What It Was Like Getting Sober – Part 3

My van

To continue… I must say, I hope you stick with this post. It’s long and I really hated to do a part 4.

The first year and a half of getting sober was difficult, as my feelings were extremely raw and I had nothing with which to numb them. I did a LOT of writing. I took several brisk walks a day.

After several months of doing these things as well as going to 4-5 meetings a day, God brought me the old van I ws telling you about earlier, and I dove in, gutting it, redoing the plumbing and electrical systems in addition to all the woodworking. I designed the interior bulkhead walls and the bookshelves. This project was a life-saver. It eased the difficulty of getting sober and feeling all my emotions.

I left San Diego in the spring of 2002, and headed back to the Bay Area, where I got a job. Soon after, I fell and injured my right, dominant wrist, so much so that I could not write with that hand and started journaling with my non-dominant, left hand. All sorts of deep feelings welled up, out of nowhere.

In fact, some of what I wrote now appears in the book I wrote and photographed, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. In 2004, I discovered that the writings matched perfectly with some gate photos I had taken earlier in the year, describing their physical characteristics perfectly. I did not plan this; it just happened, which is why I believe my book was divinely created, guided.

Anyway, after returning to Marin and injuring myself in 2002, I could not deal with the weather that winter; the rain was blowing sideways and the van was leaking, getting my journals and books wet. I lost it and became suicidal. After reaching out to the crisis line and getting stabilized, I returned to San Diego and proceeded to receive treatment for my wrist injury.

Surgery was necessary, and I spent the next 3 years trying to find a place to live where I could be and not use my hand for a month following the surgery. It was going to be pretty extensive… First I went to Colorado and then to a friend’s home in Washington state, but these places did not work out and I found myself back in Marin in 2005, having surgery.

My emotional recovery continued, as I delved deeper into my psyche. I got assistance from a therapist. But I still was experiencing great, deep despair over my childhood. I felt the pain I had endured was for no purpose in my life, other than to make me miserable. That despair continued until one day, I discovered my purpose in life.

What I discovered was that my story, my abusive history, was of help to another when I talked about it and relayed how I had begun to heal from it. Suddenly, I saw the reason for the abuse. It was to help others by talking about my experience of healing so that they, too, could begin to recover from their abuse, their pain that they had endured. Suddenly I had purpose, my life had purpose.

After realizing my life’s purpose, my whole attitude and belief in myself changed, and I have not felt despair since that discovery, that day. In fact, my recovery has progressed to the point that I am stable and flourishing. Initially after surgery and for 2 years, I pulled together my book. Then I spent the next 2 years publishing and marketing it. It didn’t really take off, despite the fact that everyone who reads it, raves about it.

In 2008, I bought my humble little home in Marin, so now I am a long-term resident in a place that I love. An opportunity and calling came about, working with the Vietnam vets to help them through the suffering they still experience. What I have to offer today that I didn’t have 38 years ago is a way through grief, as well as how to get past anger and bitterness that is long-standing.

You see, I was finally able to forgive my parents for my upbringing. I carried that deep resentment around for 33 years, and am well-versed in how to forgive a long-time hurt. This is one of the major things I talk about when I work with the vets.

I conduct workshops now, as well as coach others. The topics are as I’ve discussed… grief recovery and forgiveness. I love my life and most of all, I love it when, after talking with someone, I see their eyes light up with hope after being sad and listless, void of all hope. That wonderful peace that I have found is something which I love to pass on… how to get there, how to look at the world and oneself with new eyes, 180 degrees from what one saw before.

You, too, can have a healing journey through all of your grief, your anger and bitterness, through all of your despair and hopelessness. It all starts by getting sober, giving up the drink for a kinder and softer way. Come join me. It is a wonderful life. Learn how to start on that path by coming to my workshop Finding Freedom In Forgiveness on National Forgiveness Day, October 27th. For more information and to register, go to http://findforgiveness.eventbrite.com.

If you are hurting enough, and you want something different in your life, then you are ready, perhaps, to embark upon a new journey. Reach out. Get help. You were not intended to do life alone in a vacuum, by yourself. It is a sign of strength and courage to reach out for a hand. There is love out there, brought to you by God’s countless angels. I wish for you to discover it.

 

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