3 Years Sober

 

Hello, Friends today I’m 3 years sober. The last few days I have been celebrating with loved ones, including a dinner tonight. This past week I have been Self Reflecting on my journey in recovery. It brings me to tears seeing where I’ve been and where I am at today. The pain, the struggle, the tears, the work, the sadness, the healing, the unknowns, the anxiety, the fears were all worth this moment here now. I feel peaceful and immense gratitude for my recovery. Life does get better even in challenging times. Now that I’m sober and clean I find the solution quicker or see my human errors faster. It seemed like my second year sober has flown by. Time goes fast, while I am happy, content and sober. While in addiction it seemed like time was the enemy, filled with pain and waiting for the next drink.

 

This year my goal was to create new experiences, create a healthy balanced life, and work toward my dreams. I also wanted to get to know myself more see my defects and assets clearly. A balanced lifestyle is vital for my life because it prevents another addiction or stops any obsessions from growing. Now that my soul and mind feel clean, healthy and free I am starting to work on my body. I stopped nicotine, and cut back on my caffeine intake. I allow myself one cup of coffee in the morning instead of 5 shots of espresso. I also stopped diet cokes and red bulls. I want to be free from all vices and really present in my day. I want to be healthy all around, and don’t want to take life for granted.

 

My second year sober has been amazing but at times challenging. There are areas in life that I’ve made real progress like working towards my book series and my relationship but I also regressed in other areas. It’s okay to have moments of regression because we are human and not perfect. What’s important is to see the regression, see the poor choices or find my human errors and defects. It’s important to take accountability and accept the consequences. These human errors are just lessons to bring a greater awareness of self. I can choose to wallow in pity and sit in sorrow or learn and make different choices. Every time I have a human error, I forgive myself right away. I have to, I don’t allow my ego or infected mind to beat me up but I do change what is needed or find out why I did what I did.

 

Forgiving yourself is freeing, it brings you back to the present where the solution lives. In the past I would be sad for days, allowing my mind to be abusive to my soul. In sobriety I came to a realization that I am not my past; I am the lesson learned from my past. I have to stay vigilant because my disease never goes away. Everyday I ask myself questions like what is guiding me? Is it my diseased ego mind or addiction voice? Is it my higher power or true self? When life seemed chaotic I knew I took a wrong turn somewhere or living from my ego. When I become aware that I am off track than I search within my soul to see where I got off track. My reactions, emotions, and situations are evidence showing me there is something wrong inside myself. Through prayer and meditation I can slow the mind to find the solution. After I see my human errors make different choices and keep it moving. Human errors are easy to overcome when I don’t wallow in pity but find the lesson or solution.

 

My second year sober was not challenging in the sense of not drinking, I’ve only had one craving in three years sober and that was in my first few months. Challenging in living life on life terms. I have to accept the universe, I can’t fight against it. I will lose, the universe is way more powerful than my human capabilities. Also the universe is always speaking to me and showing me what I need to do or stop doing, what needs healing or gives opportunities for growth.  It might feel horrible or uncomfortable but its trying to push me to my full potential. Life is real, truer, and I also feel life extremely.

 

Something I realized this year is I don’t do well in stressful situations, and in the past I was better. I need to really work on calming my mind and body in unforeseen events.  I tend to get deep anxiety that can last for a week. That just the way my body and diseased mind works. I don’t take medications for my anxiety and have holistic treatments, if it gets bad. In my second year sober I felt more anxiety than usual. I had to accept what I was feelings and let it flow out of me. I had to sit on a cold floor, take a warm bath, let out tears and meditate, or go for a walk. In the depths of addiction, I wasn’t living, feeling, or dealing with life. Sober has forced me to deal and feel.

 

 

I still consider myself a newbie because I am only three years sober, three years of getting to know true self, watching my mind and healing my darkness. I still don’t know all the reasons why I became an addict but in time they will surface. It took sometime for me to realize that a reason for my Addiction was to numb my anxiety. My first year sober was more about getting to know the addiction that lived in the mind and separating addiction from true self. My first year sober I was overly focused on doing whatever it took to maintaining sobriety. This second year was all about creating a more balanced life and recovery program. I got to be very intimate with myself so I know what worked and what didn’t.  Life also got more complex, so i had to learn how to balance healing in recovery and creating a healthy relationship. I was able to find a more balanced recovery program. My life has gotten bigger, a lot of change and also new challenges. I moved into a new home with the love of my life, got a new job, loss some people and stop nicotine. In those big changing times I did not crave and for that I am grateful.

