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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Well Blogger has a new Dashboard Interface and I'm hoping this makes it easier, more user-friendly then it has been.  You are getting an extra post today (aren't you so bloody lucky, you dear reader, you!) because I am messing around with this new fangled, blog writing thingy! So I have to test drive the system and see if it actually meets my far it seems pretty good. 

Because I use Google Chrome over Internet Explorer, I was having issues with font size translating properly...I have to write posts right now in IE and do everything else in sucks and I'm hoping this changes but we'll see. So far the issues I had with the old Interface seem to be resolved..I'm sure there will be some funky issue that will come up but I do like what I have seen and used so far. Efficient, easy to use,'s a decent system but time will tell.

I actually wonder what my Blog Bro Ryan at Waxed Red Threads has to say about it. He seems to be down with the more technical side of the blog thing...

I kind of miss hearing from that Dude...He had a new child earlier this Summer or Late Spring and he hasn't been (easy to see why!) blogging much. It's a shame because I enjoy his stuff and his sharp wit and scathing point of view...It's really good stuff RYNO! He is going through a career transformation as well so he is busy with his son at home as well. I'm hoping he gets things squared away and we see more of him this Fall...

So I think I've tested this seems to really be let's post this puppy and see for real if all is well...

I'm Beginning To Wonder...

I hadn't really given much thought about this until last night, as I lie awake in bed unable to drift off to sleep. But I believe that I am starting to change the focus of my life away from the physical more toward the spiritual. I know some readers out there will go "You're kidding right? Haven't you been reading your own blog posts? It's ALL about the spiritual...".

Yea I know, I know...but that isn't quite what I'm talking about though it is relevant to this discussion as well. The focus of my reading AND writing has tilted drastically in the direction of the spiritual of late. Also my discussions are dominated by it as well...I even mentioned recently in a blog that a family member had expressed some concern that all I talk about are SERIOUS things and I'm becoming a "DOWNER" to be around...If that is indeed the case, I'm not sure I can really do anything about it with my life focus directed in  such a way.

What I'm referring to here is that this focus now includes even my most casual, everyday passing interests. I rarely listen or watch the news any more. Even the weather doesn't matter as it once did. I just have little time or patience for the trivial...I'm focused now on personal health...spiritual and physical. And my recovery, always a focus these last five years or so has now become even more important.

The kicker of all of ultimate interest and activity now, has to be the time and effort I dedicate to helping others. I have this natural default alarm in my head that I think I'm conditioned now to listen to that will automatically take my focus to the other person and THEIR needs. This isn't something I do or I it is a gift from God.

I focus now on listening, to the best of my my heart....because I believe the Creator communicates with me through through that physical portal. It is how I am able to FOLLOW HIM, how I know what to do. Learning to wait, to pray and to listen was the most difficult aspect of this whole endeavor. But it is now really starting to gel and the results, well have been amazing...

It never ceases to amaze me how my focus has gone so drastically from being solely on and about ME to now being almost exclusively about YOU...again I claim no responsibility for that. In my mind it is nothing short of miraculous.

So that is the change, it is the transformation of my focus, from me to you and from the worldly to the spiritual. I hadn't a clue it was even happening until it was already a done deal. The game had totally changed and I hadn't even noticed...

All Dressed Up...No Place To Go

With no place to go...that is me this morning. I am a man of routine, for the most part. Oh, I can be spontaneous and flexible as needed but typically I follow certain specific patterns, particularly in the morning.

I get up very early as most morning readers of this blog already know because the first post of the day can go live as early as 4a sometimes. I'll clean up/wash up, get the paper and a cup of coffee. I've read the morning paper literally since I was a young boy. Family tradition I guess but I for one will always appreciate an actual newspaper in the morning to read and digest.

I'll usually write a blog post afterward then get on with chores.The I like to get outside which brings me to my dilemma this morning...

The darn rain is screwing up my morning plans to get outside! It figures that it would rain today of all days. Wednesday is typically a day when I head into town quite early to meet a couple of buddings at a coffee shop for some spiritual discussion and because we are good friends. So typically I don't have much time before hand to get out and do something...say CG (Crippled Golf) for example. No usually a quick walk is all I can squeeze in to loosen up the broken body and get the juices flowing.

Well both fellows are out of town so I have some extra time today before an 11a commitment at the Nursing Home. And it's RAINING! WHA, WHA...I know! The weather has a fickle manner and haughty sense of irony I would say. Leave it to me to actually give the weather the human qualities of emotion and humor, but hey I have to justify this somehow. And of course I now have too much time on my hands because my plans changed!

So I now actually get to see how flexible I really am...

It certainly doesn't hurt for me to occaisionally just STOP for a while and do NOTHING. As a matter of fact, it is healthy and a good idea really to do so. I do tend to push things, load up my plate, as it were with responsibilities and committments. Now there isn't anything wrong with that..I really enjoy what I do these days on a day to day basis but I am feeling a tad weary and could benefit from a little rest.

Maybe I could even lay back down for another hour...WHOA, now that would be a trip and RARE too. OR...I could go and get my umbrella and go for a walk in the rain, Hmmm...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Why do some of us hate ourselves so much that we lose the desire to live, to the point that we lose the very will for self-preservation. That is a question that I have not found easy to answer. It is difficult to say but I've had a low opinion of myself since I could remember. I always felt inadequate, different, like I somehow was never going to measure up.

I recall from my earliest memories that I felt awkward around other people. My mind would always fill with thoughts that I wasn't as good as the people I was with. I wasn't as good an athlete, or student or church member...whatever I was doing I felt like I couldn't measure up.

So I am certain that there was a seed of low or lower self-esteem, self-image right from the very start. As I started to get older and grow up I would do things behaviorally that would reinforce this negative image.

I got in trouble shooting a BB gun with a neighborhood buddy, I started to smoke pot which affected my mood and self-image through the feelings of self consciousness. I got caught smoking dope with another friend AT school and was suspended. These behaviors reinforced my natural feeling that I was not a good guy, that I was a bad person.

