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a whole new set of beer goggles

Hindsight is 20/20.  Load of crap. Who came up with that? Even if you weren’t drinking heavily for 20 years, the past is always tainted by perception. IT always looks better or worse than it actually was. History belongs to the victor. And usually, if it was worth remembering, you are the victor. Then add in the fog of which all time is seen when you have put on your beer goggles and it is likely to be very different than reality. If that 2 am hook up looked like a super model, your past might look like nirvana.

I have been chased by fear for last two weeks. About two weeks ago, it was decided that I should go into private practice again. Ive done this twice before. It is in a different discipline. It is 20 years later. It is as a hospitalists. I thought it was all of those factors that was plaguing me. I thought it was simply enjoying knowing where the paycheck was coming from. It wasn’t. The fog of the future is much denser without the beer goggles on. Beer goggles have the same effect on the future as red lenses do on water. Everything seems clearer. The goggles eliminate the what ifs. It tells you that the world wants you to succeed. When you look back, it tells you everything turned out great because you are made of steel and as handsome as Remington Steele. The past is rosie, the future clear and lavender.

This is the first time I will be starting my own venture sober. Ive been sober almost 13 years, so going through things isn’t that new for me, but this is. I didn’t recognize it. I ran from the fear, thinking that the fog was better than the idea of watching the fog. My hindsight said that I was doomed. It had worked out because I was younger, more confident, hadn’t had a checkered past. Fear whispered in my ear, taunting me. It reminded me of failure. It reminded me of darkness. It reminded me of years. It whispered maliciously.

I whispered back. I saw the beer goggles covered with dust. I saw them for the fantasy they were. I saw them for the lies they told. I also saw them for the truth. They reminded me I could do things. They reminded me that I persevere. They reminded me that I have strength. They reminded me I have weaknesses. They reminded me to be real and take things as they are. They reminded me of the idea to keep trying and be prepared. I whispered that this is a gift. It is like getting new boxer briefs for Christmas, but it is a gift. It is uncomfortable and a change. It will fit, but differently than it was before. It’ll take getting used to. It is a gift of seeing that I can do it sober. It wasn’t the beer goggles that showed up to work every day (well, not every day). IT wasn’t the beer goggles that did the work. It was me.

It a whole new set of goggles. Fog or not, Trudge one more step. (Walk with Purpose.)

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2019 in journey, life

 

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Fear the Buzz

I really love the Fall weather. No matter where I have lived it has been my favorite season. I’m not sure why it is: the chill in the air in the morning, the leaves changing color, the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque, it just is. I dislike October. Not al of October, just anything to do with Halloween. It really makes no sense to me why I dislike Halloween. I just do. In high school, I was in drama. I even lettered, twice. The character thing never bothered me. But there is something about being in a group of people pretending to be something they are not that gets to me. Its like being in a locker room. Everyone scared to death they aren’t as manly as they should be. As a kid, I did see IT and it terrified me so bad, I haven’t watched much in the way of horror since then. I saw Jaws and was afraid to swim in a pool after dark for a few weeks. Perhaps I am “on the spectrum” (by definition a spectrum includes everyone, so we are all on the spectrum. This is a really poor way to describe this problem, but I digress). I need to see faces and try and understand the real person I talk to. I just know I don’t like to be distant or afraid.

All that to say, I am afraid and feel distant. Its different than Nixon masks and being faked out. I am afraid of taking an inevitable next step. I have been in addiction medicine for the last few years. I am much better at it than I thought I would be. The first week they gave me the nickname of, “Dr. Buzzkill.” I talk to people and cajole them to honesty with themselves and maybe with me. I insist on working on introspection. I insist on motivation from the inside. I can be a real ass, I know. However, in my heart, I believe in recovery and that recovery is for those that want it. I get teased a lot that I am too harsh sometimes. One of my close friends reminds me that precontemplation is a stage. I remind him that if someone doesn’t want what recover has to offer, if I force it by keeping them there, I might ruin the next opportunity they have to change their mind.

Again, I digress. I’ve been suggested strongly, that it is time to start my own business again and not be an employee. ITs been a long time coming. The time I spend with people and the work I do isn’t necessarily as billable. There have been changes that will further limit what the hospital could bill for my services. I was given the option of eventually being unemployed or currently being unemployed with some preservation of what I do. I will open Buzzkill, LLC in October.

