Excerpt from August 2023 Mpls. St. Paul Magazine Mental Health Section:
Yesterday I flew with my daughter to Minneapolis for detox and treatment - an event I could only imagine in a faraway fantasy. She called unexpectedly, after not talking to me for six months, and asked for help with the most desperate of states of heart/mind… begging to either die or get sober.
The Loot, The Lift and The Lover
During my four decades of recovery, I’ve worked with hundreds of young men who are enthusiastic and excited about recovery. For them, everything is new and life has taken on a different meaning. They are going to meetings regularly; they are working with their sponsors and the wreckage from their past is slowly getting repaired. But alas, they seem to hit three common roadblocks which sends them spiraling back down the path whence they came. I refer to these three roadblocks as: The Loot, The Lift and The Lover.
It can be difficult to know how to help an alcoholic friend or family member. But if you have a loved one who is struggling from alcoholism, it’s important that you try to help them get the help they need. Alcoholism can be difficult to overcome, and your friend or family member will need all the support they can get.
What is Recovery Month?
I found sobriety in the summer of 1978. I had been severely addicted to mood altering chemicals for six years. I hit bottom, went into a Substance Use Disorder treatment center, and started practicing a recovery program in August of 1978.
Here we are… months after the world became an unknown place, and many of our creature comforts, things we took for granted, turned into vast luxuries. I dream longingly of a haircut or sitting in a café with a dear friend over a steaming cup of bad coffee…or, hardest of all, receiving a hug at an AA meeting. I am getting accustomed to my new masked reality, the shouting at friends from a distance when I have the rare pleasure of seeing them. And, somehow, it is all ok. Really ok. And that is because I watch my mouth.
Thanksgiving weekend 2019 brought 17 inches of heavy wet snow to northwestern Wisconsin, a special place where our family cabin sits, on the Minerva chain of lakes. As I looked out into the yard this past Sunday morning, I was startled by the sight of our many pine trees – white, blue spruce, and jack pine, all sagging towards earth with heavily burdened branches carrying the weight of nature’s winter storm. Concerned these trees might topple or at least suffer the damage of broken branches, I donned Sorel boots, jacket, hat and gloves and set out intent to remove some of the 17 inches of ice crystals these trees of ours were carrying.
I woke up this morning and my wife sent me a post that she had shared/read about someone who decided to not let drugs and alcohol numb them, to not just say that they are fine when things are really upsetting them or they are having a hard day. I told her that honestly that was the same reason that I decided to get sober so many years ago because I was numb for so long and I really like feeling all of the emotions good or bad that come with life and it makes me feel strong to face them everyday and not give up.
“Love and tolerance of others is our code”. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 84)
Several years ago, close to Valentine’s Day, I was listening to the radio one morning on my drive into work. The radio host asked the above question to the listening audience. Immediately, the phoneline was inundated with dozens of phone calls from listeners all offering sage wisdom on the topic. However, one caller’s comments have stayed with me all this time. He responded with, “Love isn’t a noun – it’s a verb”.