Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Looking Back: Eight Years Ago Tonight

I was perusing the journal I kept before I started this blog and came across an entry from January 28, 2007. Exactly eight years ago, when my son's depression was at its peak and his addiction was getting worse. I thought I'd share an excerpt here.

January 28, 2007

I’m working at home tomorrow. Right now, I don’t even want to be home. I’d rather be somewhere far, far away…all by myself. Getting drunk and forgetting about how fucked up my life is. Because it is fucked up. For a few days there, I thought we were turning a corner. But instead we hit a brick wall.

Sometimes I feel like just walking away. Just getting in the car and driving nowhere in particular, thousands of miles away. Finding new places, new things, new people…new feelings; because the feelings I have right now hurt so bad. Why should life be so painful? Why should the suffering just go on and on? I would give my life to make [my son] happy and “normal.” And I wish I could. It would take away his pain and my pain at the same time.

Again, I say this:

I look back not to see how bad things were, but to see how far we've come.

Peace.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Guest Blog: "The Other Side"

Today's guest blog comes from Chris, the founder of KLĒN + SŌBR / Since Right Now Pod. He is currently in his 18th year of abstinent recovery from alcohol and other drugs. You can visit his website at http://www.sincerightnow.com.

THE OTHER SIDE

Recently a normie friend reached out eager and excited with the idea that I’d be a perfect fit to speak to their child’s middle-school class. Someone, given my new venture here, that could put an experienced voice and face to a cautionary tale of addiction and recovery. I had to decline.

While I undeniably have a tale of addiction, an evolving message of recovery, and I believe I can have a relatable, credible dialogue with adults with SUDs [Substance Use Disorders] who are in or seeking sobriety and recovery, what I don’t have is a prevention message. I’m working on it. I have a 4-year-old daughter--a fact which almost demands I have one within the next decade or less. But I’m certainly not qualified now to be a voice of prevention. For children.

It may go without saying that the notion of substance use prevention was a message I never heeded. What could come as a surprise—though I imagine not—is that it was a message I rarely, if ever, heard as a child. I’d suggest that I was, in fact, exposed to the opposite message: substance use normalization. Often indulgence. Occasionally over-Indulgence. Sometimes abuse.

Of the approximately four parental figures (two bio, two step, & more!) I had during my formative years—let’s call that birth through seventeen--two of them smoked cigarettes; they all, at times, smoked a not-insignificant amount of marijuana; they all partook, some more eagerly than others, of cocaine; acid, mushrooms, what-have-you made appearances; and they all--without qualification--imbibed copious amounts of alcohol with great regularity. And that’s just the low-hanging fermented fruit on the family tree.

However! Let me make something (im)perfectly clear: I’m not judging them and I’m not blaming them for the inception, course or duration of my active addictions. Were they irresponsible? Maybe. An adult’s view of their own childhood is often from a grassy knoll.

What I am doing is painting a picture of the behavior-modeling available to me as a child. My childhood included, in no particular order or relevance: a Folger’s coffee can packed full of pot on a refrigerator door shelf; very memorably being taken to see Poltergeist by a parent tripping ‘shrooms; being allowed to eat pot seeds like they were sunflower seeds; between the ages of 5 and 15 having my first drink of wine with one parent, first beer with another and first toke of weed with yet a third; and being present for the planning and preparations to move one illicit substance and the transportation of another--both across international borders and each with a different parent.

So, yeah, I grew up with a fairly non-traditional model of substance use. One could say that with a genetic predisposition to a substance use disorder, in addition to my depression and anxiety, the fix, if you'll pardon the expression, was in. Yet for all the aforementioned freewheeling mind altering going on around me as a child, I remained remarkably abstinent until I left home. It would seem I had some coping mechanisms in place. Some vague notion of what was…sensible…vis-à-vis drugs. I had some measure of self-control.

So, what happened? Nurture didn’t seem to have an immediate impact. I was certainly more abstinent than almost all of my peers throughout my childhood. I would argue I was almost impervious to peer pressure. Was it simply my nature to develop a SUD? There certainly seems to be antecedent and subsequent players in the family tree to suggest it’s in the gene pool.

