30 Days Sober

By Aaron Emerson

A lot of people in the recovery world often say the first 30 days of sobriety are the hardest to achieve. Whether that is true or not, any day sober for an addict or alcoholic is a miracle, so to stay off drugs and alcohol for a whole month is something special.

I have been through this several times before, having achieved 30 days sober three different times that I can remember. However, I am probably just as excited achieving this milestone as I was the first time, when I was battling heroin. It is a totally different kind of excitement, though. The first time I stayed clean for 30 days, it was almost a euphoric type of feeling, as I was addicted to heroin for five or six years prior and could never stay off of the dope for even one day, unless I was in jail. I never thought I would get sober, so when I was able to get through a month without taking anything, I was amazed, proud of myself and sort of shocked.

This time around, however, I was totally defeated after a very long relapse. The shame and guilt I experienced for letting myself fall into the grips of alcohol after being an outspoken advocate for recovery was overpowering. I felt like I let many people down, and I was also embarrassed because I knew what the likely outcome was going to be once I started drinking. I still did it, and that is how powerful this disease truly is. It doesn’t matter if we stay sober for one year or 35 years, we can never “beat” this disease or ever be able to use or drink successfully.

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Anyway, to come back from that, I had to swallow my pride and check myself into rehab, for that was the only way I was going to stop drinking. I told myself throughout that last year that I would stop drinking on my own and it never lasted more than 24 hours. After a week in rehab, though, I started to get extremely excited about recovery again. Some of that joy and hope started manifesting in my life again and I actually liked being in rehab.

Yesterday (Friday), when I woke up 30 days sober again, I immediately thought about the milestone and said a little thank you prayer. When I went to bed later that night, I thanked God for helping me not use or drink another day. I also got my one month coin at a meeting that day, which I am going to carry with me every time I leave the house. I feel great and proud of myself again.

If there is one thing you take away from reading this blog post today, let it be that no matter how many times you fall, you can always get back up and succeed. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and I think this latest relapse taught me a lot and made me a much stronger individual. I am loving life again, but I know this is something I am going to have to take one day at a time, and there will be tough days and challenges. I am ready to take them on. There is always hope!

Relapse, Rehab and Recovery

By Aaron Emerson

Well, it has been quite a while since I have posted anything on my blog, let alone shared anything about my story. It has been a very up-and-down, chaotic past year for myself in my life of battling addiction. Now that I am doing better, I felt the need to tell the newest chapter of my story, as I am striving to start writing and blogging again.

As many people who read this blog know, I am a recovering heroin addict. When people with the disease of addiction stop treating it, we usually relapse. I knew that before, but rationalization and denial got the best of me and I indeed did relapse, and pretty bad.

It all started with alcohol. Once I stopped going to meetings and doing the things that helped me stay sober, such as meeting with my recovery coach and talking with others in recovery, I opened the door to temptation and cravings. One beer led to many more, which led to a severe alcohol addiction.

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Us addicts can’t just “have one” of anything, including a beer. Even though that was in the back of my mind, I still tried it. After several months of drinking on the weekends and occasionally at night after work, I started drinking during the day. Pretty soon, I was drinking everyday, going at it from sun up until sun down. I couldn’t stop. Each day, I had to have 5 to 10 beers just to get rid of the shakes and many more to be able to eat.

That lasted for about a year. For a while, I was still able to hold down my job, one that I worked hard for, as I was the Editor in Chief of a college newspaper. I was also able to stay competent in school. That all changed, however. I had to drink to be able to work, and though my boss could tell something was wrong, I was never able to admit what it was. He trusted me with an important position and I didn’t want to let him down. But I did and eventually I just gave up. The alcohol had total control of my life and I could do nothing to stop it. I also started to use drugs again, including a lot of pills, some cocaine and heroin. I was in full blown addiction again. I was hurting my loved ones and ruining my life I worked so hard to build after getting clean from heroin.

That is when I once again hit my “bottom.” I knew I had to do something. The alcohol was doing to me what heroin did! How could one beer at a social event lead to this?! That was what I kept telling myself, in denial that alcohol, something that the average person can control, was destroying my life. But hitting that bottom finally enabled me to open my eyes, and that opened the door to me reaching out for help.

I made the call to a treatment center called Sacred Heart, located in Memphis, Michigan. After waiting for a bed for two weeks, I made the drive with my mom and checked myself in extremely drunk, as that was the only way I could gather the courage to walk in. Sacred Heart is a pretty large facility that has separate wings for detox and residential. I was in detox for four days. They had to give me Ativan – a drug in the same class as Xanax – to safely wean me off the alcohol. It was rough but I got through it, and then I was transferred over to the residential part of the treatment center.

