thera-Peas’

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I have been seeing a therapist the last four weeks. We’ve been discussing why I have so many issues with food. Because food is the fuel that keeps us alive, this was the first issue I needed to address with him. For the majority of my life, I have been the type of person who sees food as a hassle – a waste of valuable time – a pain in my ass. I have never enjoyed the action of eating food. Very seldom have I been “excited” to sit down and eat a meal. Many times I would go most the day before realising I had not eaten anything. When my dad passed away in 2013, my issue with food became worse.

Being an addict, I often wonder if being addicted to food would be a nice change of scenery. I find that thought so far out of the realm of possibility though. Maybe not. Who knows.

My unconscious is holding the key to unlock my food issue and I am going to find it. My therapist has helped me understand some important factors that contribute to this. As a child, the majority of memories I have about food were quite terrifying to me. Weather it was the notion that I must clean off my plate before getting up from the dinner table or being forced to eat something I knew I would dislike – as a youngster, these were scary situations for me. Do my foul early memories of food contribute to today’s eating habits? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s all very interesting and I will eventually understand it more in the future.

Oh, and I chose the title because I can’t stand the taste of cooked peas. Nasty squishy bastards.

With my food issue typically being backwards from the typical food issues, does anyone else find eating to be such a burden or am I alone on this one? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Emotional Growth

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I often hear in the recovery community that some emotions are bad while others are good. I understand that point of view but I believe it is incorrect. It may not seem like a problem, but I think it is very important to be precise when talking about this topic so that we are not led astray. Emotions can be extremely powerful and if we perceive them incorrectly for a long period of time, it can be catastrophic for our recovery. It has always been an emotion that I acted on that caused a relapse.

Some people believe anger is an emotion that should be suppressed, ignored or outright avoided at all costs. Anger is healthy. Anger is the opposite of depression and is a valuable emotion that we should speak to, and evaluate in much more depth. If you begin to feel anger, that emotion is there for a very good reason. Suppressing it or ignoring it is only erasing your true self. Of course, it is possible to allow anger to get out of control. That means you are not listening to what it is saying to you. You are simply allowing it to operate you like a giant meat puppet. Figure out what it is telling you. Don’t confuse anger with rage. Rage can be destructive. If you are swinging a baseball bat through the flat-screen, it is safe to say that you are no longer angry. If you act as though your emotions are “against” you instead of there to help you, you are not going through optimal recovery and very little growth, if any, will occur. Your emotions are your friends. Your emotions are your true self. Don’t treat them with contempt or hatred. Each one of your emotions is a part of your personality eco-system. They are your Board of Directors. They are your Congress (a Congress that actually does something useful.)

When I was in early sobriety, I remember how powerful and overwhelming my emotions were. So I understand the early random flooding bombardment of uncontrolled guilt-cry-happy-joyous-disgust fits that hit without warning. I also know that I made it through that time and I am still alive. Emotions always fade away. That is why it is so important to understand what they are trying to tell us and why.

Relapsing because of a non-harmful emotion seems kind of silly in hindsight. When my father passed away, I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. The pain felt so powerful, so intense. I knew the pain wasn’t going to kill me and even though it felt similar to physical pain, I knew it was just a deep sadness and grieving in knowing I could never see him again. I allowed myself to wail over his death. I remember sobbing loudly and uncontrollably on my mother’s couch with my wife at my side. Right in the middle of my emotional deluge, a thought popped into my head. I realized at that moment that my father’s death was not a good enough reason for me to relapse. I knew I would be okay.

For so much of my life, I have misunderstood my emotions. I have let my emotions overrun my life by my misguided reactions and irrationality. I’ve mainly focused on anger and sadness in this post but all of our emotions are legitimate mind/body awareness that tell us everything we need to know. The hard part is figuring out what they are trying to say. As long as we don’t push them away and suppress them as unnecessary glitches in the system, we can grow and learn everything we need to know about who we are. Just remember there is always a thought before an emotion. You have that “magic quarter of a second” to beat your emotion to the punch. But don’t punch your emotion, violence is bad.

Happy Father(less) Day

My father gave me the greatest gift. He believed in me.

My father gave me the greatest gift. He believed in me.

 

I have been thinking a lot about my dad lately. I am always trying to picture his face when there are no pictures hanging close by. My dad was honest. A great man among men. My dad taught me so many virtuous philosophical principles. He was a quiet and reserved man. When he did talk, most people knew it was probably worth listening to what he had to say. He taught me the significance of keeping your word.  The importance of telling  someone you are going to do something that you better damn well do it! And that includes the dinner plans you made a 6pm. Don’t show up at 605. My father was always on time and if he said he would do something, you knew that it would happen. It didn’t matter what the situation. He was clearly a man of his word.

