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.

Not anymore!

I originally deleted my previous post (re:Here come the bastards) as I felt that people took it personally. But the truth is, I cannot suppress my thought process and emotion solely based on others feelings. While I understand the interpretation of the written word can be received in different manners, fear of others opinions are what have gotten me in binds in the past. If we do not feel the ability to speak openly and honestly about our feelings and our thoughts, they become suppressed and lead to negative thoughts and eventually negative behaviors.

Perhaps I sometimes say things thay are heard differently based on my personality, and I will admit that sometimes my pride is misinterpreted as ego. Ego is not my intention. Transparency and sharing success as well as failures is my goal. It is not to offend, upset, undermine, discriminate or devalue anyone at any time. I take a no bullshit approach to my recovery because that is what I need to do, in turn-it is important for others to understand that this is the way I am taking control of my recovery.

My opinions posted here in the blog are a mental framework and reminder to myself, and coming to these pages ensure my ability to remain grounded amidst all of the negative shit that has happened in my life-and where I intend to go from here. It is also an excellent opportunity for people to see the true perils and hardwork that goes into recovery-a lifelong process. Many people outside the recovery community are able to see how spirituality and kindness play into recovery as well-such as Refuge Recovery and their guiding principles.
So, where do we go from here? How many times can one beat a dead horse before they realize it id in fact: dead?

To an addict, everything is taken literally and personally. Nothing we can do about it, it is programmed. I write this AS an addict with enough self awareness to understand this. When we are in active using, we honestly feel that we understand not only where people are coming from, but why they are saying what they are saying (we do not though). It is not until we have achieved that “spiritual awakening” that we understand ourselves AND what others were saying. We often see the outreach from others change based on the old “us” once we enter recovery.

Many people seclude themselves from us (addicts) to avoid negative interaction, avoid hearing us lie, belittle, berate, make excuses and so on. They do not want to deal with us or our actions because they want to move on with their lives without dealing with their addicted love one. Now, this is not the case in every situation-but take into mind how much our family and friends in themselves have put into encouraging recovery for us. They have to work hard too in order to encourage us until we are ready to begin recovery. However, it is also important to understand that once an addict enters (or reenters after a period of use) recovery-the work has only just began. An addict needs those they rely on MORE THAN EVER upon entering recovery….as the loneliness feeling and depleted self worth becomes more obvious than ever!

This being said-the reaching out of fellows and their bold and brazen honesty is what needs to be heard sometimes. Honesty is important to the addict and the truth does in fact hurt sometimes. This is no secret among addicts, we just don’t want to hear it. If that is the case and that is a reason to avoid conversation, then you are essentially not “ready to take certain steps” that we hear in our meetings. While we feel we are ready, we must be brutally honest with ourselves, even if that means hearing the truth from our loved ones.
I have heard the word ego alot in the last 2 years. I have been called an egoist, emomaniac, egotistical, even egoillogical (the fuck does that even mean). And while I embrace the intention and expression, I don’t use that as a point of focus (even though this blog is essentially addressing ego) but as a tool to tune my recovery. What is perceived AS ego to many, may not be the intention of the source of ego. I sometimes (ok regularly) do not realize this ego and I need to hear it. Thats brutal honesty coming from loved ones-yes it fucking sucks, but it is necessary. I do my best not to take it personally….it needs to be addressed, acknowledged and moved onward. Hearing it multiple times is not necessary especially after an apology is issued.

We all have the gumball brain when itcomes to life. We all have challenges we face, we have relationships to repair, deeds that we need to remedy, more work than ever. I am going to put this out there real quick so that maybe it can be understood of how difficult life is and what we need to do to overcome….my transparency.
My wife and I are separated right now after my temporary lapse in January. This of course was following a few months of turmoil inside my head that went unaddressed. My disease needed attention and I ignored the warning signs. I, at the time, did not have a counselor to help me through the bumps in the road. I was hardcore focused on RRKZOO and chairing multiple meetings per week, I was teaching in additional capacities, working with addicts, going to hospitals when families reached out to me to be with members of both communities I belong to, working my ass off at school, running a shipping department for a multi-million dollar supply house, trying to balance family life, planning a cruise with my family, trying to determine a way to stay sober on the cruise, working on this website, working on getting my credit squared away among a fuckton of other things. You know…..life shit. I was so focused on everything else, that I essentially forgot about the one person in this journey that matters the most to me….that person…was me.

