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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Panick Attacks, Recovery, and Sneakers

       
          I get panic attacks and cannot figure out where they start. All I know is that they do and when they do I feel as if I am drowning. I can't breathe I don't know why its happening and I just wish people weren't around me when I do. Its at these moments I have traded drugs for reality and sometimes understand why I medicated and abused drugs so much. I am also grateful today that I don't medicate over such things anymore. Instead of falling asleep to the problem I wake up and seek why it is happening. Recently while talking to my therapist she mentioned something to me I felt but had no clue how to verbalize. Before I get into that I am going to try my best to break down what I was thinking before I walked into Champs sneaker store and damn near ran out of the place two minutes after entering because of a panic attack. The first thing that hit me was my fear of financial insecurity. I am far from rich but I am not poor either. Growing up very poor created a fear  I have today  of living like that once again. I do not know how to be comfortable with or without money. I mean I wanted a pair of sneakers and had enough to afford it but still I was crippled with this insecurity. So instead of recognizing , processing, and maybe just telling myself it will be ok I pushed it down. Strike one.
       Then comes my natural insecurities of myself that I believe we all carry as humans. Some more aware then others but there is a common thread there as people. That is sometimes our biggest downfalls as humans. Self-awareness. I definitely have it. Recently I gained weight from tearing my rotator cuff. I am heavier then I ever have been and not too happy or confident about it. My natural thought process was everyone is going to see the part of me that I don't like and I won't be able to get away from their eyes. I was judging myself for what I looked like instead of measuring myself for the character I have. This is an irrational thought that my sub-conscious passes off to me as the truth and sometimes it is hard to tell what is real and what is fake. There is a line that I love in Alcoholics Anonymous that states, " although we admit it injurious we cannot differentiate the true from the false". They were talking about alcohol. What I really feel like is they are talking about the state of mind  before we pick up the drink . Or in my case the panic attack that came with these thoughts. Instead of processing this irrational thought I pushed it down and kept walking towards Champs. Strike two.
         I struggle with complexes of others I perceive as  being better then me. The struggle came from seeking attention when I was younger . I always felt in competition with stepfathers and other men in my house. So I sought and starved for attention in many forms. To this day although I do not like to always talk about it I believe it is important to express these thoughts because I know I am not alone anymore with these feelings and struggles. Right before entering Champs my mind started perpetuating stories of men in there being better then me. That they were more worthy of the women I love and that maybe one day I would lose her to someone like this. There was no specific face just a variable. These people represent X in my panic attack equation. My confidence was shot and I was already struggling from suppressing the other insane irrational thoughts I was having. I said, " why not?". Lets not deal with this one either. Strike 3. I was out and whiffed hard at the curveball. My subconscious had won without ever telling me one good thing about myself or the truth about my situation. I was in full blown panic mode. My anxiety was horrible. I couldn't stand still. I hated myself and everyone around me from the way I looked to the way they sounded and I could not tell you why. Needless to say I made it out of that store shortly after without buying anything.
               This is my story and a true story. Shortly after feeling like I was drowning I walked over to my girlfriend and told her the truth. I just simply said I am having a panic attack. I didn't know why then but later figured it out with a professional and now I am able to explain it to you. Therapy helps for moments like these and many more. I don't always have a cure for what plagues me but as long as it does not kill me I will remain proactive in trying to find a solution. Anxiety and panic attacks are real and usually brought on by inside problems that we project to outside situations. I didn't have social anxiety although I would say at the moment I did. It started with me. All I wanted to do was sit in my chair and lay back at that moment and calm down. I couldn't I was in Time Square in Champs sneaker store trying to just buy a pair of sneakers. If you struggle like I do I suggest you take the suggestion of self care. It may help you actually buy a pair of sneakers like I couldn't. Or see the world through  different lenses finally. There is beauty in my anxiety I just have to be brave enough to discover it. My therapist explained that before I even walked into that store I was being attacked by all these self destructive entities my subconscious had created. I was floored by the description but in total agreement.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Social Diseases have Social Solutions

I have battled a disease and foe that is invisible and not tangible all my life. It manifested itself as fear, doubt, insecurity, self-hate, and loneliness my entire life. I medicated to heal a sickness I was aware of but could not label. It created pain for not only myself but my family as well. Far more often then not it is a disease we struggle with often mistaken as a bad choice or shitty morals. Where we are doubted and mistreated, misdiagnosed. We are left wondering, " What the fuck is wrong with us?" Self-medication seems the only viable cure for a disease that is killing us. We are suffering and medicating then dying by medication before the solution is found. There is no more time and second chances in todays world. With designer drugs and substances so powerful their only purpose is kill. The is a systemic problem that I no longer believe it is  the disease we once knew. I believe we are dying by a social disease. The community is sick. The water is polluted for everyone now. What was once up stream has now run down to everyone. Hard drugs have become social drugs .  Families have been torn apart and weakened. There may seem no end or hope but our flame has never been extinguished. Hope is what we carry to the next individual who is sick and suffering. This does not just apply to the addict now though. We must help the families and create a larger social solution. I don't believe in ends just new beginnings and divine change. For those who have pushed for change keep pushing. Keep your hope highs we are almost there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Before we were Roses: A letter from a Son

