Space Shuttle

Recently, there was an event. An event that led me to some monumental upheaval in my life, and in my mind. Or was it an event? Was it not still, as always, a culmination of both recent and not so recent and unhealed parts of myself coming to the surface? I find myself sitting in front of another therapist, finally willing to look at parts of my life, difficult ugly, and fragile portions of me that I had tried so hard not to acknowledge in many many years. I don’t even know if I possess the ability to try and explain all of these swirling thoughts in my heart and in my mind. But I owe it to myself, and to my readers, to try.

I was instructed to download/order a book by my therapist. A book which would help me better understand why I am the way that I am. Why my mind fires the way that it does. The premise is to “Recognize Patterns, Heal from the past, Create yourself”. Heal from my past? But I thought that I had already done that? Is that not what step work, confession, meetings, sponsorship, fellowship, etc. is all about? It is, but what I have realized in the last month + is that there are parts of me, parts of my past that I hid, even from myself if that even sounds possible.

What is Trauma? Have you ever experienced Trauma? How do you know that it was indeed Trauma, by definition? I personally never really fully understood the meaning of trauma until recently. I was just so used to saying things like “I’ve been through a lot”, or “I’ve had it rough for a long time”. I hadn’t ever really put 2 & 2 together until I was finally able and willing to speak some really ugly, and shameful truths about my life overall.

I suppose that I was so accustomed to chaos, and to surviving trauma, that in my recent years kind of developed a crack pot theory that went something like “I believe that, for some, the simple and basic process of merely growing up and living life, is traumatic.” And that is true, I believe, to an extent. My therapist said something like “Just think about it, the even of simply being born is trauma for some. Going from ‘sleep’ inside your mother’s womb, in the dark, comfortable and warm, then seemingly out of no where, BOOM we’re thrust into these blinding lights and our life here on earth has begun.” I can certainly get with that, but what do we as new born babies really process? Or is it mostly shock and awe that we first experience?

It’s very interesting to me, how these ideas and memories have seemingly been unlocked in my brain recently. I suppose that I have adapted to so much over my young 36.5 years here on earth that I have figured out how to protect myself through disassociation and compartmentalization. What’s equally interesting to me, is the way that I have adapted certain “responses” in my repertoire without even designing them, they just sort of happened.

They say that we are products of our environment, which I agree with to some extent, but we also must find a way to not be. We also must find a way to heal, and to overcome the things that we were born into. But for some, that is much easier said than done, and for me, I didn’t even realize until recently, that some of the things that I needed to overcome and heal from even effected me. I guess, I was just continuing on with my life as if I had healed from them, like some type of arrogant survivor of great battles; but the truth is, I never even acknowledged them. I was doing the exact same thing, as I was conditioned to do, that I had always done my entire life. I was stuffing things deep down inside, hoping that nothing would ever “prick” those memories, self medicating, and hiding from it all. But those of us who do not learn or heal from the past, are doomed to fucking repeat it.

The last time I was in therapy was some years ago, and the wonderful lady that I was seeing for my sessions kept using the term “Trauma Repetition”. At the time, and during the sessions when this buzz word would come up I would nod my head in agreement as if I actually had any sort of deep understanding of what this meant. I didn’t, but I think that I am starting to understand it now. Those of us who are familiar with Recovering Addicts/Alcoholics, or have been around anyone who struggles with Mental Health or Substance Abuse have probably heard them say something along the lines of “Oh, I’m really good at bouncing back, I can ‘come up’ with the best of ’em”. But what is that really saying? Is it saying “All I know is the constant cycle of chaos/destruction/trauma, and how to burn things to the ground as a result, then compartmentalize it, dust myself off, and only bounce back as far as my repetition cycle will allow me to, only to go and do it all over again” ? I hope that that makes sense, because I can see it in my mind. And that’s what I’ve known, and done for pretty much all of my life. Trauma Repetition. The idea that I am only truly “Comfortable” in the turmoil, in the chaos, and in the “rebuilding” from said turmoil in some self preserving facade to “prove” (Delude) myself that i have actually made progress, when in fact, nothing deep down inside has actually ever been addressed- because I have never been spurred to actually go deep, go back, and open up those old dusty boxes buried inside my mind.

And what I am starting to realize lately, is that if I/we do not confront those unhealed parts of our childhood, or those painful parts of our adolescence then our current relationships and our current life are the ones who are going to pay the price for that. I think this is what they mean when they say “If we don’t heal from our past wounds, then we will bleed on people who never cut us.” Interesting.

I suppose, looking back on things, without getting into graphic or specific details with you, as I am still discussing much of this in real time with my therapist, my first recollection of something traumatic was when my little brother was born. I was so excited to have a little brother, and to be a big brother. I would feel little Luke’s kicks and movements, and remember feeling so excited and proud that I was gonna have a little brother to show the world to. But when the day finally came, everything was a blur. I suppose the fact that I was only 4 or 5 at the time played a part in this, but I don’t actually remember the day he was born, the very difficult part came just a few short days afterward. I don’t remember a conversation beforehand, and I don’t remember much after, but what I do remember was that I adamantly refused to leave the hospital; I stayed by my baby brother’s bed side for almost four weeks, with my mom, as my brother was clinging to life inside some kind of tent, an incubation tent maybe as he was immediately battling Pneumonia. I figure this was my real and lasting trauma event, because of the not remembering much else on either side of said event, and because of how I remember feeling at the time. I was maybe 5 years old at the time, and this was already my first brush with death, my first brush with catastrophic loss. Seeing his tiny little body inside this clear plastic tent, under bright warming lights, with tubes and monitors coming and going from his body, that I can still see now when I close my eyes.

Moving on from here, intermittent trauma was pretty much part of my life. And no, I am not blaming, and I am not excusing anything, I am just trying to share with you all what I have been learning about myself recently in hopes that perhaps this will reach someone who needs to hear it, and in turn, address their own past and heal.

When I was about kindergarten age, we lived in a very diverse apartment complex in Peach Tree City, Georgia. I was just like any other kindergarten kid, I just wanted to play with friends, ride my bike, and be a little boy. I had made a friend about 2 buildings down, a black boy about my age, who’s name escapes me, but I want to say that it was Monty. Me and Monty played together every single day after school. We were best buddies. We would ride bikes together and swing on the swings, and just run around the complex catching bugs and exploring life. Well, one day I rode my bike down to Monty’s door and knocked as I always did, and was prepared to ask my routine question, “Can Monty come out and play?” And when the door pulled open, I saw a couple “big kids” standing there. So I asked, but I immediately remember feeling fear, and started to kind of tread backwards, in retreat. The two big kids, who I still don’t know who they are to this day, came outside on to the stoop, and started pushing me around, picking on me and saying really mean things to me. Things like “Oh this that little honky boy Monty always talkin bout, yeah we heard about you- Stevie. Nah we done heard that Monty been runnin around with you and you need to get ya little pink ass up outta here.” They pushed me to the ground and kicked me in the face, they slapped me, they spit on me, and every time I tried getting up, they would push me down again. I remember being scared, like really scared for the first time. One of the big kids went inside and grabbed a broom, and then proceeded to beat me repeatedly with it while the other boy absolutely destroyed my little bike and threw it down into a culvert. Finally Monty came running out trying to help me, but was carried back inside crying about what was being done to his buddy. Eventually, a neighbor heard the ruckus, and came out to break it all up and help me back home. I was bloodied, scraped, crying, and my feelings were so hurt. When the neighbor finally got me back home and inside to explain what had just happened, it got even worse. My mother threw on her shoes, and walked down the sidewalk and knocked on the very door where all of this just happened. Now I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I could see that mom was very angry. I think my Dad was holding me back, as I didn’t want to see any more violence or anyone to get hurt. The mother of the big kids who just did this to me emerged from the apartment and a confrontation ensued. Out of no where the lady goes to grab or push my mom, and then got dealt a brutal right cross that sent blood, spit, and teeth flying out into the grass. I believe this lady was asleep before she even hit the ground. And as soon as she did hit the ground my mom proceeded to stomp her guts out, kicking her in the face and downward heal stomping her head. Once she was satisfied with the revenge that was just dealt she came back to the apartment, helped my dad wash all of the blood and snot and tears off my face, sat down and smoked a Marlboro Red 100. I was in Kindergarten.

This was the type of shit that I was exposed to on the regular. And I used to excuse it as, “It was Georgia in the 90’s, it was a really crazy time”, but the fact of the matter is no child should have to experience shit like this. And it didn’t stop. Shortly after this, my parents, and Monty’s parents made us fight each other, and neither one us wanted it to happen. “Beat his ass or ill beat your ass boy” type shit, they pushed us at each other, and I refused, but Monty did not. It was very horrible and scary to not throw a single punch and to get the shit kicked out of me by my best friend. All because a little white boy wanted to be friends with a little black boy. It’s disgusting. And shortly after that, Monty and I found a way to sneak down to the park and play. His older cousin Travis caught us swinging on the swings. He tried to play nice like he wasn’t bothered at all, and had asked us if we wanted to see the new golf club he had just found in the dumpster of the apartment complex. So, being kindergarten naive kids, we said something like “oh yeah, AWESOME!!!” Well, Travis used that Iron to split my head open from the top of my eyebrow-backwards, and then had the soul less audacity to drag me up from the park and knock on a neighbors door asking for help, and he fucking got away with it too, after I was taken by ambulance and the cops had left, because he convinced them all that it was an accident, and that we were just playing around. It breaks my heart that someone could do something like this to a little boy.

