Thursday: The Depths of Sadness

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When Father Mark Brian, arrived at Kingcome Village, on the Up Coast of British Columbia, and met the indigenous population that lived there, he did not know, what he did not know, until he learned what he did not know, until he learned it.

One of those “things” he did not know, at first, is why, every time he looked at one of his “people” because they were his people, the sheep in his flock, there was no pretension about him, no ego to boost, no needs to be filled, he had to “come to know them,” as they were, as God would have had it, all along, that one thing was “The Depth of Sadness” that was in the eyes of all the Indians of Kingcome Village.

If you have never read Margaret Craven’s, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, I highly recommend you find a copy.

Tonight, I heard one of our women speak, for the first time, in our meeting. She has been sober a long time, almost twenty-five years. She came in, in her twenties, but the road to sobriety was LONG and ARDUOUS.

In the beginning we all laughed with her. Midway into the story, I stopped breathing. I could not take a breath, for the life of me. I was sitting on the edge of my chair, holding my breath, just waiting for the miracle to take place.

Because she really needed a miracle.

When we begin to drink, we do not know what we do not know. If we continue to drink and add drugs to that mix, there is certainly, MORE, that we do not know.

Not listening to warnings, or following rules, and doing everything that one can to circumvent the rule of good, sane, human behavior, is going to lead us into a jackpot that can’t possibly be escaped.

Bad friends, Bad boys, illicit behavior, drugs and alcohol do not have very good endings. I know this, from my own personal experience.

My friend tonight, had the jackpot of everything that was bad, in her life. Because she did not know, what she did not know.

We do stupid things in our youth, and many, do not survive their mistakes. I did stupid things in my youth, to Todd’s credit, and by the Grace of God, I did survive my past.

When a bad boy, becomes a bad marriage, what is the logical ending of this very bad scenario ? A BABY WILL MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER …

Hell, let’s keep drinking and drugging, have one healthy baby, born without a problem, and let’s add another baby …

Bring into this really serious bad situation, a couple of attempts to sober up, that fail, and four months into a second pregnancy, the husband activates an intervention.

Mom is now CIRCLING the DRAIN …

What, I don’t have a problem. IT’S ALL HIS FAULT …

Can you see where this is going ?

Pregnant, addicted and insane, people begin to PRAY for her second baby to be born healthy. Mom cannot, for the life of her, understand WHY her friends are praying for her baby, because in her words, She Did Not Have a Problem …

Luckily, amid this point she hits rehab, again. And walks through the doors, only to turn around and say to us, “Don’t you know who I am ?”

  • I don’t do rules
  • I don’t pay bills
  • I don’t pay rent, and I sure as shit
  • DON’T TAKE THE BUS …

How do you imagine this is going to end ? Not well, as I was hearing this story.

Still sitting on the edge of my chair, and not breathing, I had not noticed I was holding my breath, until the Miracle happened.

The right woman walked into our woman’s life and took her in, homeless, hungry, drunk and high, void of emotion, having lost her husband AND her children, she had no place to go.

My friend learned about rules, via the suggestions. She learned how to pay bills, by attaining welfare, thereby being able to pay her rent, TO this SOBER Woman. And she went to meetings.

Her sponsor told her to hit ninety in ninety. And better yet, take a newcomer chip every day for the first thirty days.

Back in the day … Her day, and back in my day … when we got sober, suggestions were not suggestions, per se, they were life savers. You either did them or you didn’t, because if you did not do as you were told, sobriety would never happen for us hard-headed, arrogant, entitled men and women some of us are, when we came into the rooms.

Newcomers today scoff every time we mention suggestions to them. They would rather eat dirt, then put forth the energy and commitment to the work sobriety entails, if you really want Top Drawer Sobriety.

The Miracle began to happen.

My friend did exactly what she was told to do, like I did, what I was told to do, from the very first day. Next April, by the grace of God, she will hit Twenty Five Years Clean and Sober.

Her kids, now in their twenties, never saw mom drunk. They were too young when she finally took her last drink. One of her sons, recently, asked mom to accompany him to pick out an engagement ring for his now fiancee …

Most women, in the rooms, could not possibly get how incredible this little act is, unless you have kids, that you were able to keep, having not lost them, indefinitely, due to your alcoholism and drug addiction.

Most of the women I know, lost big, having lost those miracles we call children.

But our woman, tonight, has the husband, who was there at the intervention, and she has her kids, THREE KIDS, now in their twenties, in tact.