I was in the residential part of the rehab for three weeks. It was amazing. After a week or so, I started feeling a lot better and gained hope for the first time in a year or two. I can honestly say that those few weeks in rehab turned out to be the best time I had in a long time. They kept us extremely busy, with classes, groups and therapy pretty much all day long from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. A lot of the groups became a little repetitive, but I got a lot out of them. I gained quite a few new coping skills and also enough confidence to believe in myself again.

I successfully discharged from Sacred Heart on Friday (May 19) and came back home. I immediately went to an AA meeting. It felt amazing to be able to go to a meeting outside the doors of the treatment center. I have been to a meeting at least once a day since I was released, and I am going to continue that trend. I am also going to intensive outpatient therapy to continue treatment. I feel great, and so far I haven’t even had an urge to get high or drunk. I know it will happen, though. There will be bad days, there will be depression, hard times and, yes, triggers and cravings. I am confident that when the time comes, I will be prepared to handle and battle them the right way.

As for now, recovery is at the forefront of my mind and focus. I am most likely going to go back to school in the fall and am considering finding a part-time job this summer, but right now I am leaving everything in God’s hands. I feel great and I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me through all of this. I am also excited to start blogging again and spreading hope, something I love doing. This is my passion and am very proud that I am now in a position to be able to do this again. Thank you everybody.

Healing From Trauma In Sobriety

By Rose Lockinger

Recovery is a process that much is for sure. Recovery to me is all encompassing. It doesn’t end at the doorway of the meeting, it doesn’t stop when the last page of the book is read, and it isn’t finished when the last amend is made. It is all aspects of my life. It is not something that I can separate into two parts. I don’t see my life as recovery and then everything else. I just see recovery. It permeates everything and to me recovery and life are one in the same. For me recovery has become a continual spiritual process of growth and death, of happiness and pain of forgiveness and moving forward. You see before I got sober I was not a part of my life, I went through the motions but I never fully stepped into and owned my life. I was terrified of this of fully living and being present. Because prior to recovery being present meant reliving my trauma.

So when I say that recovery is a process, I am really saying that life is a process; that healing is a process and that it takes time to occur. It doesn’t end when you have the breakthrough in therapy and it doesn’t end when you finally feel peace about a situation, because there is always more to uncover. Always more to heal from, and always more to learn.

I have recently started to process some trauma from my past that I initially thought I had dealt with. I remember going through the emotions last time and working with a therapist to navigate through it, and then I remember at the end feeling like I had come to peace with it. Like I had arrived at a place where it no longer ruled me, or my decisions in my life, but I guess that I wasn’t entirely correct. I had employed some important techniques to maneuver through the pain and emotions that surfaced. I used mantras and self talk to keep myself grounded and walk through the overwhelming memories that threatened at times to consume me.

For as much work as I have done on that particular aspect of my life I guess that I wasn’t done with it and it has come back up leaving me a little frustrated and confused. When it first started to resurface I sort of had a moment where I thought, ‘that’s strange’ but I kept on with my life and continued to do the things I had to do. I thought maybe it was just a momentary lapse of memory, but that doesn’t appear to be the case and as my mind became more and more focused on that trauma I realized that there was more work that needed to be done in that area.

So I started to address it again and I was shocked by how intense the pain still was. It really took me back because I didn’t think it was going to be like that. I thought that I was further along in the process and that a lot of the raw emotion that I felt last time had subsided. I guess I believed that I would go into this healing process with a more objective and less emotional frame of mind, but I guess that isn’t the case.

Luckily though, I have been down this road before and I have a general idea what it is that I have to do. For so many years I kept everything bottled up inside and never talked to anyone about what was going on with me. This meant that when I first started to process and heal from my traumas, they all came flying out like I had opened a floodgate, but this time I already have practice so I know it will be different.

Not different in the sense that I still won’t feel or I still won’t have to sit with my emotions sometimes, but I have a basis for sharing openly and honestly and I now know the healing power that can come from this. I now know how to have a relationship with a therapist who can help me navigate my thoughts and emotions and I know that I do not have to hide anything.

I know that the road ahead for me is going to be a lot of crying, which I honestly don’t mind. Crying, like the saying goes, is the soul’s lubricant, and as much as I don’t want to be in pain, I don’t mind sitting and crying because I know that I always feel better afterwards.

