Bulletproofing My Relationships in Sobriety

love-163690_1280

My sobriety in the past– I noticed a reoccurring pattern.

1) I would get sober.

2) I would get lonely.

3) I would search fearlessly for a girlfriend.

4) I would find a girlfriend.

5) Our relationship would fall apart.

6) I would relapse.

7) Rinse and repeat.

After realizing why this continued to happen and what I was doing wrong, it all seemed so simple. There is a very important reason addicts are told to wait until they have acquired at least one year of continuous sobriety before they start any kind of intimate relationship. I think this is great advise and if you truly want long term sobriety, please follow AAs simple relationship advise. I think its a good first step, but to have a meaningful, happy, non-toxic relationship, a lot more is required.

Once I heard this in an AA meeting, I took it very serious (waiting at least 1 year). I knew I needed some time to learn more about myself and why I kept ending up freezing cold, homeless, running from the law- and self-inflicted needle scars up and down my battered arms. A real catch for any woman, right?

My life changed drastically (for the better) in 2006 when I spent 13 months behind bars for various drug related charges and theft. When I was released from jail in 2007, I decided to continue on the path to self-knowledge, sobriety, and continued celibacy.  No dating, no searching for women. Only self knowledge, spirituality, and the repairing and paying off of past restitution. I had dug a huge crater and I knew if I were to drag a new, unsuspecting woman into it, it could only end in despair. Relapse would most likely follow.

Waiting (including jail time) almost 3 years before I entered into a new relationship gave me greater hope that things would finally work out. I had built my life back to the point where my confidence and charm was second only to my sobriety and happiness. Guess what happened? The relationship fell apart and shortly after, I relapsed. Why? What did I do wrong this time? Did I not do things right this time? Nope. I sure didn’t. I didn’t put on the Kevlar. The relationship was not bulletproofed.

BULLETPROOFING?

Until I met my current wife, I have ALWAYS done relationships the wrong way. Whether it was lack of knowledge, too young, or too dumb… No it was none of those. It was fear. Now I no longer have any excuse. If a relationship starts wrong, it will inherently end wrong. It will be too weak to continue on. If I build my home on sand, it will eventually wash away. There is love and there is lust. What is the difference? When I say I love someone, is it really love- or is it lust? I believe that “love” must have moral and virtuous objective qualities attached. That person must possess continual virtuous traits; empathetic, warm, caring, helpful, non-violent, slow to anger, etc. This is fundamental in separating this love-lust dichotomy. For Dustin to love someone, they must have virtuous qualities about them!  Being pretty or sexy or beautiful is not virtuous, it is accidental, historical genetics. Relationships are so often founded on base-of-the-brain, mammal instinct; you are delicious so lets bump our nasty-bits. Relationships will often go years without either partner knowing even the most basic of questions about the other. Important, fundamental questions about compatibility. What is your definition of love? What religion are you? Do you believe in God? Will a difference in religion be a problem? Do you want kids? How will you discipline your children? Can you even have kids? What was your childhood like? Do you have unresolved childhood issues or abuse? What are you political views? Some relationships will start and end without either party asking any of these questions. We are often too concerned with manipulation, playing games, lying, jealousy and lust. Any relationship structured on these unethical premises will cause insurmountable problems, but we see it all the time (including my own past relationships.) They are weak and can’t create anything healthy or worthwhile.

The problem was- I was too afraid to ask these kind of questions. I thought I would push the other person away from me if we talked about such big and scary topics early on in the relationship. Instead, I let two or three years of wasted time and energy dictate our relationship compatibility. It is much easier to just have lustful sex with an empty and hollow relationship and think we are in love when we really don’t know anything about each other. Just agreeing with whatever. Not having any kind of opinion or identity. Enabling each other because its the short-term path of less fear and resistance.Then when the relationship ends with hostility, bitterness and anger, I would wonder what went wrong. It is so much easier to be “liked” then to be honest. This is true even for every day friendships. Do you have friends who work harder to be liked rather than being honest? I wonder often if there is a diminishing amount of people left in the world with real honesty, real integrity. Someone who will call you out on your shit. That’s what I need in my life. If they aren’t calling me out on my shit, then they are doing behind my back, amongst other people. I may have mentioned this before but the other day, someone had posted something to online that was clearly a bad idea for that person and yet all of their so-called friends posted how great of an idea it was. Not one person mentioned how it could cause serious long term concerns or issues. Yes you should run out in front of a moving train! In today’s world, honesty is very unpopular. I want to continue striving for “unpopular.”