Happy, Joyous and Free.

As she closed her share, I remembered to breathe. And I noticed my friends sitting to my right hand side, had also stopped breathing at some point.

I knew, for the very first time, in all my years of sobriety, those words that Mark Brian had to figure out for himself …

The Depths of Sadness, in his people’s eyes.

What he did not know, is what we all do not know, when we come in, until we hear another drunk, tell their story to us.

The Depth of Sadness …

Thank God for the rooms, and SOME of the people in them.

Behind closed doors, the hidden problem of baby-boomer addiction

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Courtesy: The Guardian.com – Tony Rao

In Mad Men, Don Draper was seldom seen without a drink. Photograph: Michael Yarish/AP

never touched a drop in my life. Now, it’s all I’ve got.” One of my first referrals as a consultant old-age psychiatrist was a woman with anxiety who began drinking after her husband died. Grief at losing her partner pulled her into a deep depression. Alcohol eased the pain. It became all she could think about. Her life revolved around buying and consuming drink; dependence on alcohol to soothe her sorrow developed into an addiction.

When we say “addict”, we rarely think of people aged over 65. You might think this is uncommon. It isn’t. People expect to live longer, so they’re not slowing down just because they’re in their 60s. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we are seeing substance misuse, dependence and addiction in older people: think how many old fashioneds Don Draper got through in each episode.

We are woefully unprepared to meet the needs of older people struggling with substance misuse. So what will happen in 2030, when members of Generation X – the twentysomethings who popped pills at warehouse raves in the 1990s – start to turn 65? Addiction in older age is not a problem that’s going to go away. By 2030, nearly a quarter of the population in England will be over 65. That’s around 12 million people. We’re sitting on a ticking time bomb, waiting for the inevitable fallout of each generation overindulging in its substance of choice.

We can’t ignore substance misuse in the over-65s. Compared to previous generations, older people have higher rates of drinking above recommended guidelines, higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and higher rates of alcohol-related admissions to hospital. ONS figures show that while the rest of the population has reduced its weekly alcohol intake, those aged 65 to 74 continue to drink at similar levels, exceeding recommended guidelines.

Lifetime use of cannabis and cocaine in 65- to 74-year-olds increased seven-fold and five-fold respectively between 2000 and 2014. In the last 10 years, the number of people in that age group admitted to hospital for drug-related mental health problems, such as psychosis, rose from 181 to 1,345. Use of prescription drugs for pleasure is also on the rise in older people, with opiates and medication for insomnia often used for non-medical reasons. As addiction services are being dismantled, more baby boomers with illicit drug misuse are entering old-age psychiatry services. Snorting cocaine, smoking cannabis or experimenting with psychoactive substances shouldn’t raise the eyebrows of psychiatrists providing care in older people’s mental health services, but even I initially failed my MRCPsych exams for lacking the necessary expertise on substance misuse. I didn’t realise how central it was to old-age psychiatry.

We wrongly assume that substance misuse is a younger person’s problem and there are huge challenges in increasing access to services for older people because of this.

When they do, they need care that not only addresses misuse, but takes into account chronic physical health problems and mental health conditions such as dementia. Treatment also has to manage the normal physical pain of ageing and the unfortunate truth of social isolation and bereavement.

Sadly, I see a future in which poly-substance misuse in older people is common. We have a lot of catching up to do to provide services for substance abuse beyond alcohol and tobacco. Baby boomers are the generation that laughed off inebriation, saw alcohol advertised daily on television and thought relaxation was more about smoking a joint than mindfulness.

But at what age do we assume people “grow out” of the pub night three times a week or smoking cannabis? The “you’re only young once” approach can easily go from a relaxed attitude in middle age to dependence and addiction in older life.

Substance misuse in the over-65s may seem strange because we characterise older people as fusty, but it’s not surprising that the attitudes of youth carry into later life. If we continue to ignore substance misuse in people over 65, we are closing the door on ensuring their quality of life as 70, 80 or 90-year-olds. In 2017, that door is still barely ajar.

Dr Tony Rao is consultant old age psychiatrist at the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Friday …There are Options, Its Your CHOICE

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This afternoon, I got a letter from a friend. My young Elder Friend who returned home to Idaho, prior to the holidays, wrote me, sitting inside the grand library at Brigham Young University.

The hallowed institution B.Y.U has educated some of the finest young men and women in all of North America. Our Elder served his two year Mission here in Montreal, where we met, just a few months before his departure.