My father was just an all-round, decent and caring human being. Like the Tracy Lawrence song says “Run your car off the side of the road, get stuck in a ditch way out in the middle of nowhere…” Well, that was my dad. He was the guy who would “drop everything, run out and crank up their car. Hit the gas, get there fast. Never stop to think, “What’s in it for me?”” It never mattered how terrible the situation was, he always seemed to be there. He was always the first one to volunteer a helping hand.

Anytime my dad and I had a serious conversation about something, I always did my best to understand what he was saying to me. I always took his words very serious. At the end of his conversations he would always say “sorry for talking so much…I don’t mean to lecture you. I feel like I’ve been talking too much.” It was always so funny every time he said that because he never talked too much. Not to mention I always enjoyed listening to what he had to say.

Any time during my life, whether I was struggling in my relationships, stressing out over unpaid bills or just needed someone to bounce ideas off of, my father was always there with some sound advise; even during my active heroin use. Looking back at it, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for my dad to be talking with his youngest son, who he knew was completely loaded on heroin. Worrying every day if he was going to wake up to the morning news announcing the overdose death of his son. Or maybe shot dead in a back alley somewhere from a botched drug deal.

Never in a million years would I believed that I would have out-lived my father. After-all, the lifespan of a heroin addict is (typically) 15 to 20 years after initial addiction is set into motion. Never in a million years would I have believed I could deal with the death of my father without slamming another needle into my arm. Every time I think about the reality of never being able to see my dad again, tears well up in my eyes and I get a knot in my throat. My emotions are running amok right now. It would be so easy to get high and flush my father’s absence into the depths of oblivion. Bury the pain and sadness and anger with one last blast of synthetic courage. But why?

Just months ago, I was sitting right here where I am sitting, on my couch next to my father. We were tying up the last loose ends of our book project. At that time, our family had already heard the life-changing news about my father’s diagnosis. It was a terminal illness and all we could do as a family was wait. This visit would be the last time my father would ever come over to my house. It would also be the last conversation I would ever have with my dad. As we were finishing the last closing pieces of the project, I could see in my father’s eyes that we would have to finish up early. He was losing focus and became fatigued rather quickly.

I was stung by a hornet that day. It was the first and only time I have ever been stung. My dad did not like bees’, hornets’ and wasps’ so much. I’ve never been a big fan either. I know they are quite a large part of this whole life on earth thing that is currently taking place- I get that, but stay away from me. Bees’ of all kinds are frightening to me. One time, my dad had a can of Pepsi sitting outside and when he went to take a huge swig of it, he also got a mouthful of bees’. I loved hearing that story. I don’t know what I would do if I had a mouthful of bees’. Hearing my dad tell that story I would always picture  a John Coffey  healing scene from The Green Mile.

I wish I would have known that after that day, I would never get to see my dad at my home ever again. Maybe I could have said more to him or told him I loved him. Maybe I could have hugged him longer. Maybe it don’t matter so much. I don’t think I could have said enough- even if I had said everything. The three weeks after that day were complete hell for my father. Within hours he was completely confined to a bed. Within a day, he could no longer carry on a conversation. When he was awake, he could really only communicate with his eyes and slight movements of his lips. His final word to me was either “hi” or “bye”. I still don’t know if he was trying to say hello, or if he was trying to tell me goodbye. No real sound came out as he struggled to get the word out. The more I ponder it, the more I believe he was trying to tell me goodbye. I didn’t say anything back. I just began to cry.

My father died too soon. He was only 59. I haven’t seen him since October. I have a long ways to go still I guess. I am so grateful that I was sober when he passed away. I am so grateful I am still sober. So many years I wasted doing drugs and isolating from my family. That time could have been spent talking with my family- talking with my father. Learning from my father. My mind of course goes through all the foolish scenarios; maybe if I would have gotten sober sooner my dad could have seen the finished, bound book. Maybe this, maybe that. What’s done is done. I know I can’t change any of that.

I wish he knew how the book is coming along. We worked so hard to finish it and he will never get to see the book on a bookstore shelf. He will never get to hold the finished product. From start to finish, it took us almost 5 years to complete the 95,000 word manuscript. Even in his dying moments, he wanted to make sure the world heard his voice. He hoped to help other families’ who may go through what our family went through because of addiction. He will never know if his hard work and dedication to make a difference was all in vain.

I’m not writing this to make my father sound like his was without faults. We are all human. However, my father was a man who I respected and admired greatly. He was such a well-rounded person with amazing talent, work ethic and genuine virtue. I miss his humor and his backyard Bar-b-ques. I miss his talks. I miss his terrible, barely readable text messages.

I needed to get some of these emotions out. I need to talk about him and not hold in the pain and anger I feel from his untimely death. If there is a God out there, he is one greedy son-of-a-bitch. If that is offensive, I apologize. I am quite angry at the moment. I am left with only memories of the man I used to call my dad. May he rest peacefully.