We can be heroes – just for one day
To this ………
Good tunes for a long haul flight I reckon 😉 Flying on Australia Day too – how apt!
We can be heroes – just for one day
To this ………
Good tunes for a long haul flight I reckon 😉 Flying on Australia Day too – how apt!
This weekly dose of daring from Brene Brown sums up perfectly how I’ve been feeling for the last 6 weeks since we found out I’d secured a job that has helped us fulfill our dream of moving to Australia.
So our hope was fading that I’d be able to find a professional position with employer sponsored visa and the week-end after my birthday I decided to give it one more push of responding to jobs advertised and approaching agencies with my resume. Little did I know that this final act would turn everything around.
Having emailed them on the Saturday I got a phone call from Brisbane on the Monday morning. And then 3 weeks later a phone call came on a Friday morning saying that the job they had put me forward for, although not the one for me, had put my CV in front of someone who knew someone who was looking for a nurse with skills and experience just like mine. So much so that they wanted to interview me the following Monday morning! And they were so keen they offered me the job on the phone then and there – twice!! And of course I said yes because this was the job:
The Clinical Nurse (Consultation Liaison) Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Service position provides a range of alcohol, tobacco and other drug assessment, screening, early and brief intervention, treatment and intervention services that address the health needs of clients with substance use issues.
The North West Hospital and Health Service covers an area of over 300,000 square kilometres and services the rural and remote communities within North Western Queensland and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Health Service includes the City of Mount Isa and the towns and areas of Burketown, Camooweal, Cloncurry, Dajarra, Doomadgee, Julia Creek, Karumba, Normanton and Mornington Island.
So my dream job in my dream country – the universe had my back all along 😉 This blog and all the resources I’ve developed were an important factor in my being successfully employed which just thrills me and fills me with pride. Everything I’ve been doing since I got sober has played a part and led to this moment and opportunity. As Belle said to me:
if you’re sober, then shit happens. and you’re living proof of that 🙂
It’s in the same state as my family who are a 3 hour journey away by plane and car. It’s a 4 year work visa but we’re hoping we can turn that into longer so that my children can finish their secondary education in Australia but we’ll see. Right now we don’t know and that’s okay.
Huge thanks goes to Tyler Dewar at HealthX who has been superb in sorting things out and supporting the process despite the time difference between here and there!
And where would I be without all of you? This blog, and by extension my sobriety, may have stumbled and ceased without your ongoing support, love and compassion and for that I am eternally grateful. I don’t know what the future holds or how the blog will proceed but I’d like it to continue to share my ongoing journey. I have enough blog posts scheduled to see us through until April and by then I’ll have had 3 months to settle in and learn how my new employer and this alcohol addiction and recovery blog will work in documenting both my professional life and my ongoing personal story of recovery.
We fly out in the next weeks in preparation for me starting my new job so bear with me over the next few months as there may be delays in my responding to requests and replying to comments while we find out feet in Oz. I never thought I would be typing those words and that this dream would become a reality. In the words of Faithless & Dido: ‘It’s been a long time coming but it’s well worth waiting and I raise my hands and ask for nothing more‘ *cue happy tears*
So my word of the year for 2018 is fulfilment which follows on from abundance in 2015, clarity in 2016 and liberation/freedom in 2017. All have been incredibly prescient!
If you’d like to follow me in Oz I’ve set up a new Instragram account specifically for it which goes live today!
Happy New Year sober peeps – I’ll tell you more tomorrow 😉
This is the kind of cake I’ll be celebrating with this year – vegan! As we’ve gone further into recovery we’ve been looking at our diet and MrHOF hinted at it in his post recently. I’ve been eating increasing amounts of chocolate by way of treating myself and in the guise of self-care. Dare I say habitually even, almost like I used to justify drinking every day to myself (cross addiction anyone?) and my weight has been creeping up. Plus I know that my diet has needed looking at for a while but I have been
procrastinating waiting until I was really solidly grounded in my sobriety before I started changing big things again. I watched a few films Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and its follow-on Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2, Forks over Knives and Vegucated in the last month and this has kick started my endeavours.