 

Challenging times is only a challenge if I define it as a challenge. I can change my perception to an opportunity to learn. I have to always see the sliver lining. It does get easier to not pick up a drink but that doesn’t mean life is miraculously perfect or gets better without work, time and effort. I had to take time to sit with myself to see what I needed to heal, I had to put work in to change the way my mind thinks. I do find myself being able to find happiness within my soul in hard times easily. I don’t allow my mind to run off or allow my emotions to bring me to a dark place. I allow the tears to flow and accept what is. Accepting what is creates freedom to change or create. If I don’t accept what is than I am not dealing with reality, it will create anger or resentment towards people and the universe.

 

I am also learning what it means to form healthy relationships, create boundaries with some and cutting out people who are unhealthy. My life was going great in most aspects and some parts of my life seemed chaotic. In one relationship in particular, I kept allowing bad behavior from a person. I kept forgiving and letting go, than found myself week’s later stressed out, filled with anxiety or hurt by them again. It’s no ones fault but my own, it has to come back to self, I allowed their bad behavior. I had to take deep look within my soul to see why I allowed their bad behavior to go on for so long. I still don’t have a clear answer since we recently parted ways. I do know there is some unhealed trauma that allows unhealthy people into my life. That relationship was causing deep anxiety.

 

Forgiving doesn’t mean I should still be around them if the bad behavior continues. Since I kept allowing that person to hurt me, the pressure built and built and I imploded with anxiety.  I can forgive and let them go. I still care deeply for this person they’re part of my family. So I know I need  to coexist with  boundaries. My well-being and sobriety has to come first over everything including my relationships. I don’t know what the future holds for that person and me. I’m wiser because of the failed relationship. I also have to acknowledge the blood on my hands in the failed relationship and see what I can do better. I can’t change them but can change myself. That person brought out issues that I need to work on. In some weird way I am grateful for that experience because it has forced me to start creating boundaries and taught me to communicate when I feel a hurt by another person. Not to say everything is fine when it’s not. I was burying my emotions that created me to have irrational behavior. That person was a great teacher.  I had to go through that experience to see there is something in me that needs healing for allowing bad behavior in my life. I am grateful for that chaotic time because it is bringing me a greater self-awareness.

 

I want to around people who enhances my life and not around chaos and drama. I have forgiven and have compassion for that person. I also can’t spend energy and time trying to find closure. There will be times I wont have closure and I have to accept that. That person is committed to never understanding my feelings or why I had to cut them out. I can’t force someone to take responsibility; I had to accept that person doesn’t care. In any loss relationship whether with friends or family it’s hard. Feeling the loss is hard but possible to overcome wiser.This second year sober has taught me how to say no to others and yes to myself.

 

I am grateful for my sobriety that has allowed me to see clearly who is unhealthy and who is healthy. I am grateful for my partner Vince who is my biggest cheerleader but also a person who calls it like it is. He shines a light on my defects and assets. He helps me see the good and not so good in me, I am not perfect but always a work progress. This year sober theme was duality, regressions but also blooming. There are still some old behavior that has brought chaos to my life, but I am grateful that I am sober so I can fully understand it and change it. I am never working towards perfection but towards be whole in my soul.

 

My book series is complete and should be out in 2018. It still feels surreal and brings tears to my eyes. Not only is it possible to overcome addiction but to achieve real dreams that once seemed far out of reach. I was always reaching for the bottle but now I am reaching for my dreams.