I know the road ahead is also going to require me to learn new ways to love myself, because in the end that is what it is all about. I have discovered in my time in therapy and recovery that pretty much everything comes down to loving yourself. We experience certain situations in life that scar us and then from those scar we begin to hate ourselves. We do things that are counter-intuitive to our happiness because of those scars and in order to overcome them we must first process the trauma that happened, forgive ourselves for whatever guilt we have in regards to it, and then learn ways to love the person that we are. We must learn ways to love who we are in the moment, and not the person we will be or want to be.

That is what I am looking to do as I move through this process of healing. I am looking to love myself more and not let my traumas define the way that I see myself. I truly want to be free and if that means being uncomfortable for the time being then so be it, because in the end I know that this is the only way out. So while I do not want to relive and reprocess these emotions I know that I don’t really have a choice in the matter. I told God when I got sober that I would go to any lengths to achieve sobriety and if this is the path towards a better and still sober Rose, then I’m willing to walk it.

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

Ways to Handle Feeling Overwhelmed in Sobriety

By Rose Lockinger

One of the blessings of sobriety is that you get a full and busy life. Whereas many of us during our active alcoholism or addiction did nothing and just sat around getting high and watching TV, once we are sober we become productive members of society. We may pursue higher education, or careers that we love, or settle down and start a family, or all three, because sobriety allows us to do these things.

Yet, with all of these blessings come a level of stress that can be very difficult to handle at times. I know for myself I am currently experiencing that. I got my massage therapist license recently and I am attempting to juggle that with my writing, my recovery obligations, my friends, and oh—most importantly, raising my two children.

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It can be too much sometimes and I find that there are days when I feel paralyzed by all that I have on my plate. I look at what my day consists of and I get lost for a minute or two in fear. I get all worked up to the point where I almost don’t know where to start or how to deal, and then on top of that, there is this little voice in my head saying, ‘You’re going to fail.’ This is when I realize the importance of a sober support system and how grateful I am for the people that make up mine.

So while I am grateful that I have such a full life today, sometimes I just wish that I didn’t. I wish that I had more hours in the day to complete everything or I wish that I just was better able to handle the stress of it all. But then when I was talking to a friend the other day about this, he reminded me that I was probably being too hard on myself and that I appeared to be handling things a lot better then I thought. He said that regardless of how I felt, I am showing up and I am completing everything that I need to, so how bad could I really be doing?

When he said this it reminded me of something that someone told me a few years ago. They said that God will show us the time we need in the day. He was referring to the fact that when he first got sober, all he could handle was working a few days a week and going to meetings everyday. Then after a little while he added a couple of college courses into that and though at first he was overwhelmed, he eventually learned to handle this load, and so he kept adding and building, until he wound up being a full time student with a full time job and yes it was a lot but he was able to handle it. He just had to adjust to it.

So I guess I am just in the adjustment period right now, learning to navigate everything that I have in my life, but just understanding that doesn’t really make it easier in the present moment. I still wake up and feel my mind racing towards the countless things that I have to get done and so I have started to do little things to try to ease my feelings of being overwhelmed. I have to start to try to implement them into my day to day life and hopefully they will help.

I have decided that when I am feeling completely overwhelmed, I have to press pause. I have to take a step back and stop what I am doing and just take a few deep breaths. This is important because I find that when I get all worked up I started to breathe rather quickly, in shallow breaths and this makes me feel more nervous. When I start to feel this way I know it is time to get up from my desk or wherever I am and sit quietly for a moment and breathe.

It is sometimes hard to do this because I feel like I am locked into a schedule and that if I pause for even a minute everything will go awry, but this is usually never the case. And yes I am writing this next part out so that I can see it myself and hopefully remember it next time it happens. Nothing in life is so important that I need to drive myself nuts over it.

I have found that I mostly put too much pressure on myself. No one is expecting me to live up to the standards I have and no one is expecting me to be perfect, but I expect these things of myself and in doing so I just feel more overwhelmed. So I have decided to start to have realistic standards for what it is that I am doing. I am really trying to let go of my perfectionism and remember that my serenity comes first, above everything except my children, and that all of the things in my schedule can wait for a minute or an hour, if I need to get myself centered.

I have also decided that every once in awhile I need to take a mental health day. A day just for me, one where I can do whatever I like. This is really tough for me because I usually feel guilty if I do something like this, or I feel like I should be working on this or that, but I believe that it is important for me to reset every now and again. I need to take time for myself and if that means binge watching TV then so be it, or if it means going for a hike or just to the mall, that is fine as well, as long as it is something just for me.

