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.
Stay connected with love, Adolfo Vasquez