I never spoke to Monty again. We would see each other on the bus, or at recess, but we never spoke another word to one another again. I hope he didn’t turn out like his predecessors.

From there, it never really got any easier to understand either. Most of you know that We moved a lot. I went to a different school every single year until I was in 7th grade. But what was concurrent with that, and what was concurrent with the constant battle between my father and my mother’s family, what was concurrent with the power or water being shut off, what was concurrent with the fights between my mom and dad, and with the constant turmoil and unknowns, was that I was repeatedly molested by various people in my life from the time I was about 7 to the time I was in about 4th grade. Not by my parents, not anything like that, but by the older kids in the trailer park. Now, I’m gonna spare the details here, but just believe me on this one. It was not a good feeling to go out and ride bikes, not knowing what was going to happen to me that day. Was I gonna be forced to do things I didn’t want to do? Was I going to get beat up? Both? And one of the major reasons (I think) that I never told anyone until now, was that I don’t know if I ever really felt safe enough to tell anyone. Would I be called a Faggot, or a pussy by my own family? I was a little boy, and the things that were happening were happening at the hands of high school kids, and young adults. I was defenseless. And I believe that when all of these things were happening to me, during this critical time of mental development in my youth, was when I started to “Learn” how to detach, or disassociate as a form of self protection. If I can just escape into my little “space ship” inside my mind, this will be over sooner, and I wont feel a thing. And it worked. And it was a practice, or defense mechanism that I would be utilizing for a very long time.

Size Matters

Recently, My Wife and I took the boys up to a lake cottage in Michigan for some fishing. We loaded up the tackle, swim trunks, snacks, and everything we might need while away for a weekend to unplug and reconnect with one another. At first it was a little frustration on my part, as being a father of 2 teenagers and a nine year old would mean much time spent fixing tangled lines, taking fish off the hook, tying on hooks and etc. And it first it was just that. I offered many “breath prayers’ Silent prayers along the way to help keep me on an even keel and focused. Luke caught a bass on his first cast too which was awesome! The boys, myself and my wife all had a great time! We even took the pups, who had no experienced the water yet, so we weren’t sure how they would take to it. But they absolutely loved playing in the water! They even swam out to retrieve the ball we would throw out there and we could tell they were really enjoying themselves!

The first day was friday and we pretty much just spent the day fishing, and getting settled in and getting to know the lay of the land. We had some snacks, caught some fish, and as we sort of got fished out, we decided to pull the kayaks out for a nice little change of pace and to get out on the water. As much as I love the water, and being out on it, it tends to add a little tension when there are kids involved, life jacket or no life jacket. So, at first I was a bit antsy, but that dissolved away almost immediately as I saw how easily they took to them.

I know, some of my writings now, as I have been told, are “Boring now” and I understand that. The old War Stories and etc. have long since passed and now here I am writing about life lessons and other “ho hum” stuff. But that’s what happens when things change. I don’t have any more accumulating war stories anymore. Now I write about my experiences in life, and some still are very painful, and some are really good- since I stopped shooting questionable chemicals into my arm.

But anyways, back to the idea that’s been bouncing around in my head since last weekend, and hopefully how I can encapsulate it all into one entry here.

Throughout the weekend, and, really any given day or week, we all tend to have an ongoing chemical reaction in our brains as a result of various stimuli. Something good happens with work: we feel a little reward, we will call that “+1”. Something bad happens at home: “-2”. We receive some good new: +2. etc. and on we go throughout our days constantly feeling a little bump in the positive direction, or a little bump in a negative one. An ever existing chain of experiences throughout our days that ultimately end up becoming our lives in total. Some stretches it can seem like everything is on the positive trajectory, and some negative. And either of these directions can and will ultimately end up with some type of culmination, and are often decorated with a brilliant life lesson, or memory attached to them, and then we spin off into a whole nother direction. And this weekend was not an exemption. It was truly beautiful how this whole series of moments built into one another, but it was interesting in how all the +1, +2, +5’s built into something that made me feel so very small. But small, in a very beautiful way.

As a human, I/We can tend to ride the waves of these chemical reactions and rewards in a number of ways. Especially in this day of Instant information, Social Media, and etc. And it can leave us feeling incredibly over inflated, or horribly empty, sometimes even just numb and alone. We thrive on reactions, likes, posts, recognition, appreciation, and etc. And all of our “+2′, +3’s” etc can lead us to feeling incredibly “big”, full of ego and sometimes arrogance because we have been on such a winning streak lately that we can often feel like we are invincible and giants of our little section of life here. Usually, If I am locked in enough to see the red flags of Ego returning I am able to scale myself back enough before I end up owing some amends somewhere, which usually go hand in hand, My Ego, and then owing amends that is.

But interestingly enough, During this trip to Michigan, I got to experience one of those little winning streaks, that left me feeling so incredibly small, which is actually kind of paradoxical, but in the moment it made so much sense to me.

When was the last time you felt incredibly Big? When was the last time you felt incredibly small? As humans, I feel like we tend to see things as, for the most part, bigger is better, and smaller is not so good. (insert whatever inappropriate joke you like here. lol ) But this time, it was the other way around. It was small, and it was peace, and it was just this moment. Which ended up being what I refer to as a Top 5 Moment.

Friday evening, about one hour before darkness completely swallows the Lake, trees, and settles in on us, Logan and I decide to take another spin around the lake on the kayaks, and do some fishing around the lilly pads docks and try to grab some of the bass that come into feed on the smaller ones and top water prey. It has been a very fun filled and exciting day. Lots of pictures, lots of fishing, lots of sun. We fill up a couple plastic worm bags with hooks, and soft plastic lures to push off and go after the big ones. Knowing that we are going to be out on the water, I leave my phone on the picnic table safely on shore, buckle my life jacket up, load my pole and oar, and push off onto the black looking lake and coast on out. Logan is right behind, the water is like glass, and the only sounds are the swooping birds just over head. Everything is still, and the gentle curls on the water is the only thing letting anyone know that we are out here. Random fires burn on shore throughout the lake. The sky to one side is burning orange as the sun dunks down behind the trees, and a few stars and the moon begin to take center stage. We didn’t catch one damn fish. cast after cast after cast. Nothing. It’s just a father and son, out here silently enjoying this moment. No phones, no distractions, no sound even really. Just two laser focused guys out here enjoying a quiet getaway, on a getaway out on the lake.

Seemingly out of no where, a very low rumble of thunder begins to quake and roll throughout our area. It was weird, because it felt like it was actually coming up from underneath the kayaks. But the skies were still clear, with the exception of one little peak of a high top storm cloud slowly inching its way into the horizon. Closer and Closer it got. emerging into our view of the world. At the moment, I thought absolutely nothing of it. It was just a cloud. “Hey Herb, since we’re not catching anything, you wanna go all the way out to the middle of the lake and see what we can see?” My fishing buddy asked me. And of course, I said “Let’s do it!” We bungeed our poles, and took to paddling our asses off, clear out into the middle of the massive lake. And the more we rowed, the further out we got, the more the silence grew. The shore continued to disappear, and the view of the cloud began to grow. It is now about 15 minutes before it becomes completely black outside, and the remaining sun has now illuminated this giant storm cloud like a light show. Brilliant orange, pink, and even grays light up this enormous thunder maker like a giant light bulb. We both notice it literally at the same time, and slow our kayaks to turn to face this miracle of mother nature.

Our kayaks gently bump against each other, to a complete stop and there is not a single sound to be heard anywhere. KABOOM! And a Giant bolt of lightning shoots out of the top of this cloud, as if on cue for only us to see. And again, and again. This cloud was the only one that we could see anywhere. Everything else was a deep blue or purple as night was falling. But the cloud was showing off, for just us! Bright Pink, Orange, and Grays lit up like the Fourth of July. Bolt after Bolt after Bolt. Erupting with a chorus of Raucous thunder. Strikes down, Strikes, up, three, four, five bolts at a time. It looked like one of those Plasma Ball lightning things that you put your fingers on and the little lightnings are attracted to your touch. It just rolled and rolled. Bolts from up and out the top of the cloud, even completely sideways. I have never seen anything like it, it was like a little fired up ball of static was erupting right in front of our eyes, Logan was noticeably in awe. Mouth wide open, laser focused on what he was seeing. With the exception of a few “wows” and “holy shit’s did you see that one?!” There was no sound, outside of this little rock concert we were now witnessing. Boom after Boom, and it seemed like it went on for hours, but we all know it was only just a few short minutes. But that’s the point; it DID seem like we sat out there for at least an hour. And it was very strange to me, how for that moment, I could literally see and feel these two tiny little almost insignificant little specks (us out on the lake) sitting out in the middle of what seemed to us to be a giant lake, but the lake paled in comparison to the cloud, the cloud to the sky, and the sky to the moment. And what is even cooler, is that the moment was technically the smallest of all. Just a series of chemical reactions in our brains that transmitted what we were seeing, but yet it seemed to be the biggest of all. it was very surreal. Two Tiny specks, on a “great big tiny lake”, on a tiny little section of michigan, on a tiny little rock floating in space, in a little galaxy called the milky way, which is drifting around through the vastness of space. And in this little tiny section of time, the moment seemed bigger than it all, but was the smallest of it still. I felt so fragile, vulnerable, tiny. Like the smallest of dust particles being kicked up by the hooves of horses in the battle of all time existence. It was very strange. And it was very beautiful. The way that Time, and Size seemed to intertwine so perfectly well in this little slice, for just me and Logan to enjoy.