  
  Last week I was in Florida for work completely feeling drained. My father had kept calling me about a painting job him and I had secured through advertisement. So often I tend to juggle to many plates. I work in a different field away from construction but still go back to my roots for money. More often then not I tell myself I can do an unbelievable amount of task and please everyone at the same time. Just like someone who spins plates for a living one of them have to crash or all of them at times. I was burnt out and did not want to talk to him or just about anyone that week. I had no compassion for a family let alone myself. I was physically exhausted and spiritually bankrupt. I had nothing left in the tank so I ignored him. I told myself I will talk to him tomorrow , tomorrow, tomorrow. As the tomorrow's started to pile up I realized I may have said 5 sentences to him in 4 days. My new plan was to call him on Friday when I got back. Have you ever pushed off important moments for the next day? Have you ever lived with regret from it? What are you doing to adjust those regrets? Leave regrets behind they bring nothing but pain.
      Friday night I had just got back in the house with my daughter and received a call from my fathers wife. She told me my father had a massive heart attack while breaking up a fight and was being transported to a nearby hospital. Immediately regret set in and all the could of and should of thoughts rushed my mind. I should have called him and spoke with him that week . I could have been a better more compassionate person to him. These are common regrets we have when we either lose someone or nearly lose someone we love. Time runs out, life is undefeated in humbling you by showing you what mortality really means. Don't live with regrets or leave a job without finish the work. Fortunately for my father he made is out of the heart attack but  he will even tell you that smoking and not recognizing his mortality will catch up too you. He is a very strong man with a huge heart but time and life catch up to us all. Live your life with the ones you love as if today was the only day we can have with them. Love hard, have compassion, learn patience and tolerance, and most of all be grateful.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I am Undefeated

      
When facing any challenge in life you must have the mindset of a champion or you will lose and sometimes lose badly. Not every battle ends in a win but they can always finish with a victory. My mindset when I first got clean was to never go back to the way I used to live ( strung out and homeless). Those thoughts would haunt me so in turn I would torture myself with the mindset of a champion. I would tell myself even if I faced loss I would never allow defeat of myself again. I never believed in myself and allowed doubt to destroy my character and sense of self. I was broken and lost and didn't recognize the man I thought I learned how to be.
           I have yet to be defeated in the last 6 years. I have taken so many losses on so many chances coupled with things like death which is completely out of my hands. When I lost my closest friend I felt defeat and at the same time victory over my own disease and addiction. It can be a double edge sword.  Death to addiction reminds you of your own mortality and renews the sense of gratitude for being sober if you remain open minded. Never lose hope or your problems will win. I am a champion of my addiction and choose to remain at the top. On the road to victory you will make so many mistakes as I have but never let it discourage you. These are the things that mold you and make you a sharper fighter when its time to step back into the ring. Your mindset is everything. Your mind is what is going to tell you and fight you on whether you should engage your soul. When I skip prayer it starts with the argument I have going on with my mind. Should I or shouldn't I? Why when you can pray in the car? I'm in a rush Ill do it later today. But that moment usually does not come. Your mind does a good job of hiding your memories that are most important to you. The ones that remind you of the person you are fighting to be.   
           Watch out for the thoughts that defeat you. Be aware that those voices just might not be you. They are not your friends and most likely would give anything to see you lose. Have faith and courage through your trials and tribulations. They will be your armor , strength, and sight when you are blinded by calamity and negativity. Having the heart of a champion does not require physical strength. It is the essence of life built up from within. It is in you already you just have to nourish and cultivate that which is ready to grow. You are a warrior act like it till you feel it and it becomes a part of your everyday character. With this mind set you will face many losses but never feel defeat.

This is dedicated to my father Edward Johnson who just survived a heart attack. Thank you for showing me yet again that there are levels to victory. I love you.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

And Drink I Did: Jay Keefe



The morning after my last drink I woke up in my brother’s boiler room with tears streaming down my face.

I wanted to die.

If I’d had a gun there I would’ve stuck the nozzle in my mouth and pulled the trigger. Gladly.

I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore.

I crawled off the futon, walked through the kitchen, and pissed all over my brother’s backyard.

I stumbled back to my room and as I was about to lay down and pass out again for a few hours, I did something I hadn’t done in almost twenty-five years.

In that rug less room, with the tiny swinging window carved high into the concrete, my only indication of whether it was day or night, with the leathery aftertaste of Jose Cuervo stuck to my tongue and stale, flat Coor’s Light rolling around in my gut, I got down on my knees and prayed to a god I didn’t believe in.

My prayer was simple and I felt like a fool, but I did it anyway.

I need help.

I can’t do this anymore. Please help me. Please.

Later that day I called a friend I had met at an meeting the previous week and he told me to come pick him up and we’d goto a meeting.

As soon as he got in the truck he asked, “Are you done?”

Without hesitation, I answered yes.

I got my twenty-four hour chip that night and it was embarrassing and shameful but I knew I had to do it. My friend insisted on it anyway.

The next few weeks were a haze.