 

Stay connected with Love, Adolfo Vasquez

Here are some poems I created since my last post

 

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Two Years Sober: What I’ve learned

 

Hello Friends today is two years sober, I am filled with gratitude, love and purpose. Day one sober I was laying on a mattress in small apartment with nothing, only the want to be sober. I lost the love of my life and most of my friends. I was filled with self hate, guilt and shame. I knew with every cell in my body that the only way for me to rise from my rock bottom was to stay sober and find a recovery program. My addiction created a lot of chaos that was still alive and surfacing in my early days and months sober. All I had was my higher power and hope that one day I would be the Adolfo that the universe had attended. I saw no clear path because my mind, body and soul were still detoxing from the alcohol. All I did know was that alcohol took everything great from my life, and now I was saying goodbye to the only true friend I thought I had and that was the substance. Alcohol was my escape from my dark childhood, it was my confidant in my hard times and was there for me in my good times. Alcohol wanted to be the only thing in my life, and started taking everything away. After saying goodbye to alcohol two years ago I am now back with the love of my life. Just moved into a home in Venice Ca. Everything I lost because of my addiction I’ve gained back but even better than before. Alcohol was never a friend but an enemy preventing me from having human connection, a connection with myself and a connection with my higher power.

 

I still have work to do and I am never free from addiction disease, I know if I pick up again it will have a ripple affect in my life, and my life is so great why destroy it for that buzz. The buzz I now crave is feeling life and love. Most of my life I disliked feeling anything. Numbing for me meant no pain or hurts from others but it also numbed me from good feelings as well. Healing and overcoming my addiction involved growing strong emotion muscles. Now that I am able to feel life and not numb life I have to embrace every feeling in every situation. The more I feel life and not hide from life, the stronger my emotion muscles get. I also had to start feeling those dark and difficult sensations I use to suppress during my childhood and addiction. I grew up hating my feelings because I was a very sensitive child. Everything hurt so I thought if I just numb my feelings I wouldn’t hurt. The problem lies because when I numb the bad feelings I also numb the good feelings. Once I got sober I had to start trusting that my negative feelings won’t destroy me. The fear in sobriety won’t kill me. No feelings that come in sobriety will destroy me. Emotional development will be the inevitable outcome once my muscles grow strong. Cravings are terminated when there’s no longer a need to numb or run from my feelings or my truth. Feeling life will bring wholeness and healing. In the past when I tired to get sober there were recovery programs that scared me into getting sober but also helped me gain some insights into addiction. I was in sobriety and struggling to make my life work but in so much pain. That was a sign that I was not recovering. I had to let go of the past pain in order to feel life in the moment. I had to start seeing my life as a clean slate and create from there.

 

 

Thinking my way through life without embracing feelings was a way to survive as a child, living in the mind. That works against me as an adult. I looked for insight with my infected mind, some how thinking it will lessen my internal misery. When I first got sober I believed the recipe for happiness was buried within the chapters of a book or outside myself. Outside stuff will somehow heal my inner pain or relieve me of pain. Happiness is acquired in gradual steps . It’s an inside job that requires steady, hard work and dedication to growth and healing everyday. Baby steps will get me there. Wellness has to be a conscious choice. My mind, body and soul need to work together and be on the same page, or my life will go astray. I’ve struggled with bad feelings my whole life. I use to think bad feelings did me no good. At times staying busy helped me ignored them. I thought if I just worked a lot of hours or took a class I would feel fine. Bad feelings wont leave if I don’t embrace them and let them flow out of me or onto paper. It’s a human emotion that will always come up no matter how great life is, I will eventually feel sadness and that’s OK. I had to learn how to be comfortable in pain and not hid or react right away in pain. I have to embrace it, grieve and let it go.

 

I can use sadness as a guide to change or for art. Addicted behavior means stay busying, numbing and not dealing. When I was an active addict and in times that were calm and serene my mind started racing causing my emotions to start feeling bad. I would hit the bottle or use outside substance to numb me from feeling. That’s why being alone was the worst for me, all I had was this infected mind that made me feel fear so I would drink and drink until the next day repeating the cycle. I never learned how to deal with bad feelings. I would rush to my head, analyze those awful emotions. I would give them reasons to be there like I deserved to feel sad or anger emotions or beat myself up for wrongdoings probably some I hadn’t committed or even committed yet. I would than feel even worse. Emotions automatically became thoughts, and I never learned how to separate my emotions and thoughts from my true self. Now that I am sober, I can see that i am not my emotions, thought’s, or surroundings, I am the captain of those three.