Would a more temperate attitude towards substance use from my parents have prevented my ultimate fall? Would an overt prevention message have helped? I don’t know. But I really don’t think it would have. It certainly couldn’t have delayed things any more than I delayed them almost unconsciously on my own.

What does all this mean for my message for my daughter? Well, first, I’m going to hope like hell she’s a normie. However, at the moment, all I’m thinking I can do is play the role of grizzled sherpa for her as she undertakes what may be an inevitable exploration and hope the descent isn’t too steep or too long. Then walk her back up.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wanted: Guest Bloggers

It's been a little over six years since I started this blog, and I can count the number of guest blogs I've published on one hand. In fact, I can count them on one finger, because there has only been one of them. That lone guest blog was written by my wife back in July of 2013 on our son's one-year sober anniversary date, and was creatively titled "Guest Blog Post from My Wife."

This morning I woke up and started thinking about having some more guest bloggers contribute to My Life as 3D. I've been keeping rather busy and have been writing for a few other outlets, so I don't get to post here as often as I used to. And with things going so well with my son these days, I often struggle with what I should write about. So why not let some other people do a little bit of the work? It would give me a bit of a break while allowing some other folks to be heard. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

So if you'd like to be a guest blogger for My Life as 3D, please get in touch with me. If you are already connected with me, feel free to contact me via email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. If we aren't connected (yet), you can reach me using the "Contact Form" in the righthand column of the web version of this blog. It's right under the list of "Most Popular Posts." Tell me what you'd like to write about and why. Unless it's just totally out there, we can probably make it happen. My only requirement? You must write about something that's somehow related to addiction/recovery.

Thanks for your continued support of this blog. I appreciate every single person who stops by to read any part of anything I've written. Never in a million years did I think this blog would still exist after six years. To be honest, I wasn't sure it would make it past the first post. Yet here we are.

I look forward to hearing from at least one or two of you soon.

Peace.

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." --Anne Lamott



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back with Heroes in Recovery for 2015

Despite being out of work, my life has been pretty busy over the last couple of months. So sometimes I forget to update people on what's going on with me. Or sometimes I post a status update on Facebook about something, and intend to blog about it later. But then I forget to do that, too. Maybe my brain is just too full. Or maybe the forgetfulness is a part of manopause.

In any case, I don't think I blogged about being selected to be a Heroes in Recovery lead advocate again for 2015. I absolutely loved my Heroes experience in 2014 and I'm so honored and excited to have been asked back.

If you don't already know, Heroes in Recovery is a grassroots movement determined to break the stigma that surrounds addiction and mental health issues. By sharing real stories of recovery online and holding events across the United States--including several 6K races (that extra K is for recovery!)--Heroes raises awareness and sparks conversation. Our goal is to inspire the 20 million people in the United States who are suffering in silence from addiction or co-occurring disorders to seek the treatment they need.

This year I'll be working with seven other lead advocates from all around the country, along with our fearless leader. We will gather stories from people in recovery, write blogs, host events, and spread the word that seeking treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, and that recovery can and does happen.

I'm so looking forward to heading to Nashville the weekend of February 19th for our lead advocate summit. I can't wait to be reunited with the two other returning lead advocates and meet the five new members of our team. Doing great work with great people in a great city makes for a truly rewarding weekend.

If you'd like to share a story of recovery on the Heroes in Recovery website, please get in touch with me. I can help you through the process. Whether your story is about your own recovery or that of a loved one, I can assure you that it will go a long way toward helping people who read it. Your story may convince someone who's on the fence about recovery to finally take that first step. So please consider sharing. (Note: You can reach me by using the "Contact Form" in the righthand column of the web version of this blog. It's right under the list of "Most Popular Posts.")

My passion in life is helping others, and serving a second term as a Heroes in Recovery lead advocate will allow me to keep doing that in 2015. For that I am incredibly grateful.

Peace.