Sometimes, we think that being important, means that we need to feel big. Sometimes, we think that being noticed means to always be seen, or felt, or celebrated. But I learned in this little bit of time and space, that sometimes, it is the moments that no one else sees, that can be the most influential, and the little tiny slices of life, with no words, and no sound, and no distractions, that can bear the most fruit. No one else on this planet got to see what we saw, or feel what we felt, from our perspective at that exact moment, and that makes it the most valuble type of moment there is. Incredibly rare and hard to come by. Small and mighty. We own that. It was absolutely awesome to see and feel and be a part of.

So no, Bigger is not always better. Seen is not always the way. Reactions and views, and certificates, and attention aren’t always the way to ones heart, or to the “good stuff”. Sometimes its the opposite. There was such Humility in this moment. To know that there is so much more that we don’t know than we do know, to know that there is such power in being small. To know that to be the right size throughout our days is a super power, and to know that time can stand still when the moment is right, was a very humble moment for me. To witness such power in nature, and power in a bonding moment with me and my son was absolutely breath taking.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world.

Stay small my friends, stay the right size.

Vision

As the sun set on 2019, and we were all gathered-or not; but watching on TV- as the last year of our most recent decade passed. I, like so many, as always was quietly stirred inside and filled with much anticipation and excitement, for the beginning of a new year. A new decade. The ball begins it’s decent and the hosts of our chosen coverage began to pump up the watching masses as the countdown commenced. 10…9…8….7…6….5…4….3…2….1….Happy New Year!!!! As the confetti flew and the fireworks erupted, we hugged, we kissed, we high fived and the celebrations began, those watching quietly a home clicked off their sets and headed off to bed. But no matter how you chose to enjoy the closing of 2019, and the opening of 2020, I would speculate that even the least celebratory of us still had a bit of a jolt of eagerness inside of them. How could you not? New Year’s Eve and Day are always a special time. It is almost like the door to new opportunities and challenges is once again opening and for one 24 hour period we get to sort of “Start over” again. En Masse, we have forgotten at least temporarily the past struggles, and look ahead to a much brighter day and with much hope. In one 24 hour period, the world, at large is united in Hope, Jubilation, and friendship as we embark on the journey ahead, of tacking another year and doing the best that we can to make this world a better place.

And then 2020 happened.

I have always been the “Eternal Optimist”. I have always held on to the motto “No matter what, its gonna be okay”. That has at many times, been the one slogan that has kept me going. And coming into this year and even now I still keep it. Because I still believe it. But this year has been hands down the most challenging of my life personally. And not just because of covid either. Just. Fucking life man. 2020 has brought many blessings into our lives collectively. For us, We have purchased our first home, a new vehicle, we were granted custody of luke, I started a company of my own, I have been asked to Join the Lake County Drug Court Team, I have authored several Bill Proposals that have been accepted into Legislature and are gaining some love down in Indy. We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary, and we have had some really special and fun times this year, mostly in the warmer months when we could be outside. So, no, 2020 has not been a total wash out, but I, like so many I am sure cannot seem to not feel like it has been.

Even if you personally have been mostly unaffected during this year, directly speaking that is, I would venture a guess that even you have felt the weight of the world on your shoulders at one point or another. Just the added stress, the unknown, or maybe just the annoying people on the news or social media has been enough to ruffle your feathers more so than a normal year. It’s been weird. To say the least. We have seen some crazy, sad, stressful and ugly shit this year. I mean, Kobe Bryant died. doesn’t that seem so long ago? It does for me. My Wife and I were just talking about that the other day. Seems like Five Years ago. But it was only like 11 months. Time has really done a weird twist this year. Time has really proven itself irrelevant to me. Sometimes it feels like this year has been a blink, and other times it feels like a decade. With all of the added chaos, uncertainty, politico, Covid, Unrest, it has really just compounded so much into a very large, hard to swallow pill. And I have seen so many folks out there, who continue to carry on as if completely unbothered by all that this year has presented us with, but yet clearly carry with them a new found hatred for “The Other Side” and that, makes you just as, if not more affected than most. I have seen so many hardened hearts, so much judgement, condemnation, ridicule, and ugliness come out; merely as a biproduct of this crazy year. It is very sad to me. Especially when I see who it is that is showing these types of colors. Not going to point them out, but I see it.

And what is to me, poetic about all of this, is that going into this year the trending slogan of hope and excitement on all the Hashtags and Social Media Accounts was this: “20 20 Vision”.

How’s your vision now?

I often use the word turbulent when I write, and I believe that is just simply put, one of the best words to describe this human experience that we all find ourselves in. Full of ups and downs. Hopes and fears. Ebbs and flows. Nothing is certain, and no matter how similar each day seems, they’re never actually the same. And of all of the years that I have been alive, no year for me has ever embodied that thought, that word- Turbulent, than 2020.

Many of us have remained home as best we can. We avoid the simple pleasures that we once enjoyed freely, going to the movies, or a favorite restaurant. We shop from home. Many of us have even been forced out of work and find ourselves over drafting accounts to pay a bill, or deciding which bill is priority over the rest. We’re e-learning now, we Zoom thanksgiving, we are missing time with our friends and loved ones. And some of us, like my family and I, have lost someone very dear to us to Covid. And the sick Irony to that last sentence there, is that I was once someone who discarded Covid as some bullshit over blown propaganda. I do not feel that way about things today. So yes, “2020 Vision” does in fact seem to be the appropriate Hashtag. At least for me. 2020 has corrected my vision in so many ways. It has softened my heart, it has enlarged my empathy to so many causes, ideas, and to other human being’s lives that I was once so unexposed to and ignorant of. Not ignorant in an unsophisticated way, as so many people choose to use that word. But ignorant in an uneducated about way, an uninformed way. Lacking knowledge on a particular topic way. I have seen so much good, and so much bad all in the same year it makes my head spin when I think about it.

Just to put on the scales of balance for illustration purposes: We bought our dream home in March, and in August my brother and protector, my best friend Died all alone in a hospital with no one by his side. From the Corona Virus. I would burn this house to the ground and roast marshmallows on the flames if I could have him back. He is and always will be one of the finest human beings to ever walk this earth.

But as 2020 begins to come to a close, with nothing but Christmas in between now and 2021, I believe that I have gained some valuable perspective on a number of things. And it was hard won too. I damn near completely lost my mind this year. I was in one of the craziest and darkest places that I have ever been. Stress, anxiety, Marriage, a new home, money, kids, covid, expectations, reality, acceptance, family, isolation. Talk about one of the most fucked up mindsets I have had in a very long time. And I almost pissed everything away as a result. All of this ended up in one of the most painful mental growth spurts that I have ever had. But also came to culmination into some of the sweetest realizations I have had the joy of experiencing… I am in fact a very blessed man, and my family loves me very much. Family is everything, Health is wealth, and no matter what it is going to be okay. Yeah, so maybe it did take the help of some more therapy and Zoloft, so what? What kind of man would I be if I constantly talked about “reaching out for help”, If I too didn’t do so? I have never nor will I ever speak about how I have it all together and am some how just miraculously cured from 30 years of trauma and poor mental health. I seek help when I need it. And this year has really humbled me and at times really kicked my ass. Which, to be honest was kind of needed. Sometimes I can get a little “too big for my britches” as my grama used to say. And though the struggles will continue, the good and bad times will come and go as they always have, this I know.

But my thoughts and Prayers this morning are that I truly hope we all, every one of us have obtained something good, special, and wholesome from this year. Whether it is appreciation for what we do have, empathy for others, understanding, kindness, or maybe the desire to advocate and champion some much needed reforms in our own communities. I can personally admit that I am recovering, not just from heroin addiction, but from my old ways of thinking, old judgement, prejudices, bitterness, resentment, grudges, and so many old mindsets. Even though the holiday rush is squeezing in on us, and this year has been a whirlwind, and we are not out of the woods yet- I feel like I have finally grown up. I feel like I have finally matured enough to not be a fucking crazy person and I have emotionally and mentally healed enough to keep those old skeletons at bay. It’s crazy how time and pressure makes diamonds, and likewise can make us grow and shine. No matter how painful the process is. I feel like I have some peace in my heart as this year comes to a close. Yes, I will always miss my brother, and I will always look back on my past mistakes and fuck ups with conviction and remorse, but I no longer have to be held hostage by either, and I know that if there is anything I can do to Honor my brother, it is to continue to stay clean and do my best to personify all of the traits that I respected so much in him.

My prayer this morning is that all of you stay well, and take care of yourselves and each other. That your next year be filled with increase and joy. That 2021 be equally, but oppositely amazing to the stress and chaos that 2020 has been thus far. I pray that We have all found some poetic and hard won life lessons, and garnered a new mindset and appreciation for this special thing called life. 2020 has not been the year of getting what we want, but for appreciating all and who we do have.

All life is precious. Feelings are not facts. There is no big me, little you. or little me, big you. No mercy for me and justice for you. Everyone struggles, and others who struggle are not your enemy. May we all be kind and empathetic towards one another in the coming months and years. No one is competition, I hope we all make it.