My health started to fail as I returned to a diet regimine of Green Monsters, donut sticks, pizza and tacos and tobacco. These “comforts” became a secondary addiction that I totally blew off because I was focused on staying busy so I didn’t have time to lapse. Obviously-it fucking happened, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. While I find calm in surrounding chaos-it isn’t healthy and I now realize that maybe that observation may too be a red flag. So….I lapsed and it was important for me to do so because it hit my spiritual reset. I am back to working on me for me and my family again. I was forced to slow the fuck down. Now I reflect to January and I am aware of it all. I am aware of what led up to my use in the prior months. I am aware-of my ego….my pride, my desire to help others….my desire to be integral in helping people.

I can’t do it alone….but I did for a very long time. That was my demise…and I am aware. So let this be an opportunity of observation based on our own individual intentions. While your intentions may be pure and positive, there are those who do not see it that way when you don’t share all of the information. Be transparent in your recovery, talk about your “secret uses” and your thoughts and feelings. That is the reason MEETINGS are closed. That is why we need each other in our recovery. It is suggested to find a higher power, I understand that, but if you do not put faith into your own recovery including being honest with yourself, you run the risk of utilizing your higher power as a scapegoat.
Namaste
~e
#saysorrysometimes #teamwork #loveyouraddict

*this post is edited from original

Here they come

Now, let us address the purpose of compulsion to write this blog. The reasoning in my head as to why I felt the need to address those who stumble across this lonely webpage in a superior multispace of information via the web….relapse.
A scary term for anyone in recovery. A term that has a built in stigma, automatic damnation and above all-judgement placed upon it. We, as addicts, are all too familiar with what happens when we relapse, lapse or slip. Whatever you want to call it, regardless of the duration, it is simply taboo among those in recovery. For me however, it is different. While it was a bad evening with an unfavorable outcome, it was something that increased my awareness and my humility. It brought some issues to mind and some observations to fruition.
It made me realize how small my inner circle really was. Even through every tear, moment of honesty and transparency throughout my recovery, those who have claimed to be true buddhist, those who are following the path, those who believed in me….simply stated in no such terms “fuck him”.

You know what-that is totally okay with me. I know I cannot do this alone, I know the struggles in life will still be there, I know I have spiritual soilwork to attend to….I know what needs to be done.
My secondary sangha has not however said one negative thing about my relapse. They have supported me, loved me and helped me. They check in on me and chat with me on occasion. I do not know why they are so kind-but they have had my back through everything. So let me ask this as an overall inquiry. I drank one time in 2 years….does that mean I need to destroy my pride and all that I have worked hard for in teaching, learning, understanding, loving and caring, supporting etc? Fuck no it doesn’t….you can go ahead and be a slave to the calendar-for someone who used to drink as much as I did to all of a sudden quit and make it almost 2 years….pretty fucking impressive if you ask me.

Add to it that I have had zero desire to drink since jan 9th, I have lost a bunch of weight AND I am more spiritually in tune than I ever have been. Someone recently mentioned they are “concerned about my intentions” based on a conversation we had. I need to address that as it has sat like a poison in my belly since reading those words. I have no intentions-I am working on being and staying sober….period. I have had more negative shit happen to me in the last 3 months than I think has happened over a longer period of time in a while. The date on the calendar is important-to those it is important to. I am not saying that I think it is ok to relapse, but what i AM saying is…its recovery, it happens…and whether you like it or not…..recovery and relapse go hand in hand.

I find it very difficult to believe that every single person that has stepped into the rooms have never relapsed. As a matter of fact-I have been honest and forthcoming with everything.

This all being said, I just want everyone to understand that regardless of the turmoil in your life, the things we face and the battles we fight-we are given the resources for a reason. Use them, do not follow my example as the outcome may (and most likely will be) different from mine. Use the phone, text, call, meditate, go to a meeting, read your book, grab some coffee….whatever the fuck it takes….because truth be told you WILL fail if you do not work a program. Many are not sobriety strong enough to get right back on the recovery train after a lapse. It isn’t easy.

Namaste and I love you; keep going
~e
#notaslave #keepyourcoins #itonlyworksifyoudo

*this post has been edited from the original

A day of unity

I write this as we stand awaiting the suicide prevention walk in kalamazoo. We already participated in a 6k walk/run for heroes in recovery. We at Refuge Recovery ubderstand the importance and alliance, connection and support from friends and family. We are also aware the stigma of mental illness is equally connected with addiction. Please seek refuge or help in any way if you are thinking of self harm.

We love you-KEEP GOING.