P.S. I've written quite a few blogs for the Heroes in Recovery site. (And there will be more to come!) You can access them all in my author archive at this link:

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/blog/author/dean-d/

I've also shared a few stories of my own on the site. If you want to read them, here are the links:

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/dean-d-s-story/

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/son-addiction-strengthened-family/

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/greatest-gift-ask-sons-sobriety/

In addition, my wife and younger son have also shared their stories:

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/top-10-things-helped-navigate-rollercoaster-sons-addiction/

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/addiction-seen-younger-sibling/

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Blog on The Fix About Getting Back to Normal

Just a quick post to let you know that I have a new blog up on The Fix website. It's titled The Aftermath of Addiction: Getting Used to Normalcy in Life, and it discusses what things have been like for me over the last couple of years now that my son is clean. You probably wouldn't think so, but getting back to a normal life can be kind of a challenge.

If you get a chance, please go check out the blog. Here's a direct link to it:

http://www.thefix.com/content/aftermath-addiction-getting-used-normalcy-life

Peace.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Causes and Effect (or, I Can't Wait 'til December)

In 2014 my life was full of change. The biggest change, without a doubt, was being unemployed. I hadn't been unemployed for an entire year since the early 1990s, when I chose not to work so I could be a stay-at-home dad for my oldest son. That was a great experience.

Not working last year was technically my choice, but that choice was prompted by my position being eliminated by the company I had worked for for 24 years. Instead of staying with that organization and taking a newly created position, I decided to take the generous offer they made me to leave. It's not too often that someone offers you money to go away, so I jumped at the chance. I was a bit worried at first, but in hindsight I really should send them a thank you note.

I spent a lot of 2014 looking for a new job I was passionate about. I didn't have any luck, but the extra time I had on my hands helped bring some good things to my life. For starters, I was able to rejuvenate myself. My old job was incredibly stressful, and the stress had been eating me alive for years. When I walked away, I could feel a huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders. Not having that job stress for an entire year was an indescribable luxury.

Being unemployed also gave me more time to write. I definitely wrote more for this blog, churning out 114 posts in 2014, the highest annual total in the six years of the blog's existence. In addition, I was able to write for some other online outlets, including To Write Love on Her Arms, The Fix, and The Huffington Post. The money I earned from writing for those sites totaled exactly $0.00, but the exposure has been great; and you can't put a price on that. (I did take on some paying freelance gigs, too, just so I didn't feel like a total slug.)

In December another very cool thing happened to me. I was chosen to participate in a blog called Causes and Effect. Causes and Effect: My Year of Giving Daily began in 2013, the brainchild of entertainment and culture journalist Melinda Newman. Melinda decided to donate $10.00 every day of the year to a different organization or individual that needed it, and to write about her experiences daily. As she wrote in her first blog post, "The only criteria is to give the money to some outlet that needs it that day more than I do." In 2014, Brian Mansfield, a music writer for USA Today, took over the blog from Melinda.

For 2015, Causes and Effect will live on thanks to 12 different writers, each one responsible for a single month. Yours truly has December. That gives me almost a whole year to think about charities I want to donate to, and to get suggestions from my readers. So feel free to contact me through my blog with the names of charitable organizations you think could use the money, along with a little publicity. (Note: There's a "Contact Form" in the righthand column of the web version of this blog. It's right underneath the list of "Most Popular Posts.")

In the meantime, I'll be sure to stash away $310.00 so it's ready to give away to 31 different charities/causes come December. While $10.00 may not seem like a large donation, at least it's something. I like how Melinda Newman addressed this in her first Causes and Effect post in 2013: "I don’t expect my $10 to change the world, but my hope is it will somehow change me. And I am reminded of this quote by Edmund Burke: 'No one made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'"

I like to give to others and I like to write. I'm hoping Causes and Effect will be a perfect fit for me.

I can't wait 'til December.

Peace.

P.S. I urge you to follow the Causes and Effect blog via email. That way you'll find out what charities and causes are benefiting from the $10.00 donations on a daily basis. If you go to the blog, you'll see a link at the top of the page that says, "Subscribe to Causes and Effect by Email." Just click it and sign up. Here's the link to the blog: http://myyearofgivingdaily.tumblr.com.