What little time we spent together was jam packed with Love, Faith and Hope. The Elders had a purpose coming into my life, and in the end, the fact that the LDS church states quite clearly their view of “one man and one woman,” has prevented me from becoming a full and baptized member of the church.

But, his words to me were thus … “You came into our lives for a reason, and Heavenly Father knows that reason. We are converted to the Gospel, and NOT the church. So whether you are baptized or not, there is a place for you, and Heavenly Father will never let you down. There were just too many God moments shared between us to discount the hand and spirit of Heavenly Father. So believe me when I tell you that he loves you and so do I…

**** **** ****

Last night, I began reading The Dispossessed, by Szilard Borbely, Translated from the Hungarian, by Ottilie Mulzet. I was hooked on the first page. The first page.

I have a stack of books on my bedside table right now. All going at some point. I am expecting a follow up tome by Viet Thanh Nguyen, titled “The Refugees.” I had read, a few months ago, his first novel called “The Sympathizer” which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for literature. Along with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, was the best book I had read last summer.

The Refugees, comes out in February. I almost missed the title, thanks to Indigo’s Pulitzer Prize listing, saved another book for me to read.

**** **** ****

I said this as the Holiday’s began. I gave a dire warning to my friends. All of them, over a series of weeks. I made sure that every single one of my friends had my number with solid directions to call if they needed to, at any time, for any reason …

My phone did not ring save for Rafa and Juan calling to check on me.

Tonight, was the best night of the week, because it is the best meeting of the week. As I said, my phone did not ring. One of my friends, who lives not far away, offered to drive me out and back tonight. He was, WAS, clean and sober just a short 4 months, this time.

When I got in the car tonight, he was visibly shaken. New Years came and went, and on New Years Day, his lady friend packed up and left him high and dry. Instead of calling, as he was told, he took a chunk of money and got HIGH and DRUNK. Alcohol is one problem, it is the COCAINE that is the real killer.

That started the night off with a bang.

The meeting we talked about Faith without works is Dead … If a man does not expand his Spiritual life and turns around, and works with others, and gives it away, he will surely drink again …

As was tradition, we split up, and the discussion went around. Those who needed to know he had gone back out, knew. So it was a night of protracted song and dance around the room, cross-talking among ourselves, but quite directly talking to him, but not TO HIM.

After the meeting I spoke to my handful of men whom I work with directly. The men who I choose to support directly, even if they don’t want it. I am there. All those conversations led to the same conclusion …

The Holidays sucked, everybody is miserable. Thank God the holidays are over, and I wish they had never come.

Like I said, my phone did not ring except expected calls from my guys.

WHY DO I FUCKING BOTHER …

The way I have stayed sober for so many years, is that, First, I did not make the stupid decisions that my friends did. And Second, I did not do many things I watched my friends do. This holiday, I warned my friends, I gave them my number, told them to call,

Nobody called…

Thank God I am sober, and that I don’t make really bad choices.

I am never alone. You are never alone. Whether you stay clean and sober or drunk and high all comes down to A CHOICE.

Your Choice !

YOU make that choice to be sober or not. I can’t make that choice for you. Tonight I spoke to many miserable men, (all straight) by the way, who had horrible holidays, yet they did not even think to call when they could have, but chose not to call.

Fuck me for trying, I mean God the Fuck Damn …

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This afternoon I was trolling Face Book, as I am wont to do. And I came across this image… Mario in Marbella at Borussia Dortmund Winter Training.
SNEAKERS, well TRAINERS !!! Orange. Sleek. New. WANT !!!
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Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of shoes in the world ? Knowing that I probably could not find them here on Amazon or Ebay, because I did not know what they were called, so ZOOM the photo, get a good look, and load that image into Google.
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Search all the images known to NIKE … I find an image that led to a website, that did not actually have the trainers I wanted, in style or colorway. But a further search landed me on EBAY UK. Which led me to not ONE but TWO UK shoppes online that had the trainers, AND IN MY SIZE …
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Classic men’s Orange/Neon Green/Black Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31’s …
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For a cool $160.00 CAD shipping included.

Next week …

 

 

Thursday -When A Bad Day Lasts for Months

 

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My weekly meeting schedule took a huge hit over the last few months. I spend the bulk of my meeting time in M.A. these days. So my sober meetings are exclusively Sunday’s and Friday nights.

I have not written a whole deal about sobriety since my melt down in June. It has just been a very tense time, and I needed to return to basics, until I felt the emotional shift back into equilibrium.

