Archive | February, 2013

18 years, one day at a time…

24 Feb

All I will do is share my experience, strength and hope with you…

I have now been sober for 18 years. That means I have not used alcohol in 18 years.

I put down my last bottle of beer and I was “directed” to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) by my creator, God on 2/24/95. I had been in AA for a few months back in 94′ after my psychiatrist “diagnosed” me (finally) as an alcoholic. However, I wasn’t done yet and relapsed until 2/24/95 when God told me to get my butt back to AA and this time STAY PUT!

And that my friends is where I have been for 18 years, in AA, apart of AA, loving AA. Using alcohol is only symptom of the disease of alcoholism. A big symptom nonetheless, but just one symptom in this fatal disease that most people still after Bill W. and Dr. Bob started AA way back 1935, simply don’t or won’t understand.

The driving force between alcoholism is thinking distortions or errors. No alcoholic (when still using alcohol) will believe they have thinking distortions, but they do. Hence, why they can’t tell you they do.

That is why I still attend and participate in AA after almost two decades, because my thinking still needs regular check-ins and check-ups. I get that at AA meetings where I believe God speaks through those at the meetings so I can hear what I need to hear, to make it another day in this very troubled world.

I was recently in a relationship with an active alcoholic. I loved her dearly but she left because I believe she wasn’t ready to give up the cunning, baffling, and powerful liquid called alcohol. I wanted so badly for her to “get it” and to stay sober with me. I saw a great life ahead for us if she did. But like millions of others of alcoholics, she wasn’t ready to surrender and get the help she needs.

I just finished watching the movie, Flight, starring Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly. As the case in most of Denzel’s movies, it was a good one. Denzel plays a pilot who saves the day but can’t save his life until…he gets honest with himself…and that my friends, is the key, honesty. I had to get honest with myself before I could get honest with God and you. Believe me, honesty in this world is tough to come by but I have to practice it diligently or I will die and I am not ready to die yet. God isn’t through with me yet (here, that it is).

There is a great line in Flight when Denzel’s estranged, grown son asked him, who are you? And he replies, that is a good question…

As I look back on another year of sobriety in recovery, it has been another tough one (unemployment, termination, betrayal, lost love) but I am continued to be very blessed and honored to be sober today.

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Disasters: A Different View

23 Feb

1/28/86……………..4/19/95……………..9/11/01…………

In my middle-aged brain, these three dates are seared into it. The first: the Space Shuttle Challenger with a teacher on the crew exploded only 73 seconds after lift-off. The second: the OKC bombing set off by a very rageful, military veteran and the last one: Bin Laden taking control of airplanes and spawning the “War on Terror”.

Yesterday, since I had 30 minutes to play with, I ventured over to the OKC National Memorial where the Alfred Murrah Federal Building once stood proudly. As I walking by the iced covered reflecting pool that lies between the two golden gates marking the time before and after the explosion on 4/19/95, my thinking turned to the survivors of that infamous day in OK and American history.

So much has been said about the 168 humans who lost their lives that terrible day, but little has been said over the last 18 years about the humans who survived that day. I came across the “Survivors’ Wall” that is part of the outline of the 168 empty chairs and started to ponder about the survivors of that tremendous blast.

How many actually survived in the Murrah building? What are their lives like now? Did any of the kids that were in the building’s daycare survive, since 19 did not that day.

So I did a little research on the survivors and actually found very little. The mayor of OKC on the 15th Anniversary (I would rename it to the 15th Remembrance) said the following, “We have chosen strength, We have chosen optimism, We have chosen freedom, We have chosen to move forward together with a level of unity that is unmatched in any American city.”

The next year, the governor of OK said the following, “The memorial is a testament to the sacrifices of those killed and injured in the bombing, as well as the rescue workers who worked tirelessly to pull survivors from the rubble.”

Of the 25 children in the building’s daycare that day, six survived and you can check out their stories on CNN.com. One reporter asked one of the young survivors, “Why do you think you survived that day?” She replied humbly, I guess I have something important to do with my life. Another young survivor who is now a college student remarked that he treats his life as a “gift” and appreciates what he has.