This feeling of not being a good person, of being different then others was built on and expanded throughout the years. As I drank and drugged more the feeling became stronger, more complex...I crossed a line into self-hate, I believe only after my divorce and the bottom really fell out of life. I lost my job, my family was pulling away from me...I was living ONLY to get high and intoxicated, 24/7 IF I could.
That kind of living doesn't last long because either the body or the mind will eventually give up. My body was systematically being destroyed by my addiction and poor health habits. I was 6 foot 1 inch and weighed 139lbs. That is 65lbs less then I weigh today and though I could stand to lose a few pounds, I'm basically at a healthy weight for my height.

Once I crossed that line into self hate, well I couldn't go back. I literally lived as if there was NO tomorrow. I spent every dime I had, sold every investment, ran up every credit card and paid no bills. I was planning on dieing. If my drinking and drug use wouldn't kill me then I would do it myself. I hated myself so much that I really believed I was doing my loved ones a favor, that they would get over it eventually and be happier with my sorry ass out of the way. I truly believed that and that I knew better then they did about this....that didn't set too well with my family after the truth came out.

But I tried to kill myself and failed leaving me with no choice but to find a way to live. That day I awoke in the hospital was the absolute lowest point ever in my life. I had believed that suicide was failure and now I had failed at FAILURE itself. I had no idea what I would do...i was hopeless and helpless. Little did I know that things were really about to change...for the better!

A Lfeboat Called HOPE

Lately, I've posted about being Lost and Found...something that still really resonates with me even after some time has passed since my active addiction days. One thing that never diminishes for me in any way though is the connection I seem to have for those people who are struggling in this life, those who are indeed LOST, forgotten or perhaps misplaced by society, folks who live on the fringe or very edge of what's acceptable or even desirable. The unwashed, unwanted, unloved masses who get passed by for one reason or another...

It could be addict/alcoholics, or some suffering from Depression, perhaps they just feel like a misfit and they don't know where they belong. In our fast paced, busy world we rarely stop for a second and think about those people who just don't "fit" for whatever reason. What about them, huh? Doesn't God love them?

He does...I know he does...the thing is he wants me and you to love 'em too...that is something I haven't been very good at in my life up until now. I'm really trying to change that...but it can be a challenge.

I think that sometimes being LOST just means not feeling like you fit, so you withdraw from the world in a way until it always passes you by. I feel challenged to remember EVERYONE, no matter who they are...I need to start listening, start talking , be a friend to them. I haven't done a good job of loving my neighbor lately...have you? It ain't easy, is it.

Funny but "loving my neighbor" is something that I have always felt strongly about, even long before I followed Jesus. This being the case, I wonder why I never did a very good job of it...more often then not, I stood in judgment of them, as if they somehow didn't meet MY impeccable standards and somehow were less then desirable. What a joke I was!

One of the greatest gifts that I have been given is I now see myself reflected in the lives of if I'm tied personally to every single person I meet. Responsible to God and God alone to love them as I would love myself. That is an incredibly high standard to uphold...on my own I would surely fail. Good thing I'm not ON MY OWN today, eh?!

Not that long ago, I rarely thought much about the people I met or even the folks I already knew. I didn't think about how they might be feeling, if they were troubled or lonely or perhaps lost...this stuff never entered my thought process...ever.

Today, as if by is the first thought that comes to mind...I wonder who they really they are. Are they they need anything, can I help? It is THAT simple to care...ask the questions and respond. And I have found that people will indeed respond. Most people today I've found, don't feel listened to...a wonderful gift to give another person in the world is our attention...just simply listen to them.

Their reaction can be enlightening, for sure. I think it often tells me that they are used to being ignored. That's an easy fix then isn't it? Pay attention...

The idea of a lost soul is one that really haunts me today. I think the reason it affects me like it does is because I have been there and I know how empty loneliness can feel. I know the heartache of one who fell through the cracks of our society, and watched the world go by from the outside looking in.

That experience also taught me that the antidote for loneliness is not complex, not difficult or's LOVE. LOVE is the key that unlocks the door of those who are lost. When LOVE enters a person's life, well the sun begins to shine again and just about anything starts to seem possible. Hope is a powerful potion, many a shipwrecked life returned to sea in a lifeboat called HOPE. Mine did, perhaps yours can too...

Lost & Found

I like the implication of this post title as it relates to my life and the lives of other people I happen to know. It accurately describes the progression of my journey in that I was once totally and completely lost in this life, I was broken by self and ultimately failed as a human being only to be found again by surrendering my life and will over to a loving Savior and a commitment to serve others in HIS name...Once found I became a FOLLOWER.

Simple...right?! is simple really it just wasn't easy or automatic or a slam-dunk. Like many alcoholic/addicts I could have died before I surrendered becoming just another number in a tragically long list of statistics. I could be in prison, having easily killed someone behind the wheel of an automobile, intoxicated. I wasn't one to typically drink away from home much, particularly in the later stages of my addiction but I drove drunk a lot of times throughout the years...often barely able to see out of one eye. I KNOW someone was looking out for me and others at that time, no doubt about it.

Or I could have just continued on, I suppose...pathetically managing to dodge one bullet after another. But honestly I just don't see how I could have gone on much further that way then I did, I was so LOST, so physically ill my body would have just quit.

Thankfully events in my life came together at a certain point, at a specific was MY time to let the old world, old way die and be born into a whole new way of life. Gratefully that is what happened and I live a life today that I could only fantasize about during those horrendous final years of active addiction.

So I truly do feel FOUND after being LOST...oh yea, I was most definately lost. Life today makes sense really for the first time ever because I FOLLOW him...and he lets me know what I am supposed to do. Right now it is quite clear that one challenge and opportunity I have is to help FIND others who are lost and LEAD them back to the very same LIGHT that has guided me in my particular journey.

