Monday, June 23, 2014

Good Enough Ain't Good Enough Anymore

In my addiction, I usually did the wrong thing. On occasion, I would do the right thing. Sometimes it was because I still had some principals, other times it was so that I could bring it up later to explain why I was not as bad as other people. Quite a lot of the time, it was by blind luck. Even a broken watch is right twice a day (unless it’s digital, in which case it is never right because you can’t see it or if it displays military time in which case it would be right once a day). Needless to say, the life that I was living in my addiction was good enough. What I was doing I felt was good enough to keep doing until it wasn’t, which took about 17 years. Then another 7.
I decided to get sober. Not really for me, but because I got caught by my probation officer and she sent me to rehab instead of back to prison. I was not doing it for me, I did it to stay out of prison which I had not enjoyed enough to want to go back on a 10 year backup. Also, I did it to show other people that I was not who they thought I was. I thought my reasoning was good enough, but my sobriety only lasted a couple of months before I relapsed.
When I tried to get sober a year later, I never really pushed myself. Instead, I would just do enough to get by. At faking it, I was awesome. I overachieved at the goals others set for me but never really had any goals for myself. Even when I did the 90 meetings in 90 days that was more like 150 meetings in 90 days, I never really listened while I was there. I was too busy telling people all that I knew about sobriety, which at 2 months sober could have fit inside of a thimble. I would also join in on the war stories, which a lot of other people there liked to listen to. But I thought that what I was doing was good enough, until it no longer helped.
I had a counselor who told me not to do drugs and that alcohol was a drug, so I followed in his footsteps and was sober. I actually looked up to him and respected him. Then one day he came into the restaurant I worked at and sat at the bar. While he was at the bar he had several alcoholic drinks. He obviously thought that no one could see him, or that he didn’t have a drinking problem. I am not sure which it was because I never saw him again. For him, what he was doing was good enough. I went out that night and got drunk. If he could do it so could I. Was he the reason I drank? No, but he was the reason I used. It was good enough.
Then I quit drugs which were illegal and became an alcoholic because alcohol was legal. I could rationalize my drinking all day long. Even though I would black out most every night I still worked and went to college. I even graduated honors. I was an alcoholic that drank and drove multiple times EVERY NIGHT. I would wake up with no idea how I got home. I would wake up with shakes and drink to make them go away. Was I happy? No, I was miserable but I was good enough.
Then I decided I wanted more. I wanted more for my life, my son’s life, my relationships, my employment, my day to day life. I was no longer happy with what I had. It was not enough. Good was not enough. I wanted to attain greatness. I went full bore in everything that I did. I decided to never settle for anything less than amazing for myself, my faith, my recovery, my wife and my children. Good was simply not good enough anymore. I wanted great!

I found that if I wanted to change, there were things I had to realize if I wanted to live a better life:
1.       Complacency kills I wanted to be great, and in order to do that I had to never ever settle. If I meet my goals, I create new ones. I was not born to do good things; I was born to achieve greatness!
2.       Keep moving If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Life is a journey not a destination.
3.       Educate Yourself Learn, learn and then learn some more. Read, have discourse with intelligent and/or wise people. To die ignorant is the greatest sin we can commit against ourselves.
4.       Ask Questions That is the only way you can find out some things, so don’t be afraid to ask. The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.
5.       Be Altruistic It really is better to give than to receive. Do for others, then do some more. There is nothing that makes me feel better than knowing I am necessary.
6.       Speak Loud When it comes to your testimony, shout it from the rooftops. After all, you are the expert at your life and there is a lot of hope and strength that people can get from it.
7.       Shame Sucks Never be ashamed of who you are and what you have done. After all, they made you the person you are today and that person is awesome!
8.       Be Proud of Your SuccessesDefeats build us and our victories define us. Take pride in what you have accomplished. Toot your own horn, because other people might not. People need to hear about both your wins and your losses to know who you are and what you are about. Take pride in the positive things you do.
9.       Be Grateful Learning the difference between wants and needs was vital to my finding happiness and a better life. There are things that I want and things that I need. If I focus on my wants I lose my ability to focus on that which is important. Start your day with a gratitude list and focus on what you have instead of what you don’t. It makes my mornings start off well, which bleeds into the rest of my days.
10.   Never Surrender I was beaten so many times before I even tried because I listened to the voice that told me I could not do it. I stopped listening to that voice and accepted I had no limitations as long as I was not dead. That is when the game is over. If you are still breathing, than victory can still be yours!
11.   Get the 5 Pillars The 5 Pillars are: A team to play for (Jesus), a coach (sponsor/mentor), teammates (accountability partners), a game plan (The Bible [for Cliff Notes use the book of James]/12 Steps) and practice (small groups, church, support meetings).
12.   Put God First My life is no longer about me. I put God first and every thing else comes second. If I put God first it makes all other areas of my life better. I become a better husband, father, friend, employee, etc. It all starts with God and trickles down from there. After all, I was an addict for decades and tried every way you can imagine to quit using and failed. An atheist said a fox hole prayer 5 years ago and I have not used since. And I am WAAAYYYYYY happier!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Better Life in Recovery Rocking in June

This past Saturday BLiR (Better Life in Recovery, Inc.) was scheduled to bring in a group of people and paint the Sunshine Elementary playground. There were soccer goals, basketball goals, swings, slides, monkey bars and a few pieces of playground equipment I could not identify. We came, we saw, we conquered………or painted, whatever. We conquered at painting!!

BLiR is an organization with a mission oftransforming lives by sharing recovery. We do this by dealing hope and decimating the stigma that people face everyday who struggle with addictions and mental health issues through community education and community awareness events that celebrate people in long-term recovery. Part of that education piece is engaging in community service events that show one thing, “In recovery, you are a resource.”
BLiR partners with local businesses, organizations, groups and individuals to insure each event is not only successful but fun. This Saturday, we had people come out and help from Alternative Opportunities Treatment Services, Higher Ground, New Beginnings Sanctuary, the Peer Recovery Network, Glendale Christian Church’s Celebrate Recovery, Church at the Center, Jericho Commission and Narcotic’s Anonymous.
All told we had a couple dozen people come out and help us get the painting done. Church at the Center actually supplied and prepared the food and McDonalds supplied the beverages for all who came out. We also got media coverage from:
So we have now done 2 community service events, and we have been covered twice by KY3 and KTTS and once by KOLR 10 and KMSU. Great media coverage is getting the message of recovering people giving back out to our communities! Here is a Facebook comment from the KY3 write up someone left, “Now this is a great story! For those who step out to talk about addiction and then do something positive for the community, thanks! Good call KY3! Thanks for showcasing the positive.”
How amazing is that comment?  
The more we do in the community, the more frequent the positive feedback from our community will become. It will be slow at first, but the more we accomplish the greater our momentum will become. We are fighting an uphill battle, but by now we should be used to it. I doubt we would want it any other way!