We’re not planning on going totally vegan but are reducing our intake of processed food, meat and dairy so that includes chocolate. We started the transition about 5 weeks ago and I’m feeling great! I’ve already dropped 6lbs and am not really missing it to be honest as Davina’s power balls have come to the rescue like they did when I went sugar free for Lent in 2015.
I’ll also be watching this again. My favourite things all combined – Tara Brach talking about attachments and addiction. Thank you to my gratitude buddy Beccy, who is the most amazing friend/godmother/ textile artist/nurse, for emailing this to me <3
In Buddhist cosmology the torment of intense desire that can never really be satisfied is depicted as the realm of Hungry Ghosts. This talk explores the attachments and addictions that so many of us struggle with, and the teachings and practices that can liberate us.
A gift to you from me 🙂
One of the things I most love about having this blog is that many people contact me and wish to share their story here. It seems so fitting that I was contacted by Andy in the last week who wanted to share his story at 8 years sober with everyone here and when I’ve just celebrated 3 years that felt really serendipitous 🙂
Over to Andy:
“For a star to be born,
There is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse.
This is not your destruction.
This is your birth.”
Hi, my name is Andy and I have been sober for 8 years. Eight years. Wow. As I write these words I feel a kind of euphoria. I feel like climbing the world’s highest mountain and screaming them out for all the universe to hear. I did it. I can’t believe I did it. But it’s been no walk in the park to get here. I collapsed, I crumbled, and I’m finally here.
My family and I were living in SoCal. After having fled from the internal conflict as well as the infamous drug cartel activity that plagued Colombia in the ‘80s. I was a happy kid and had a great childhood. My life was everything I ever dreamed of until the night that I first tasted Aguardiente.
Aguardiente is an immensely popular form of alcohol in Colombia. It’s strong and has the flavour of anise. My family was having a party at home, and if you know anything about Latin culture it’s that we love to party.The adults always seemed to have such a good time while drinking Aguardiente. They would dance, laugh and be merry. I was a preteen and I wanted to feel whatever it was that the adults felt. That night, I snuck some of it while all the adults were busy dancing. Then I snuck a little more, and a little more after that. Soon enough I was drunk.
I wish I could tell you that it went horribly and I steered clear of the stuff until much later in life. But the truth is that I enjoyed the feeling of being carefree and letting go. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I was just a cooler person when drunk. With that mentality I became hooked to marijuana when I was 14 years old, which was then followed by meth at 19.
Steel Bars with a Silver Lining
I was sentenced to two years in prison for drug related charges when I was 22 and I still didn’t think I had a problem. I even joined AA meetings while in prison, but it was purely to spend an hour or so outside of my tiny, cold cell. During the first dozen meetings I would just sit there. I wouldn’t introduce myself, and I sure as hell wouldn’t share anything. It all seemed so worthless to me. I felt like everyone else had a problem whereas I was just so much better and in control of myself.
The only people that ever visited me during my time there were my parents. Those visits were both the highlights and lowlights of those two years. On the one hand it was good to get to see the people that actually cared about me, the people that raised me, but on the other hand I saw their disappointment. Pretty much every visit was tainted with the faint shadow of disappointment. They tried to hide it, but it was there.
What was worse was my mother’s guilt. During one of their first visits she started sobbing and listing all the things she thought she could have done to stop this from happening. But I couldn’t deal with that. I didn’t even properly comfort her. There was this coldness that rushed over me, a hardness, I just wanted her to stop talking. It was her problem, not mine. I had enough to deal with.
It wasn’t until an NA meeting much further into my sentencing that I was able to understand my mother’s guilt. An older man stood up to share his story and I felt as if I experienced a paradigm shift. His story was one of lost love. The woman he loved had always been there for him. She always supported him, covered for him, loved him. But then she started blaming herself for the fact that he wasn’t getting better until finally, after so many years, she realized that none of it was her fault and just left.
The only woman I ever loved was my mother. She had always been my rock. I couldn’t keep the thought of losing her, once and for all, out of my mind. Being locked up, the physical consequences and the emotional consequences made me realize that I needed to change.