D o p a m i n e

 "Drug of Choice"
Not exactly the correct way to put it. Least not for me.
It's not even about drugs. I mean maybe to an extent.
But the Chemical itself wasn't as much of a factor as some may believe.
This idea is really just kind of like a preferred flavor.
I preferred Opiates. I preferred Heroin. But Did I really?
No.
I preferred Oblivion. Blotto.
Just shut it off.
My Drug of choice evolved. And I made My way to the deepest of bottoms.
One Compromise at a time.
Small compromises at first, Increasing in size over time.
Sacrificing my future for the moments.
Sacrificing more and more along the way.
But all of this, in and of itself was a compromise to my truest self.
I preferred a bond.
I preferred belonging.
I preferred to feel loved.
I preferred to feel.
My first drug of choice?
Not the traditional chemical.
But a Chemical reaction that occurred in my brain.
A Dopamine hit.
The Chemical reaction that occurred in my brain when I felt this:
ACCEPTANCE.
The feeling that I was okay, that I was loved, in spite of all my flaws and insecurities, just as I was day in and day out. That I was good. That I was loved. That I mattered.
To someone.

I loved my family.
They did their best. I loved all of them.
But I only really felt bonded with few of them. And that was ripped away.
Then I was shuffled around like a kid in the system.
So I looked for something to bond with.
I looked for someone to bond with.
I am not sure why I never bonded deeply with them like I should have.
Maybe it was me?

I searched for outside validation.
I searched for a place that I fit in.
I sought for ways to fill this void.
The more I fed the void, the deeper it became.

At first it was baseball.
Video games.
Acting out.
Being a class clown.
A Girl's attention.
The wrong friends.
The right friends.
Anything for that Dopamine hit.
Instant Gratification.
I had to Chase it.

My first Cigarette wasn't enough.
My first drink wasn't enough.
Weed. No.
Sex. No.
Video games. no.
I had to chase it.
The more I fed it, the larger it grew.
Maybe just one more will satisfy.
Nope.
If I hit a home run on the ball field, I needed another one.
I just wanted to feel special.
I just wanted to feel celebrated.
I still do.
I just wanted to feel relevant.
I just wanted to feel noble.
I just wanted to feel.
Something.
but also, nothing at all.
I had to chase. I had to be on the move.

Looking back on things, I wasn't chasing towards anything.
I was running from everything.

Pot became Pills.
Pills became powder.

My friends became my adversaries.

I became someone else.
Just chase it.
Just get another one.
shut it off.
Shut it down.
Get high
Stay high
Nothing matters.
When I cant feel.

Oblivion. Blotto. Blackness.
Out of sight and out of mind.
anything for a dopamine hit.
anything to make me feel something other than what I am.
Why work hard?
Why sacrifice?
Why study? Why practice?
Why go home?
Why tell the truth?
Why be me?
When this one 10$ bag makes it so much easier.
To do nothing.
to be nothing.
to lie.
to be someone else.
to just fucking escape.

Increase pleasure. Decrease pain.
Both please.
Just stay numb.
and chase towards and run away from
the exact same things.
The generational loop in perpetuity
Run from my broken home.
Run from my lack of bonds
run from my childhood.
run from the beatings
the embarrassment
The trailer parks
run from watching dad hitch hike on highway 74 and out of your life
run from the welts
run from the heart ache.
run from the domestics
run from the insecurities
run from the pain
chase towards the numbing of pain
chase towards the insecurities
chase towards domestics
chase towards the heartache
chase the welts
chase towards that highway
chase the trailer parks
the embarrassments
chase the beatings
chase the childhoods
chase the fractured relationships. Run to what broke you.
create a broken home....

Ill be damned. I ended up becoming everything that I was running from.
**********************************
This is the result of a phone call that I took from a gentleman yesterday.
He is an Atheist. I am a Believer.
But we share something in common.
He didn't push his, and I didn't push mine.
This is the beauty of recovery.
It's the clear cut difference between religion and spirituality.
Religion is for those afraid of hell.
Spirituality is for us who have been there.
We share that common pain.
That survivors bond.
Recovery is where Priest learns from Plumber.
Zero Judgement.
Wounded Warriors.
Two Lost Souls.
Swimming in a fish bowl
Pink floyd.

*******************************
This is the beauty of it all. There is no drug of choice. It is all the same.
We're all just wanting to feel optimal, or nothing at all. We addicts.
We get clean and get super into working out. Or shoes, or clothes, or the opposite sex.
Or work. Or God. Or art. Or Music. Or dogs. Or reading. Or writing. Or helping others. Or meetings.
Or church. Or food. Or family. Or Netflix. Or Cars. Or Money. Or Purpose.
Or Nothing.
Or we fall back into it.
To once again shut it off.
Everyone is addicted to something.
Everyone just wants to feel loved
to feel special
to feel respected
to feel celebrated
to feel a purpose.
Addiction is emotional

We are driven by chemical reactions in our brains.
Some of us more than others.

Increase pleasure.
Decrease Pain.
Dopamine.

Gift Horse

Yesterday I took a phone call from one of my Banquet brothers. He calls me periodically just to shoot the shit. He is one of my predecessors and someone I admire greatly. He has been in recovery for a long time, in fact, I believe the last wine he drank was actually at the last Supper. LOL! But he’s a good man, and I always look forward to our talks, and to working with him, helping our struggling brothers find recovery. During our most recent phone call, our conversation turned to the topic of Gratitude, which was fitting because it was just a couple days after thanksgiving and Gratitude has been the main theme of the month for most of us. We took turns going back and forth about what gratitude means to each of us, and how we “stay grateful”. I use the quotes there, because I don’t know if it is even possible to stay grateful all of the time. At least not for me.

I truly believe and have long said that one of the most “Dangerous” people in the world, in my opinion, is an addict who has lost their gratitude. But as I think about that now, I believe the one critique I can make to that statement is not ‘gratitude’, but appreciation. And there is a fine line in my brain. I can wake up every single day grateful that I am no longer homeless, strung out, and committing crimes; but do I appreciate that? And if the answer to that question there, is no, then I am once again that Ticking Time Bomb from book #1. And I have been. Several times over as a matter of fact. The last 6 years have been turbulent in a million ways, lots of good, lots of bad, lots of in betweens. But the Mental growth spurt that really led me to where I am this morning, was the loss of appreciation, coupled with unmet expectations, and unlimited comparisons. Which ultimately led me into a pretty damn dark spiral of depression, bitterness, and anger.

You know, we addicts are an interesting bunch. I always say, “I got clean because I wanted a better life, and I stay clean because I got one.” But it’s not just that simple or effortless. Life has kicked my ass over and over again, to the point of white knuckled, pick up the God Damn Phone moments. And what’s more, is that, with the exception of the loss of my brother, nothing was ever really “That Bad”. Any situation, that I think I have found myself in, is usually of my own making, and the sum total of the same equation listed above. Which ultimately had me pretty fucking delusional for a while. I do, in fact, have an absolutely amazing life, and a perfect marriage with Tiffany. But it actually took me some time, yep, to truly realize that. And I think that’s why our first “nickle” is so important.

I spent 29 years not knowing shit. I spent 29 years not knowing healthy relationships, healthy love, healthy home, life, etc. I spent 29 years in the “upside down”, counter culture of society, and all of the bad that it had to offer. So how in the fuck can I possibly rebuild myself, love others, and truly come to grips with life, self esteem, worth, love for others and etc in just 5 years? I cant. And this is why it is so important for us to ALLOW ourselves to get vulnerable, and allow others to love us until we can love ourselves. So many who have followed me for many years, see the results. The smoke and Mirrors of it all. They don’t see me driving around the county roads bawling my eyes out because I feel like a failure of a father and husband, only to return with my best big boy face on and try and hold it together. They don’t see all of the hard work and gritted teeth and tears that went into this entry this morning. It has been very difficult and quite frankly humiliating at times. I knew that I wanted to get clean and stay clean and have a better life, but what’s interesting is that I never learned how to truly appreciate it all. Until, honestly, recently. And I am not sure why either, it’s interesting to me.

But maybe it is because I have never really known Pride, or a sense of accomplishment. Maybe it’s because I felt undeserving, or like I was always waiting on the other shoe to drop? Or maybe its a product of my past life and the ways I was living, and my victim mentality. A Self fulfilling, self defeating prophesy, maybe? I got clean because I wanted a better life, and I stayed clean because I got one, So why then did I allow myself to be so invaded by negative thoughts and become so consumed by lack of appreciation and gratitude? It was almost like I was just kind of walking the walk, talking the talk, but not allowing myself to feel the feels. It hadn’t really sunk in for a while just how far I/We have come, and all that we have accomplished. And I believe that I have finally come to the point where I can appreciate who I am, who I have and just accept people and things, no matter what our differences are, exactly the way that they are. And that feels really good. But it almost cost me all of my most cherished relationships. Thank God for those people who will love us until we can love ourselves, and that truly adds to my gratitude this morning.

Growing sucks. Growing up sucks. Mental growth spurts suck. Comparison sucks. Expectations suck. Being vulnerable sucks. Allowing others to see us for exactly who we are sucks. But all of these things are what Life is all about. Learning as we go, letting go, cutting the bad fruits off of the trees, letting others in, admitting that we don’t know everything and that we are not “King Dingaling”. Humility is a great remedy to this, but for me, I have long sense battled internally with myself between Ego and Humility, which has led to humiliation, which is the act of being humbled against our will. Thank God that I feel the right size this morning.

And as I think about it this morning, it is a little deeper than just “An attitude of Gratitude”, It is about appreciation and truly valuing and cherishing the people, places, things, and mindsets that we have right here and right now. I have long sense looked that Gift Horse in the mouth, and that has nearly cost me everyone and everything.

Humility, gratitude, and appreciation.

That’s what it’s all about for me today.

Don’t tell me you’re grateful, show me you appreciate.

Humility keeps us the right size, Gratitude keeps us in service to others, and appreciation nurtures our relationships.