After years of living in darkness...and believe me I knew I was living a dark, painful existence in the throes of my alcoholism/addiction, haunted constantly by horrific memories of being beaten and raped then left to fend for myself for a lifetime really...all alone. I never knew peace, I never knew real love or the gift of God's Grace. All I knew...ultimately was Fear, Anger, Hate and Pain. Those were my god's, I followed their path as they led me down a road to self-destruction.

So knowing this now makes me more grateful then ever for my being saved from that life of pain and self-destruction. I feel a great desire to help lead others through their dark fearful forest heartache and pain then back into the light. I have great compassion for those who suffer...regardless of circumstances. I'll let God do the judging...I just see a human being who is hurting, lonely and in pain, desperately in need of love...that I can give and I do so willingly knowing what it did for me. I can LOVE others today, that is my gift...

So today I truly am no longer lost. I revel in the simple fact that I can find peace and happiness through serving HIM by helping others...It is a ministry of LOVE.

Monday, August 29, 2011


I saw a lot of heartache reflected back to me in the faces of those inmates who were listening tonight. It was a rather remarkable gathering, especially when you begin to think about how many people in our country tonight are incarcerated.

We had both male and female inmates in attendance though they were strictly segregated - the 70 or so males in the front part of the cafeteria style hall we were in and the 12 or so females at a couple tables in the back. Separating the sexes was an obvious necessity and other then one woman who had a medical issue right near the end of the service, we had no issues.

It was a church service format, there was some prayer requests, followed by prayer then I got my to speak. Naturally after I was finished, I was somewhat unhappy with my effort, mainly because I wish I had done and said a few other things. It's pretty normal for me to critique myself in such a nit-picky and critical way. Actually, based on feedback, audience response and commentary afterward, I think it went really well...It is typical of me to never be satisfied and focus on what I didn't do or say compared to what I did.

After I spoke another visitor came in to sing and she was really quite was during her last song, a version of Mercy Me's "I Can Only Imagine" that a young female inmate had a added an element of the surreal to an already intense experience. The Sheriff Deputies rushed in to deal with the situation, radios blaring instructions and calls for back-up but the singer just continued. It is a beautiful song, one of my favorites and Cathy the vocalist just really sang her heart out...amazing stuff and made even more poignant because of the setting and the medical issue. (I like this song so much I've included it above, in this post.)

So it was worthwhile, quite intense and a real honor for me to be involved with a group of people that are trying to reach out to others under very difficult conditions while enduring constant, unrelenting hardship. I have an immense amount of respect for these folks who do this weekly and I really admire Chaplin D.Brown for his faith and hard work. He truly has been touched by God and my continuing hope is that this ministry will continue to flourish...

It is sometimes difficult to see anything positive in an environment like a correctional facility...regardless of what kind it is and where it is located. But tonight it was impossible NOT to see the Mercy and Grace of the Lord at work. Many men came forward after the service to express how there lives are starting to change because of Chaplin Brown and the Forgotten Man Ministries. And that my friends is always going to be a beautiful thing...

Shakin' In Me Shoes!

Ahh, public of my very favorite things to do! Not really, of course but a guy's gotta do what he's gotta do. And tonight, I gotta speak in front of some inmates at a local County jail. Actually....I really do want to do it...because my story is one of the few "good things" that actually came out of that horriffic mess called my active addiction.

It can be used to communicate to other people, some of who are struggling right now with the very same demons that I did...that you can actually change, that there really is HOPE. My story is one of the few positive things left in the aftermath of my addiction/alcoholism, it demonstrates to some, like it has to me that there really is a loving God out there who cares. There really is a reason to keep trying to change your ways and find a better life.

My hope tonight is that the right words come...I jest of course about public speaking but there is some truth to the notion that I am not real comfortable actually doing it. I'm not naturally good at speaking to groups though i have done it fairly often though never in this kind of setting. It helps of course that I know the material, haha. I just have to hope and pray that I didn't burn too many brain cells and I can remember it!

One thing I take comfort in though is I am at home among addicts and people who are hurting, whose lives are a mess. These are folks I can relate to...for I have been in difficult, unpleasant situations myself...and I remeber very distictly how if feels to be lost. It's hard to be any more "lost" in our society then to be incarcerated in Jail. Things are NOT going your way if you're locked up, that is pretty obvious.

So I have an interesting night ahead. I'll share some detail perhaps later but I always look at experiences like these as a privledge. Why? Because in all honesty, I shouldn't even BE HERE. I'm fortunate to be alive today, not to mention happy, healthy and well enough to be able to share a bit of my experience strength and hope with others. God has good to me, time to give a little of that goodness back...



I just read that during the entire time of Hurricane Irene's impact on Washington, DC....the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was constantly guarded. As a matter of fact, the Tomb has been guarded around the clock, with out let up since April of 1948.

The 3rd US Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard" has had this solemn and sacred duty since that time and has never left the Tomb unguarded. The pictures above/below were taken during one of the down-poars associated with the storm. I am in awe of their dedication and strong sense of honor. God Bless these Soldiers who are looking out for us...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm Going To Jail

One of the oddities of the story of my active addiction was, though I went through nearly $45K worth of Cocaine in a 15 month period of time at the end of my active drug use, buying it every other day in quantities of a quarter ounce or so each time...I never got caught or went to Jail though there were some very close calls, a lot of suspicion and too many twitchy dope dealers with firearms for my comfort. But I needed my Coke so I did what I had to do...But, seriously, I have never been arrested or spent a night in jail...All the times I drove drunk and there were so many I couldn't begin to count, I never got caught.

I was pulled over at a vehicle inspection on St Route 315 on my 17th Birthday, with an open container of beer, high on some miracle, I passed the sobriety test, the cop made me dump out the beer and off we went to get hammered the rest of the day! There were 5 of us in the car, all of us underage, all carrying dope and the cop let us go. Oh yea, it was 1:30pm on a school day afternoon so we were cutting school as well! Things were WAY different in 1979 then they are now, today we all would have gone to jail for possession for sure.