That’s when I decided to recover. I dropped the alcohol and the drugs, and became completely focused on work. I found a job that I was actually really good at. The job was to sell discount perfumes and colognes. I got so good at it that people respected me for it, I got my own little office with a desk and everything. I was even in charge of training new salespeople. I got so wrapped up in my job that I became a workaholic. Little did I know that I wasn’t recovering at all. I now know that I was simply sublimating. I was still an addict, and my work was my new high. It was just a more socially acceptable high. And of course I relapsed. I relapsed hard.
I still remember the feeling. This time I knew something was terribly wrong. I could see how much I thought I needed something to make me feel better. I would lash out and felt like my insides were screaming at me. The moment I drank or smoked or whatever, I felt a sense of relief. But the relief was accompanied by a crushing guilt and I couldn’t take it. I begged my parents for help. I’m fairly certain that I would have died if they hadn’t admitted me into a rehabilitation center in Boise. They helped me work through the guilt, the shame, the anger, everything. They encouraged me to write letters to the people I love and bare my heart and soul. It’s because of those letters that I can proudly say that my mother is now my best friend. That place damn near saved my life.
New and Improved
My life truly took a turn for the better when I met my incredible sponsor at a local AA meeting. He gave me an ultimatum. Either go through the process of passing a college course, or find another sponsor. I gave in and enrolled in a computer course. I’ve always been pretty handy with the internet and computers so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, I was in love. Soon enough, I was swimming in textbooks about digital marketing, HTML, coding, online everything. I finally found my passion.
Here I am now, and I’ve been completely clean for 8 years. In those 8 years I moved back to Colombia and co-created a website development agency right in the very city I was born. I’ve surrounded myself with good people, hard-working go-getters with good heads on their shoulders. And I know that in order to get to where I am today, I had to go through everything. I had to collapse, I had to crumble and become a whole new me. I still go to meetings, to always be mindful and always stay on the right track. My parents visit me whenever they can and one day I will get my Mom and Dad a place of their own here so they can back home.
No I in Recovery
Addiction is a selfish thing. Even though I’ve found addicts to be generally good people, our addiction makes us selfish without us even realizing it. I believe the true anchor to my recovery is the realization that it is not all about me. Of course it is somewhat about me. But it is also about the people around me and the people I love.
I have to stay sober for me, my job, my mom, and everyone else. Addiction is not a spectator sport, and I know that now, so I am grateful for every single person in my life and every opportunity that comes my way.
Hi, I’m Andy. I have been sober for 8 years and I will never let addiction hurt me or the people I love, ever again.
Thank you to Andy and also thank you to every one of you who reached out to me via the comments or email yesterday. It makes my heart swell even more with gratitude and love for this most wonderful sober community <3
It’s over a week ago that Mrs HOFL told me today I would notch up 3 years of no drinking and in something of a state of shock and awe I offered to write a guest blog. Unfortunately it completely slipped my mind again and I find myself now hastily tapping some words out. I suppose that I should consider it a good thing that I don’t count the days, or even the years, so that I’m blissfully unaware of such a thing, whatever it is. It’s a state of mind, perhaps? After all, it’s just a number and I was reading in New Scientist the other day that time doesn’t really exist anyway.
Time certainly seems to have disappeared into some kind of black hole this past week. I must admit to struggling with some of the thoughts that I have had, whether I was conscious of what time it was or what I was supposed to be doing. I thought that somehow life would be easier if I gave up drinking. I was sure that somehow I would be better fortified without fortification. What delirious delusion that consciousness would help!
So here I am trying to write a Friday Sober Jukebox blog, when previously I had imagined that music and alcohol were so passionately entwined, often on a Friday night, nay ALWAYS on a Friday night. Booze was often an integral part of my listening experience and an integral part of my own music-making process. The lyrics always seemed to flow better with the wine, in more ways than I care to list here. In fact, it pains me to confess that my own songwriting output has distinctly tailed off in the past thousand-odd days.