OK that was the longest preamble I have ever written. I am afraid and isolated. That is the whole point to this post. Let us continue. I am isolated. Its not good enough isolation that anyone would make a movie out of it. I don’t own a volleyball to talk to. My puppy is to hyper to really listen. He doesn’t seem to care anyway. I grew up being isolated. We had this pencil machine at my elementary school. It had the names and colors of every football team on pencils. So boys would save their ten cents, scrounge couches and washing machines to buy pencils, with the hopes of having them all. They’d proudly display their knob turning acumen joined together with a rubber band. They traded and discussed which teams were better and which pencils the most difficult to hunt down. My pencil was yellow and chewed. I still don’t care about sports. I never felt quite right around groups. I truly didn’t fit in. I thought I fit in AA when I started. I did in that first group. And then several people told me that I shouldn’t be at a group, but should go to the medical group. IT took me a minute to realize they were focused on their pencils.

I am afraid. I have spent a lifetime without identity. CS Lewis describes Men without chests. I was that boy. No heart, no life force, no soul. I didn’t have self esteem, I had reflective esteem. I only knew who I was by what you told me. I needed to perform to convince you I was worth it, so you could tell me I was. Id like to say the pencil debacle taught me it was ok to be myself. I lied, I had ten team pencils. I told everyone we couldn’t afford even the dime so I could get more. The chiefs were my favorite because the colors were the coolest. I hid. Drama was an obvious choice for me. I could try on different personalities. The costumes came off, and the support was for the empty costume not for me. The fear worsened as I grew. It was harder and harder to convince people to cheer me on. So, I drank. A lot. I traded me for the illusion of a chest, a heart, a life, a soul. It wasn’t mine, it wasn’t real, but it had great colors. Unfortunately, the fear got worse. What if people didn’t believe I couldn’t afford the dime? What if they saw through the façade? IT rode me around like a dark passenger. The same alcohol I had sold out to, whispered in my ear about how diminutive I was. It taunted me. It screamed in my face like the gym coaches of old. It scared me like only rage in a mask can do. I vanished as the rage screamed and my ex grew weary of having to connect with me. The fear won. I thought it was the alcohol, but even after that was gone, the fear loomed and whispered on. It defeated me at the age of 44. I ceased to exist. I couldn’t fake it anymore.

Fear leaves a dead body. As I rose from the chestless, heartless existence I once thought of as life, I began to see me. I met me and I was ok. I understood me. I generally liked me. When I would stray from being me and reach for a mask, I could see why I feared the unreal. I could be honest. I enjoyed, but didn’t need the support that was my backbone before. I walked. I returned to medicine, doing addiction. I didn’t have to perform in a certain way. I just had to be who I am . I didn’t have any idea how to do this job, nor did anyone else. I was making it up as I went, And it went well. I didn’t notice until right now that I had started to slide into the idea of becoming Buzzkill to please everyone. I am very straight forward and I care about people in addiction who are suffering. But, I had begun to transform to what people said about me. The reason for my fear is that I will only have me to trust on what is my identity. I fear because I am unsure. I have let myself become Dr. Buzzkill as a costume. I wear it proudly, all the time knowing that people don’t really know me. In many circumstances, have no desire to know the real me. But I am named. Not from others, not even from me, but from God, the higher power, cosmos, Universe, whatever. I had forgotten that me is not defined by what I do. If this practice works, fantastic. I do this job well. If it doesn’t, ok I don’t have this color pencil in my pile, move on. I will still be me.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2019 in faith, journey, life

 

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fascinated

It has been 5 years. 5 years since I consented to leave my house and wife. 5 years since I have had a thriving relationship with my daughters. 5 years of seeing the faces of former friends and heard the clicks of tongues. 5 years since the goal to humiliate and decimate me was paramount. 5 years since I heard the thud of hitting rock bottom.

It has been 5 years since I planted a new seed. It has been 5 years since I had to be an adult and learn to take care of myself. 5 years since I began to learn how to like myself. 5 years of learning to get back up after being knocked down. 5 years since I was given the gift of seeing who around me was really a friend. 5 years since I hit my rock bottom and bounced.

I cant believe it has been that long. It seems like such a short time ago that I was desperate to be liked. It was a short time ago that I craved intimacy on any level. It was a short time ago that I needed someone else to state my worth before I could see it.

I cant believe it has been so long. It seems like the pain should be over by now. It seems like my journey since then has been a million miles. It feels as though I have been in a sprint for the entire time. I scramble and collect. I trudge. I regroup. I stand firm and I waiver. I still hear the echoes of the clucking tongues. I feel the angst from my estranged children. I feel the thud of rock bottom.

I will trudge another day.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in journey, life

 

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reverberation

reverberation

What cuts your soul?

It seems like the death of a soul is apparent. Suddenly, there is no life. The will is moot. The shoulder slump as if the weight of living is overbearing. There is no chance of continuing on the same path. Movement has stopped. Direction is absent. The soul is dead. Its very apparent when you see it when someone has crashed down. The rock bottom reverberates with excitement as it claims another soul Bewildered and lost, the soulless corpse tries to gather up the misused and recently departed soul as if they were guts spilled in the savages of war. The soul will pretend to return and the corpse will walk again, aimless and lost. The darkness engulfs the being. They become a black hole of existence. A vacuum of life force consumes them and many who get around them. The silence is deafening. They search for giving souls, the extreme light. They devour the light until it cant be repleated, clamoring for more. The rock bottom reverberates some more.