I have made many mistakes in my life. I do accept that I still screw up often, I accept that I still make mistakes, of course- but I continue to work at not repeating these mistakes.I want to become a better person. If I can’t accept that I am doing something wrong, I will never try to change it. Being aware of what I was doing wrong in the past has now allowed my current relationship with my wife to continue to grow stronger. We do not argue, we do not raise our voices at each other, we do not call each other names and we both try to work with moral and ethical principles. When we disagree with each other, we negotiate some form of win-win situation that makes us both happy. There is no concerns or issues over jealousy and that is a first for me. I never thought it could work, but I promise you, it does. Like S. Molyneux says “The only thing that will separate my wife and I will be a coffin lid.”

Relationships that are founded on moral ethics will be bulletproof!

Book Review – Addicted to Dimes!

Come have a sit-down!

Come have a sit-down!

I recently finished the book Addicted to DimesConfessions of a Liar and A Cheat, by Catherine Townsend-Lyon. Before I start talking about the contents of the book, I want to first mention why I was so interested in reading the book. I myself, have never cashed in my mortgage payment for a trash can full of shiny coins, but I don’t find that at all revolting. That did not actually happen in the book, I am just making a point. Being a recovering heroin addict, I wanted to look back at some of my own past “gambling spree’s” to see where my addiction may manifest in the gambling realm as well. Let’s take a look.

Any gambling activities I have done have always been during vacation time. I haven’t been in a steady “betting environment” long enough to know if my excitement of placing a bet, my thrills and rushes I experience during gambling could lead into something much more sinister and dangerous. Like compulsive gambling. This book has made me look within myself, to be brutally honest with my past actions during my own gambling entertainment. A person with even a small seed of compulsive or addictive behavior should take the time to read this book. That goes for all of you who sleep with your IPhone. I use my phone as a pillow and somehow thought sticking needles full of heroin and cocaine into my arms was justifiable so, I think I fall under the “you better pay attention, this may benefit you jackass” category.

EVALUATE YOUR$ELF HONE$TLY

If I lived in a state where slot machines were tucked in the corners of local gas stations or if I lived where casino’s were being built on every corner, could I become a compulsive gambler? Could you? If your addicted to your phone, could you become addicted to a bigger electronic box that shot out money? How many times have you lost more money than you allowed for your gambling entertainment? Have you ever told others that you “broke even” when you had actually lost money?

MY GAMBLING EXPERIENCE$

I'm a natural!

Wow I’m getting pretty good at this!

While sporting a large transparent sun visor and a bright and busy tropical button-up, I have had many serious conversations with Blazing Seven’s, Wheel of Fortune, and many other flashy slot machines. I’m sure I was rather tipsy to believe I was actually pulling off such an ensemble, but the real question is- Did I think talking to a steel electronic box would make any difference in the outcome of my net losses? Speaking to it like it was an old friend who owed me large sums of money. Asking it to “please please please pay out BIG!” The casino atmosphere with a shot of booze made the nonreciprocal conversations seem less ridiculous but none-the-less I would have better luck wooing a rapist.

$$$JACKPOT$$$

Of course there have been a couple times when I have won a couple mini progressive jackpots. One was for about $140 on a nickle slot and another for $80 on a penny slot. Oh, I forgot to mention- they were about 6 years apart. Those rare and exciting “you are now my slot machine for life” moments is what makes me think it is possible for me to win the 45 billion dollar Powerball. If I can win 80 dollars (after dropping $110 into the machine) then God must want me to win a significant sized chunk of the Powerball Millions! That is obviously a slight exaggeration and I have never played Powerball but during those winning times, it is easy for me to think luck is on my side. I would easily dismiss how many times the memorizing lights and sounds of the pig irons continually tricked me until they devoured the last remaining contents of my coin bucket. Before leaving for home, I would always put every last coin back into the machine’s greedy and hungry little coin holes. Luck may be on my side but it will come in the form of a lightning bolt.

