Gratitude 2019

Today I have 18 years free from drugs and alcohol. I can safely say no one ever saw that coming. What with the way I was living and the destruction of everything I touched it was becoming more and more apparent I wasn’t headed down the primrose path to a long wonderful life. January 8th 2001 I walked into a long-term residential rehab. My only intention was to stay one step ahead of my parole officer. As a convicted felon I was on what’s known as high control parole, which basically means I was under heavy scrutiny with constant surveillance, unannounced piss tests, parole agents showing up at my work and home whenever they pleased, and mandatory weekly appointments reporting live and in person. Which of course is exactly what “high control” sounds like, and with this kind of “supervision” one would think I would have walked the straight and narrow—at least until I was discharged (especially with the ever present threat of a twenty-five to life prison sentence hanging over my head). Yet this exact disregard for myself, and my wellbeing, was a true testimonial to the pull of heroin addiction (talk about high control). Regardless of the consequences I had stopped checking in (technically called absconding), was again shooting dope, and committing petty crimes to support my habit. It was only a matter of time before I was caught and sent back to prison.

On the day I walked into rehab the counselor doing intake told me they were full and I should come back next week when there’d be an opening. Not that willing to actually quit heroin I took this as a sign I was free to use all weekend and then return on Monday to be saved. Screw those bastards at parole. Checking myself into rehab was a get out of jail free card. I’d be in treatment before they found me, and by then it’d be old news and they’d just let me stay rather then deal with the hassle of violating me. With the entire weekend open and available I was going to shoot dope until I was really ready to quit. The counselor’s words were like a reprieve from hell and I was out the door and around the block just about to call my dealer when my phone rang… It was the counselor I had just left. He had pulled some strings. There was an available bed. I should come back immediately. Reluctantly I returned, and the rest, as they say, is history.

These past eighteen years have been a long worthwhile journey. Not always easy, at times incredibly hard, and others immensely rewarding. I have never regretted making the decision to ask for help, enter rehab, get clean, and stay clean. I now have an amazing supportive group of people in my life. I continue to have a healthy relationship with a cool-ass sponsor who only has my best interest at heart. I socialize with fellow addicts and alcoholics and attend meetings as an integral member of the recovery community. Whenever possible I give back by being of service to others.

Being in recovery has allowed me to actually become a better person. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. Even on my worst days I’m still in rhythm with the universe and I am forever indebted, humbled, and grateful. Without recovery I couldn’t be in a healthy relationship. Jenn and I are coming up on our two year anniversary of marriage and seven years of being together—which is the longest I have ever been with anyone. We share a deep connection of love and intimacy. We’re totally inseparable and everyday is a gift.

For my day job I’m still working in treatment and I deal with a lot of challenging clients and help them begin their own journey of recovery. It takes a lot of dedication. It’s hard work—but in the end worth every drop of sweat. Although the absolute best thing about working in recovery is that it allows me the time to write that teaching never did. I’ve complete my second memoir titled: Anarchy At The Circle K: On The Road with Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., Flipper, Subhumans… And Heroin — it’s all about my punk rock days of touring and causing mayhem in the clubs and on the highways of America. When the dust settles from the holidays and the powers that be in the publishing industry return to their offices I’ll start the process of getting published again. Not a dance I relish. But this is the profession I chose.  

I lost loved ones, family, friends, and people I know and respect this year. You will all be missed and continually loved in my heart and memories. I’m getting to that age where people close to me die. It happened with drugs back in the ‘80’s. But these days I’m more present. Life has more meaning. My relationships more valued—every moment that much more precious. I’ve made a commitment to engage with friends and family more. Whenever someone comes to mind, I reach out, because I never know if I’ll see them again. I recently had an opportunity to visit with a friend, but I was tired from work and canceled thinking we could reschedule anytime. That person died a week later. It hit me hard. I’m not going to let that happen again.  

Over the holidays I spent quality time with family and friends and basked in the warmth of appreciation and abundance. In a room full of people that matter I can easily be loving and grateful. Yet unbelievable as this may sound I’m not always that positive person brimming with love and gratitude. It’s just not my default mode. I’m quick to see blame and negativity. Some mornings I wake with an intense feeling of impending doom. Other mornings I’m almost happy to be alive—but there’s always a catch—as I calculate my options determining what I’m lacking. If there’s a glass it’s definitely half full. 

These are the moments where it is easy to get lost and lose sight of what’s important. When I want for a host of external solutions, as if there’s a missing component that is going to help me find purpose and attain satisfaction, I know I’m just grasping for an answer that can only come from within. Instead of buying another guitar or a bigger flat screen TV, I ask the universe for faith and to be grateful for every aspect of my life. Does this always work? Not always, and definitely not immediately. But much like being present with all my relationships, asking for help is another thing I am practicing. I’m getting older. Time is finite. I care more. I do more. 

2018 was abundant with the good, the difficult, and in between—all of which I am truly grateful for.

 
 

Dedicated to Cathy Eddy – much love, miss you