Mrs HOFL is now suggesting that we adjust our diets to the extent that we give up some previously integral ingredients – meat, dairy, fish, to name but three. I should make it clear that I am not averse to this idea and am keen to experiment, but the thing is, what do we replace these things with. I have given up meat before and so I know how difficult this can be. Substituting food often means just that – vege-burgers and bizarre baconesque confections spring to mind. Things to delude us that we aren’t missing out. Where is the ‘meat’ in the sandwich? What do you put in instead?
An hour ago I went for a walk. I needed to just get out and think of what to write in this post. It was then that I realised what I had to write about. If we don’t ‘use’ something, we probably need to ‘use’ something else. In lieu of hard drink we need something and lime and soda probably isn’t going to cut it. A walk seems to work for me. There are a few things that work for me, I suppose, but they’re not always obvious. I’ve come to realise that they are quite necessary though, in order to be happy, whatever that is.
My selection on the jukebox tonight is Cups by Underworld. An old drinking buddy used to use the old term ‘in his cups’ to describe someone who was drinking. I don’t know if this is what Underworld had in mind when they wrote it, in fact I would be surprised if anyone, even Underworld knows what the lyrics mean, but I had an Underworld track in my head when I got home from work today and it may be a tenuous link but it’s Friday night, so there….
Unsurprisingly this is a tune I love to – just like the man himself who chose it tonight 😉 Similar and together in our choices in this journey we call life ….
G’day sober lovelies! Long time no write but boy have I been busy exploring lots of new things. Getting up early with the sunrise and the sound of kookaburra’s as my alarm clock, going to bed early and happily exhausted from so much travelling, doing and seeing; watching possums crawl across my tent roof at night, sand tobogganing, running along beaches, stroking kangaroo’s, eating concrete – an extra hard ice-cream (and how about liqourice flavour? – it’s delicious!), snorkelling among the turtles, rays, reef sharks and tropical fish with my children at the Great Barrier Reef and watching hump back whales and their calves. I could go on and on and on 🙂
Australia was AMAZING. I love everything about the place, the people and the food – being eaten alive by sand flies not so much. I won’t bore you with all my holiday photos but will share these three which sum up the whole experience so well. Magical beaches, sunsets and memories – like seeing pods of wild dolphins 5 times and feeding them by hand not once but TWICE!!
Did the thought of drinking cross my mind? Maybe fleetingly once or twice. Did the thought of managing a hangover with all the activities we were doing puncture my consciousness? God yes. I would have wanted to stay up late after the kids (we went to bed at the same time as them pretty much all holiday) drinking. Those early morning wake-ups would have been a nightmare and I would have been a grumpy tired resentful parent. My focus would have been finding an excuse to drink at all times and time, activities and experiences would have been prioritised around that or the resulting hangover. I suspect we wouldn’t have done half as much as we did or travel as extensively as we did. We were so lucky as the family member we were travelling with also doesn’t drink and decaff tea was the drink of choice for all of us. Yes the family we were staying with drank but when we went out for dinner at another of their friends houses my sis in law said we were teetotal and that was that 🙂
Australian supermarkets are very sensible and you can only buy alcohol free products in them – I found and sampled a couple of AF beers which were very nice and saw a small selection of AF wines. You have to go to a bottle shop or liquor store for booze – although there were plenty about including drive through! Plus RBT (random breath tests) are a big thing both on the roads and water at any time of day. And my new favourite AF drink? Lemon, lime and bitters (from Bundaberg the biggest rum distillery in Oz who do a great range of AF drinks too).
And as for sober treats? How about an organic doughnut with macadamia nuts, mascarpone and fresh strawberries (this was sampled at Byron Bay) 😉
And as it’s a Saturday sober jukebox an Aussie tune too by Flume aptly titled When Everything Was New. It’s nice to be back, but truth be told I’d have happily stayed ……
Will be back tomorrow as taking my daughter to see Little Mix tonight!
I wrote a post before entitled Before and After Selfie and opened it with this sentence: ‘I wish I had had the foresight to do this when I stopped.’