Technology Gone Haywire: Why I Despise Cell Phones

(Note: This blog is also published on The Huffington Post's blog site under the same title: "Technology Gone Haywire: Why I Despise Cell Phones."


I don’t own a cell phone.

And when I say that, I don’t mean that I don’t own a smartphone. I don’t even own a "dumb" phone. The only phones I have are the ones hooked up to my landline, and you can make them ring by dialing the same phone number I’ve had for more than 35 years.

I’ve never owned a cell phone, and the reason is simple: I despise them.

I despise how they distract people. I can’t stand how everyone feels the need to always be connected, no matter where they are. I hate hearing people carry on conversations while they shop/eat/walk/pee/poop. Seriously, if you’re sitting on a toilet and get a sudden urge to call me, please don’t. And if you’re in the same car dealership waiting room as me, I do not want to hear you talking about the cyst on your left foot that won’t go away.

I’m so disappointed with how cell phones have changed the way today’s society--especially young people--communicate. WTF. Thx technology. ILY & I no YOLO but I am LOL at society. ROTFLMAO. ICYMI ppl have 4got how 2 tlk. (J/K. But I think they have forgotten how to write in cursive. Millennials: You can Google "cursive.")

I loathe how the cameras on phones--by the way, why do we still call them phones?--have ruined live music shows. Everyone at every concert is suddenly a photographer or videographer, and they have to hold their phones up to capture the moment. Here’s a tip for you shutterbugs: The show’s a lot better when you’re not watching it through your handheld device.

It makes me sad to see couples out on a date, sitting at a table in a restaurant, waiting for their food to come; but instead of talking and, God forbid, interacting, they're both staring at their phones, scrolling through this feed or that, trying to keep up with their friends, or circles, or tweeps, or what have you. Good old-fashioned romance is being choked to death by iPhones and Galaxies.

I’m also tired of almost being killed by people who find it perfectly fine to drive their cars while dialing/talking/texting/navigating. No matter what the traffic laws say, so many people find it necessary to keep in touch while on the road, even if it means risking their life or the lives of others. And while I understand the convenience of Google Maps or a GPS app on a phone, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing for people to just let themselves get lost once in a while. After all, you can’t find yourself until you’re lost, right? (By the way, that car going 50 miles per hour in the fast lane on the freeway? The driver is on his or her phone. I can almost guarantee it.)

Although I don’t own a cell phone, I do pay for cell phones. (Add this to the list of things I despise about them.) My wife and youngest son have phones and I’m the one responsible for our family’s "plan." Lucky me. I don’t use the devices, but I get to preside over their use and send Verizon money every month.

Last week I was lucky enough to get to call Verizon and try to negotiate a cheaper plan, because our current monthly bill is tough to pay while I’m out of work. After finally getting a live human being on the other end of my phone (landline, of course), and explaining my dilemma, they suggested a plan that costs $30.00 more a month. I swear someone is just trying to torture me. Hey, Verizon: I don’t want "more everything"; I want "less everything"!

My son thinks I’m bound and determined to be the last person on this planet without a cell phone. Quite frankly, I would be totally fine with that. If I have an emergency and can’t find a pay phone (millennials: you can Google "pay phone," too), it’s not like the person standing next to me won’t have one I can borrow. Trust me. I have this all figured out.

The issues caused by this technology that has gone haywire and changed the world forever have even found their way into popular music. The latest example is the song "Tones" by my friends The Bergamot (see YouTube video below). Early in the song the duo demands, "Stop texting, when we’re talking, and I’m spending this time with you." Later on, they sing:

You say politely, you don’t want to fight me, and I take things too seriously
What could break you and take you so far away from here?
Fingers punching, always talking when your lips have nothing to say
It’s so quiet in the room now that your phone’s all tucked away
And we can just talk about it some other day.

Cellular phone technology seemed like an amazing idea in its infancy. But the more powerful, more affordable (ha!), and smaller these handheld computers have gotten, the more connected the world has become. And by being more connected, society has become more disconnected than ever. The world will never be the same.

As for me, you can have my landline when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. And before anyone asks: Yes, I do have running water.