Another 5 months ahead has passed

I am working on changing the “feel” of my home office and uncluttering the space from some of the negative energy that has surrounded me in the past. A year ago this sunday I had new carpet installed in here I believe, perhaps it was 2 years ago. I have spent so many nights down here, I cannot remember.

As I start placing items that have either long been neglected or forgotten into boxes, I start consolidating my plethora of journals and notebooks full of my gibberish. Some sober, most of them written while intoxicated either on drugs, alcohol or sex. I toss one of the most recent journals onto the couch and it bounces (I mereley placed it gingerly with perhaps a gentle force-not so much a toss) and flips open to a particular page.

Now, let me set the stage for you so as to understand some pertinent information. My home office is a place of hell, confusion, frustrations, disappointment, success, pride, satisfaction…you get the point. I have spent many hours staring at the glowing screen of my laptop, countless bottles of vodka, whiskey and beer, I have smoked cigars, vaped, chewed tobacco, I have stressed over tests and high fived myself-I have been through shit in this office….and that is why I am changing things. I need to.

Theres been a lot of good that has happened down here as well. Countless overnight stays with the kids and their friends, conversations, gaming with old school nintendo, dance parties, art, song writing, crafting, amazing holiday parties (when it was the home bar). Hands down-one of the most entertainment filled rooms in the house. Every few years we change it up-I have been working on it for a couple of weeks.

I stare at the 8 or so boxes I have packed, understanding this is ME time and reflection and recognize the need now more than ever. My son just left the room after a conversation about girls, college and recovery (literally just now-I stopped typing to talk to him). And I am even more motivated to clean up this space. To give it a particular feel. The paint is in good repair, the carpet is just fine, the clutter however….needs to go. My desk sits untouched since the day I left for 5 months…it is time to make this a room of like again.

I have recently done some outlandish (to some) things in my life. In september I bought a big ass truck, I have a peacock colored mowhawk, I have a nose ring, stretched ears and both of my arms are covered in tattoos. I have a shrine in which my Buddhism stuff is placed, I have a big ass television to play video games when I have time, I started rollerblading again, I work a shitload AND attend a lot of meetings each week both online and in person. I am trying to find that stride that has long been forgotten for myself.

This time however I am attempting to be mindful not to hinder my relationships with people along the way. I have done enough damage in the past due to my addictions and conceit, my ego, my pride. I had a difficult time embracing my challenges in life, my struggles with alcohol, my addiction….and the stigma attached. Which friends…is why I am writing this today. Mind you, I am not looking for any form of congratulations or celebratory effect based on what I am about to say.

I am a shameful, hurt, tired alcoholic in recovery….again. And this time again, I strung together another 5 months consecutive. I dont require coins, as I have plenty from prior attempts at recovery. But this time just feels different. I have spoken of this in the past, but I truthfully believe I am doing so well this time, because I want to. Not because I am being forced to, not because there are ultimatums in place, or the looming threat of negative actions, but because I whole heartedly believe that the relief is upon me in understanding that recovery is a want this time as well as a need.

I have forced myself into recovery in the past to appease people, or hid my use to avoid confrontation (by lying or downplaying) but now, this time it is different. Have I burned bridges? Yup sure have, do I regret it? Some of them yes, have I attempted to repair them? Not really-the ones that are important to me….

This time it is for me. So….lets get to the part where I started explaining the sole purpose for this post. (tangents=Gumball Head)

The page the journal opened up to, was a poem I wrote-literally on my 5th month during my last stint at avoiding responsibility while using alcohol to escape reality. On the eve of my 5th month….where I should be sleeping due to an early and long day, I read this poem, and I would like to share it with you. Here we go.

I just got my 5 month coin

I am so glad I did

I never would have got that coin

If it wasn’t for my kid

I know deep down inside

It killed him to make the call

But had he not picked up the phone

I may not be here at all

My life was a twisted tale

Ups, downs and arounds

When I say he called the cops

It’s not as bad as it sounds

I had too much to drink that day

My son completely knew

When he dialed 911

He may have stopped me from killing you

My life was full of sad and regret

But that day life just begun

You see Im 5 months sober today

And for that I thank my son.

I wrote this as an homage to my son after intervening with my choice to drink and drive. I made it .3 miles from home before being pulled over. It changed my life and brought to fruition the absolute peril of addiction, and provided me with resources toward recovery. A few months later, I founded Refuge Recovery Kalamazoo. The program is still going strong, and serves many people in the area. Due to my return to AA I no longer had the energy to maintain the program in the faciltator capacity, but I still encourage people to check it out if you are looking for something different.

It is late, I am tired, and my battery is about dead on my phone. I wish you all wellness, love and internal peace. Pray, meditate and be most excellent to one another

GH

Coping with loss, even when there is not technically a loss

I write this in fair spirits as i sip an ice cold coke and wonder what the day has in store for me. A wonderful amalgamation of actively stimulated spirits and confusion among the emotions have titilized my motivation to write of a subject that has made me ponder life in general as a whole….as a parent of a student who has just recently graduated from high school.

Loss is difficult when faced with it, especially unplanned loss, but what happens when we know the changes in our lives are coming? I knew my son was graduating and that my emotions would be high, but….I was not prepared for the emotional mental shitshow that was about to bless me with upon watching my son walk down the aisle to accept his diploma.

So lets first talk about loss. The unplanned removal of someone in our lives. Whether it be death, relocation, break ups-we all know what loss is. Do we consciously know what it does to our hearts though. It is sheer terror accompanied by fear and heartbreak. PTSD accompanies loss whether we realize it or not. It can stimulate desires to overindulge in bad decisions and can create long term effects.