Atonement

“We Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” (Step #9)

Over the last few days, I have been waking up each morning with a very new and very comforting feeling inside of me. I have been struggling to process it, and to fully take it in and analyze it. It’s kind of just shown up, seemingly out of no where. Today is November 19th, 2020. I am sitting on my couch, my two dogs are snuggled up about five feet away from me, the news is on the TV, but the sound is off, and the only thing that I can hear is the quiet mechanics and hum of our fireplace in the dining room. Every now and then I hear some foot steps and stirring up stairs from my middle son, who is home because we pulled our two youngest from school to do E-Learning. My youngest boy is spending the night with his mother. It’s a very tranquil, very peaceful, quiet morning. My wife is at work. Cars and trucks carrying their owners to their respective destinations pass by once in a while. It is about 50 degrees outside, very mild for this time of year in Northwest Indiana. It’s very strange to me, the things that I am noticing today, and the fact that I am writing about such trivial things. But what is even more interesting, is that in a way, I am noticing them, seeing them, feeling them, and experiencing them in a brand new way; seemingly for the very first time.

It is very interesting to me, the human mind, and more specifically, the heart- the real heart, not the physical heart that does all the pumping of blood, but the heart of hearts, the one that is cosmically connected to our mind and soul. Our “gut”, that place where the butterflies live, and give us a little tickle when we’re nervous, excited, anxious, or sharply afraid. I feel like I am writing this very entry here, with that particular part of my being. I don’t know why, but I do. It is almost as if I was writing although with much emotion before, with my head. I feel a quiet stir inside of me, as though something has, or is in the process of awakening.

“But Herb, You’ve been doing this for a while man, shouldn’t you have done been awakened?” “Shouldn’t you have long since experienced ‘step 12’/ had multiple spiritual experiences and had your spiritual awakening?” as it is outlined in the platform of the 12 step fellowships? And to that I say yes. But I also believe that growing up; spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically is a life long process. As is recovering.

I have always said that we get to our bottoms one compromise at a time. And I used drugs for more than half my life. So let’s briefly think about how many compromises I was capable of making in an 18 year span. Tens of Thousands I am sure. And not knocking any particular Idea, or philosophy, but as I sit here this morning, I believe that it is going to take quite the sacrifice, in a positive sense; and dedication for the long haul, if I am ever to fully “right” the ship. This morning, I think maybe that is what I am experiencing. A glimpse into a peaceful place inside of me. One that is nearly six years in the making…

When I first and honestly started making an attempt to get my life back in order and once and for all recover from a life of trauma, crime, lies, manipulation, distrust, and drug abuse I had absolutely no idea what that even meant, what it would look like, or what it would feel like. I just knew that if I kept on living like I was before, I would surely die or spend the rest of my life in prison. And I didn’t want that. I just wanted what “They” we’re selling. A new life. A renewed sense of hope. And maybe to be able to play some golf once in a while. So I did my best to put my all into everything I did. Every interaction with other humans, I did my best to be genuine and honest, humble and animated. Which felt weird for quite some time, but as time marched on became more and more normal. Every side job, full time job, favor for a friend, I did it the best I could. Every meeting, church service, every bible study, or sponsorship time, I did my best to be open and vulnerable. All of these things were so strange to me. But they were compromises, but, only this time, they were compromises in the exact opposite direction of the way I was headed before.

Interesting.

An old buddy of mine used to always say, “we cannot think our way into better acting, but we must act our way into better thinking.” And that makes a lot of sense to me now. Because it’s true. Do something different, get something different. And everything I was trying to do, everything I was striving to be, was so contradictory to what I had been doing before. But I had never wanted anything more. I have always wanted to just be a good person. As a boy I always fantasized/day dreamed about saving someone. Being a hero. I have always had that affinity for the underdog. I love a comeback story. I love watching people who were once considered “no bodies” come back in triumphant fashion and make it. And what makes that thought all the more interesting, is that alone the way; along this journey of life- I became that no body. I became the very underdog that I have always rooted for. And It became evident to me, that I was the one who needed saving. And so all of these past day dreams, and current circumstances culminated into the me, then. Raw and dying. Desperate to find myself, and be somebody once and for all. So I started to take those steps. No matter how uncomfortable it was. It had to be done. Get busy livin or get busy dyin, kid. Those were my only two choices. So I chose the former. And most of you know, how that has worked out so far. Myself and my wife, my family. We are blessed beyond measure. But the interesting piece to all of this, is what makes this entry here new. Is what makes it current, and relevant…

As I quoted before, at the beginning here, is step 9. Making direct amends. which I have done many times over, during my many attempts at staying clean. But before, I never fully took it in at the depths that this profound heart changing step provides. I believe this morning, that it is much more than merely making amends. It is about atonement. Righting things in such a manner that we are once again able to live in harmony and peace with the very community that we once worked so hard to destroy. But how do we do that? Is it even possible? Well, the answer to that second question here, is absolutely yes. And I think what I have been feeling lately is my spirit telling me just that.

This is not easy. And it does not happen quickly. I am pushing 6 years clean, and am just now starting to experience this phenomenon. But I committed to myself at the beginning and am committed to this day.

At first, it was more about saving face, than saving my spirit. It was more about “paying back” what was owed, than actually repairing anything broken. It was more about apologies, than corrected behavior. But I was still so green and new to it all, that I had no idea the depths of damage that I had done to others, and even more so, to myself. To my own self image, to my own heart, to my own image of humanity. There was such a long stretch when I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror. I couldn’t even look other humans in the eye, because of the shame, guilt, and humiliation that I felt because of the way I had built myself. Because of all of the compromises that I had made along the way to my many bottoms. Everything that I was, everything that I had done along the way to incomprehensible demoralization, went against my deepest core values. They went against my true self, and my true moral compass. And it turned me inside out and into everything that I hated about this world. And it took a long time to get there. And I knew that this process of getting better was going to take a very long time. And as time chugged along, it became more and more clear to me, that this was becoming about making amends with myself as much as it was with others. And once I realized that, it was like my moral compass was starting to point back in the right direction. And That was a very welcomed feeling. And this is when that adage “To thine own self be true” became so important to me.

I think that so many of us give up because there is just so much wreckage for us to clean up when we finally stop using. And so we are faced with such a seemingly insurmountable mountain of shit that it is “easier” for us to just keep getting high than it is to take it one small stone at a time and dedicate ourselves to the end, not the beginning. And, to be honest, they would be right. Getting high, as a way to escape our problems is the core of addiction; and in all honesty is that “easier softer way” that people talk about. Recovering from decades of scumbaggery takes guts. It takes sacrifice, and it takes humility, and it takes dedication. But if we are willing to move those mountains, one small stone at a time, we will actually come to a point where we will stop to let our backs rest, take a long swig of cold water, look around, in honest assessment and realize that we are making genuine progress. That the worst is finally behind us. The worst, is behind us, on a surface and superficial level that is.

The greatest obstacle, the greatest task for me thus far, and up until recently has been the rebuilding of myself. the recreating of my own heart. The atonement within my own spirit. And I believe that we cannot have this without the former listed ideas. We cannot have one without the other. For with the former comes humility and vulnerability. If we were to try to recreate and love ourselves without this key pieces, we would once again be thriving on Ego and Arrogance. And, well, for people like me this is very dangerous.

So, basically what I am getting at here, is that we must be willing to commit to the long haul and begin with the end in mind. There are going to be failures, rejections, hardships and tears along the way. But these ebbs and flows are what shape us, to allow us to enjoy the successes that living clean have to offer. it took me 17.5 years. seventeen and a half years. to get to a point to where I didn’t want to live like that anymore. and I haven’t even been clean half of that yet. But this morning, I am really starting to FEEL, not SEE, the fruit of staying clean. I know what respect feels like. I know what Love feels like. This morning I know what Peace feels like. I am safe and comfortable in my own skin. And I know it may sound absurd to many out there, but you must not be a drug addict; because we really do destroy so much when were using, and it takes a very long time to fully right our wrongs, love ourselves, and live in harmony with the world. BUT, the promises always come true- We will be amazed before we are halfway through.

9: We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

We are NEVER the “others” in this step, we need to put our egos aside, and allow ourselves to feel that sting of amends gone wrong. After all, we earned that and it is quite poetic to know this. AND we also LIVED indirect amends every day to the best of our abilities to follow our moral compass, especially when no one was looking. We strive to be true to ourselves and the deepest wholesome parts of us, to set matters straight inside of our hearts so that we could one day know what true peace feels like.

We strive for atonement. we strive for harmony. We strive to be better human beings, and to leave this world and it’s people better than we found it.

Priorities 2

So, before we get going here this afternoon, if you’re willing, I would like you to indulge me for a second here. I would like you to take a moment if you have one, and quiet your mind. Reflect. Just you and You. no one else. No outside noise. No judgement. Just you and your inner most self. Probe and search. Seek and find. Be Still. Think about who you really are. Without the masks of survival that we all wear and switch from interaction to interaction. Without the constant changing colors of the Cuddlefish and Chameleons. What is your True Name? Who are you really, when your day ends, and the late night time hours begin and it is just you, in your home, with your thoughts. Are you Paladin, seeker and warrior for Justice? Or are you- You just as you are right here, and right now- only maybe the 9 year old version of you, longing to be loved, and still so innocent and full of wonder? Or are you You, just as you are right here and right now- but angry, and bitter from a shitty hand that you feel life has dealt you? Or are you someone else entirely, finally pulling off your real world costume and wishing you could climb out of your skin altogether? Are you happy? Do you have peace? What is your True name? You may not be able to put your finger on this “True name”, but you can feel it. You can see it. You know that there is something there, that there is something much deeper than you have previously noticed. Focus on this person, focus on the 9,10,12,14 year old version of you, but as the Current you. The morals, the goodness that He possessed. The traits, values, and the uncanny ability to always maintain Eternal Optimism, no matter what life through his way. And stay here. And let me ask you a couple questions:

How do you spend your time? How do you spend your money? And what do you think about? If you were to look back at your last 30 transactions from your bank ledger, what priorities would it reflect to you? What do you do with your free time? What does that say about you as a human? And what are your thoughts? If you were to write your thoughts down in a daily journal for 30 days, would you be proud if a stranger read them out loud downtown on a megaphone? What do your thoughts say about you?

