MY NAME IS LEGION (or, how does free will fit into recovery?)
What is free will?
This is an age old question, and one I am not equipped to answer. But I am prepared to establish a good inquiry, because I think about it a lot. And I have some ideas, but they are by no means conclusions. Its more of an ongoing dialogue, and one that interests me quite a bit.
In AA there is a lot of talk about God’s Will. My understanding has always sort of been that God’s Will was the basic unfolding of life, without me trying to force my schemes and plans and such onto it. This seems pretty clear, right? But what if I exercised none of my own will, and operated only by God’s Will. Would God’s Will get me out of bed? Would God’s Will get my kids to school? Please understand me here, I am not IN ANY WAY questioning the beauty and grace of God’s Will. I am just wondering how it works with Free Will, with my Will. How they work together, and how they don’t.
When I really give it some thought, it takes MY free will to do God’s Will. I have to freely succumb to the way life is unfolding, and it is my will that gives me the commitment to take on the next indicated action, my will that allows me to choose to pause when agitated, to recognize when my personality is trying to trump my principles. I read recently that, in steps 6 and 7, becoming entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character and to humbly remove our shortcomings, the point is that we have to ask. We become ready to have them removed because we finally understand, after a thorough inventory, what slaves we have been to the damn things. It has to be our free will that willingly asks for them to be removed. We have to want it. It was suggested that God can only work with our free will in that department- for our shortcomings to be lifted without our first asking would be sort of like a cosmic cheat. We have to be willing to let them go. WILLING. Without our willingness, none of it can happen. And WILLingness is our own Free Will in action, choosing the light over the darkness.
And at times our free will doesn’t choose the light. We all know this, it’s the basis of all religions and spiritual journeys. It’s the fundamental sticking point. It is what makes choosing the light such an diabolical challenge, and also the single most relevant victory- because the dark can be so incredibly seductive and compelling. It knows our weak spots, maybe better than we do. My character defects are tools for the darkness- I get a feeling that my fears, my insecurities, my judgementalness or desire to be liked, my hanging on to old hurts and behaving from that wounded, entitled, place of long suffering victimhood will ultimately be my undoing, if left unchecked. Its all Ego, or Disease, or however you like to call it. And it only wants one thing- to dismantle me until I am a walking black hole, or six feet under-whichever comes first.
I don’t know with any certainty about any of it, I only know that I wonder about it. I can’t possibly know the mind of God. And I can only try to know my own mind, and to try to overcome my own errant and self serving belief systems enough to see the truth. Its not a pretty thing, to do the work of getting to know how our minds operate. In my experience of step 7, asking God to humbly remove my shortcomings was not an instantaneous thing- I didn’t just ask, and then they were plucked out of my being like stray hairs. For me, I am constantly given situations that bring my character defects into the light, and if I do not examine them right then and there as they present themselves, then more of those situations will come until I understand the lesson, observe myself acting in the grip of said character defect, recognize it, and do something different. You have to be able to identify the broken part, to look at the damage, (Step 4 and 5) and then, at least for me, I have to see how they ‘work’ (or don’t) for me in my life- broken parts create broken results.
And like a game of Whack a Mole, they keep popping up, as there are a multitude of them, trying to run the show. Like the chapter of St Mark in the bible, when there is a man who is known to be filled with unclean spirits, who no man could tame, no chains could bind, who spent all the time crying and cutting himself with stones- is that not like so many of us, in the depth of our despair? And he came to Christ, and Jesus asked of the man “What is your name?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” And so it is like that, we are possessed with so many defects and agendas and belief systems and fears and desires and addictions that when we are able to master the addictions to some extent, there is still the Legion, and only the light of truth is able to bring us back to a whole and holy state.