 

 Anything that seemed unfamiliar or foreign brought intimidating feelings, my natural instinct is to want to feel safe in the unknowns especially as a child or when I first start having strong feelings for someone. I frequently found a hideout or an escape as a child in film or music. As an adult I turned to alcohol and never took a leap of faith without certainty. Now, I just embrace those unknowns and let them play out. I can’t let my mind prevent me from experiencing life in all forms. The goal of healing is to learn to feel everything. Feel my past pain, let it flow out of me. Feel my present moment and whatever that is. My feelings were suppressed as a child causing my emotional growth to be underdeveloped. I was at times abused when expressing happiness because my parents were annoyed with the sound of my voice. I started showing limited emotions out of fear. Growing up trying to function with a very limited number of emotions hindered my ability to react properly in life. That’s when I turned to drugs, booze, sex, and food to cope with difficult and awkward experiences. Those experiences created negative feelings. If my parents soothed and helped me learn to accept my feelings as a kid rather than escaping or shutting them down. I would never have needed to numb my discomfort with substances or behaviors. Running from my misery was the only means of surviving the dark childhood. As an adult it harmed and hindered my growth.

 

It always seems worse, before it gets better. That is very true when you first get sober. The worse stage only lasted a few weeks for me and that may differ in every one. It will get better but it will be challenging. The good news is there is so many outlets of support every step of the way from meetings and online groups. The next noticeable sign in recovery is noticing the absence of pain. That also felt uncomfortable because pain was a big part of my life, and when pain left I felt empty. That’s a good sign to start creating self love, compassion, gratitude, and positive emotions inside myself. It brings a life high that is indescribable and can last as long as you want it. As a child I learned to be a non-needing human. I had to adapt to situations instead of dealing with my emotions, those emotions built up overtime. My difficult feelings did not matter because I just needed to survive. My coping process that helped put those emotions away was living in my head. I fantasize most of my day about how life will be different when I grow up. I thought I would be in control over my life circumstances. I would also see sad movies and think they had it worst than I did, that made me feel better. I would compare my life to others and that helped me feel thankful for my life that was horrible, it made me feel grateful for my pain in some weird way. There’s always someone who has it tougher. We always hear stories of our grandparents having to walk in the snow for hours or work long hours. So I felt I had to accept my pain or situations. I would say well my pain isn’t so bad, minimalize  the pain I was in. It was an excuse not to change. Being mentally abused or bullied in school I would tell myself, well I could be dead. It was the wrong way of thinking. I built up an incredibly high tolerance for pain, misery and discomfort. My pain level had to be severe to get my attention and even then I would not change. My compassion was reserved for others and never for myself. When feelings surfaced that were difficult my parents thought it was unacceptable. When feelings are treated as bad or wrong, we regarded them precisely the same as we get older. Harshly judging them and myself as bad when they surface. Each time bad feelings like frustrations and anger came up, I tried to make them go away instead of embracing them and finding the root cause.

 

Beneath my addictions had a common denominator. I’ve been a survivor of traumas, filling my inner emptiness or deadness with substance. An addict to more than one thing, when I stopped one substance I moved on to the next. I couldn’t give up all drugs and alcohol, I needed something to fill me up. After detoxing and healing I can now start to search within myself for talents and abilities. I believe each of us come into this life with unique talents and abilities. When these inherent gifts are recognized we can begin to learn who we actually are. It has taken me twenty-eight years to find my talents and purpose. I guess I am what you would call a late bloomer. I feel one of my talent is, understanding human nature. My therapist once told me I should be a therapist. I did not understand what he meant at the time. He said I understood myself very well. It was as if I already knew the answer I just needed reassurance. I believe my childhood traumas and living with addict parents, growing through addiction has pushed me into finding out why people act the way they do. Challenging paths forced me to get intimately acquainted with myself so I can help others do the same.

 

Addiction is not the cause of my pain. I was the cause of my pain, i allowed to pain to grow and grow.  Addiction is only a symptom of needing to escape feelings that been dangerous or scary to have whether they’re bad, or good. It’s not just negative feelings that are scary. Feeling positive ones can be as well. I lacked the frame of reference on how to embrace happiness and love. It felt foreign and uncomfortable and the reflex to self-sabotage came out eventually. 

 

Healing doesn’t come quickly and if it did I would feel like I’m living inside someone else body. Two years of hard work has gotten me here today. If i did not go through the process from day one sober to two years sober than i would not know how to deal with life situations. I would feel threatened not being able tolerate the change if it happen quickly. Change happens gradually, so I can adjust to it as it comes. Change involves slow growth. Imagine being a normal citizen than overnight you’re famous. Change that happens really quickly can cause me to be destabilized. Now imagine if that change happened quickly inside us. I might go crazy, wanting to go back to my old addiction ways. Growth must occur slowly, or it might be hard to handle even if the rewards are huge.