The reason I bring up the jail thing is this: because of what I am going to be doing tomorrow night, I sort of wish I had gone to jail at some point in my life. Now you're convinced I've lost my mind, right?!

Well, the reason I almost wish I'd had the experience of going to jail was I'm going into the Branch County Jail tomorrow night to give my testimony at a Forgotten Man Ministries gathering. Branch County Jail Chaplain D. Brown, who happens to go to my church asked me a couple months ago if I would be interested and I said sure. It will be the first time I have told my story for a gathering of spiritual or church oriented people. I have spoken in times past at recovery oriented gatherings but never about my decision to follow the Lord. I very humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to do it...

This is the kind of thing I am referring to when I have said in the past here on the blog that you have to "give it away" to "keep it". In other words we recovering alcoholic/addicts keep our life in recovery by helping others. I am not a natural public speaker...I've had a fair amount of chances during my career to give presentation's, etc. but it is not something I like to do. I do it because it helps me to stay sober.

But I am happy to have the opportunity and I hope and pray that I am able to share my story in a way that glorifies God and what he has done for me plus it may give the inmates a little bit of Hope. I know from experience that even a little sliver of Hope can make all the difference in the world. Perhaps they will begin to see that: You can recover from terminal don't need to kill yourself. Victims of violence, even of rape can heal and you can go from breaking the law every single day of your life, buying and selling Narcotics to living a productive life as an active, law abiding member of society. I did that...and if I can well anyone can.

So...if anyone out in blog-land happens to be a person of prayer, meditation...whatever, I sure would appreciate just a little, teeney-weenie prayer being directed my way tomorrow at 6p so whatever I say and do during that talk may indeed have a postive affect on someone who hears it.

I am not really nervous at the moment when I think about it...I suppose I will feel the nerves a bit more tomorrow but the cool thing about these kind of talks is that it is your own story! So I obviously already KNOW the material!! I've gotten pretty comfortable sharing tough details of my life and I really don't intend to leave anything out. I trust that I am doing the right thing and it is going to work itself out...I'm looking forward to it really.

I've discovered that experiences like this are really beneficial, I learn as much as the audience does...sometimes even more. I used to avoid taking risks in life...I no longer try to do that if I can avoid it. It's so good to get out of your own shell and share your story for the benefit of someone else. It's kind of a rush in a way. But that is what I will be doing dtomorrow with that I'll close this little blog post for the evening. Hope everyone has a pleasant Sunday evening...

It All Hurts Just The Same!

Well, if I had any doubts about my feelings for Kim these days, I surely don't now that she has left for home. This feeling really blows...I am really getting to dislike saying goodbye or so long or see ya later...whatever, it all hurts just the same!

And I get's actually a good sign that I am finally letting myself feel something for somebody else after keeping those kind of thoughts and feeling locked away so tightly for the past 5 plus years. But I have had my share of pain and heartache in life, albeit the majority of it was self-inflicted or happened because of my own poor choices and decision making. Regardless of the cause though it still hurt...

I haven't really mentioned this on the blog but K and I are definately trying to get her moved and settled in the area so we can take the next step at some point and get married. Now I realize that is at LEAST a 3-part blog post all in itself: "Flash: Hell has frozen over-T changes his tune about marriage" And I have changed and it truly is a big deal because until recently I still believed marriage was a joke.

A total myth...a figment of some-body's overly active, dream world imagination! Or just plain wishful thinking on the part of millions of DUPES thinking their relationship will be the one (in a million) that works out! Poor, misguided exactly what I thought about them and THAT pipe-dream called marriage. But, my previous experience led me to the conclusion that if you want to bail on a relationship, you bail. It's easily justified by saying "I had to look out for myself, it was a health matter", marriage vows and death 'til us part meant NOTHING.

Now...for the first time in my life I'm really feeling sad because the one person I want to spend my time with right now isn't here anymore and won't be for some time to come. Now I understand that God has a plan and I do not doubt that for a minute but it is difficult when you have waited for something for so long and it still isn't working out the way you'd like it too.

I guess I take solace in the fact that we have such a wonderful partnership already...we have been close for so long, the trust level and our understanding of each other is so well developed, that we have become a great team. That is rare, I realize.

Yesterday at the Nursing Home I really noticed it...we just work well together and I think having both of us there together put a lot of the folks at ease..Plus it is cool to do something special like that with someone special you really care about.

One thing that I know for certain in my life today is that the future is going to be full of surprises...I know that there is going to be a ministry of some sort, an outreach to youth or addicts or the elderly...perhaps all of the above. Kim knows that too. Life could be difficult but we want to do it and do it together and I have just never felt like that before. Where I want to share my experiences, day to day with another person and I find that equally facinating and frightening at the same time...

So I suppose patience, once again is in order!It isn't fun being here alone...especially when I see couples walk by hand in hand and think...why do I have to wait even LONGER then I already have? I have no answer for that, only he really knows and he isn't saying this afternoon...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dodging Bullets!

There was definately a time in my recovery, probably somewhere around the 2.5 to 3 years clean/sober mark that I was really having some difficulty with the more "quiet" aspects of the lifestyle I was living. And by that I don't mean like going out clubbing all the time vs staying I was always kind of a home body that favored local taverns once in a while anyway.

But what was lacking, I think was I was missing the excitement generated in my life by living so far out on the ledge...the extreme daily drug/alcohol use, temping fate and mocking death in a way. There was this unknown element I was missing that came with pushing the envelope ALL the way when I was still a practicing addict/alcoholic.

I was still craving that rush that came with "dodging bullets" in a way and couldn't find anything in my current life that filled that void. And it wasn't fun stuff we are talking about my life when I was using was CHAOTIC....all sorts of things in my life  were in disarray and that added an element of disorder was missing...and believe it or not, I actually MISSED IT!