Preparing for loss is simple, while my son is going to college, he isn’t “gone”. But he will be away from home. He will not be there when I want to pal around or just chat as we often do. I fear for the bond that we have to disinigrate over time as he learns what it is like to become an adult, but I also hope this is an opportunity for him to learn and love what he is foing.

While my fears may be of the selfish variety, he has been instrumental in my sobriety AND he is only a phone call away. I have prepared for this, but it is still going to be hard for me. I feel honestly that i AM strong enough in my sobriety for it not to affect that, but that doesn’t make heartbreak and the feeling of loss any less insignificant. He is proud of me as I am of him. And I look forward to visits to school and from him to home, which will deplete over time….let’s be realistic. However, the tears shed have been those of pride.

When we lose someone to death, our minds take a similar approach, however the loved one wont be returning to visit. While this too is difficult, we have to rely on memories and photographs to sustain our joy. I can only imagine what my life will be like when I have to put my dog down, and the loss of one of my parents or step parents will be detrimental to me. BUT this again is an expected loss. We will never be “ready” for it, but coming to terms with the inevitable, before it happens, can be the difference between relapse and sobriety.

While this blog does not necessarily focus on recovery, there is no secret or surprise that I am a member of the Bill W club. For someone who is not in a recovery state, this affords the opportunity to simply identify potential triggers for a loved one that is. Hopefully to ubderstand that a lot of coping comes from using. Not necessarily alcohol or deugs, but things like eating, gambling, intercourse/masturbation, pleasure seeking activites such as extreme sports or idiotic behaviors. Be aware and be conscious of these types of things, and do your best to help someone through the difficult times.

One of the worst things I ever could have done is to think one drink was okay after a period of sobriety. That one drink could easily have gotten out of hand worse than it did. People don’t eat themselves to death typically-but gluttony is possible form of death over time. Gambling can have substantial socio-economic impacts on a family resulting in loss or home or power, sexual addiction and behaviors can cause unplanned pregnancy, transmission of STI’s and death if the spouse finds out

These are things we do not think of on a normal basis, just understand that loss can cause these instincts in addicts-or create addicts out of those who are not affected initially.

~GH

Reentering the chaos of normalcy

As addicts, we regularly look for reasons to justify our actions, consumption amoubt or even justify a change in habits. Smokers sometimes switch to chewing tobacco or the now; vaping. Sometimes alcoholics switch to marijuana, opiate users may switch to marijuana too. The truth is-nothing is better for you, regardless of the justification. There is jo safer alternative.

Similarly switching from 8 cups of coffee per day to diet soft drinks isnt good for you either. But, we as addicts, know that….but we have spent so much time in our lives making things “okay” that we often don’t see the hinderances.

It is not until we have been in recovery for a period of time that we realize the changes we make in order to “justify”. But, we do it anyway….until whatever compells us too, becomes an addiction.

Sometimes “fear” is very much the same. We do not want to return to a mundane and normal life, we want to “hold on” for just a bit longer. Whether you are trying to control the outcome of a situation, make positive changes for the “health of it” or even trying to just eat better. In a nutshell, change sucks.

Retuning to a normal, sober, healthier lifestyle is terrifying. But it is absolutely worth it. I was at an AA meeting today, speaking of my past experiences as a medic, firefighter and medical examiner, and how they played key roles in my alcoholism. The longer I am in recovery-the further from the truth that statement becomes. My jobs didn’t cause me to be an alcoholic….alcohol did. My inability to control my consumption did, my desire to get away from reality did…..not the job….the worker.

When I relapsed, I looked for reasons and justification for my actions, instead of taking responsibility for it. It took about 3 days to grab the boot straps and chalk it up to a loss, and just move on and accept the fact that I am an alcoholic….to understand my relapse. What most people do not understand in most communities is that when someone relapses, there are emotions attached to it. This includes shame and guilt by the way. The feelings of letting people down and failure. How hard is it for an addict to return to a meeting after a relapse? Extremely hard!

Most people dont jump right back in, and that of course gets the rumor mill going. This is chaos of addiction. The addict is conflicted and doesn’t want to show up and admit what they did, any more than those sitting in the room with judgement. Get off your high horse and accept them back-period!! I don’t care what your program is….it is hard enough admitting you lapsed, comfort but dont coddle-support but sternly. Do what you have to do to be encouraging but not condemning. And for heaven sake-don’t make them feel like they don’t belong.

~GH

Gumball Head

As the transition of leadership comes to its conclusion between myself and the “board” of the Kalamazoo Sangha, I am making preparations to switch this website over to a personal blog site for myself. While the name will most likely remain what it is for now, I have completely separated myself from the Refuge Recovery Kalamazoo program. I will remain active in the sister Sanghas. They (kzoo) will be changing their name as well, so as soon as that happens-this website name will change. Until then-it is what it is.

So, what is Gumball Head? Well, I have been told that my brain is like a gumball machine full of bouncy balls and you never know what you are going to hear from me. This….is absolute truth. I have been mindful of what I have said, especially lately-but it is regularly obscure when I do speak. Compare it to maybe a junk drawer on a trampoline. It is already chaotic and cluttered, bounced on a trampoline you never know where everything is going to land. This in essence-is how my mind works.

Moving forward with this project, keep in mind that my views an opinions are simply intellectually mine, including my words and statements. A lot of what I say is hullaballo, but it is from the mind of an addict in recovery. This is what I am, and noone can take these victories away from me. Even those who make assertions or judgement, are responsible for themselves. This goes in everyday life as well as via the internet. You are welcome to comment and give feedback and my responses are intended to be interactive. Keeping my mind and wit sharp in the process.

Please please please enjoy the content of this page, like follow and subscribe. Share it and participate…..enjoy it. If there is ever a topic you want me to write about, please feel free to send an email to gumballheadkzoo@gmail.com.

Stick around….things may get wild.