BEATING THE HOUSE

When I was in jail from July 2006 to Aug 2007, I decided “hey, I have a little bit of free time- I’ll learn how to count cards!” I will be a card counting pro! I will morph into Rainman! Needless to say, I still suck at Blackjack and I have made some substantial sized bets considering my 3 digit bank account. I have yet to quit my day job working nights for a professional poker gig.

Any time someone asked me how much money I had lost, I always had the same response; “I’m about even.” About even usually meant I have lost a couple hundred dollars. Of course their response was “Whoa! I’m even too!” In my head I was thinking, You’re full of shit.

I live in Utah where gambling is illegal and if caught, you will likely burn in hell for all eternity or they will issue you a citation. I think the final say is left up to the judge but hopefully you get the citation. Maybe living in a state without slot machines or Keno is a good thing for someone like myself. I am the kind of person who would sell his car for gas money. Looking back at some of my past experiences with slot machines and poker tables, I think it is quite clear that I could easily become a compulsive gambler. Having this knowledge before-hand is a huge help and I owe it to Catherine’s book- Addicted to Dime’s. So let’s get to the meat and potato’s of my post.

Everyone! Can I have your full undivided attention...

Everyone! Can I have your full undivided attention…

THE REVIEW

Addicted to Dimes was not full of an agglomeration of impervious vernacular that couldn’t be axiomatic or that needed to be referenced with a dictionary. The book used very friendly words which unlike my previous sentence, was quite nice and free flowing. At just over 200 pages, It was a fairly quick read. The time-frame of the book covers Catherine’s early childhood up to the recent past, (approx 2012). The beginning of the book caught my attention right away. As she fleshes out each character in her childhood, I couldn’t help but get involved in her brutal and painful upbringing. As she gets older, the family dysfunction and abuse continues to be jaw-dropping and emotionally unjust- especially for Catherine. Because of the books quick and emotional start, I could not put the book down. I felt the book was told with honesty and raw vulnerability. Writing a book that uncovers all your guilty admissions and character defects is nothing short of an extended, but story ridden Step 4. A fearless moral inventory. When most people write out their Step 4 and tell another person about it, they then destroy the damning evidence. Not Catherine- she printed off thousands of copies for all to read. I must give her credit where it is due. I am scared to death for the day my book makes it to the printing press. Telling the world all of my deepest darkest secrets sounds as fun as walking around Wal-Mart butt-naked on a Saturday afternoon.

The book chapters were different from many other books I’ve read and I really liked how it was laid out in more of a sub-chapter format. The sub-chapters were short and I have always been a fan who cheered on shorter chapters.

There are a few times in the book where Catherine felt it was necessary to apologize for calling out (in the book- to the reader) her family for their terrible dysfunction. I didn’t think it was necessary just because I never once was on the side of her parents.The truth is her family structure was dysfunctional because of the parents. They are to blame for the abuse and the generational duplication of the dysfunction. That is not young Catherine’s fault, or her young siblings. I did not feel an apology was needed.

As the book begins to progress into Catherine’s addiction, she does a great job describing how easy it becomes to justify your actions in addiction. I related so closely with that in my own drug addiction and even some of my gambling experiences. That really made me stop and evaluate myself. It was a very powerful piece in the book for me.

Catherine’s story leads in to a key relationship which she is still in today. This relationship shows us that no matter how difficult life gets, the love that  binds relationships is essential for their ability to continue on. I thought the relationship dynamic was fascinating and well dialoged. I was hoping to eventually read more about this character’s background but it never came. It was probably left a bit on the thin side because it wouldn’t have been hugely relevant to her story. Maybe it was more of an interesting curiosity on my part.

At the climax of the story, it resembles a tornado, a volcano, and a tsunami playing shuffleboard in a trailer park. With the majority of the book dialog being in retrospect, it made the climax of the story a little less intense but maybe that is okay because I forgot to blink on a number of occasions.

