sobriety

Is CARA merely a thought balloon?

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This is a Call-Up to wake the frock up. We’ve been living in a dream world for too long.

The big news in treatment  and recovery world this month is the passage of CARA -which is the first response to the bloating prescription drug epidemic that has been the root of the 130-something opiate overdoses completely ignored (until now) by our quagmired puppeteer-driven DC leadership. 130-something Americans dying every day while our elected officials squabble about providing funding to address the epidemic. Their  solution  is to bare bones the effort, manage some photo-ops, then make a direct line to dive into the longest summer break in this century’s history. Meanwhile, the 130-something daily American overdose fatalities continue to pile up like floating refuse at a clogged street drain.

although CARA could be an affective first step in rerouting this insanity, it needs to be more than an image of a response to be effective. We need education and reframing on a systemic level if things are to change. This current thought bubble of an effort hardly stands a chance.

Fellow Americans- we need to take a long hard look at what our priorities and values are as a nation. It’s a great time to work for change. Stop calling ourselves Christian and while we ignore our neighbors dying.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.

The bill passed the U.S. Senate on March 10, 2016, by a vote of 94-1.

Brief Summary of Provisions of CARA

Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamines, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.
Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.
Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.
Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

 

Ring, ring, it’s 7:00 A.M.
Move yourself to go again
Cold water in the face
Brings you back to this awful place
Knuckle merchants and your bankers too
Must get up and learn those rules
Weather man and the crazy chief
One says sun and one says sleet
A.M., the F.M. the P.M. too
Churnin’ out that boogaloo
Gets you up and it gets you out
But how long can you keep it up?
Gimme Honda, gimme Sony
So cheap and real phony
Hong Kong dollar, Indian cents
English pounds and Eskimo pence
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, give it all you got
You lot, what?
Don’t stop, yeah
Working for a rise, better my station
Take my baby to sophistication
Seen the ads, she thinks it’s nice
Better work…

 

holiday favorite

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“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

dustin’s sober blog post today gave me a smile- for a few reasons really. firstly, his post reflects living in a mess and the havoc that it wreaks upon our psyche. holidays become just days with more holes. empty and dark, just as the depiction of the realm of the hungry ghosts suggests. secondly, it highlights how these dark days become the turning point for change in many peoples’ lives. the darkness becomes so big that it takes on a personality of its own and most often dominates the world it inhabits.

i can relate to these aspects of the addiction and recovery landscape. they echo my own. but the holidays can be double-edged sword because there are so many memories and are a ritual that we trudge through or skip through each year touching upon the very sacred and the primal in us.  these memories can be a slippery slope. many a person slides back down when push and shove become real. the spiritual practices i have in place may be the only protection i have some days from sliding down that slope myself. i have new coping skills and have honed them and invested in them over the years. the light that the holidays have developed over centuries to bring into our hearts and hearths is meant to be a comforting cultural spritual practice providing sustenance to last through the rest of winter. it intends to remind each other we have a past and we have a future.

in my life, this is exactly what it achieves. it provides light by asking me to remember what the value of light is. it offers me the memories of life without light to compare. double-edged sword- those dark days were potent. toxic and potent and memory wiping.

none-the-less i am grateful to have read dustin’s honest holiday offering. it stirred memories of secrets and lies and reinforced the hope and promise of today. thanks to him- and give him a shout.

dustin’s blog- remember the eve of christmas

 

 

while my life ….gently weeps

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I had spent years adjusting to the idea of dying. I made piece with dying as I sat beside my dying lover’s bed and gave him permission to go. When I was dying and everyone around me was dying I had a purpose. My crisis came I realized that I might live another 25 or 35 years. It also felt like we were being swept under the rug. People wanted to forget about AIDS and we survivors were reminders. But I took a handful of pills everyday to keep alive. AIDS was and is a daily fact of life for me. Most mental health professionals treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders as unrelated and not the natural response to a long, sustained trauma. Living with so much death while preparing to die young for a quarter of century fucks with your head. I remember the day that saw a piece on TV about vets and PTSD. I couldn’t stop crying. Could my reactions be post traumatic stress-related? After years of feeling out of control things began to make sense. My therapist thought I might be on to something. It was not until I began sharing my story that I realized that I wasn’t the only one stumped by survival.... spenser cox
I had spent years adjusting to the idea of dying. I made piece with dying as I sat beside my dying lover’s bed and gave him permission to go. When I was dying and everyone around me was dying I had a purpose. My crisis came I realized that I might live another 25 or 35 years. It also felt like we were being swept under the rug. People wanted to forget about AIDS and we survivors were reminders. But I took a handful of pills everyday to keep alive. AIDS was and is a daily fact of life for me.
Most mental health professionals treat depression, anxiety, sleep disorders as unrelated and not the natural response to a long, sustained trauma. Living with so much death while preparing to die young for a quarter of century fucks with your head. I remember the day that saw a piece on TV about vets and PTSD. I couldn’t stop crying. Could my reactions be post traumatic stress-related? After years of feeling out of control things began to make sense. My therapist thought I might be on to something. It was not until I began sharing my story that I realized that I wasn’t the only one stumped by survival…. spencer cox