Sorting through things to move recently I came across three photos which means I inadvertently did have the foresight it would seem 🙂 Amazing what you unearth when you aren’t looking for it!
So here they are – 4 photos of me:
I certainly look happier don’t I? Like the longer without booze the bigger my smile/grin gets 🙂 And you can see how my hair has grown in that time too – maybe it’s a Samson thing going on? I got stronger as my hair grew longer! LOL 😀
It’s taken me 2 years to feel comfortable with the idea of sharing my photo on my blog. I hate having my photo taken and would have been useless today in the era of selfies! I think I was afraid of family or friends finding the blog and then through photos linking it with me. I was still ashamed of my drinking even though I hadn’t done anything under it’s influence for 2 years. I still felt ashamed for being in recovery.
But not anymore. It is part of me now – and so I embrace it like I do the fact that I have blonde hair and blue eyes. I don’t hide it away in some dark corner like so many of my emotions that I tried to suppress in the past. That’s what took me to this place in the first place and kept me trapped for so long! No more secrecy. No more shame. No more hiding. As Brene says shame feeds on secrecy, silence and judgement (of self or of others). No more. And I’m doing the next right thing for me, which links perfectly with this parting gift today.
This short video comes courtesy of Glennon Doyle Melton over at Momastery and it’s about rock bottom. That picture of me taken before I stopped drinking maybe doesn’t look like a rock bottom but it sure felt like it to me and I feel much happier like this 🙂
So today marks the start of the Tommy Rosen’s 2.0 Recovery Conference and if you haven’t registered then go here: www.Recovery2point0.
A few years ago, my wife, Kia Miller, led a yoga retreat for about 30 people in Costa Rica. Six of us there were in recovery from addiction. Within a day, we kind of discovered each other, as we often do. It usually happens through certain telltale words and phrases that we have come to use as a result of our involvement in 12-Step recovery.
One night, we decided to have a meeting amongst ourselves and gathered around an out-of-the-way table. Another man in our group saw us together there and humbly asked if he could sit in. He had never been to a 12-Step meeting, but wanted to experience it. We were grateful to have him join.
One by one we briefly shared about our journey in recovery to this point. The shares were honest and powerful. There was a feeling of true connection. We were at once completely different from one another, yet so much the same.
The newcomer shared last and by this point he had heard a lot more than I think he was ready for. Hesitantly and with an apologetic demeanor, he stated that he drank regularly and had no intention of stopping. He explained further that he drank pretty much every evening. Sometimes he would get good and drunk. Other times just a little bit. He did admit that he was a bit concerned about the frequency and amount he was drinking, but despite his concerns, he was adamant that drinking was a normal part of life and he mostly enjoyed it. With each sentence, as he further bolstered his position, he kept apologizing for himself while the rest of us encouraged him to simply state his truth.
When the meeting was over, he took me to the side and said, “Tommy, I’m so sorry for what I did.”
“What did you do?” I asked sincerely.
He said, “You all are not able to drink and here I am, a guy who is stating that I can drink. I’m rubbing it in your faces. I can only imagine that this must be hard for you all.”
There was this awkward moment where I realized he thought we were jealous of him. I felt terrible for him in that moment. From his point of view, a life without drinking alcohol could not be a good life and anyone who HAD to stay sober must be terribly jealous of those fortunates who could happily imbibe. He could not conceive of the idea that we were truly happy and content NOT to be drinkers. He could not imagine that we would not change places with him under any circumstances.
This was a profound exchange for me. I saw through this man’s perspective how most of our society thinks. The majority of people in the United States drink alcohol regularly. Most people who drink think that people who don’t drink are, at best, missing something and, at worst, are living in what they imagine to be a depressed state of sobriety. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have not had a drug or drink for 23 years. When I first gave up those things, I, too, was in a deluded state of mind where I could not imagine life without alcohol and drugs. How would I get through the day? How would I connect with anyone? What would I do to pass the time? What would I do to cut my anxiety? The life I had known and built for myself revolved around drugs and alcohol. Thus, it was impossible at that moment for me to know what a life could be without those things.