 

While i was an active addict  and felt internal pain I search outside myself to cope. When I felt lonely inside I searched for sex outside. This is the same with love. Growing up I felt unlovable at an early age so I searched for love outside myself. Having a good relationship with myself was impossible while being an active addict. I found myself failing miserably in my early relationships because I had little self-love. Upon deeper analysis, I found out that self-esteem and self-love are issues that are related together. Suffering from low self-esteem, it is deficient of self-love. Loving myself felt unnatural in the beginning of sobriety because my mind was my enemy and was ingrained with self-sabotaging thoughts for twenty eights years. Creating self-love is conscious decision. When I didn’t love myself, I was basically telling the Universe that I was unworthy or undeserving of any love or positive outcomes. Manifesting unhealthy people in my life, allowing myself to stay in relationship that I suffered from, like cheating partners and abusive partners. I allowed people to be disrespectful to me because I was disrespectful to myself. Learning to love myself starts with making a conscious decision, an intention to become happy and lead a fulfilled life. It’s impossible to reach full potential with no self love or low self-esteem. Once I started creating self love and building up my self esteem my life started syncing together like a rebirth.

 

As a child no matter what my parents did to me, I still had deep love for them. I unquestionably loved my parents even when they abused me and were the source of my pain. I even lied to protect my parents from the police. With that I learned to accept that love comes with pain. That became the foundation to my relationships were all my adult attachments were built on. In short, love equaled pain and this pain must be calmed, or how can I maintain love? I put up with others hurting me and stood by there side no matter what, that created a lack of respect for myself. I thought i was unlovable so even the slightest touch of affection was enough. I thought since it was difficult to gain parents love, it will be hard to gain love from someone else. I thought I had to put up with others abuse and that pushed me to the bottle. I had to unlearn most of what i was taught as a child and i am still unlearning.

 

 I can’t escape my bad parts and only hold onto the good parts, I have to accept them all and if there are parts that need work, then I work on them. Before I work on them I have to accept than understand them. The longer that I am sober the more comfortable I am with my dark feelings or dark side. I  know use it for my artwork. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, I just enjoy finding pain inside myself to create poetry. I enjoy dark art and some unwatchable films. Knowing my dark side and good side brings me a more understanding of myself and also on what I need to change. Feelings are just parts of me that I discarded a long time ago, and they’re wanting to find their home again inside me. Feelings are not my true self just but a source I can use to find my true self. Being a healthy and a whole person means being able to experience and operate from a full repertoire of different types of emotions, without self-judgment. This is what’s required to be a multi-dimensional, fully integrated human being. My dark emotions are not monsters that live under my bed, they are inside myself and I have to embrace them. I can’t drown them or outrun them. My young formative years had powerfully influences on my beliefs, principles, and sense of Self. True healing means challenging some long-standing ideas, superstitions and rules I lived by, which had trapped me in self-loathing and toxic shame.

 

I am unlearning flawed beliefs and faulty patterns that has brought chaos to my life. My program may keep me from using but I have to be resolving the underlying pain that made me want or need to use. Getting sober has been easier than shifting how I think. It’s like having to learn a whole new way of thinking so I can perceive the world differently. Sobriety doesn’t fix my life it just gives me an opportunity to fix my own life through my recovery program. I wake up everyday happy and next to my love and working on the last chapter of my novel. It’s very possible to not only stay sober but to achieve dreams and goals that will heighten the love I have for sobriety.

 

So today i will spend the day in tears of joy with my love and good friends. I now know my past addiction, dark childhood, shame, guilt, pain, feelings, addiction symptoms, human errors are not I or my true self. I am who I choose to be right now, in this moment. We are all souls having a human experience and our worst parts do not define ourselves.

 

I  have been missing in action on Sober Is the New Black due to working on my first novel, it should be done very soon so i can get back to blogging and poetry. Here are some Poems i have created since my Last post, share them if you’d like. I can also email you any poems for free, most of my poems will be in the novel.

 

 

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Stay connected with love, Adolfo Vasquez