late october some 29 years ago, i was a very different guy. i had just spent a couple of years helping a group of friends open an after hours club in chicago and had on of the biggest rides of my life. within this framework, i also spent a year witnessing one of my best friends get sucked into the void by the omnipresent eradicator of our generation.

melancholy sweeps over this guy every year at this time because there was a reckoning. a tsuname. a volcano eruption. an earthquake. the aids holocaust is well documented and there seems no need to duplicate that here.

besides, i am not well-equipped nor prepared to discuss any  facts or data because i was in the middle of them all and way too close to be impartial. what i can be sure of is my ongoing surprise and humility at survival. also what remains is a braided tapestry of emotion, memory, impression, and broken dreams.

beyond the idea that “life is what happens while you’re busy making plans”, there is the “alice in wonderland” metaphor. once one makes a decision to go down the rabbit hole, i am now convinced that one can never go back. not really.

i continue to struggle with survival and success. partially i resent even struggling at all, and at the same time have grown an outer shell that whittles “average” struggle into grist for the mill. i may have felt the heat of dante’s inferno and developed a thicker skin.

let’s acknowledge here that we have all survived- certainly not just me. mine is merely one tale. it is only one dot within the enirity of the work of george seraut. all of this rambling reinforces for me the idea that we don’t know where we are going at all. we think we know so much when we are younger. we are damn sure that life is just as we see it and as we understand it. but life has a way of revealing to us in its own time that what we know is dwarfed by what we don’t know. the revelation of what i didn’t know is what brought me to my knees in this life. it woke me up and invited me to feel again.

late october some 29 years ago, i fainted in the middle of an aerobics class. in my heart, i understood that the plague had entered my life. i thought i knew what the outcome would be. but i had no idea.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all . . .
Still my guitar gently weeps.

 

a tale of two sissies

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"She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summoned out--she had a fear of my going, though I had none--and when I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. 'You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.' Those words I said. I remember them very well.'" - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities,
“She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summoned out–she had a fear of my going, though I had none–and when I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. ‘You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.’ Those words I said. I remember them very well.'”
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities,

just emerging from a 4 day wrestle with a sinus infection and it does not escape me how spiritual illness really is. it is humbling. it is direct. it is right-sizing. it is a part of the process. it is a levelling.

funny- how different a person is when they feel well in contrast with how they are when illness pervades. two separate people- the healthy and the sick. tow people in one. or at least two sissies.

one wants to dance and explore, while the other reas quietly during hibernation. they inhabit the same frame but conduct life’s music with different orchestras. uptempo and still in unison.

I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away.
And driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.
West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads

 

10 years in recovery

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The Four Reliances First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,  not on the words;  Second, rely on the teachings,  not on the personality of the teacher;  Third, rely on real wisdom,  not superficial interpretation;  And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,  not on judgmental perceptions.
The Four Reliances
First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,
not on the words;
Second, rely on the teachings,
not on the personality of the teacher;
Third, rely on real wisdom,
not superficial interpretation;
And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,
not on judgmental perceptions.

i pulled the following from my profile on LinkedIn. it summarizes some of the things i have been privileged to do within the grace of sobriety these last 10 years. needless to say, recovery as changed my life and it completely changed the direction in which i traversed. there are so many unexplained circumstances along my journey that i am certainly at a loss to explain how i have survived so many treacherous and dangerous situations, yet here i find myself with an almost higher-powered directive to give back.

Certified Trainer of Peer Recovery Coaches using CCAR curriculum and philosophy.
Developed peer-to-peer quarterly newsletter “On The TEN” for HIV Community 2008-present
Established Peer Advocacy 501C3 organization named TEN – Treatment Education Network in 2009
Recognized as Advocate of the Year 2010 by Advocates For Recovery Colorado
Implemented Meth Treatment and Recovery Program for Englewood Agency 2012
Created and maintained recovery oriented blog “The Climb” for AFR Colorado 2011-2012
Served as Recovery Rally Chair for AFR Rally For Recovery 2011 and 2012.
Co-Facilitated HIV+ Recovery Support Group as peer in tandem with LPC at A.R.T.S. 2005-2006
Implemented a peer support group for LGBT seeking recovery from methamphetamine 2006
Co Chair Denver Office of HIV Resources Planning Council 2006-2010.
Strength In Numbers Colorado Moderator 2007-2009
Managed Cicatelli & Associates training for Peer Mentoring and HIV One on One Colorado in 2009

i certainly don’t begin to represent that i have created and completed all these on my own, but i was able to participate to the level that i feel some stewardship and some accomplishment. without the input of a community of recovery, i would doubtfully have found my way to 6 months recovery let alone 10 years. the above definitely represents input that can easily be compared against the years of my life before recovery. i spent the life i was given taking and taking and complicating.

i submit a very humble and very heartfelt “thank you” to all the beautiful and the impossible individuals i have met along the journey thus far. you have given me a feast.

life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.

 

thirty five cents

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“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?”.... Buddha
“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?”…. Buddha

 

this last week has found me unpacking some old emotional baggage and discarding more than i planned. in my physical world, i have rearranged my entire house as i am trying to refi at a percent and a half  lower rate. i have tossed, and dusted, and let go with zest and free will. i have reorganized closets, used the blower to rid my yard of the brown leaves, and laid out and written down my entire financial picture with the intention of being forthright and moving forward holistically with more thoughtful footsteps. it has been sobering and felt good. no doubt i continue to have blind spots about my own situation. i doubt i will ever be completely objective about the things i hold emotions especially shopping and spending money.

simultaneously i think i have been doing much of the same thing in my emotional world. i have found the inspiration and engagement attached to the activities i spend my day with have shifted somehow. for so much of my after-recovery life, i have been graced with a sort of synchronicity and have not been required to think as much as i needed to feel. if i needed a job- a job appeared. if i needed a piece of furniture- it would appear. i have not had to really want fo anything at all (although i certainly did want anyway). perhaps things are shifting. mebbe this is evolution of my life in recovery. i am internally reticent of staying where i am and more fearful of taking risk and moving forward.

what will my life be like if i try and  then fail now that i know serenity and some security?  is this a self-sabotage nature tugging at me or is this the nature of every human being wanting to grow and change and learn?

it’s saturday afternoon and i am listening to some ambient bliss from robin guthrie (cocteau twins) and the metaphorical warm foam of my life’s latte is causing me wonder about the three questions posted with today’s pic.

how well did i love?

how fully did i live?

how deeply did i let go?

it’s not about the answers at all here. it’s completely about the questions. great questions do not require answers. they only demand more questions.

in my life

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patch
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

this is intended to be a short gratitude post. i have probably needed a good dose of thanks for some time.  right now, i have a couple of friends struggling with general life issues and i have felt helpless as i stand by and watch. in one case i am purposely stepping out of the way and allowing her to find her way. in the other case, i am actively giving unsolicited perspective to help her sidestep her own emotions.  in both scenarios, i am without ability to really change them. yet at the end of the day, i am left with my feelings for them.  this is not an earthshattering discovery, but it is a quiet reminder that my life and my heart continue- in spite of my nature in both these instances. this is the blessing in my life.

as may be obvious, i spent most of my life (30+ years) in the realm of ghosts according to buddhist tradition- specifically the hungry ghosts- always eating and never full.  for years it seemed that would always be how my life was. even when i was able to build a career or a relationship, the ghost attachment would invade and much of the good and the sincere would be swallowed up by the hungry apparitions in my soul.  it was unstable and imbalanced at best.

with sobriety and recovery however,  and specifically with gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, i have been able to transcend that transluscent realm into a human realm. i am assured of this by the very nature of these feelings. they cause me to feel warm, connected, and peaceful. in the midst of chaos, i can access these feelings and step down from terror to a place in my mind which is more calm and present.  there is not escape, but relief. a shift in perception- a miracle.

i have written previously about all the lives that have left before me. somewhere along the line, i came to understand that continuing to make a mess of my life was a disrespect to those i loved and lost. they were not afforded the opportunities i have now, so who do i think i am shitting all over something i have been given and they have not.  how dare i take for granted what is not really mine at all. and i realized that i might be better off to make useful and take advantage of the gift before me.

this realization i think began my shift from the ghost realm to a human realm. i have learned that it is imperative to access gratitude et al to maintain some balance and be reminded.

so here i sit. powerless. connected. attached. awake. grateful.