Here is another challenge, and its extremely tricky- we are very, very attached to the Legion. They have been ingrained in us, and we think they are intrinsic to who we are. What they do is rob us of the precious gift of Free Will. If we are behaving as puppets, reacting to external stimulus without thinking, just being ‘who we are’, then we are not in a state of choice. We are not practicing free will. We are just doing what we are programmed to do, like a microwave or a blender. We love our suffering and our chaos. We can’t live without our loneliness, our boredom, our dissatisfaction. We do things to create more suffering, more dissatisfaction- on autopilot, nonetheless. Autopilot! We don’t even know it. We just call it life. But there is so much more to it.
Steps 6 and 7 begin to really restore our free will to us. We get the opportunity to observe our actions and reactions, see what does not work, and choose something different. In that choosing, we are liberated from the slavery of our personal history, our robotic programming, our autopilot mode, our self sabotage. We have free will, and FREE is not an accidental designation; there IS freedom in it, there IS liberation in it. And that free will is free to choose to align itself with God’s Will. If it looks at all that is being offered, all the entire banquet of life with all its myriad choices, and chooses to act by principles in spite of the comforts the personality demands, then it has placed you squarely outside the prison walls, liberating you from the bondage of self. In that place, you can learn to trust that it is all unfolding just as it should and that there are no mistakes in God’s World. We pray for knowledge of God’s Will for us- that we will be guided and directed on our journey- And the power to carry that out- Our free will, used rightly, is that power. That is the ultimate freedom, more precious than any treasure. When you can walk in that truth is when you remember who you really are- “You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here.”
You are a miracle. You are a gift. Believe it.
On The Front Page Of CNN.com, Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reveals The Truth About Prescription Medication Addiction As A Brain Disease
ONE80CENTER would like to point out the importance of the Front Page Article on CNN.com about the great toll of prescription drug abuse and how prescription medication addiction is a brain disease. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an addiction specialist, writes an intelligent and provocative piece that needs to be seen by the mainstream of this country. Dr. Gupta states the following conviction of the majority of doctors and scientists in the field of addiction research: “Truth is most of the researchers I have interviewed over the last decade all seem to agree on one thing: addiction is a brain disease. The latest science shows how the dependence on drugs or alcohol can change the brain chemistry, altering pain and reward centers. As a result of this latest science, the idea of therapy alone to treat addiction is waning.”
Prescription Painkiller Addiction Is A Brain Disease
Beyond drugs, ONE80CENTER employs a variety of healing techniques from EMDR to Equine Therapy to help the addict begin the path of recovery. We admire and appreciate the compassionate perspective of addiction specialist Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and his focus on the chain of responsibility when it comes to prescribing prescription drugs. Prevention of abuse and educating patients on the safe usage of prescription medication begins with the doctor prescribing the medication. Gupta highlights how the prescription drug problem is not just about abuse of prescription painkillers, but the careless misuse of prescription medication across the board. Without education and prevention, the plague of prescription medication addiction will continue.
ONE80CENTER Recognizes And Values The Maturation Of EMDR As A Highly Effective Treatment For Trauma And Addiction
Based on extensive past experience, the clinical staff at ONE80CENTER realized long ago how difficult it can be for recovering addicts with issues of unresolved trauma to achieve long-term sobriety. When it comes time to face the ups and downs of everyday life sober, clients with untreated trauma tend to relapse. With the damage of the trauma still present and easily triggered, they fall back on drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse and other addictions have been there solution to dealing with the pain of trauma for such an extended period of their lives. In recent years, treatment professionals have come to appreciate the immense clinical value of using EMDR (acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing’) to help clients with untreated trauma embrace the path of long-term recovery. ONE80CENTER Clinical Director Bernadine Fried has been a supporter of and believer in EMDR for many years.
EMDR Recognized By American Psychiatric Association
Is EMDR considered a legitimate method of treating trauma? Without question, the techniques and methods of EMDR have been accepted and validated. The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense, and the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies currently recognize EMDR as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. In addiction, with the connection between PTSD and Substance Abuse Disorders widely recognized, EMDR has been matured into part of a highly effective treatment model for addicts and alcoholics.