I’ve stuck very close to my friends, who saw me through this period of time. I stayed away from most old timers, opting to only seek the counsel of two, my temporary sponsor, and another friend, I have yet to sit with. We haven’t been able to connect, since the “incident” but that meeting is in the works.

I learned early on, this time around, what needs to be done, when your world gets turned upside down in sobriety. The totally bad news about sobriety is this …

The time will come, and IT WILL COME, that something happens, either to you, or someone you love, or someone you know, or people you know, or a community you identify with, and you will feel. Let me say that again … YOU WILL FEEL.

Now, not every alcoholic or addict is going to respond well to this truth, because, when the chips fall, if you don’t have a sturdy plan of saving action, YOU WILL DRINK or USE AGAIN.

Now that I am on the other side of a serious sober meltdown, we talked about the “Bad Day” tonight. Sadly, I am the only long time member in the M.A. fellowship, at the moment. All of my friends are inside of five years, and some inside their first year, so I listen to them talk with close attention.

When all else fails, and the chips fall, you can do one of two things:

  1. You can go back out and self destruct OR
  2. You find the path through the fire and you live.

I know what to do, for me, when times get tough. I get out of the house/ I go to meetings/ I call my friends/ I talk to people/ I open/ I close/ I make coffee/ I set chairs/ I serve others.

I know this works, because I have used this method without fail for almost fifteen years now, and it has never failed me.

Now that I am on the other side, this experience I had was specific. I kind of went “off line.” I was showing up to meetings, but I was only halfway there, mentally and emotionally. I had conversations with friends, that in hindsight, were half conversations, and I did speak with those friends as it happened, and they remained with me, and they sat with me and they understood me, and they let me be me, even when I was only half there.

Those are real friends.

We need to know what to do, when things get really rough in sobriety, and the only thing we can do is wait for it to happen to us, then walk through that experience, learn from that experience, “in real time” then share it openly.

Traversing tragedy and Trauma differs from person to person. Because we all deal with adversity in our own ways. I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on formal therapy, because, in the rooms, I get it for free.

Professional help, when needed, is needed, and should ALWAYS be an option, when necessary. Never go it alone, if you can’t go it alone. Sometimes we need that professional point of view to make sense of life at times.

My circle of friends are battle tested men and women, whom I trust with my life.

I knew, that I was not alone, at any point during this period.

I guess I had to find the end of this pain and emotion. And I guess that began when some guy pulled me aside after a Friday meeting, and said that he was tired of listening to me talk about it over and over.

I was like, “thank you for sharing …

” I hope you never find yourself in the shitter and need a safe place to fall, until you yourself can get back up …”

I just kept doing what I was taught to do, to insure that I would not drink or use again. And I did it naturally. I have a “Good Habit” routine now.

I’ve watched too many of my friends go back out and drink / use again. I watched a handful of my friends die, because they crashed and burned, and did not do what we were all taught to do, by those who knew what to do, instead taking life on, by themselves, taking back control, and killing themselves in the process.

Sometimes the adage: DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO, applies
Other times the adage : IF YOU DO AS I SAY, YOU MAY STAY CLEAN AND SOBER.

The only way the second adage work is IF you have the experience to impart.

If you don’t, then shut up …

There are some folks, I’ve known, all along, through the years, were people I knew were sick people. Those who I stayed away from. Then there were those I gravitated towards because it was an opportunity.

Sadly, a major opportunity turned into a MASSIVE CRASH AND BURN.

The wisdom of the old timer is this …

YOU MAY HAVE THE TIME, BUT YOU MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY BE SOBER.

A friend of mine, a few months sober, was working with a friend, and they handed him the chair of the Friday night meeting. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Monday he went out and drank, and drank all week, and called me at 5:30 this evening to tell me that.

I asked him why he didn’t call his sponsor before he took that first drink, his answer was this … He does not connect with him, ergo, does not trust him, ergo, he drank again.

But when he finished, he thought to call ME instead of his sponsor.

Hopefully, he will be sober tomorrow night.

We give folks our numbers to make sure they are connected, Whenever they need it.

Sadly, most folks call a few times, then stop. Some never call at all, and they never come back to meetings.

If someone is SURE AS SHIT going to drink or use, they sure as shit aren’t going to call before they do it. Some, do call, when they get to the end.

What they do with our advice now matters.

They either want to stop or they don’t.

Thank God my bad day came to an end.

As it eventually would.