Getting Older is Painful

Today was my first appointment with a chiropractor I’ve ever had. Doctor Andrew was polite, informative, and passionate about his work. Unfortunately, he didn’t help me whatsoever. Why did I go to a chiropractor all of a sudden?

I have been in complete agony for the last two weeks. Back pain that does not cease has plagued my waking hours. It’s brought on by standing and walking; once it’s there it doesn’t go away until I’m down for the night. Each day, it gets progressively worse and I’m at the point now where I’m almost in tears at work. My primary care doctor can’t see me for two weeks (partly due to my own vacation coming up, which may or may not be absolute hell) so I decided to get cracked and see what happens.

There was some relief, but not from my primary problem. Places that I didn’t know were sore now feel amazing. Having your neck cracked by a professional almost feels like it opens up a new level of awareness! I know that’s just endorphins but it still feels great. I know tomorrow at work will probably revert to stabbing pain in the center of my back, but what can you do? I’m not going to drink over it, I can say that for certain.

Long-Term Sobriety

It took me a couple of days to mentally and emotionally work out what I wanted to say in this return post. My writing has been all over the place in the past and I’m trying to make a conscious decision to be more pointed and simultaneously trying to express more of my personality as my writing tends to be very dry! Foremost, in my opinion, starting every sentence and paragraph with “I” is very amateur and egocentric. It’s something that’s bothered me for years and it’s been no end of frustration trying to figure out how to avoid it, especially in a personal blog.

This blog has had its ups and downs in both quality and mood as I struggled through early sobriety. At times I couldn’t find the words to describe how I was feeling and at other times I simply didn’t care to take care in making certain my words reflected what I believed and wanted to convey. In sobriety, a fire has been lit in the center of my mind which roars stronger and brighter with each passing day. A rigorous, enviable discipline comes from sobriety, a discipline which the majority of people may never know. Had I not cultivated this discipline, relapse would have been a certainty.

Not only must one rediscover themselves in recovery, but he must also discover, principally, what his beliefs and opinions are. As a drunk, the active alcoholic has a bipolar and sociopathic relationship with the world which prevents the accumulation of genuine knowledge and experience. Embittered, loveless, and exhausted, the drunk assails what he perceives to be the injustices of the world, using his own body as the hammer. As we broke ourselves upon the palisades of society we drove ourselves further into our addiction, never coming to understand that the true problem lies within us.

Thoreau said, “Commonly men will only be brave as their fathers were brave, or timid.” My father was a big point of contention in my life right up until the day he passed away after suffering a stroke due to his asinine habits (can you tell I’m still bitter toward him?). Nary a one person on this Earth can avoid blaming at least some of their problems on their parents. When this becomes a crutch, it becomes a problem. Addicts lean on this crutch with all of their weight. I was no exception! Still, there are shortcomings and character flaws I contend with which serve to remind me of my rather below-average upbringing. Confrontation terrifies me, expressing my feelings to another person face-to-face is unbearable (and to be truthful, I don’t even know how to do it), and I don’t know how to love a woman because the example of a marriage that was presented to me is far from appealing or healthy.

However, I love my parents. Every child must grow up to learn that their parents are human just as they are and that they did their best. They’re dealing with issues that were passed down through their ancestors while being negated, amplified, and changed by economic, social, and environmental challenges. For the most part, I’d come to terms with that fact and had taken it upon myself to fix my own damn mind! Unfortunately, this is a symptom of yet another issue! We’re like onions, aren’t we?

Many of us, I’d wager most of us addicts, never learned to collaborate with other human beings. We think that we have to do everything ourselves; to be self-sufficient and not a burden on other people. Is offering your fellow human the opportunity to do good in someone’s life a burden? No! Especially not when you can reciprocate the action. Letting someone help you is one of the kindest gifts you can give them. Think about the times you’ve helped another person with a personal or even professional struggle… it felt great, didn’t it? Imaging willingly and consciously giving people that great feeling. I could go on about this… perhaps a topic for another time. As usual, we’re getting a little off-topic here! This is supposed to be about my long-term sobriety…

So, where am I at now? Well, I started seeing a new psychiatrist because my previous one, Dr. Marshall, retired. Dr. Yeragani is a-m-a-z-i-n-g! He has a very impressive resume: he has taught psychiatry at two universities, has doctorates in multiple countries, and is also a cardiac doctor. I feel like I’m in very good hands. In our first visit, he told me that I’m probably not bipolar and tweaked my medication so that it’s actually working now! I’ve never felt better, honestly. I have so much energy and motivation to do the things that I need to be doing; the last week has been… well I could call it a whirlwind of activity, but it hasn’t been a whirlwind. It’s been very structured which is new to me.

Addicts still say to me that living on a schedule sounds dreadfully boring and like a waste of a life. Nothing could be further from the truth! Having a schedule doesn’t mean that you do the same robotic activities every day, it means you plan the most enjoyable and important things to do every day. I have more leisure time now than I’ve ever had, honestly! I was my car every Sunday without fail and people have even complimented me on how clean it is (I didn’t think people noticed things like that). I have a workout routine that I’ve maximized efficiently so that I’m never fatigued. I’ve run FIVE 5k’s this summer. On my wall is a “vision board” I bought at Kohl’s that I stick all of my medals and race bibs on. Every time I look up from my computer screen, I’m reminded of how awesome my life is now.

I still have friends on here who are struggling with addiction. Please never think that I’m trying to sound like I’m better than you. What I hope this blog conveys moving forward is that sobriety is attainable and there are so many great reasons to do it. You feel like shit now, I get it. You probably don’t have any friends, your family hates you, you don’t have a stable career, etc. I was in the same place! All of that changed in ONE YEAR. You can be a completely new person in 365 days or less. I know it’s hard and sometimes I make it sound easy. What I don’t often talk about is the decade of trying to get sober and relapsing over and over again every week. Telling myself constantly that I was a loser who nobody would ever love. I would never have a decent job. I was too stupid to go to school. I simply didn’t have the “genes” to be in good physical condition. I understand those feelings and, believe me, if I weren’t medicated I’d probably still have a few of them!

But here I am now, one year and two months later: Tons of people love me and tell me so every day. Even though I’m not interested in a romantic relationship, I have several options. I love my job; it gives me purpose and has great health care benefits and is giving me experience for better jobs in the future. I’m getting straight A’s in school and will be the first of my siblings to get a bachelor’s degree (and hopefully a master’s after that). I’m in the best shape of my life; I have some work to do but my diet is almost flawless and I work out in some way daily. I’m not even the same person I was a year ago.

So, don’t give up. Even if you’re sober now and struggling emotionally, it gets even better. If you need to see a psychiatrist and get some medication, don’t take that as a weakness. True strength is knowing you have a shortcoming and then taking care of it.