Developed by California psychologist Francine Shapiro in 1987, EMDR is a new method for alleviating disturbing memories and the psychic damage done by traumatic experiences. Shapiro has described EMDR as, “A comprehensive method of psychotherapy addressing problems that are based on earlier life experiences” (Lovett, 1999; p.XI). EMDR is more than just asking a client to move their eyes back as they ponder a traumatic memory. Rather, EMDR presents an eight-phase model that relies on the insights and techniques of several different psychotherapeutic modalities. The EMDR treatment phases allow ONE80CENTER’s clinical staff to work directly with a client’s past trauma to help them process the damage.
Eye movements, or other forms of bilateral stimulation such as auditory tones and tactile sensations, serve as physical mechanisms that help a client process traumatic memories. Although research on the neurological basis of EMDR remains somewhat theoretical, what has been revealed is compelling. Bilateral stimulation provides access to information trapped in the lower regions of the brain. When trauma is experienced, the base parts of the brain in the limbic system take over like a shield of instinctual protection. As a result, the damage of the trauma remains buried in this difficult to access and communicate with part of the brain.
EMDR and the Accessing and Treatment of Traumatic Memories
A problem is that when a client relives a traumatic memory, the logic-based region of the brain tends to shut down and does not offer access to the trauma. The shut down reaction is a result of the more primal regions of the brain taking control. Such a reaction to the re-experiencing of trauma is nothing less than the survival mechanism kicking in a second time. What remains so intriguing is that the bilateral stimulation produced by EMDR seems to provide viable access to the lower regions of the brain. With such access, the ultimate goal is to uncover material that is ensnared in the protective vise of the survival mechanism. Once accessed, the traumatic memories can be shifted into actual awareness in the more adaptive and logical regions of the prefrontal cortex. Such a shift offers an opening for effective therapy and eventual resolution.
In counseling for addiction and PTSD, the triggers experienced by each client often shut them down emotionally as they are uncovered in therapy. In these cases, therapeutic treatment based in reasoning and talk therapy tends not to be as effective as needed. The experience of a traumatic trigger brings out the protective instinct in the limbic system of the brain. As a result, the majority of clients become unable to make effective progress. EMDR is a workable answer to such challenging therapeutic boundaries. ONE80CENTER has practiced EMDR as a treatment for trauma since our genesis, and we recognize the ongoing maturation of this therapeutic tool.
QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI
Makes 4-6 servings
- 7 zucchini- green or yellow
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dry basil
- 1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- Cut each zucchini into 3 pieces and hollow out with a spoon or melon baller tool (but don’t break through the bottom skin) and set aside
- Saute onions, celery, carrots, curry, basil and garlic together in a saucepan until soft in 2 tbs olive oil
- Mix all together in a bowl with quinoa and egg and breadcrumbs to form a paste
- Fill zucchini hollows, arrange on cooking tray and parchment paper, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown and firm on top.
Serve on its own or with a simple baked fish, like salmon, or chicken.
Stories. We all have them. We live by them. We tell them to ourselves and we tell them to others, we tell ourselves stories about others, and we tell others stories about ourselves. We live like they are true, even when they aren’t.
Before I got sober, (5 years ago in 4 days) I had no real awareness that I was living, entrenched, in my stories. I had done a lot of work on myself, and I had an intellectual understanding about it, but I couldn’t really get behind the stories to the truth of myself. About 10 years ago, I did a workshop that proposed that, at about the age of 5 or 6, something happens to us, all of us. It could be as horrifying as physical abuse or seemingly benign, such as not getting chosen for kickball, but the severity is all relative. It was a defining moment where we went from feeling like we were enough, just as we were, to believing that we were not enough, and that something was terribly wrong with us. We were suddenly not smart enough or pretty enough or thin enough or good enough- and this is true whether we are alcoholics, or addicts, or ‘normies’. At that moment, we write the script of our life. We spend the rest of our lives compensating, overcompensating, for that moment. People who felt abandoned will become needy, or the opposite. People who were not included or accepted into the group will decide to do everything in their power to be on the outskirts of the group or society (tattoos, mohawks-well, back when those things ostracized one from the pack. Not like modern days- this stuff is normal business attire nowadays…) Or, if they didn’t try to fit out, they did everything in their power to fit in- status seeking, ambitiously over achieving, people pleasing. Women who were mistreated would trade themselves for validation. The scenarios are endless. We all have our modus operandi, our way of navigating the world according to our story.