It isn’t the desolate who hold a monopoly on lost souls and rock bottoms. The more adept at living without a soul are the individuals who have more to lose. The successful, rich, famous, beautiful people are much more likely to scoop up the lost and departed soul and try and run.  They scramble and grab whatever is near to fill the whole left. They stuff money and popularity into the vacuous inner self like packing peanuts. The density of the soul is tainted by the empty offering. The Soulless mill around life accumulating more packing peanuts to fill an ever empty soul. They orchestrate large health care deals and billion dollar business deals to fill the dead space. It leeches the light from others around them, gathering souls for the reverberating bottom. Sooner or later, to exist in a world of vacuums, one either absorbed or escapes.

But what cuts the soul?  Death or absence can be easier to see, but what of the injured? What of the ones who ae losing parts of their soul in a long battle to survive and fight the absorption? We try all kinds of things to fight it, we get angry, we get drunk, we get depressed, we isolate. IT becomes paranoia, loneliness, addiction. We have lost the will to fight. We have lost the ability. The soul takes a beating. The soul is cut and bleeding. It cries out. It cries when love ones are hurt and draining. It screams at injustice and pain. It bellows as it hears, feels, sees the receding of the light. The soul fills its own space, but the life warrior is tired. “He walks around like Charlie Brown, full of Hope, eyes to the ground.” . If the bleeding isn’t addressed, the wounds dressed, the soul will weaken. Through the wounds, the soul is vulnerable and drawn out by the vacuums around it. The soul needs nurtured. The soul needs rest. The soul needs fed. The soul needs remembered. The soul needs LOVE.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in journey, life

 

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dark passenger and the stranger

It rides me like a dark passenger.passenger

I was unencumbered. I strode with cocky assurance. I was unaware and feeling on top of the world. IT happened in a flash. I almost didn’t recognize it. Actually, I didn’t recognize it. I didn’t feel my shoulders slump with the weight. I was unaware of his voice in my ear. It was familiar and strangely comfortable. He whispered posing questions of my deserving to feel happy. He tormented me with thoughts of arguments lost, disappointments gained, and opportunities unattained. He reminded me of history, blotting out successes and highlighting failures. I stooped. I buckled under the weight of the stories and the pain. The sky darkened and my mood followed.

I could barely move one foot in front of the other. I lumbered on like Charlie Brown, full of hope but eyes to the ground. I tried to keep going. I tried to put on a brave face. It was a lie. The voice rumbled, echoing in my subconscious. It reminded my of hopes dashed in the past. It reminded me of love lost and pain present. The voice urged me to stop moving, to turn and flee. It beckoned me to return to the past, the known, the familiar. It cautioned against risk. It pointed to the scars on my heart and soul. It giggled as I cried. fear

My eyes rose and rested on a stranger. I cant even recall if it was man or female. It seemed unimportant at the time and even less important now. The clothing was casual and nondescript. The face seemed to glow. It radiated. IT was blinding and yet I could see clearly. It was magnetic. The eyes, the smile seemed to pull me in. It would not let me go. It would not let my eyes sink again. The stranger said, “Ask.” I knew exactly what the stranger meant. I couldnt form the words. The stranger waited patiently, stood there lovingly. The eye, the wonderful star on the strangers face, winked. wink

“Take away my Fear, take away the Dark Passenger,” I blubbered. At once, I commenced to outgrow Fear.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in journey, life, Uncategorized

 

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break the ice

Do you remember the game, “Don’t break the Ice”? It was a stage and there were maybe 25 plastic ice cubes wedged into it. There was this red man in a chair that you would put in the middle of the ice. The goal was to knock out ice cubes until someone let the guy fall through the stage. And then you’d laughingly set it all up again and the guy would be perched, unfazed, on the ice once again.

I have this terrifying thought that life is like that. We are set up a foundation for our life, based on expectations, beliefs, emotions, etc. They fit together nicely and fill the stage. The world then chips away at our ice, piece by piece refuted or humiliated. We back bite, cheat, steal, lie, injure. It is a game of chip the other guys ice before yours is broken. We are sanctimonious and rationalize why we chip at the other ice.  “IT is for their own god.” “It is God’s Will.” “I injure you to protect others.”

The ice breaks and we fall. However, unlike our placid friend, we feel the cold water. We plummet in the depths. We struggle to breath as the water and the cold engulf us. We sink or swim. Sometimes the decision isn’t clear and we gulp water as we try and surface. Nearly drowning in the icy water. We crawl to the surface and laughingly rebuild the ice. We perch in our chair, grinning to face another round of the maddening and sickening game, shivering in fear, cold, and isolation.  Never bothering to question why we are out on the ice.

