamroller

Are you ready to learn more ways to deal with people who hold different beliefs than you do? If so, then this has been a great series for you. We have been looking at ways to help explain to others our opinion when we disagree. Sometimes, no matter how reasonable our points are people will not listen. They have their minds made up and nothing you can tell them is going to change their minds today, not matter how rational your argument it.

Believe it or not, rational reasons keep people from seeing the truth. A rational reason can bring up more questions, and until those question are answered, you are at an impasse. So what are those reasons?
  1. Emotional reasons - They have had bad experiences with the church, or with Christians, or because if they accept Christ that means that _________ (Fill in blank with name of deceased loved one) died without forgiveness and they may be in suffering for all of eternity.
  2. Prejudice - As soon as they see you or find out you are a Christian, they have already made value judgments against you and are shut down. They are only interested in their position, not yours.
  3. Rebellion - Some people fight against Christ and Christianity because they are stubborn. They will fight that fight until the day they die
Those reasons may all be going on with the person you are talking to. Every once in a while you will run into someone who uses one of the above reasons. They will try to verbally overpower you. It is not facts or even arguments that they throw at you, but the force of their own will. This is the person known as the steamroller. So, how do we know a steamroller?

A steamroller always interrupts. A lot like the interrupting cow, they will constantly throw questions at you, not allowing you to answer the original question that they asked. They will change subjects, fire question after question, interrupt and never allow you to be on the offensive. Nothing you say will matter to them, because they generally aren't listening anyway. After all, they are not interested in learning or even getting their questions answered. The steamroller is only interested in winning.

Because they are aggressive, you have to be aggressive with them. There are several steps to being aggressive enough to have a conversation with the steamroller:
You have to stop the steamroller if you can. Once he knows that you are intimidated, he has already won. Because of this, you need to act quickly. One way to stop the intrusion is to nicely ask for courtesy. You might hold up your hand or a finger, and when they pause say, "I'm not quite finished answering your question yet. You asked a good question and I would like to give you a good answer. If you have another question or comment I will give you the chance as soon as I am done to respond. Will that work?"

If they break their agreement to wait until you are done, or if they will not give you an opportunity to talk you move to step 2. Shaming is a little more aggressive. You will shame them for their bad behavior. This is done by getting their attention, looking them in the eye and calmly talking to them. You could say something like, "Can I ask a quick question? So you really want a response from me? I thought that you did at first, now I get the impression from your continuing to interrupt me that all you really want is an audience. If that is true, I can just listen to you. If you want an answer, you'll need to give me time to respond. Tell me what you want. I need to know before I go on."

Hopefully that will work. They will see that you are their equal and they cannot steamroll you, or they continue to be rude and interrupt. Never lose your calm. Remember the saying, "Never get into an argument with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level then beat you with experience." If you cannot get them to stop, you leave. Plain and simple. When the first two methods have failed you need to just walk away. They can have the satisfaction of having the last word. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone deserves an answer.

Once again, don't forget what the Bible says about this very thing in Mark 4. You are told that some of the seeds you plant will fall by the thorns and not grow, some will sprout fast but wither and die and still others will be gobbled up by birds. All you can do is plant the seeds. Then your job is done. Remember, if it falls on deaf ears you should not take it personally. This is not about you, this is about Christ!