I am not saying that this explanation is exactly 100% true, but it bears consideration, and it sounds plausible to me. We do start to tell ourselves stories. And then we become our stories. One of the main features of the stories, however, is the built in sabotage factor. Limitations are crafted and woven into the fables of our lives, and it becomes nearly impossible to see them and separate them from reality (because they ARE our reality), although the sadder part of this equation is not that we can’t or don’t see them, its that we are attached to our limitations. Some would even say we are addicted to them.
I will gladly give examples of this in my life, especially ones that I have done work on and am starting to be liberated from. I have, for many years, swaggered around saying that I don’t want a relationship, that the whole love thing is BS. I created an untouchable, emotionally unavailable persona. I thought I was cool, that I was untouchable, that I didn’t need anybody or anything. To make matters worse, I wasn’t alone. Many women I knew had their own version of the ‘untouchable swagger’ going on- their own guards and survival tactics, their own self sabotaging armor, and what we would do is get together and talk about how emotionally unavailable men were. We couldn’t even see that we built the walls of our own prisons, brick by brick, and lamented how distant and unreachable others were. There came a time when I was called out- it doesn’t matter how it happened, except to say that in sobriety, we just get to know ourselves, we get known by others. And the process of knowing oneself is rarely anything but messy and uncomfortable. What I discovered is that really, I have very traditional values, and did believe in love and finding a lifelong mate, and in the necessity of family. I’m actually fairly old fashioned, truth be told. And here I was, 3000 miles away from my own family, who I see every 8 years or so, divorced with two kids, and determined to be romantically detached, the sole breadwinner, and never to co-habitate with a man again. What total bullshit! Seriously, I had told myself all these stories that were so NOT in alignment with my core self, all to protect myself from being hurt or disappointed. Its the ‘you can’t fire me, I quit’ syndrome. Or ‘sour grapes’. As long as I could fool myself that I didn’t want it, then it wouldn’t bother me that it didn’t work out anyway.
Like I said, it gets messy when you are getting to know yourself. You have to look at the life you built on the stories you’ve told. Honestly, it wasn’t the life I would have endeavored to build, if I had been honest with myself from the start. But its my life, and I love it; I wouldn’t be who I am if it had gone any other way. I am happy I got to wake up and see it for what it is, and also what it could be. I would hate to die and suddenly, as the curtains are closing, suddenly remember who I am and think, “No! I need a re-do! I didn’t mean it!”
Now what happens when you get to the truth and you are surrounded by the old life? You simply begin to live your truth, where you’re at. It shows up in your actions, and interactions. And parts of the old life start to crumble. Sometimes it really hurts to let it fall apart. The impulse is to fix it, to go into a panic and try to tape all the pieces back together- it is, after all, the only life you have ever known. But if you are committed to living your truth, you begin to have faith in the process. You let go and let it unfold. It sounds passive, but acceptance is not passive, far from it. Its hard work to trust. You have to fight your own self and your deep rooted fears. Your Ego/Disease flares up and starts laying on the lies and laying them on thick. “You aren’t good enough, you can’t do this, what are you thinking? YOU MIGHT GET HURT!”
TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
Here is what I’ve decided. I might get hurt. Yep. In fact, I probably will. Maybe I won’t, but the thing is, so what? Can I not survive it? I think I can. I know I can. I don’t want to live a life where I am not risking the BIG STUFF. Not just romantically; I don’t want anyone to think this only applies to romance, its just the example I used. I could just as easily have talked about career, finances, mothering, legal issues, family of origin drama, body issues, anything. There is just no sense in playing small here. I wasn’t put on this planet to walk on eggshells.
When I was active in my disease, all I ever did was walk on eggshells. Every drink, every pill, every line, was another layer I was hiding behind, tiptoeing around the truth of me, hoping it wouldn’t wake up and call me out. We are very brave to get sober and drop that first layer, willingly. And we are braver still the more sober we get, and the closer we get to the truth of our very being. One thing I can tell you- we won’t be disappointed by what we find to be true, only that we kept it covered up for so long.
Senator Charles Schumer Presents A Detailed Plan To Battle Prescription Drug Abuse And Stem The Tide Of Painkiller Addiction
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said in a press conference that prescription drug abuse has spiraled out of control across the country and he has had enough of second-rate regulations and poor information access. The Senator proposed a detailed plan to address the problem of prescription drugs abuse, including doctor training, law enforcement and information exchange. ONE80CENTER believes that Senator Schumer’s plan is an excellent start in addressing the plague of prescription drug abuse and prescription painkiller addiction that is sweeping across the American landscape.
Schumer Compares Prescription Drug Abuse To Crack Epidemic
In an interview about his plan, Senator Schumer said, “I remember back in the ’80s and ’90s when crack began to rear its head and we didn’t do enough about it early, and it became an epidemic and our society paid a price for it. The worry is that it could happen again.” From the perspective of the clinical staff at ONE80CENTER, it not only has happened again, but it is attacking all aspects of society. While the illegal stigma of crack cocaine kept the problem contained, prescription drug abuse and its veil of legality is affecting everyone across the board.
7 Ways To Address The Problem Of Prescription Drug Abuse
Charles Schumer has recognized the problem and is trying to find a constructive strategy to stem the tide. The Senator has proposed legislation that would:
1) Require medical professionals to receive training for prescribing addictive painkillers.
2) Require doctors to take learn the guidelines for safe pain management and be able to recognize early warning signs of addiction.
3) Make $25 million available for states to create or upgrade prescription drug monitoring systems,
4) Explore the creations of a federal system in which information could be shared across state lines.
5) Ask credit card companies to deny transactions that involve illegal online pharmacies — much like credit card companies have done with organizations involved in child pornography and online gambling.
6) Increase prison sentences for those who rob pharmacies or commit other crimes related to prescription drugs.
7) The penalty for prescription drug crimes would double from 10 years to 20 years in prison.
ONE80CENTER totally supports the first six options of constructive engagement and effective enforcement, and we have been pushing for such measures for quite some time. The seventh point seems to be political in nature and a remnant of the failed War On Drugs. There is no question that violent crimes and robberies involving prescription drug abuse and addiction need to be punished to the full extent of the law. But we have to be careful that we do not fill the prisons with addicts caught with illegal prescription drugs that simply are victims of the disease of addiction.
Differences Between Substance Abuse and Violent Prescription Drug Dealing
There must be a clear delineation between violent prescription drug crimes, including drug dealers and pill mills, as opposed to being caught with illegal prescription drugs and taking them. The latter individuals need treatment, not prison, and the ability to achieve sustainable sobriety. Nobody believes the prisons should be overflowing with college students taking Ritalin to study or high school kids trying out a bottle from their parent’s medicine cabinets. These acts are wrong, but they demand education, prevention and treatment options, not prison time. However, there is no argument against this salient point that was made by the Senator: “If you are drug runner and you are running crack or cocaine, or you are running Vicodin or OxyContin, you should get similar penalties.”
When Senator Schumer points out that “This is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country”, the staff at ONE80CENTER could not agree more. It is true that he legislation, the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011, attempts to improve state systems for tracking prescriptions. The bill also attempted to identify drug-seeking patients who visit numerous doctors and attempt to get multiple prescriptions.
But this legislation simply was not enough. Senator Charles Schumer also has urged the U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency to shut down the hundreds of online outlets that dispense prescription drugs, no questions asked, at the click of a mouse. “These are virtual pill mills that pump out deadly narcotics,” Schumer explained with complete accuracy.