The ice feels solid. The ice feel real. Even though it is cold and cuts the fingertips. Even though it is slowly eroded by the water underneath and the chipping from life on life’s terms, we trust it. We believe in it. IT is tangible in a world of intangible. It is solid in a world of icy water. And so it lends comfort. It lends the illusion of safety. We can even imagine we are warm. “At least I am not in the water right now.” “I have more ice then that guy.”

Stand up, walk off the ice. IT isn’t easy. IT isn’t safe. You will be called back. You will be taunted. You will be told of expectations and rules and limits. You will be told that the rules cant be changed for you. You will be exposed. Its lonely because few people are ready to trust, honor, share, believe in anything but the ice and the water. Few people will ever take this voyage. Most who do, return to the chipping, to the sitting. Most sit in the chair of discontent, waiting for the ice to break.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in journey, life

 

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sweet chariot

I have started this post several times. I have written it in my head countless times. I hesitate because I don’t think the answer is as clear as the question. I am not sure it measures up to expectations.  However, in the end, its the expectations that hurt me the most. It was trying to live up to my self expectations that I fell short. “Expectations are pre-meditated resentments,” I was told. I held these expectations and resented myself when I couldn’t live up to them.

I was asked how I have changed on my journey. I was asked how I am different and how my outlook has evolved. I spent a long time trying to come up with an answer that makes sense. I tried to list my character defects and how they have been eradicated. I tried to come up with specific examples. In the same moment, I had a bump in the road that made me feel rejected. I don’t even really know the background or outcome, but my reaction was to feel hurt. I could feel all the rejection I have ever felt all over again. I felt teenage loves, jobs, schooling, loves, and losses. I felt friends who turned their backs and hurled insults. I felt the pain. My character defect of low self esteem reared its ugly head once again. How could I speak to how I removed my character defects when here was the largest one laughing at me again?

Do people really change? Can redemption really occur in this life? Is a loving God loving only after we die? IS suffering a choice?

I decided to not write this post. I had nothing to say and couldn’t see myself lying again to make myself look good. I had spent so much time lying to myself about who I was, how I was, that it became routine. I couldn’t even tell that I wasn’t growing or changing. I was lost in looking good and looking together. I just didn’t want to do that again.

I talked to a trusted friend about it. They are a new friend and I had to explain my story all over again. I explained what I did 10 years ago to change a direction. I described how I tried to change but wasn’t able. I explained how I didn’t even see a large hole in my soul. It gathered moss and a fetid smell as it corroded my heart. It culminated in feeling rejected and scrambling to cure my ache. It was the match for the fuse that blew up my life. Nothing would ever be the same. The tower of Babel I had built tumbled. The dust settled slowly. I explained how I had went on a voyage inside first. I dissected my life, my emotions, my reactions, my pain. I did things differently. I asked for help. I admitted weakness. I embraced the pain as a message. I humbled myself and spoke honestly about my mistakes as well as my victories. As a result, I got to be free of the shame. I got to experience a new kind of freedom. A freedom from the bondage of self. I had told my story so many times that it felt like just words. I had finally got to the point that I didn’t need to explain or justify, I just spoke the journey and the hope of tomorrow. Many times, people would tell me how hearing my journey touched them and helped them. They mentioned the truth and honesty in what I spoke. I explained to my trusted friend that I felt afraid and rejected again. He smiled. The arrogant jerk just smiled at me. I stared at him with disbelief. And he started to chuckle. Did I say friend? Maybe I spoke to soon. He spoke through laughing eyes and asked, “Ever been called truthful and honest in your previous life?”

I hadn’t. I think the biggest change for me is being ok with change.  Sometimes, I go through it kicking and screaming. I have gotten to a point that I know that I will be ok in the change. I have been tumbled like tennis shoes in a dryer and come out wrinkled and fluffed to trudge another day. I know that God is in this and has been in this. I know that when I get knocked down, I get back up. I have learned to trust myself. More importantly, I like myself. I genuinely, love myself. When I mumble the words to myself, “I love myself,” I can ask myself if the current actions or thoughts are being loving to me or not.

I don’t know how to answer the question of how I have changed. I have changed a lot in some areas and not so much in others. I can wax philosophic about grandiose words such as trust, love, honesty, and change. I can speak to journey or to God’s Grace. I can share pages and pages of introspection and a pretty impressive healing resume over the last few years. I can talk about my journey or responding rather than reacting .I can speak to time. Time wasted, time appreciated, time spent, and time lived. I could mention that I had to change everything and allow God to rebuild me.

IT is all true, but over-expansive. I have simply learned to pause when agitated or doubtful.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2016 in journey

 

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