Hopefully doing these things will help me in my feelings of being overwhelmed. I believe that they will and so if you are currently in a place in your sobriety where you feel completely overwhelmed, know that I get it, and hopefully some of the things I am doing will help you as well.

-Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

Holidays Are Hard For Everyone: Here Are Some Tips On Ways to Stay Sober

By Rose Lockinger

The holiday season can be particularly difficult for people. It is a time of year when many reflect on years gone by.They reflect on the happy and sad times they’ve spent with loved one and they think about the people that are no longer with them. It is a time that is meant to be spent with family and for some people this is either not possible, or being with their family is inordinately difficult. The scenes and smells emanating through the air during the holidays are meant to express a time of joy and love, but if you are one of the people who experiences depression during the holidays, these things just make it all the more difficult to deal with. This brings to mind what they refer to as people, places and things or as a more technical term triggers. These are things that bring back old memories the holidays for me are one that are especially difficult.

For alcoholics and addicts this time of year can be even more difficult than it is for people who do not suffer from an addiction. For one there is usually an abundance of liquor flowing throughout the holidays, which for someone who is already feeling down can be a dangerous thing, and they cannot escape like other people by simply picking up a drink or drug. No, alcoholics and addicts have to weather the storm of the holidays with only sober tools at their disposal and because of this it is no wonder that treatment centers usually start to fill up come the beginning of January.

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That being said, getting through the holiday season sober does not need to be an insurmountable task. It does not need to be a time of year that you begrudgingly can’t wait to end and by just following a few simple suggestions, you can make it through this upcoming holiday season sober, with little to no emotional damage being caused.

Tips of Staying Sober Through the Holidays

Whether your fear about the holidays is in relation to the fact that you will not be spending it with your family, or that you will be spending it with your family, the tips below will help you to make it to January sober and happy.

· Keep up with your meetings

If you are traveling home for the holidays then getting to meetings can sometime be difficult. More than likely you will not have a car with you and you may or may not know where the meetings in the area are held, but make sure that you don’t go too long without going to a meeting. Not only is this important for the maintenance of your recovery, but it can also give you a much needed excuse to break away from family if you get overwhelmed.

· Limit your time spent with relatives who push your buttons

We all have relatives who just seem to intuitively know how to rile us up. Before getting sober we may have engaged with these people, getting into arguments or just silently scorning them as we stuck around for longer than needed. Now that you are sober you no longer have to do this and you can limit the amount of time that you spend with people who do not know how to treat you correctly. You do not need to be rude, but you can walk away, set boundaries, and limit the time that you spend with them.

· Have an exit strategy if you start to get cravings

If you find that you are uncomfortable being around all of the liquor that is being served at a particular family function then be sure to have an exit strategy. This may mean that you make arrangements with a family member so that you can borrow their car to go to a meeting, or if this is not possible then have a plan to be able to go out for a walk, make a phone call and clear your head for a minute.

· Try not to spend the holidays alone

Some people do not have the option of spending the holidays with their family and this can be a great cause for concern for alcoholics and addicts. Whether this be because they are not on good terms with their family, they are incapable of making it home for the holidays, or their family is no longer around, spending the holidays away from family can be tough. So if you find yourself in this situation reach out to friends and make plans for the holidays so that you do not have to sit home alone stuck with your thoughts.

· Have reasonable expectations on the holidays

One thing that usually results in the holiday blues is our ability to over estimate what the holidays will feel like. I remember when I was a child I would do this all of the time on Christmas and when the last present was opened I would usually become sad and feel let down. Keeping this in mind, go into the holidays with a reasonable expectation. Just because you are sober doesn’t mean that everything is going to perfect, so just try to stay in the moment, be present, and allow the holidays to unfold as they may. Doing this will help you avoid the let down of not having your expectations being met.

· Be care of what you eat or drink

During the holidays there is usually a lot of food and drink to be had and sometimes these things may have liquor in them without our even knowing. Being conscious of the things that you put into your body is a good way to avoid accidently ingesting alcohol, which could possibly lead to problems.

While the holidays can be a tough time for people, getting through them sober does not need to be. By just following the six suggestions above, you should be able to make it through this holiday season with your sobriety intact, and who knows maybe you will actually enjoy the holidays this year. Part of sobriety is building new memories and creating new experiences. This year you can create a new reference point for your brain to go too. So Happy almost Holidays and I hope that this helped.

-Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram