In the middle of a major trial and grateful for my 12 step program

This last Friday was my last day with the company I’ve been with for the last several years.  I work in a remote office that was part of a San Francisco based company.  There were 30 of us in our office and we were all let go at the same time.  We were close, like family.  It was one of the hardest experiences of my life to say goodbye to everyone last week.  I would equate it to the pain I felt when my grandfather, who was a major part of my life, passed away suddenly.  I felt SUPER sad.  I felt lost.  I felt some fear and anxiety.  It was like a massive storm was upon me in the open ocean and I was just getting pummeled by wave after wave! Continue reading

Have a plan when you go on vacation and stick to it!

Two weeks ago when I left on vacation I was committed to following my plan to make sure that I studied my scriptures at least 15 minutes a day — most likely in the evening.  This would be the difference in my plan this time versus all of the times in the past.  Usually when I go on vacation I’m fairly triggered by the end of it and that would always frustrate me.  After analyzing past experiences, I realized that it was because I wasn’t doing my morning studies which would result in me being more tempted, more frustrated, and more manic by the end of the trip.  But this time would be different. Continue reading

Peace and nature are great for the soul

We went for a boat ride on the canals of the south. By the end of the ride I was as relaxed as I had felt in months! It felt so good to be at such an incredible level of peace. Nothing bothered me. I wasn’t tense. I wasn’t anxious or worried. Nothing weighed on my mind. Ahhhh…

It reminded me that my counselor told me to go outside more often and to just pay attention to the little details or listen for the quiet sounds. The 11th step also reminds us to meditate daily. 

This morning as I was reading my scriptures I went outside and just listened to nature. There were 4-5 different kinds of birds. There were cows. Horses. Dogs. Just going about their morning but it was so calming to take it all in. With each breath in I could feel how alive everything was. With each breath out I could feel my stress, worries and burdens leaving me.

God will care for my worries and burdens while I am gone. He cares for them when I’m home (and I let him), He always has. As I listened to God’s creations and as I watched His sun climb high into the sky, and felt it’s warmth on my face, I was once again reminded how much He genuinely loves us. Deeply. We’re so important to Him. Each one of us matters to Him on an individual level. 

I felt lifted by the gratitude I felt. I am very thankful to be on this earth at this time doing whatever I can to help Him help others. 

May I keep feeling His peace. May you feel His peace and love. He does love you!

My name is Mike

Over the hills and through the woods…

My family and I are headed on a vacation for the next week or so. This is a great thing! I love to recharge, I love to visit new places, and I love to be with my family. I’m really looking forward to the time off from work and the other responsibilities of every day life. However, there’s always a tricky part to traveling as an addict. I’m out of my element. I’m outside my normal habits and patterns. It’s easy to get my studying in every morning at home because I get up at 6:00am every day, exercise, study, and then go about my day. Nothing to worry about, I’m usually in complete autopilot mode. But as soon as I leave home and go on vacation all of my daily habits seem to get thrown out the window.  In the past I never really noticed the change nor did I notice the negative impact it had on my wellbeing. For example, although I would be having the time of my life I would often feel triggered which would make me irritable and eventually I’d start taking out my frustration with my mood on my family. Not a good combination. But then one of my sponsors mentioned to me, “You know, you can be triggered from high positive emotions as easily as low difficult ones, right?” I did not know that. But it made sense. All the years I used, I primarily used to relieve myself of stress and other difficult emotions. As a result I was not used to feelings the emotional highs and lows. I had been numbing them out for years. Now that I was feeling those strong emotions again it was foreign to me and my brain wanted to get rid of it and looked for ways to do it that were like my old ways.

The good news is that was a long time ago. I’m a completely different person today, thankfully. In large part because of the 12-steps and the transformative power that God has to heal us when we turn our lives over to Him and quit trying to run the show ourselves.

What that means today is that I recognize that I need to put extra effort into doing my daily studies. I also need to make sure that I spend time in mediation — keeping my mind in a nice, level, healthy place. A good example is that this morning we were up at 3:25am and went straight to the airport. No time to study there, nor was I awake enough to really get anything out of it. I slept on the plane and now we’re in the airport waiting for our next connection. I should be reading but my body says, “Nah, you’re on vacation, take a break!” But my mind just smirks a knowing smile and says, “How about I handle this one? Time to study.” So as soon as I’m done posting this entry I’ll be off to my studies and then I’ll know I’ll have a great day. AND I’ll be sure to look for an opportunity to help other people. The more I can make it about others, the less I make it about me and I more easily avoid the trap of selfishness. 

To help me stay sober during our vacation I’ll try to drop a line from time to time via a blog entry to just check in. Should be fun. 

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas season and if you are able to spend time with family I hope it is uplifting and energizing. Remember the little things — they make all of the difference. I pray that God will light your way forward. I pray that your fellowship will help lift you. I pray that your sponsor will be honest with you and that you’ll have the courage to follow his or her suggestions. I pray that you stay sober — one day at a time :

My name is Mike

A year and a half later I still reach out to my sponsor

Last week was a difficult week for me.  I was struggling with stress from work, the time I was spending with my recovery groups, time with family, time with church obligations, and on top of that I felt like I was not giving enough attention and effort to my relationship with my wife.  I felt like I was crumbling underneath it all and not doing well in any one of them.  I was beginning to feel self-pity, resentment, fear, and anger.  I ignored it for a few days, but finally I found the humility to admit that I was once again powerless over this struggle and needed to reach out to someone immediately.  Continue reading

9 months of sobriety

This week in my SAA Primary Purpose 12 step meeting I celebrated my 9 months of sobriety since starting with my SAA 12 step group and finding freedom from my addiction (you can find a local SAAPP group here if interested).  We’ve restarted reading the AA big book using the question and answer study guide.  We all commented on one of the paragraphs in Doctor Bob’s introduction where he whole heartedly endorsed the method of the AA 12 step program as the best way to beat addiction.  What struck us most was the first key to recovery that he focused on was to share the message of your own recovery with others.  That you needed to work the steps and then go find other people to help them work their steps (this is effectively step 12). Continue reading