Recent research links a nationwide increase in the abuse of prescription drugs to the proliferation of websites that illegally sell them. ONE80CENTER understands that treatment is not enough to stem the tide of the growing prescription drug abuse problem. More needs to be done, including the national prescription database, the regulation of illegal pharmacies and pill mills, and increased measure of both education and prevention. Treatment of substance abuse disorders, including prescription drug abuse and painkiller addiction, needs to be a top priority as well.
On February 11th, a dream came true. It’s one of those rare dreams that makes life better for others, and helps them make their dreams come true as well.
TEEN PROJECT’S THE P.A.D. VENICE DROP IN CENTER
Teen Project‘s The P.A.D. Drop In Center in Venice, California, held its ribbon cutting ceremony over the weekend and introduced the stylish resource center to the community. The center exists to help young adults who find themselves abruptly dropped from the Foster Care program at 18, with nowhere to go.
Many of the kids exiting the foster care program end up on the street, homeless, and resorting to crime in order to take care of themselves. These kids are put on the street without money, shelter, or a job, usually with no real training or skill, some with trauma issues that need psych meds to stabilize them. Its not hard to imagine the kind of trouble they could get into just trying to survive.
Teen Project, founded by Laurie Burns, has worked with many of these young adults, connecting them to available resources such as Teen Meeting Places Program, National Mentoring Program, Sober College Housing, Project Shelter Collaboration, and The Text Shelter Service, among others. She herself has taken in dozens upon dozens of at risk, foster kids, and has committed herself to their well being. Laurie herself was a child of the Juvenile Dependency System, and her experiences at the hands of the system, as well as the result of being dropped at 18 without any home or means of providing for herself, is what inspired her to be of service to the clients of Teen Project.
Justin Carroll of ONE80CENTER heard Laurie’s story and was so moved by what he heard that he committed himself to raising funds for the new Teen Project Drop In Center. He held a fund raising event at ONE80CENTER in Beverly Hills, where chanteuse Sarah Ault sang to a small audience of people who were clearly touched, as Justin had been, by Laurie’s story. And like Laurie, no one wanted another young person to ever go through what Laurie had been subjected to.
That night, ONE80CENTER was able to raise enough money (over $80,000) for Laurie and Teen Project LA that it funded the new TEEN PROJECT P.A.D. DROP IN CENTER.
The new center will be a place that homeless teens and young adults can come to who have no where else to go. Teen Project will then connect the teen with whatever it is they need- food, shelter, job training, medical assistance, substance abuse help,mentors, jobs- each young adult will be assessed and assisted as they transition into adulthood.
The Center itself is a lovely space. 8 interior designers volunteered to create colorful, warm spaces with clean lines, such as the mezzanine area. The walls are greyish blue with wallpaper that looks like paved stones, and hot pink cushions with slate blue carpet. The red Eames chairs in the reception area are a far cry from the institutional chairs found in most places that provide services to the disenfranchised, Such a small but well thought out detail instantly gives one a feeling of being welcome, and of being in the right place.
The overall effect of the well appointed space is that ‘everything is going to be okay’.
ONE80CENTER remains heavily involved on an ongoing basis with the homeless organization GETT LOVE, as well as its own non profit, 12 ANGELS, which helps find jobs for people in recovery. Fund raising is yet another aspect; Justin Carroll picks the charities for ONE80CENTER to champion, to help improve their effectiveness and insure they achieve their goals. This could be through fund raising, or it could be through aligning the staff and clients with the organizations to help in a hands-on kind of way.
As Laurie Burn’s cut the ribbon to the entrance of the new facility, one couldn’t help but feel the goosebumps standing up all along the back of one’s arms. Knowing the journey it took for her to be standing there, scissors in hand, really brought the concept of turning one’s life around to be of extreme service to others to light. And knowing the team of people who supported her vision, who were willing to contribute time and money to make it real, brings to mind the strength of community and the enduring feature of humanity (in spite of evidence to the contrary all over the news) which is to help each other. Teen Project is proof. For all the suffering there is in the world, there are people who have survived who want to help, and people who want to help the survivors.