That is just totally insane, I realize that but it is absolutely the truth...and it took awhile for me to adjust and shake that underlying notion that I was somehow MISSING something by having serenity and balance in my daily life! It is a laughable memory now but trust me, I really hated my life...

I at least wanted to live as a legend in my own mind...I had never really wanted to be a normal type guy yet here I was. Now today I have really come to appreciate the life I have and I don't miss that CHAOS at all. But it was all part of the learning curve of recovery.

It was a different way of living all the way around. I was forced to be honest, upfront and keep my commitments. Obviously I wasn't drinking or drugging plus I was going through a great deal of therapy and other changes in the way I lived my life. I had a whole new lifestyle and I was re-building my life from scratch.

Today I love the calm, the serenity I feel but there are occasionally twinges where I remember that constant feeling of excitment and just for a split second...I still miss it too. But they pass and rather quickly too...I kinda smile to myself and realize I'm not really missing a thing!

Letting It Go...

Not much time to write today so you'll have to forgive me...K-Sue is in town! So yea...I am a bit distracted, it's a two day/one night visit and there is a bit of catching up to do, haha. It's funny (Probably not so funny for K!) but for the last 4 years I convinced myself and others that we were JUST best friends. We WERE actually best friends and still are, the JUST part is what's a bit inaccurate I think. We did keep romance and intimacy out of the picture and just spent a lot of time together...we had fun. But I know now that at least for the last year of that time period I was living in denial.

I let my fear of what happened to me in past relationships influenced how I felt and my level of trust. Those were very difficult experiences to forget or put into proper perspective. It took a great deal of time and effort, especially communicating. We both had reservations and I do think that this worked out for the best. I feel much more capable today of loving and reciprocating love then I did even 6-9 short months ago. Oh, I could have muddled through but now with my new spiritual outlook I feel freer to be myself and just let it go...

So we are hanging out and really enjoying a wonderful Saturday here at the lake...the island is over-run to some degree with the late summer crowd but it doesn't matter...the Sun is shining, it's a delightful 79 degrees and we are together. I know, I know I sound like I'm writing a freaking Love Story here. Sorry, that wasn't my intention...but I will admit that things have changed between us and without a doubt it is for the better. And I have changed...I no longer let fear have any power of how I lead my life. I trust the Lord, he has really given me patience and great comfort while going through all of this, for that I am grateful.

I honestly think if I was still living life the old way, Kim and I would still be Best Friends and Companions, not a couple....and that really would have been sad. I realize how out of character it is for me to write about or even discuss personal relationship matters with anyone but I think my growth, the development of more trust and my ability to express my feelings of love/support are a direct result of my continued recovery and most importantly my FAITH. My Spiritual growth has had a profound affect on all of this...with out the Lord, we aren't together today, of that I am sure.

So....what to do now? A boat ride sounds like a good place to start...though we might wait until this evening. Anyway...enough time spent on the computer...believe it or not...I have better things to do!

Friday, August 26, 2011

One Very Lost Human Being...

I don't know why I drank like I did. I don't know why once I started drinking or using drugs I couldn't was just the way I was. I know deep down I really didn't want to hurt anyone and i actually believed I was only hurting myself. That was fiction of course...just ask the X.

Alcoholism/Addiction is like that...some people can exhibit control and others, once booze has entered their system...cannot. I wanted to drink until I passed out EVERY single time I drank. If I had the opportunity to have just one beer I would skip me it was a waste of time having one...if I couldn't drink until I was plastered I didn't see the point...seriously, I'd wait for a better time.

I couldn't explain why my life turned out the way it did really until I became a Christian. Some will read this and snicker or laugh...that's cool, I would have too..just 8 short months ago.

But after becoming a Christian and working with others that are in recovery, I have no doubt that the things that happened to me have a purpose. That purpose is to use my experiences and the strength and hope I gained from that experience to help others. I'm not saying God made bad stuff happen just to make me a certain kind of person...NO, I made the bad stuff happen by trying to act like I was in I was God. And in the process...I ran my life completely into the ground. But now that has happened...I really do feel like it's OK, that I'm OK and there is a higher purpose in suffering hardship & pain then recovering from it.

That may sound crazy, I admit it but I have witnessed some incredible things lately...And I have no doubt that God has taken advantage of where I am in my life and led me down a new and challenging path. And I can't tell you that I always understand why this is happening to me or that it's always fun and easy...because it sometimes is really very hard and not fun at all.

I really suffered to get to this place in my life. I was raped, beaten to a pulp and left to figure it all out...all before I became a teenager. I was a hopeless addict and alcoholic, having started at a very young age. By age 17, I had already been in inpatient alcohol and drug treatment programs 3 times...2 of those 3 times I completed 28 day programs and eventually stayed clean and sober for a few years.

But I drank again and it was 20 years before I found recovery again, this time after a suicide attempt and reaching the absolute, very end of my rope. I was completely and utterly hopeless and helpless. I had lost everything: my family, my wife, my career, my homes, my vacation land in N Michigan, cars...more money then I knew what to do with and I desperately wanted to die.

That is what I got by DOING IT MY WAY, as the old song goes. Thom's "Way" created Chaos and Pain leading to utter hopelessness...I learned that the hard way. So I had no choice if I wanted to live but to seek out God and beg him for mercy...I did that and he granted me that...but for a long time, nearly 5 years I had recovery but I truly had not embraced him.

Now I have...I live for the Lord and he resides in me...laugh if you like, it's OK because I really don't mind. This is the first time in my entire life (nearly 50 years) that I actually have a purpose for living and have peace and serenity in my life on a daily basis. If that is hilarious then go for it...but I ain't laughing anymore...I'm also no longer crying so much these days, no but I am smiling an awful lot!

So I once was a very lost young I am found in HIM and he in me...sounds weird I know but it is the way it is...and for the first time in my life I am at peace.

It is hard to describe how amazing it feels to take all that sorrow I once had and put it to such good use helping others to grow into new lives themselves. It isn't's a absolute GIFT from God to help others and I feel privileged today to be able to do so.

It can be hard to explain or try to explain all that has happened to me in the last few months...I really can't. I was sober, life was going good but it wasn't enough...then something drastically changed and I changed....since then NOTHING has ever been the same. And that is just fine by me!

(Painting by Pablo Picasso)


Sorry folks, but I have to admit it...I have actually gone out and become one of those "Bible Thumpin' Jesus Freaks" that I used to mock and make fun of in the not so distant past. I can hardly believe it myself...I won't deny it though because I can't. I am what I am and there is no doubt that I have experienced a profound change in what I believe spiritually.

And it's funny but I have no regrets...I suppose I had to live my life my own way to see that I just can't do it on my own...I self destruct, that is what I do on my own and I'm good at it. Everything I try and control totally turns to dust and rather quickly at that. I'm honestly not really sure how it all happened but it was not a case where anyone was pressuring me...that would not have worked well for me because it had been tried several times before.

But I will say although my true feelings and beliefs from that time are not really clear to me that I did believe in a very general sort of Higher Being...I called it God but it was not the Biblical God we are familiar with in Christianity. It was sort of a Native American God and Mother Nature thing all rolled into one. I was fairly open minded about accepting different faiths and ideas until some one tried to shove their specific beliefs down my throat...then I got defensive and said NASTY, VULGAR things about Jesus and God. Things that i am truly ashamed of today but I was a very lost man.

I knew nothing but the desires of selfishness, I didn't have the eyes to see GOD and that would take time and motivation through self inflicted PAIN. Only then did I begin to realize I was LOST and needed divine help but honestly I thought it was too I tried to die but failed. Now I'm here...

Sorry folks, dinner time (it's spaghetti night) so I gotta go...this post will probably be continued at some time later tonight or tomorrow...

(Painting by Vincent Van Gogh)

Gonna Stumble Some Times...

You know I like to pass off this new, caring, loving Thom like I'm some kind of super good guy all the time but the truth is I am not. Not even close. I still deal with a lot of the same character defects that were so prevalent during my active addiction years: selfishness, angry behavior, being judgemental and quick to judge, compulsiveness...those are just a few.

As a matter of fact there are times when I wonder if I have changed at all inside because I will get angry about something and honestly, it will take over my life as if nothing else matters...I do think i am quicker at recognizing when this happens these days and as a result I will stop obsessing and move on but it still bothers me that I can so quickly let things get to me.

I have had people make comments that it almost seems like I am striving for perfect behavior here in the goals that I set and being human, they are impossible goals to hit. So the suggestion is perhaps I've set my sights too high and as a result I'm always feeling like I'm falling short or failing. I do think there is some truth to that assessment yet at the same time, I am very aware that I am not perfect but the goal for being kind still has to be "I'm going to ALWAYS be kind to others" not just "some of the time". There really is no way to short change or abbreviate how we should act when it comes to loving behavior toward our fellows...

I actually think I have a pretty good understanding of what's realistic and I am not too hard on myself in the end. I think what I am reffering to above is what Ifeel inside is still so strong that it frightens me a bit. The anger I have for my 3 attackers for example, I don't remember the post but it was in the last 3-4 months I actually said I wouldn't blink shooting them. That is still anger in the "raging, unforgivable stage" say! I have a long way to go to get to forgiveness, huh?!

And frankly I was making a point because I do not wish them dead...but it is hard for me to conjure up any kind of consideration for behavior so monstrous, for whatever reason.

I think it is a natural part of my life today for me to check my behavior, to see if I am acting according to my principals and values...and there are times I discover that I fall a bit short, is all and I need to work on some things.

I have always had a bit of a problem accepting that I am human, I think I should be able to do anything if I put my heart and mind to it...this is a crazy way to be thinking, you know after all I have been through! Because I know how human I really am and believe me you don't want the examples...

So I guess the answer here is to keep plugging away...I know my heart is in a good place and though I will makes mistakes..i am quick to try and rectify the situation when possible. I also think this whole business of feeling like this is part of my learning to love accept myself as a good guy who is dedicated to following the Lord but is going to STUMBLE some times. I really believe God would rather have me try and stumble then not try at all.

So that is the focus...keep, trying, never stop doing my best to be of service to others and it all may just fall right into place....I think I will run with that focus for a while!

(Painting by Vincent Van Gogh)

The Curve Ball

I once thought that the first couple of years of my sobriety would end up being the most chaotic, unpredictable and challenging. And they have been all of that let me assure you. But the turn my life has taken right at this moment, after 5 years in recovery has really thrown me a curve-ball...mainly because of my becoming a FOLLOWER of Christ. That has really shaken things up for me...turned my world completely upside down. And yea, I totally see it as a positive doubt about it.

And I am OK with that. It is tough for me at times from the standpoint that I don't really know what's happening next and I am a control freak to a certain extent. Faith does not come naturally for me so that is always going to be a challenge, having to remain patient then acting when the appropriate time comes. Knowing that God and God alone will tell me when that time is. I also know how I am and how I can react to certain situations. I will start to believe that I'm actually in control...I cannot, I mean absolutely can not afford to do that now. The risk of failure is too I need help.

That is the reason that I have asked certain individuals who I respect, admire and trust to help teach, guide and mentor me through this journey. I believe I am at the very beginning of a new life of ministering to people's needs: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Ministering to  someones spiritual needs is truly something very new and different for me. It is exciting and I am really committed to this work. It is also a confusing time for me in that I don't always trust myself, in that I'll make the right decisions and do the right thing.