I remember what it felt like to be in the “in between” phase. I knew I could not continue to live the way I had been, but I preferred to try to make it work than surrender to the idea that I had to let go of my way of life (read: my precious drugs and alcohol) and build something new.
This is the great challenge for anyone who gets sober. One must build a new way of being seemingly from scratch without knowing in advance what this is going to look like and how it is going to feel. To get clean and sober is to build a new identity, one much more rooted in truth and presence than illusion and avoidance. At first it is challenging, but ultimately it is immensely rewarding. And I believe this would be the case for nearly anyone, not just alcoholics and addicts who have to give it up.
I was speaking with my friend, Grant Johnson, recently who a little over a year ago, decided to stop drinking alcohol. Grant does not consider himself to be an alcoholic, but he did not like the overall effect that alcohol was having on his life. He let it go and now has had a year of experience with a different approach. This is not a person who, quietly desperate, counts the minutes till he can drink again. In fact, he is not thinking about it. He’s just out there living his life and reaping the benefits of a person who happens not to drink. Grant told me that to not drink is such an act of strength that he actually considers it to be a “superpower”. I just love that.
If you are like me and had to get sober, you may come to know that “in between” phase. It might just suck for a while as you develop a new life for yourself. Hang in there and allow yourself to develop. It takes time and therefore patience. It takes action and vigilance. It takes support and love.
While there are those people who unfortunately get stuck in recovery and do not grow beyond their misery, this is neither the norm, nor necessary. Do not fall prey to the mistaken idea that people in recovery and others who simply decide not to drink are miserable and longing to drink again.
The emphasis has to be on well-being. My recovery mantra is: “Don’t just survive addiction. Thrive in recovery.” I believe people in recovery must work toward the great shift from staying sober out of fear and necessity to staying sober out of love for the life they get to live as the result of staying sober. Once a person has made this shift, it is very likely they will excel in life.
My story is different than Grant’s. I had to stop because drugs and alcohol nearly killed me, but today, Grant and I share something in common. We have developed a superpower. Neither of us drinks and we are not concerned about whether we ever do again.
Yep that’s how I feel 🙂 If you’d like to see Tommy sharing his love and wisdom then sign up and join us 😉
So today is the 500th day of my hangover free life ……
Wow – I don’t actually know what to say. I NEVER EVER thought I could do this. I never thought that I could live without booze. I thought my life, and I, would be a husk of its former self – me a whizzened boring dullard who had dried out not just her liver but her ‘joie de vivre’. That couldn’t be further from the truth 🙂
My life is fuller and busier and happier than it has ever been. This week-end I am off to London with a group of 8 of the coolest people I could ever have wished to meet. What do we all have in common? We all stopped drinking and showed up online looking for help, support and inspiration. This week-end we will celebrate milestone anniversaries for several of the members of the group, we will visit museums, we will run and we will eat, drink and be merry without a drop of alcohol touching our lips. I will come home knowing that this was the smartest thing I have ever done for myself, my family and my future.
When I started on this journey I didn’t know any of that. I was scared and anxious and time stretched ahead like some kind of barren desert with no oasis of alcohol in sight. But it’s just like changing any other habit. I used to smoke and now I don’t. I used to take recreational drugs and now I don’t. I used to be proud of being ‘allergic to exercise’ but now I run. I used to think late nights were for heroes and early morning for sleeping – well I still think that 😉
I love the book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers because she is so bloody right. No pain no gain right? I’m not saying it’s not difficult but the anticipatory anxiety (thanks Prim) is worse than the reality and the best bit is – there are hundreds, no thousands, of us choosing to do this now. We are leading the charge folks so why not join me?
I’ve also celebrated this milestone early. Four weeks ago I started volunteering one day a week at a local abstinence based drug and alcohol residential treatment centre. It felt like the next right thing for me to do. There is something so freeing about spending time with people where you can talk freely about your own addiction and recovery and you know that they just ‘get it’. It’s my now regular once a week sober treat 🙂
Thank you to every single one of you who has supported me and I raise my cup of tea to you and the next 500 days!! 😀
PS I’m closing out today with a soberversary swoon <3