Sunday, August 29, 2021
Thursday, August 26, 2021
In the last blog, which I published on Monday, I talked of receiving an early morning call from my youngest daughter who'd left at 4:00 am Sunday to hike Hermit's trail, with her older brother Arturo, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
After several hours of descending the rugged trail, Arturo started having cramps so bad that he couldn't continue. He told her he would stay where they were, about eight miles down the trail, and asked her to hike back out and get help because he could go no further.
Neither of them had taken much in the way of supplies. They didn't have warm enough clothing or adequate food, or water for a such an arduous hike. The park service classifies that trail as one that a hiker shouldn't attempt to complete in one day. In other words, plan on staying overnight. But they either didn't see - or else ignored - the signs and were planning a one day round trip.
My daughter told me that the return trip was a nightmare. She was afraid she would die. She ran out of water and soon became exhausted. She found a shack alongside the trail and curled up on a bench inside and rested for a while, napping off and on.
As she continued the climb, she found some cactus with ripe pears on them and picked several of them and was able to suck enough moisture out of them to stay somewhat hydrated and energized. Further on she found a small spring that was dripping water into a tank. A sign said that the water should be purified before drinking, but she was so parched she drank it anyway. Then she filled her water container and struggled on to the top.
A helpful bus driver let her use her phone and the alert went out about her missing brother.
Several search teams and helicopters went out, but were unable to locate him that day. The following afternoon at around 2:00 pm they found him walking up the trail. He spent a few days recovering in the hospital and was discharged today.
Needless to say everyone is happy that they both survived. The incident reminds us all, that when doing something risky we should plan for all eventualities.
After all, a lot of people love and care about us and we should include them in our planning.
Monday, August 23, 2021
I was awakened first thing this morning by a phone call from my youngest daughter. I was surprised to hear from her so early because she usually talks to me about anything important when she gets to my office - where she and I work together. So I knew the call was something important.
It turns out that at 3:00 am on Sunday morning she and her brother left for a hike into the Grand Canyon, about a 10 mile trek from the trailhead to the bottom of the trail. Once they were about 8 miles down the trail the brother began having cramps and couldn't continue. He told my daughter he wanted to wait there and for her to go back to the top and get help.
By this time it was around 10:00 pm last night and it was completely dark. Neither of them had brought enough water or food. Nor did they have camping gear with them.
So far two helicopters and a search and rescue team have been unable to locate him.
I'm so grateful my daughter made it out okay. Now everyone is praying that her brother is found whole and healthy by the search team. I am confident they will find him, but I know it will devestate the family if they don't locate him.
Friday, August 20, 2021
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Today I felt a strong sense of gratitude while I was watching a news broadcast from an airport in Afghanistan.
In the segment I was watching, hundreds of civilians were desperately attempting to board a U.S. C-17 as it was taking off from the Kabul airport. They were running alongside the plane attempting to hold on to any part they could grasp. Reportedly seven of them died in the process.
Now I'm not an ungrateful person by any means. I have a good job, a decent home, a family and friends that I love dearly. I have a lot to be grateful for.
But when I see others suffering, gratitude for my life comes to the front of my mind. And I realize that the challenges I face are nothing compared to what many others go through every day.
I can't even imagine living in a society where people are persecuted for their religious beliefs. Where women have to live in a bag. Where they can't go to school. Where they can't leave their house without being accompanied by a male relative.
The strongest tonic I have when I think I have problems is to draw on my reserve of gratitude and my problems immediately dissolve.
Saturday, August 14, 2021
I speak only for myself when I say that one of the greatest single words in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is acceptance.
It appears a few times in the book. And once I let the word sink in it changed my whole outlook on my drinking and drug use.
I first really paid attention to it at a speaker meeting. The man at the podium was describing his misadventures with booze. He said that one day his sponsor told him that he would never succeed at staying sober until he got into acceptance. Until he accepted that he was incapable putting any addictive substances into his body he didn't have a chance of living like other people.