That was an important factor in my choice to include these men in my life and this journey, they can give me an objective point of view. They aren't afraid to tell me when I am wrong or taking charge. They have shown me the importance of prayer and listening, "being still in the Lord" as it were. This is really critical for me because I haven't a clue where to start or go with that. I am not good at "being still" for any reason so it would not have occurred to me. It's already proven to be helpful...listening with my heart.

That was a foreign concept, needless to say. I am really far outside of my comfort zone talking about God to others. Now I have read the bible to a large group and am choosing to expend that program into other Nursing Home type environments...this will most definately continue so i am trying to develop a better way of managing my life and my time.

So it truly is a step out onto the ledge of faith. It is frightening yet I am not really afraid...I trust God, i know I am not alone and that truly makes all the difference for me today. Well I've run out of time so I'll post this and pick up on this line of thought later today. Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Slight, Sliver Of A Chance!

Ever find it funny or ironic that no matter how hard someone may try to "fudge" the truth a bit about there life, pretend that everything is doing great when it isn't...reality has it's on way of crashing in on the party.

Back in my drinking days I could really tell a good lie, I was pretty darn good at it too. Well I had enough freaking practice because I was lying about something pretty much all the time! No matter the subject or whether or not I had time to prepare, I could come up with a very believable story (LIE) in a very short period of time.

Even to the very end of my drinking and drugging I could quickly come up with a story or excuse to explain away some screw up or mistake on my part. The issue with me became one of physical health and appearance. I was telling everyone I was doing great when I looked white as a sheet and had gone from 6'1" 180 lbs down to 6'1" 139 lbs! I looked like a Concentration Camp survivor. All people had to do, even those who had never actually met me before was take one look at me and they knew something was really, really wrong.

I was dying right in front of their eyes. I hardly ate, all I did in the last year of my using was snort Coke, take hard core pain meds and drink booze. They had me on some psych meds as well but i haven't a clue what i was actually taking...I don't really recall a lot of the time period either, just bits and pieces.

Eventually reality set in and collapsed the entire charade...I couldn't live that way anymore and I tried to kill myself...and I failed at that as well. That was when the jig was up...I couldn't find a way to live and now it seemed like I couldn't die either. I had not freaking idea what to do. That was the absolute, lowest point of all in my entire life. That was the feeling of sheer hopelessness, I had no where else to turn. I was completely alone, I had turned my back on my family, on my friends. And I didn't believe in God really or I believed he didn't want anything to do with me.

So I was utterly and completely isolated and alone. I've said this before and it is so true...I believe that the only way I was going to stop resisting and surrender to this disease of Alcoholism/Addiction was to get to this exact point, where I felt utterly helpless and hopeless. That is the moment that I threw in the towel and started to listen to those who were trying to help me. And from that moment on...I had a slight, sliver of a chance of surviving!

The Truth Is...

OK, I guess I write more mid-afternoon blog posts then I thought I did...this is like the 3rd one this week! Here I thought I knew my own patterns and well...I obviously don't. I live kind of a funny schedule where I am up at 4am or so and often get a lot of my daily stuff accomplished in the first 6 to 7 hours of the day. By 1p or so, right after lunch I have a bit of a siesta (Read: NAP) and then at 2-3p I'm off and onto something else. Usually an outside activity like Crippled Golf or walking. I usually don't fall asleep until 1a or so, then i wake every 45 minutes or so because of pain or a potty break. This basically means that on a good night/day, I'm still only getting 3-5 hours of sleep each day tops.

It's enough for me to live my life, I guess. I've tried to get into a more "normal" sleep pattern but this current routine seems to work the best for me so I stick with it...People think I'm crazy for getting up so early but I have to admit that I really enjoy it. I usually write for an hour after reading the morning paper which conveniently comes around 4a out here....If I do have appointments or errands in town, I prefer to schedule them for an early time slot...I like to get the days work completed in the morning so the afternoons and evenings are completely my own. It doesn't always work that way but typically it does...

One of the things I have learned in my life is to just take things as they are. I spent a great deal of time in the past trying to change my daily routines because others thought it was weird for me to be up so early, etc. The truth is that this works really well for me so I eventually just left it alone. In all honesty, it doesn't really effect anyone but K-Sue when she is around and she actually likes it and has adapted to it.

It didn't make any sense at all to try and force a schedule that "doesn't work for me" into my daily routine just because it's different then the "norm"... That now has applied to other areas of my life as well. It was all part of me learning to accept myself as I am and not try to be something that I am not. I did spend a lot of years trying to please others by being what they wanted me to be before I got a case of the F-Its and just did what I wanted. Neither way was particularly helpful or I just try to be myself...and it's funny but people actually accept me the way I am! Not sure why I had it in my head that they wouldn't!

OK, right now my schedule routine is telling me it is time for a bit of ice cream then perhaps a walk...a mild, easy walk since the back has been uncooperative as of late...So maybe we'll post 3 times today, maybe not but if I do...I'll see you then!

(Painting by Vincent van Gogh)

Wet Leaves Lie...

A hard rain, it seems...actually did fall.
Any regular reader to this blog will realize in short order that I tend to see rain or snow as a redemptive or cleansing thing. And boy did we ever get a "cleansing" around here the last two nights. The rain really fell and I tend to think it isn't a coincidence or an accident...nope.

I believe that I need to be reminded that to "wash away" the difficult memories of the past I've experienced the last couple of days...I do this by prayer and meditation. God tends to do the rest these days...

I am referring to the difficult memories brought on by the hospitalization of a friend for his addiction. I have basically written the last two days worth of posts on the subject and I think it's time to put all that into proper perspective. Not so much to put it "behind me" as to put it in a proper place so I can continue my daily journey.

I'll admit it: The sorrow was beginning to wear on me. And I have no problem experiencing strong emotions about this situation, I wouldn't be human if I didn't. I also wouldn't be much of a friend if I didn't care.

Some will say that you can't let yourself get "personally  or emotionally involved" in the lives of practicing addicts, that it will eat you up inside and spit you out. My contention is that I have absolutely NO CHANCE of helping them in ANY way if I don't get emotionally involved. You just have to stay connected to the Creator and he nudges me in the right direction.