There were 255 adults to make it out of the Murrah building alive that day, with 93% of those injured in some way. A study was conducted of 182 of those adults and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on 8/25/99. There was a 46% fatality rate inside the Murrah building and 45% of the 182 survivors developed post-disaster psychiatric disorders, with PTSD leading the way in 34% of the cases.

Fortunately, 69% of the 182 received some type of mental health intervention but only 16% actually were treated by a psychiatrist.

I mirror what one of those younger survivors said, we really need to treat each day we have as a gift and further, treat each other as gift as well.

 

 

Feeling Safe?

21 Feb

Are you feeling safe today? I am not feeling safe for the first time in a long time.

Since mentally ill and untreated Adam Lanza, killed 28 people (that includes himself), Oklahomans (I live in OK) and Americans have been buying up tons of guns of all sizes and tons of ammo.

That is the reason I feel less safe today, not in my humble home but once I leave my home. The gun industry, including the NRA has done a fine job of promoting FEAR to the people and that only way to feel SAFE is to own a revolver or a firearm that shoots up to 100 shots a minute.

You know the NRA was started to train new rifle users how to use their weapons safely. Fast forward more than a century later, and NRA only seems to  cares about gun rights, not gun safety. Firearms owners don’t have to participate in testing or training to own a gun or use a gun. They just  need to have the money. Before we are able to drive (legally), we are tested and trained. Why can’t it be the same for firearms owners?

It has been studied and studied some more that when you combine an untreated mentally ill person and a firearm, it is a bad combo. Why are people so ashamed to get their loved ones the help they need? Is it because they think it is a reflection of themselves that this loved one turned out sick?

I have never owned a firearm and never will (that is one never I will really stick to). Firearms have absolutely no appeal to me like they once did when I was a 12 year old boy. I don’t want to shoot a defenseless deer. I don’t think it is fun to shoot a target, hundreds of times (boring, boring). And definitely don’t need a firearm in my home for “protection”.

The funny Bill Cosby used to own a gun but then sold it. A few years later, his 27 year old son was killed by a gun toting criminal. There was nothing his son could have done to stop that person from shooting him. Having a gun on his person wouldn’t have stopped his killing.

A former police official in New York, during his tenure, went after the bad guys who had guns and the homicide rate was cut in half.

However, in today’s FEAR climate, since more people have more firearms at their disposal with their hundreds of rounds of ammo, more BAD GUYS will have access to firearms, hence more bad results.

Listen please: If you live with someone who hits you, get out and get help. If you live with someone who has mental or behavior issues, get them help and you get help. If you know someone who is suicidal, take it seriously. Stand by them, don’t give up on them. They have probably already given up on themselves.

And finally, be kind and considerate to those you come in contact with. We have enough FEAR and unkind and inconsiderate attitudes and acts going on, we don’t need to add more. Image

Appreciate the importance of PETS

10 Feb

How is everybody doing today? If you live in the NE part of the USA, I don’t envy u at all, digging out of the 3 feet of fresh fallen snow. Reminder: if you have a sweetheart, Valentine’s Day is just 4 days off.

So, I have put off writing this post long enough. Following my mom’s recent, significant loss of her 16 year old Dalmatian, Emma, I wanted to write a few words about the importance of pets.

Yes, I will use the word “pets” since technically that’s what they are. I call my cats my kids but really they are my pets who are treasured like kids. Trust me, I know this as a fact. I have helped raise six “step” kids and have worked professionally with hundreds of kids over the years.

Anyhoo, pets are awesome. I have a 13 year old cat named Clyde who is now in his early 70’s in human time. I almost turned down Clyde when he was first placed in my hand since I already had two other cats and I didn’t want to overdo it. But once Clyde (four white paws) was in my hand, he was mine, all mine.

Clyde has moved with me (several times to several states) and he rarely complains. He goes where I go. We like each others’ company except when he wants to be left alone which happens more and more but I will take what I can get.

Just knowing that Clyde is at home when I am work makes me smile. I am very fortunate to have such a special spirit along side me for my journey.