As the Desiderata says- “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, its still a beautiful world.” It is.
ONE80CENTER’s chef, Chris Wilson, shares his famous Scallop Stacks with Falafel and Lime Aoli recipe…
SCALLOP STACKS WITH FALAFEL AND LIME AOLI
wooden skewers (short cocktail skewers)
Keep chilled until serving.
One of the biggest themes of my addiction, towards the end, was profound isolation. Even in a room full of people, I could feel incredibly alone. I read recently that loneliness comes from feeling that you have nothing in common with anyone, so often that feeling is worse in groups, in public. I think that is part of what drove me to isolate- at least I had something in common with myself.
What it was like..
I recall waking up and reaching over for pills- I couldn’t leave the bed without them. The person who provided me with the pills would not put them there if he was angry with me, and on those days I would writhe in agony. He didn’t do that a lot, though, and I would take my pills (vicodin, narco, soma, xanax) and then look at the bleak day ahead of me. The best thing I could think to do was to find a movie on television; sometimes I would bid on stuff on ebay. At some point I had to get to the store for vodka- towards the end I didn’t eat much, and would drink when I felt hungry. Not to mention, I had kids to get to school and when they came home, they would run off and play with friends as I lay comatose on the couch. I had checked out of life completely, and would soon formulate a plan to check out entirely, although I clearly didn’t follow through, and that is another story. I was a zombie in the most literal sense of the word, and I felt like the only zombie in the world, no other fellow zombies to talk to. All the party buddies all end up in a room shaking by themselves. That party doesn’t last forever and never ends well for ones like me.
I recount this because I love to look at how it was, and what its like now.
What Its Like Now
Yesterday, at 15 days shy of my 5 year sober anniversary, I was killing time in South Pasadena while my daughter visited some friends. I had spent about an hour looking at old photographs and old issues of Mad Magazine in a vintage store, and then perusing books in a used bookstore- the kind that you don’t see much of anymore- scanning through volumes of poetry, and psychology books. It was a really peaceful way to spend an afternoon. I decided to buy a volume of Rumi, and a copy of Women Who Run With Wolves, which I always buy when I see it to give it away to friends. At the checkout counter (Which was really an old school desk where a girl hand writes the name of each volume and the price) I overheard an older woman talking about Kabbalah and the 23 volume Zohar, which I have. I saw the books she was reading, all of which were books I either had or wanted. I jumped into the conversation, I had to know this woman. I offered to help her carry the many books to her car and she asked me if I wanted to get tea. So we went to a lovely coffee shop situated by the metro tracks as the sun went down, and I got to hear her incredible story.
Apparently someone had gotten mad at her over a business transaction and had sent a letter about how she had hundreds of old European paintings and that she had bragged about being the grandaughter of a Nazi warlord, and he suspected that her art collection was Nazi loot. This went to trial, almost to the Supreme Court, one of the first landmark cases of internet libel. To clear her name, she went looking into her geneological background, and discovered that she was actually Jewish. Her family had come to the Free World and chose to pretend to be Christian Germans, to avoid prosecution and trouble. She had never known of this, and she continued her search, curious about what else might be revealed. She found that she came from a long line of rabbis, in fact. And going through those rabbis, she even came to discover that one of her ancestors was supposedly there when Moses came down with the Ten Commandments.
Being a spiritual person, she came to see this situation as incredibly significant. The libel trial caused much strife for all involved- people were fired from jobs, she had to sell her home and move back to the west coast. But what she was given in return was a connection to her ancestors, her family, her blood lineage. She looked at me as a metro train whisked by, as I drank my chai tea, as the sun was setting, and said, “Moreover, I get to make amends for my family, for the fact that they hid their religion and faith to survive, I get to bring the truth to light and release them all. They can not have a portal in me without my knowing they are there, that they existed, that they are part of who I am. And so I learned Hebrew, and I read the 23 volumes of the Zohar in its original form, in their honor.” She said, “The universe is a minimalist. It burns everything but what is essential away.”