And lastly, take a moment to think about what is really important to you. Take a moment to think about your TOP 5 Priorities in life. And no, not surface/superficial stuff like “I want a new sound system in my truck”. Real Priorities. For instance, Mine are: 1: A relationship with God, 2: Recovery, 3: My Marriage/Wife/Family, 4: My career/Helping others, and 5: Relationships with people. Take the rest of the day, meditate on this if you must, but no one is going to know about this but you, and then write your top priorities down and put them in your wallet, or purse, or under the visor of your truck to look at once in a while…..

**********************************************************************

I bring this up today, because this is still to this day, the simplest and most practical advice that was ever given to me. And I do my best to instill these types of values into my family as often as I can. Recently I made My Daughter write a paper on the importance of Priorities, because I felt like she may have been slacking a bit in her studies at school. But as is congruent with Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is usually the right one, and such as in life, the simple sweet advice is often times the best advice to get. And this is the case here, with me, right now. And I believe this is one of the many reasons they tell us to “Keep it Simple” When we first get clean. But anyways.

Today was a very Big and powerful day for me. I woke up, had some coffee, watched the news, and saw tiffany and the kids off to school and work. I took the Dogs out, watched ESPN for a few minutes, prayed, showered and got dressed. Only today, I wasn’t putting on Jeans and a T-shirt. I was suiting up so to speak. Nice grey slacks, an off grey matching shirt, that I actually got married in, and a Pink striped grey tie. Today, I was off to see the Judge. I played worship music all the way to the courthouse and prayed for “The words to speak, and That His Will be done.” Today I was going into Porter Superior Court 1. Third Floor. To see my original sentencing Judge, 5 and One Half years after he sentenced me to the Half way house in Valparaiso. I was pretty nervy/shaky and antsy all morning. I wasn’t sure what was about to happen, but I knew that the Will of God would never take me to where the Grace of God wouldn’t deliver me from. Although, this morning wasn’t really anything to be scared about. I had done all that I could do, behaved, done well, and performed as well as I could on probation, and in life all together.

This morning, I stood before the judge on my “FC’ Cause number, the second consecutive case of the two, and the longest of the combined cases all together- for a Hearing to Modify Probation, and for Expungement of my Criminal record all together in the state of Indiana.

It is very surreal when I look back on things, and play the tape through from start to finish. 17 & 1/2 years of shear self inflicted hell- all to escape the previous 18 years of grief, trauma, sadness, and brokenness. It has been such a ride, So scary and deflating and hopeless at times. Clean or using. It’s like watching a movie that you just know is not going to end well… And then it does. Then God intercedes and intervenes. And I am standing before the judge this morning with my hands in my pockets because my nerves are so bad I am trembling. And the Judge says, “Congratulations, Mr. Stepherson. You have accomplished so very much in spite of so much, and under the worst circumstances, I am delighted to accept this modification and wish you Only the best of luck.” And that was that. 17 1/2 years in the system. Jails, Prisons, Homelessness. Near death experiences, Overdoses, Eating out of garbage cans. Boom. Done, expunged, gone. No more felonies, No more misdemeanors, no more record. The past completely cleaned up, My present, Free, My hope and future endeavors, restored. Not a single violation, not a single missed appointment, no dirty drops, no issues, and no bullshit from me. Done. Paid in full. Amends made, atonement reached, Restitution in full. Name, Cleared. The State of Indiana just wiped my slate completely clean. 8 felonies, and 30+ Misdemeanors over almost 18 years. Gone. Shit doesn’t even seem real. I am actually still processing this in prayers of gratitude as I write this. I feel so full, proud, and humbled to have reached such a rare and significant milestone in my life. No longer will that long black shadow follow me around, no longer will that Monkey be on my back, No longer will I wear that Badge, that Millstone of past Felonious lifestyles around my neck. Today, its just me, as I am, right here and right now.

And, it is all because, simply put, that I took the suggestions I was given early on- to Heart. And I will never ever forget that advice and guidance that my Sponsor gave me sitting in his truck that day. “What are your priorities, Herb?” “Don’t tell me now, take the night, and write them down, and we will talk about them when we meet again.” And My priorities are still the exact same today as they were back then. And I have always done my best, day in and day out, to Protect my Priorities. It is Kind of like what Jesus said back in the day, and I am paraphrasing, but I believe it was something like, “If you obey my commands, if you obey my Laws, then you need not worry about the Laws of the Land.” This is very similar to that Idea. If we truly have the correct priorities, which are wholesome and good, and we work hard and stop at nothing to protect those Priorities, only amazing things will take place in our lives. Does that mean that no bad will come our way? Absolutely not! But what it does mean, is that we can survive and overcome all of the adversities that are thrown at us, by maintaining our priorities throughout the storms of life. I have experienced a tremendous amount of grief and pain, hard times and fear throughout the last almost 6 years, but because I wrote my Priorities on the tablet of my heart, I was able to survive some truly devastating times. It is so heart breaking that my Big Brother Josh is not here with me today to share such a happy occasion, but I know where he is, and I know he is beaming down on me with love and pride. And He and his Pride in me, further solidifies my priorities, and the drive to never give up. No Matter what it is going to be okay, as long as we are true to ourselves.

So, to circle, back, Let’s think about those Priorities. Lets think about our innermost self. Who Am I? What are my True Priorities? Who Do I want to be? What Legacy do I want to leave behind?

And here’s what we do. Step #1: Fuck what everyone else thinks.

There is no step 2. We know who we are. We know what’s important to us. If we take the next 5 years, to focus on our top 5 Priorities, and sacrifice everything for our dreams, and to truly explore and discover the possibilities that this world has to offer those who are willing to work and chase their dreams, we will be truly amazed within the first year. And if we are not, then after that first year, maybe it is time to audit, or revisit our priorities. There may be something off. Perhaps one, or more are not in the appropriate order. But this is literally all that I did to get here, And I have been amazed time and time again, and I am not even half way through. Right now, I sit in our very own home, on the couch, with 2 of my boys, they’re cooking a pizza, Luna our Boston Terrier just returned from the kitchen disappointed that Connor didn’t drop any food on the floor, and snuggled up next to Luke. We’re about to share a nice frozen pizza, then they will clean their rooms and go outside and enjoy some fresh 70+ degree November air. And we will watch Monday Night Football, have a nice dinner, and wake up to do this crazy thing called life all over again. It is truly beautiful, bittersweet, and magical; this life thing. But I have learned that with God all things are possible, and Life truly is what we make it. But it takes time, it takes work, it takes sacrifice, and it takes having our priorities in order. And every now and again, that “sweet spot” comes, like it did today. Where God smiles down on us, we feel that little nudge and pat on the back, and we get to just exhale and feel that Proud accomplishment and peace come into our hearts, knowing that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. And that is a very good feeling.

Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’

God bless and God speed.

E over I

I truly believe that we addicts are unstoppable creatures. That once we get a fire under our ass about something, nothing can stand in our way. I also believe that when we first get clean, if we set certain goals for ourselves, we are really selling ourselves short.

When I first got clean, I just wanted the country song to play in reverse: get the truck back, the dog, a girl, a decent recovery job, and an apartment. I had absolutely no idea what God had in store for me.