Just like now...I have felt a great deal of painful sh*t the last couple of days...hey, it hurts to see a friend suffer so...especially the way he is suffering with so many similarities to my own story. But I also know when it's time to move on to a different place where I can detach a bit but still be engaged. And I've managed to do that through meditation and prayer. It grounds me, strengthens me so i can hopefully still be helpfully engaged in G's life...if he wants me to be.

I used to think that you either experienced your emotions, full bore until they consumed you or you held them back completely. Now I realize that isn't necassary, that there is some middle ground. That is a big change between Thom today and the way I behaved 6 years ago...I understand moderation, the ability to feel yet not let it devour me. It has been difficult learning that lesson at times but very worthwhile. I am much more useful to my friends and family that way.

So Now that the cleansing rain of last night has past, I'm going to step out side, refreshed and rejuvenated to see what this day is going to bring...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Can't Blow Smoke...

I'd like to say I'm all pumped up by "The Addicts" chances to find sobriety this time but I'm not...I don't feel very optimistic at all. Sorry, but when it comes to life and death sh*t like this I'm not gonna blow smoke up any body's BUM...his chances are SLIM to none. Why?! Why would I say something that cold, so negative?

Uh...probably because I've seen this all before...countless times. I don't think "G" is ready to stop clinging to the notion that HE CAN LICK THIS ON HIS OWN. In his mind he is still in control...yep, that's right. He is in the hospital having difficulty talking, even putting a simple thought into words. and let's face it...he is a grown man wearing a diaper, unable to control his bodily functions and can barely eat on his own. But he dodged the bullet...once AGAIN. And that gives us junkies a false sense of control...2 weeks from now he could very well be seen walking into Lefty's (a local Tavern). This disease is an insidious KILLER, it lies and tells us we are OK, even when everyone else in the entire world can see that we aren't...

Let me say prayer tonight is that I am totally and completely WRONG about all of this. Prove me wrong BROTHER, I want you too...God, I want him too but he still clings to SELF.

This is one of those times that I refer to occasionally when i say I wish I could just NOT CARE. That I could just go about my business...and let these addicts fend for themselves..hey, I did! Sure I did...just ask Kim about that! She'll explode that myth in about 30 seconds...

I will say this about this situation with "G"...the reason I have chosen to share this with the blog world is to let you see how this recovery thing works. There is NO science, there is no can be frustrating, heartbreaking and just plain hard to take. But when someone gets sober and finds recovery...well that is a miracle...and I've been privileged to witness some of those..including my own hopeless situation.

The events I'm describing if you haven't already figured it out is somewhat similar to my own situation...that is why I have chosen to share this with you. This one hits VERY close to home. I'm sure no one gave me much of a chance either...yet God intervened and here I am. And it can happen for G as well. all we can do is pray...offer a helping hand and continue to visit, and perhaps something will give and he will surrender. It can happen just like addict will resist come hell or high water and just when you think that there is no possible chance they will change...they do.

Sometimes it takes a major event in a persons life like a failed suicide attempt but more often then not something in side just collapses...and the will to resist fades away. Call it what you like, I call it Divine Intervention!

The Heartache Lingers Long...

Yesterday's experience at the hospital hasn't left me, not even for a second, the entire has profoundly affected me...and I knew that it would. These situations ALWAYS do and they should, it's traumatic and heartbreaking stuff. The moment these type of things stop getting to me is the moment that I am in danger of drinking again.

When I experience moments like this one, that take me right back to a very painful place in my past, it sometimes almost takes a surreal it was me yet it really wasn't. I remember it almost as if I am remembering a dream. Some of that is because I wasn't really in my right mind at the time I experienced it...for starters I was completely and totally stoned, really messed up. I was also very ill, usually in some state of dope withdrawal or form of overdose plus I had advanced pneumonia w/high was always a feast or famine situation with me, things were OK or they were life or death.  there wasn't much middle ground in my life at that time.... 

There is nothing routine or CONSISTANT about being a practicing dope addict and alcoholic. You are either running out of booze/dope or you have plenty and take way too much, because a little was just NEVER good enough, ALWAYS need more. In my case and I believe in this fellows case as well, I was also taking a boat-load of prescribed drugs in addition to the illicit drugs. Mostly stuff for pain, Bi-Polar and Depression...powerful anti-anxiety, anti-depression drugs in very high sleeping pills like Ambien. That just complicated the situation even more. I was literally dancing with the DEVIL every single moment of my life. He is too...

My body didn't know if it was coming or going, it was being pulled in so many different directions and all at the same time. Seeing this yesterday has really affected me, it never gets easy when you are confronted with the true reality and IMPACT of your past, on yourself and in particular on others.

This fellows daughter was there and I couldn't help thinking about my own daughter Chelsea and my son Ian. I have made amends to them for my behavior and more importantly to THEM, I have changed...One day at a time I am clean and sober today with a whole new way of living. That is what's important to them...what I'm doing NOW, how I am living NOW...NOT just what I am SAYING I'm going to do. They had heard all that sh*t before. They wanted me to change...and they wanted to SEE the CHANGE. Thank God they have...

And I think that is what hurts me most about this situation yesterday, because I know that he has to CHANGE, right NOW or he is going to die. That is a simple, unvarnished FACT. And honestly I'm not sure he is ready to stop using drugs and drinking...and it tears me apart inside when I think about it. It is truly insane for a person in that kind of shape to even contemplate drinking again yet that is what us Alcoholics...DO. So What can I really do to help him if he doesn't want to help himself?!

Well...I can show up and visit...and I will. I can pray and I am but ultimately the first move is HIS: God will help him and so will his friends IF he will let us. That is a decision that he is going to have to make for himself...and he had better make it SOON.

(Painting by Vincent Van Gogh)