Baseball Star Josh Hamilton Admits Alcohol Relapse, Revealing The Challenges Of Battling Alcoholism In The Spotlight
A talented baseball player and the 2010 American League MVP, Josh Hamilton has been plagued throughout his career by problems with alcoholism and drug addiction. With a laser-sharp media focus on his daily battles against alcoholism, Hamilton admitted in the beginning of 2012 his second relapse with alcohol in three years. ONE80CENTER believes that the difficulties Hamilton has been facing are directly connected to the challenge of maintaining sobriety and battling alcoholism in the glare brought forth by the spotlight of celebrity. From our experience with past clients, ONE80CENTER has learned that within such a glare, a person trying to maintain long-term sobriety must make the path of recovery their number one focus.
Challenge Of Battling Alcoholism In A Media Spotlight
At the end of January, Hamilton acknowledged in a press conference that he had a “moment of weakness” at two Dallas bar/restaurants because of a “personal reason with a family member.” Speaking without a script and not taking any questions, Hamilton apologized to his family, fans and the team during a 12-minute news conference at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. “You guys all know how hard I play on the field and I give it everything I absolutely have,” said Hamilton, “When I don’t do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment… It was just wrong. That’s all it comes down to. I needed to be at a different place. I needed to be responsible. I was not responsible.”
Although Hamilton’s forthright honesty is refreshing, it does not address the main problem at hand – how does he handle his alcoholism and avoid future relapse? The No. 1 overall pick in 1999, Hamilton’s major league debut was delayed until 2007 because of his drug and alcohol addiction. His career as been severely curtailed by his substance abuse struggles, and he has only played one full season without injury or trouble. Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels made it clear that the main issue was not baseball. Daniels said in clear support of Hamilton: ‘But I just want to be clear on something from our perspective. This is not a baseball story how we view it, how I view it. This is real. This is something that Josh deals with, an addiction, an issue that he has that affects him and the people around him that care about him. He’s a husband, he’s a father, first and foremost, and that’s where our head is, to make sure he has the support he needs and his family needs going forward.”
Although Hamilton was out with teammates when he relapsed, he hid it from them, drinking behind their backs. This is typical behavior of an alcoholic and a sign of alcoholism As Hamilton himself once expressed: “Any time I drink, there’s a point that comes where a switch flips and you never know when that point’s going to be reached, whether it’s the first three or four, or the 15th. And that’s what’s so dangerous about it.”
Is A Sober Companion The Answer Or Is More Needed?
Although the Rangers have used a sober companion in the past for Hamilton and are considering hiring one to keep watch over him again, ONE80CENTER knows from experience that such an approach is only a Band-Aid that temporarily stops the bleeding caused by alcoholism. Employing sober companions in treatment and offering the service to our clients whenever needed, ONE80CENTER knows alcoholism can only be treated by maintaining a healthy program of sustainable sobriety.
Hamilton understands this truth and expressed it in his press conference: “I cannot take a break from my recovery… My recovery is an everyday process. When I take that one day off, it leaves me open for a moment of weakness and it’s always been that way… For everybody that I’ve hurt, for fans, kids, people that have addictions that look up to me, I apologize to you. When you’re doing this, you don’t mean to hurt anybody, but you’re only thinking it hurts yourself, but I know it hurt a lot of people… I just ask everybody who’s watching and listening to pray for me and pray for my family as we go through this difficult time. Pray for me and pray for my family, because it never gets easy. It never gets easy.”
From our extensive experience and expertise, ONE80CENTER knows that it never gets easy when it comes to the battle with alcoholism and addiction. Hamilton is on target when he expresses that the road of recovery is a long one. But it does not have to be hard if you develop the tools to deal with triggers and avoid temptations. Whether you are a celebrity in the spotlight or a regular guy with a problem, ONE80CENTER has a successful track record in helping you find your path to recovery that will keep you sober and ultimately help make you comfortable in your own skin. To find out more, please contact ONE80CENTER by calling.