I didn’t even know what I wanted. Let alone how the hell I was gonna get it. I just didn’t wanna smoke crack or shoot dope anymore. That much I knew. But what had taken place in my life recently, was that someone had shown me some goodness, and planted a see that had started to sprout. I had come to the conclusion that I was NOT a drug addict piece of shit loser, not anymore. And I wasn’t going to live like that, not today. So I Just did my best every single day to stay humble, be kind, see the good in the world, and help others every chance I got. And that, along with listening to that “Still small voice” or “follow my nudges” as I say. Has led me to some pretty amazing experiences, memories, and places in my life. My wife and I got to stand looking over the absolutely most beautiful pond I have ever seen, which was nestled into the golden wheat covered rolling hills in Washington State- something that I never even fathomed would happen. My daughter, her best friend, and myself took a ride on the sketchiest fucking ride ever at Indiana Beach called the skycoaster, where my old ass and two teenage girls, because I am so “Super cool” Were raised up by a fucking bungee cord like 150 feet above a lake and then pulled some damn rip cord and went flying like a pendulum headed for certain death back and forth a bunch of times while I pretended not to turn grey and almost puke my guts out. We drove 16 hours though Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas to Hilton Head Island, where I got down on one knee and proposed to my now wife over looking the beautiful atlantic ocean at sunset and I was shaking so badly I thought I would drop the ring down through the crack of the pier. We have all cut down our very first Christmas trees together as a family. We have purchased a house, yes, got a fucking mortgage on our dream home, and our very first New Car. I didn’t see any of this coming. I just wanted to feel better and not shoot dope. And I can tell you about all of these amazing things that have happened in our lives, but I would be misleading if I didn’t share with you the difficult times too. I have almost left, I have almost given up numerous times. She has done the same. All of these bills, four kids, who seem to get more and more expensive as time goes by. They want everything and appreciate nothing. All they do is complain and ask whats for dinner, and some how this generation has become addicted to Dunkin Donuts, which isnt’t really a huge deal, unless theres 8 of us mobbin deep and they all wants fucking signature something bullshit, and then the total is like 40$ a rip. And instead of wanting coloring books and shit for christmas, they want IPADS, and AIRPODS and shit. Like what the fuck. And grocery shopping sucks absolute balls now. There was a time when I was like, “shit Ill just grab two boxes of ramen, and 14 frozen pizzas and I’m good to go” Not today. Nope. Not even close. And marriage… Marriage is something I never thought I would ever experience. And it is also something that I must learn and grow into each and every day. I’m pretty sure my Wife and I have experienced about 47 different versions of ourselves over the last several years. And it’s funny, because I always had this weird EXPECTATION that Marriage would somehow like make everything “better”, or cure something? I don’t know, but what I have found out is that here is what marriage fixes: NOTHING. And I have also found a lot out about myself from her, and from this life that I hadn’t quite been able to put my finger on before. I’m insecure as fuck, I’m the emotional baby of the pair, I think too damn much, I’m not as good or as bad as I think I am, and I tend to carry both sides of that equation to either extreme, I don’t know how to be a dad, although I try my best every day, I’m a worry wart, I’m scared shitless of all of this falling apart, And I don’t really have the foggiest fucking idea as to what I am doing. But I try. I fail, I try again, and we all just continue to grow in the beautiful up and down, bad times and good times, merry go round of life together. Ya know it’s funny, cuz when we’re kids, we don’t really consider that we are watching our parents grow up too. “Life’s a dance, we learn as we go, sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow. Don’t worry about what you don’t know, life’s a dance we learn as we go.” Ain’t that the truth.

But there are also a couple other lessons that I have learned. It has taken me almost 5 years to learn them, and I will probably unlearn them and re learn them again, but I have learned that, for me, the two greatest errors I can make internally are EXPECTATION, and COMPARISON. If I have expectations, in my life, my home, my job, my marriage, etc. It not only leads to disappointment, resentment, and bitterness, but that single one idea has had my ass sleeping on the couch, and driving around on country roads blaring music and talking to God more times that I care to recall. I truly am the “Kingest” of King Babies. And I need to continue to learn not to have such expectations as: Planning a perfect special night with my wife and expecting it to go 100% as planned, or a weekend with the kids, or whatever. Yes, losing expectations will help me lose the negative consequences, but it was also lead to some very pleasant surprised. so its basically a win win.

And Comparison, oh the age of social media. We have such a turbulent era upon us, where if we are not careful and able to discern, we can think ourselves into an early grave. Or at least I can. Again, I am a worry wart. But what really fucking sucks for me, or has in the past, and probably will again in the future, is having one of those, just shitty weeks, or months. Nothing seems to go right at home, in the bedroom, with the kids, at work, the elections, whatever- And I begin to internalize all of these things as some kind of failure on my part, or project them as a failing on my wife’s part, or the kids, or whatever. And Then we start to scroll, or watch TV, or shit, even read a book. And we begin to compare our insides, our inside conflicts, or even our home/environmental conflicts with others’ hand picked happy moments on FB, or IG, or on TV. I know a lot of people may not admit to this but I bet you have found yourself drifting off into the ‘what if” world, Or the “maybe just”, “it’d be nice if” worlds that we can find ourselves in real quick. And the combination of Expectations AND Comparison….? Shit! That can be super dangerous for us addicts and alcoholics, because that can trigger a lack of Gratitude and lead to the “fuck its”. And then we’re off the races once again. And no, I don’t find myself wanting to use over some bad days, expectations, reality, comparison, and resentments. But what has crossed my mind more times than I care to admit? Running away, putting a gun in my mouth, giving up, being a weakling and just walking away from it all. But I haven’t and I wont, because at the end of the day, this is the life that I prayed for, and I got clean for a better life and I stay clean because I got one. But I know that there are a lot of men out there who can relate to this. It’s tough being a dad man. It’s tough being a husband. A wife. A Kid. Life is fucking hard sometimes and we need to learn to let go of our expectations, live in each moment as it comes, and enjoy the silence and peace when it arrives.

And these are all things that I never even knew I suffered from, or that existed when I prayed for all of this and just wanted a normal life. I am what I call “E over I” Emotion over Intellect. My Wife is the opposite “I over E” And that alone is one of the reasons why I am still alive and she hasn’t smothered me in my sleep yet. LOL. But I am learning as I go, Some days better than others, that I don’t have to allow every word, thought, ad on FB, song, asshole in the grocery store to take up so much space in my head.

Don’t. Overthink it. Herb.

The greatest way to make something so precious lose it’s sparkle, is to compare it to something else. And If I no longer have expectations, I am no longer disappointed, but I am surprised a lot. Keep it simple. And Stay out of your head.

E/I or I/E

Bottoms Up

There is no such thing as rock bottom. In my opinion. In my experience. It can and will certainly get worse next time, if I use again. It always does. The runs get shorter and the consequences get worse. I can’t remember how many times I swore off booze, only to drink again, many times the same day. How many nights I sat up, face in my hands praying to God to help me stop. How many times I’ve sat in a jail or prison cell, knowing that I was done. That I’d finally had enough. I mean, I’m just being real. I’ve lost friends. I’ve overdosed twice. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been to prison. So where the hell is the bottom then? Death? One would think that any one or number of these experiences would be enough to provide an addict with some clean time. And for me, they usually did. But for whatever reason, I always seemed to go right back at it again- like a dog returning to his own vomit for a late night snack. I guess we addicts are slow learners and quick forgetters. For some reason or another, when we addicts tend to think back on our using days; until we know that we are truly licked that is, we tend to only think back on all the fun times. The festivals, the days we had seemingly unlimitted money, etc. but we somehow seem to forget all of the desperation, humiliation, and absolutely horrible times, like being robbed at gun point. But what stands out to me, is why do these types of bottoms not affect us like they would a regular joe? And I think the answer to this is compromise. 

We addicts find our bottoms one compromise at a time. Just like recovery is a process, and relapse is a process, the act of finding a bottom is a process of its own. A long, drawn out process, by making one compromise that conflicts with our inner most self and our moral compasses at a time. And what’s interesting about all of this, is, as we are over years and decades- making said compromises, we are slowly conditioning ourselves and becoming more and more used to the incomprehensible demoralization. Our Identities slow change, our personalities slowly change, we become actual biproducts of our environments. Environments that we ourselves put us in, as a result of an attempt to escape reality, feel optimal, or just fit in- because we don’t feel bonded at home, or with our family. And round and round we go. And what comes along with this, is our ability to just accept things for what they are. Consequences and all. “I’m a drug addict, and this is what I pay to play the game.” “I’m an alcoholic, and this is all part of my chosen lifestyle.” Bottom after bottom after bottom. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes I guess. At least that’s what they say anyways. I have probably bottomed out about 500 times throughout my life, and I mean Bottom son. I am what I refer to as a Deep Bottom Addict. I will go and go until the whole shit house is up in flames, and then use those flames to cook my dope in a spoon one more time. I don’t fucking stop. And this is my own doing. As a result of the Choices I made at the ripe old age of 15 years old. And those choices, I surmise, were a direct result of extensive trauma and neglect. But I digress on the latter. As most of you know, I started using at 15 and I have a million reasons to suspect why. But my main thought that comes to mind now, is that I just wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere. And you know what’s weird? Is I still feel that way. And I am not afraid to share my feelings and get vulnerable, but literally, all I want is to feel loved, appreciated, and Like I have a purpose. I think that’s what we all want deep down inside, but were all supposed to “stay out of our feelins dawg. But anyways. 

So I began using to fit in, to feel good, and to feel like belonged somewhere. And as my love affair with chemicals progressed and the bottoms began to occur, it was weird, it was like “this is all part of it”- similar to an NFL player who misses a couple weeks with a sore hamstring. These are the breaks, this is who I am, and this is the shit that happens. But whats interesting about the drug culture, is the very thing that causes the bottom, is the same thing that I use to Mask or “cure” the bottom. To stay numb from the wreckage that the drug is causing. And this is the insanity of drug abuse. 

I would find myself sitting in a jail cell, dope sicker than hell, puking on myself, covered in goosebumps, sneezing like a fucking banshee and hating myself, and I remember standing in the nasty ass jail showers where the water is either ice cold, or scalding hot, and as the water made my skin turn pink from the intense heat and I stood there full of self loathing All I could think was “I deserve this” “This is my life, I earned this”. But I was never really able to honestly look at my life and design a way out. It was what I was used to. And I think this is the pattern of recidivism. We bottom out, we go to jail, were used to it, it sucks, we start to feel better, we get out, and we go right back to the environment from which we came. Yep, thats it. And so nothing ever changes, at least not in this cycle. We addicts are in insane, tough as nails bunch, on the outside. But on the inside, we just want to feel complete. we want to feel seen, like we matter and that someone believes in us. And That I believe is how we actually spur about change and create a bottom. Which is funny. Ya know how they say life can only be lived forward, and understood backwards? Well, I only know this because it happened to me, years ago. When the sheriff, and my attorney went to absolute battle for me, and the sheriff stood in the hallway thanking me for my hard work and promising to put in a good word for me- that was my bottom, with 11 months clean. That was my intervention. Undeserved love, grace, mercy, and favor. It cut through my years-long-conditioned-false-identity like a hot knife through butter. 