He said that it took a while for the concept of acceptance to take hold. He said that for a long time he knew he was as alcoholic but that he had some idea that he wasn't really that bad. That he could stop whenever he wanted to quit. But while reflecting, he realized that since he was a teenager he was always having problems with alcohol and other substances.
And when family or friends would suggest that he slow down and use in moderation he would tell them that he was just having a good time with his friends.
Yet his partying and using seemed to always get out of hand and before he knew it he was in trouble. Yes, he could quit for a few days. But sooner or later he would find himself in jail, or a hospital because he couldn't control himself.
Until his sponsor had him make a list of times he successfully drank without eventually getting into a mess, he wasn't fully convinced that he was powerless over drinking alcohol and using other substances.
Once he looked over that list his sponsor had him write he realized that examining his history with drinking and drugs is what made him realize he had a problem. He said acceptance of who and what he was is what set him free.
To stay sober for the past 30 years I first had to accept that I had a disease called alcoholism. Once I did that things kept getting better and better. And I'm able to enjoy the life I have today.
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Is there a surefire and effective way to help someone get sober, to start living a life of recovery? Yes, if one has the right ingredients almost anyone can quit using and start living a sober life.
After working with addicts for thirty+ years I believe there are several factors that potentially come into play when someone is serious about a major life change like getting sober.
I remember a time about ten years ago when a fellow parked in front of our office and came in to ask for help in getting sober.
He was well dressed, wearing a watch, driving a decent automobile, and had a woman who waited in the car while he was in our office.
We asked him if that was his car and why he thought he needed help. Why he thought he was an alcoholic and needed help to stop drinking? He started telling us his story about how sometimes he would have too much to drink and wake up with a hangover. Or get into a fight with his wife. He was afraid he might lose everything, including his wife and home. He'd never had a DUI nor been in jail.
To sum it up, we told him he might look for someplace else. Maybe get some outpatient treatment. We told him that most of those who came to our program had been homeless, in jail and had suffered a lot of pain before they decided to change. We suggested that he suffer a little more before he tried to get sober; that he still had a decent life and might stop drinking for a few days and decide that he might not have a problem after all. We told him we didn't think he'd suffered enough consequences.
And so he went on his way and we never saw him again.
The point of this narrative is that we must suffer enough pain to want to change. While he had gone through some discomfort from drinking our opinion was that he hadn't reached a bottom where he would be motivated to work on some gut level recovery. He still had too many resources to be on fire to change.
While TLC accepts anyone who asks for help we like to think that they've had enough pain and loss to want to change. While we'll help anybody we like to use our resources for those who have a strong motivation. Life will eventually let this guy find out if he has a problem, maybe if he starts feeling some real pain.
Sunday, August 8, 2021
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Monday, August 2, 2021
When I was a kid - a long time ago - I remember my parents had one consistent goal in life: they wanted to work until they were 65, then draw Social Security. And they never waivered from that.
They never talked about vacations. Or visiting family. Just drawing Social Security and then kicking back at home. I remember the only thing they regularly did together was watch television. My stepfather had a small plot of land behind their double-wide where he grew tomatoes and chili peppers. While he was busy with that my mother was working on one of her sewing projects, at which she was quite adept. During the week they might have a drink or two.
And they followed their plans for the rest of their lives and seemed content to be doing what they were doing. Eventually my stepfather died and my mother moved to Arizona where she passed away a few years later.
I bring this up today because once in a while someone will ask me when I'm going to retire and start enjoying life. My answer is usually the same: I am enjoying life. And I'll probably keep doing what I'm doing as long as I'm able to do my job.
I don't know a lot of people who have a job they love and look forward to going to work each day. But, for me it's always a privilege to help my fellow addicts do something positive with their lives. To see them find a good job. Or a good relationship.
To see them walk away from TLC and into a normal life.