Wrapping up the end of the book, I felt like Catherine still has some anger towards some of her past. Not just with her relationships, but her past situations as well. As an addict, I know for myself, anger, judgements, injustices, guilt and resentments are draining on my well-being so I hope she has resolved these issues and comes to terms with everything in her follow-up book. Catherine does a great job assisting readers in addiction help and assistance. Directing the readers to many different options for recovery. Where gambling is not seen by society as the big problem it is- like drug or alcohol addiction, she makes the case that that needs to change. The majority of cities around the world have some form of AA meeting or network of people but not so much for the problem gambler. Let’s help her spread the good love by recognizing the terrible stigma’s that seem so tightly wrapped around the neck of addiction. Let’s continue to speak the truth. Yell it from the rooftops!

I would recommend this book to everyone. Recommending it only to potential problem gambler’s would be a vast under-reaching of readership for this amazing and helpful material. I give it 5 stars. Great job Catherine!

5-STAR-RATING-300x300

5 Stars for Catherine Townsend-Lyon’s “Addicted to Dimes”

 

AFTERTHOUGHTS

I believe that society needs to stop normalizing abusive childhoods and stop making excuses for parents and people who are abusive to innocent and dependent children. If you were physically or mentally abused as a child, you can not justify what your mother or father did by saying “my parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had.” I am not speaking to only Catherine. We all need to know this. Saying our parents did the best they could is a cop-out excuse and justification for what ever abuse they did. If saying that means what they did is justified because they didn’t know any better, how the hell can a 3 or 4 year old know any better? Weren’t they acting and saying the only things you knew as an under developed and dependent 4 year old? We have unlimited excuses for the parents and have zero tolerance for the child. That is completely backwards from the way it should be. That is not a universal or even somewhat moral and it should not be used.

We must teach our children universal principles. If we don’t want your children growing up to become compulsive gamblers, a heroin addicts, prostitutes, meth addicts, etc.; we need to quit teaching them principles from the book of hierarchy. “I am the parent therefore you will listen. I am bigger, stronger, more dominant.” That is surrendering to pecking order and power. If we want our children to not hit, steal, yell, argue, abuse, use violence, drugs and misbehave then we must teach them universal principles. We will never teach non-violence to our children by spanking or hitting them. We cannot teach respect by yelling at them. If the principle is moral and just for our children, it must be moral and just for us as the parent. We always want to be exceptions to the rule. Just like congressmen or governments. Making rules and laws but exempting ourselves from these rules. Hmm, I see a pattern here.

There was a picture on Facebook the other day. It was of a man who was hitting a tiny kitten. It had over 1 million comments. In the comments it was clear that society was outraged at this man. Some were saying the man should be killed. Some were calling the man horrible and vulgar obscenities. The unanimous vote was that the man was hated, sick, deranged and needed large amounts of therapy at the least. Is it not sickening that we have more societal outrage and protective instincts towards cats than we do towards our children? Someone please explain to me how this happens. 60% of mother’s admit to spanking/hitting their children. Some as young as 7 months!

GENETICS OR ENVIRONMENTAL?medicine-163707_1280

Many people believe that addiction is a hereditary or genetic disease. “My father was an alcoholic therefore I will become an alcoholic”. There is a big difference between a predisposition that may trigger addiction and heredity. A predisposition to addiction can make a person more susceptible to addictive behaviors, however, there is strong evidence that addiction is being brought on by a child’s surrounding environment. I have blue eyes and a round nose because of genetics. That is something I cannot change. Believing that addiction is a genetic disease I would argue is a death sentence. It instantly removes all doubt and I might as well start shooting up heroin fresh out of the womb because it is my destiny. There is more money to be made with this approach to addictionplant-164500_1280 and there is strong arguments that backs this up. After-all, if society was to accept the environmental approach, they would have to actually do something. All of the unjust, unethical and immoral standards of hypocrisy would be ran through societies powerful ringer and we would have to stop hitting our children and teaching them such blatant hypocrisy. If we don’t want more drug addicted, alcoholic, compulsive gambling, mentally and emotionally unstable people in our society, then let’s just stop raising them. It’s really that simple.