“Wait, someone sees some good in me? I am worth going to bat for? You appreciate me?” “I am so much more than just an in and out, jail bird, drug addict, piece of shit?” “I’ll be damned”. And that, brought my bottom up to meet me where I was at, in that moment and in that place. 

You see, at least for me, the negative, harsh, scary events, bottoms, and consequences never really struck me. They never really pricked my heart. I was so conditioned to them, that it was like a walk in the park most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, it was not fun, but it was what I was used to. I was NOT used to, however, someone going out of their way, who had absolutely zero reason to do so, to show me some human kindness. Some actual love and grace, and that, I believe is how we break through. Like my Guy Johann in his Ted talk says, “The opposite of addiction is NOT sobriety, the opposite of addiction, is RELATIONSHIP.” Connection. Love. Kindness. And on the flip side, I believe that this idea here, is what differentiates counselors, therapists, clinicians, etc… Some are “interested” in drug addiction, and want to help people, and others are passionate about it, because they have been impacted by it in some way. And it shows. If you truly have a heart and a true passion for helping people, and are patient enough to work with drug addicts, it is the most rewarding thing in the world that I could ever imagine doing. 

I have said this for years now, we cannot arrest our way out of the addiction epidemic. Addiction is not punitive. We cannot punish drug addicts for doing what drug addicts do. That would be like arresting a diabetic for eating too much sugar and letting their levels get out of whack. It doesn’t make sense. If you want to truly help someone, the most important thing you could ever do, is simply just listen to them. Understand them. And love them as fiercely as you can. 

Leap Frog

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” -Albert Einstein

I have heard it said a thousand times if I have heard it once; “If we put 10% of our efforts into our recovery, and into our lives; that we put into our using, our lives can be truly amazing.” And I have been thinking about the two ideas above in conjunction with one another lately, and again I hope this all makes sense, because I can see it in my brain. Let’s see if I can get this out accurately.

What is time? Is time Linear? Is time the same for all of us equally? Obviously none of us will be granted the exact same amount of time on this earth, but what I mean is; ya know how nothing tastes, smells, or appears EXACTLY the same to anyone else as it does to us?- our brains and interpretations are all just slightly skewed and unique to each and everyone of us? Like, does a rose smell EXACTLY the same to all of us? Does an Ice Cream Sundae taste exactly the same to all of us? I don’t believe so. Yes, we can try to explain what each experience is like for us individually, and even though our thoughts in word form may seem so incredibly alike, aren’t all of our own tastes, and other senses, so incredibly unique? I believe so. And I also believe that this might just be the same with time.

Depending on our own particular energies, that is to say, the amount of exertion we give each moment, and each particular day; time can seem much longer, or much shorter for each of us individually. I know for myself, my days seem to be much longer when I am lazy and not doing much. But when I am busy and running around, my days can seem to be but just a few hours. This is nothing new, I’m fairly sure that we all experience this; and this is where the expression “Busy’s good, makes the day go by quicker” comes from. So that’s not ground breaking by any stretch of the imagination. But what if we go deeper here? What If time itself isn’t even really much of a factor when it comes to goals, family, success, recovery, and just flat out getting shit done? What if, what it really boils down to, is the amount of energy that we put into the same amounts of time respectively? Also not something profound, Herb. I know, but I don’t necessarily write so much for those of you who have figured this out, as I do for those who may need to read this. I said it in the beginning, if I can help Just one, then I have left a legacy. But now my aim is to help Just One More. But anyways moving on.

As I think about my using days, which were plentiful, I lost 14 years- seemingly in the blink of an eye. And I know that the older we get, the faster time seems to pass- but is that because the older we get, the busier we become? Are the two Ideas connected? I believe so. And I also believe that I lost those 14 using years at such an accelerated rate because I was putting so much exertion into a “passion”, “purpose”, and “obsession”- ‘The getting and using and finding ways and means to get more drugs’. And I also believe, looking back, that my disease/addiction/life progressed or regressed into such a train wreck so quickly because of the same exertion that I was putting into it. I mean, I have spoken with thousands of addicts all over the country, and as I share my story with them in hopes to inspire change in their lives, not to sound like I am proud of this, but a lot of them say things like, “Well, I never got THAT bad.” or, “I am not there YET.” things of the comparison nature. But why did I get there so much quicker than others? Why did I find a jail cell the week after I turned 18? Why did I bottom out so much quicker time and time again than so many of my fellows with the same exact affliction? Bad luck? Happen Stance? Who knows, but for the sake of this thought train that I am on, I think it was because of the time, energy, exertion, and effort that I was putting into my drug use. I went 0-100 so super quick and stayed there for so super long that I found myself in the most impossible situations time after time after time. And I never could seem to figure out why. I think maybe this is where the obsession run amuck idea comes from. I was literally consumed, obsessed and completely driven by getting and using drugs. My Stop/Go mechanism was completely in the danger zone and the handle was snapped off. I was full blown from the minute I first started using drugs. The second My eyes opened, for 14 years, all I could think about was how I was gonna get fucked up that day, and how I was gonna get fucked up tomorrow. And because of this, I found my bottoms very quickly.

So how is this useful? It sounds to me like your talking about the problems a lot and not enough about the solutions, Herb. Why should I even keep reading this? Well, I think because, what we are scratching the surface on here, is why addicts can be and are such special creatures….

So what would happen, if an addict/alcoholic individual would discover that not only do drugs fucking suck, but that I have some how and some way discovered an internal drive within myself- along the way to the bottom- where I have this really strange ability to get shit done? To make things happen? To provide for myself, and to accomplish alot along the way in a very short amount of time? I was able to completely destroy my life, and sadly, hurt so many people in my pursuit of blotto, what if I were to use that same driving force, but this time, for good and for the betterment of people? Now, I am not suggesting that We wont still hurt people, hurt people’s feelings, fail, and all of the ects. Trust me, we do and we will. But when we can hone in on this “Thing” this, driving force that once was a force of destruction, and we can get clean and get our moral compasses redirected, addicts are fucking unstoppable. I mean, just look at all of the tear jerking success stories out there: Robert Downey Jr, Macklemore, Eminem, Danny Trejo, I could go on and on. But what we see is the RESULT. We do not have the ability to see the whole story, unless we sat down with them and listened to their story start to finish. But what we do possess is that wordless language of Empathy. We can know their stories, as addicts/alcoholics, before they even speak a word. The good ol adage of “What we were like, what happened, and what were like now”.

But what sets those big time glitzy success stories apart from so many of us regular joes? Why can one addict get clean, and in 3-7 years seemingly do some kind of wizard like turn around and go on to do amazing things, while another addict has been clean for 10 years and still works at a car wash, or living with their parents? *And I am not knocking anyone, an addict with one day clean is a miracle, trust me, I totally get that* But what I am trying to point out here, is why do some progress faster than others, and why do some regress faster than others? And I think that the answer, is: Self Worth + Energy. It may just be as simple as that. First of all, Do we BELIEVE that we are worthy of living out our wildest dreams? And secondly, Do we have what it takes, no matter what, to put in the time, sacrifice, energy, and grit to make those dreams a reality? Do we even know what our dreams are?- and this is a very interesting question, because I do not believe that MOST of the humans walking this planet, addict or not, have a fucking clue what they want, but what they DO KNOW is that they deserve the best that they can achieve and sometimes, That Self Worth and love, can make up for a lack of specific vision, and, when you really think about it- Even IF you set particular goals for yourself, odds are, you’re STILL settling for less. I have come to learn that I am very grateful that I didn’t achieve the goals I had originally set for myself when I first got clean. I didn’t even come close to them, because if I had, I would have settled for Mediocrity way back when, and you wouldn’t even be reading this right now. Funny how life works like that some times. Thank God I didn’t get the things I once prayed for.

And I know that when I write, it may seem like some weird Rabbit Hole psychobabble, and it is, but I also think there is some fruit here. And it may be low hanging as well, easy to grasp for even the smallest or youngest. And I believe the take away here is this:

Are you happy? What do you want? Do you love yourself? Do you believe in yourself? And are you willing to to do whatever it takes to make all of your wildest dreams come true, even if you don’t know what those dreams are yet?

If we truly are willing to sacrifice, and I mean honestly make some sacrifices in this world, to block everything else out, and hone all of our energies into our tunnel vision goals, like a horse with blinders on- not only does the time seem to accelerate, but the distractions fade, our skills sharpen, and we absolutely Crush our goals- so much to the point that when we finally come up for air, we can look back at our once-were-goals and breathe a sigh of relief, that we didn’t just sit back and settle for what we one thought we wanted. Our minds are truly powerful. Once we have that internal awakening, and we can utilize our brains, and our skills, that were once so sharpened by our using and running days- we addicts are powerful powerful creatures. We can catapult, or Leap Frog ourselves over so many normies, and so many of our fellows in this world, if we can encapsulate all of our once negative skills, and negative drive, turn our moral compass in the right direction, pin our ears back and just fucking run.

Self Worth + Energy

But it requires Sacrifice.

And I promise you, as they say, “We will be amazed before we are half way through” That the juice is well worth the squeeze.

If you don’t know what you want, you will damn sure never get it, or sometimes you will, if you believe in yourself, believe you are worthy, and put more energy into your time than the next person.

Time is irrelevant, but your energies are not.