I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t eat much.

I felt completely lost.

I kept going to meetings but I wasn’t listening to anything that was said. When it was my turn to read, I’d pass and I never spoke a word. But I kept going.

I knew I never wanted to drink again so I took the suggestions that were offered to me.  I went to meetings.  I got a sponsor.  I started (begrudgingly) the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

And my life improved immensely.  I also went on commitments with my home group and was able to identify with them (and they with me).  It didn't matter what our backgrounds were-we were all alcoholics trying to stay sober for just one more day.  I found solace in that.  I also found some of the best friends I'm ever going to have, friends who don't co-sign my garbage and who keep me real.

Since becoming sober I received both my Certified Personal Training certificate from The National Academy of Sports Medicine and my certificate as a Certified Health Coach from The Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

I also published my first book, "And Drink I Did", in July of 2015.  It's the story of my alcoholism and my recovery from this insidious disease.

I know that if I stay connected to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, regularly attend meetings, and practice the 12 Steps on a daily basis, I'm capable of anything.

Sobriety is the single most important thing in my life and I'm grateful every day (one day at a time) that I'm able to not only stay sober, but to carry that message to other alcoholics who may be suffering. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My goodbye letter to Heroin

Write a goodbye letter to Heroin. This is my thank you card for fucking up my life. You have hurt me too long. I moved on to Hope and Healing. That you promise of a future that you and the needle lied about damn near killed me. It was a good run but the Sun came out and I need to dry off. My daughter is getting older and we both need each other more then ever. Our past was an experience but the present seems incredible. I am finally excited about my future instead of worrying about my tomorrow. I don't wake up sick any more the color is back in my soul. I feel vibrant and alive and my laughter is back. The obsession with you is over although I make think of you in passing. You were my love till I grew older then turned into my Beautiful Disaster.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

My Truth

Why Editing My Truth No Longer Works For Me

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Most of my life I operated under the assumption that I was wrong and other people were right. I am not sure where this idea came from, but I just always believed that society and other people knew more than me and so any thought or feeling that I had that lay outside of the norm I believed was wrong.
Due to this I would constantly edit my own truths. I wouldn’t share what I really thought or believed and I would just go along with the crowd, never really giving myself the ability to get to know who I was. I would just agree with whatever idea was presented to me and take it on as fact because it came from a place outside of myself. Doing this caused me to take on all sorts of faulty beliefs over the years and when I finally got sober I was awash with half-truths and mixed up ideologies. I couldn’t differentiate what I really believed and what others told me I should believe.  You see I knew that as an addict my mind behaved in an irrational manner and I had learned long ago to never trust what it told me.  
The thing about this is that this didn’t stop once I got sober. I didn’t instantly become more in tune with who I was or what I believed and I continued to just go along with what other people said. To a certain extent, looking at it objectively now, the editing of my truths may have actually gotten worse once I got sober.
See the thing of it is that when I got sober I sort of had to put aside any personal beliefs and thoughts I had, in order to follow what other people told me. I was told that my thinking was skewed and that my best thinking on my best day got me in the dilemma I was in, so I had to trust other’s thinking in order to overcome my alcoholism.
In the beginning, this was very helpful and it also took some of the stress off of me in terms of having to make decisions. I could just call my sponsor and support group, ask them what they thought and then go with whatever the general consensus was. It really was a great thing, but unfortunately, it also caused me to never truly trust myself.
I started to become dependent on other people’s truths and just went along with whatever they said because I didn’t trust myself. I also didn’t want to upset them by going in a different direction then they suggested, so I would just bow down to other people’s realities and never really got in touch with my own. It wasn’t until I did this for a few years that I started to realize how damaging this was to me.
I remember clearly that on a number of occasions people gave me their suggestion or they said something that I completely disagreed with and I just went along with it. At the time I knew that it didn’t feel right but I wasn’t sure of myself enough to speak up. Since I didn’t speak up I usually felt terrible when I was alone with my thoughts and I felt like a pushover and phony.
The good thing is that the longer that I have stayed sober, the harder it has been for me to do this, going along with others and editing my truth that is, and I find more and more that I have to speak up and I have to trust myself. This may sound counterintuitive because the point is driven home in us that we cannot trust our own thinking; that our thinking is diseased and at all costs, we must avoid it, but this is not really anyway to live and trust God.
I know that in order for me to be able to see the full picture of my life I need others input, but I also need to be able to trust myself and speak up when necessary. This can sometime feel like a balancing act that I am not equipped for, but lately, I have been challenging myself to speak up more and follow my intuition.
This is incredibly uncomfortable for me to do and there are many times when I just want to crawl back into my people-pleasing hole and rest on the conclusions of others, but I know that I can no longer do this. Part of growing up for me is the ability to stand on my own two feet with my own beliefs and not apologize for them. Some people may find the things I say or do weird, and that is okay because it just means that it is not their truth.
Mulling over these ideas has also lead me to a new and comforting fact— no one has any idea what they are doing. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but rather that life is fairly confusing and most of us are just grasping in the dark for answers, trying to do the best we can. Coming to understand this allowed me to see that in most cases, people’s opinions are no more right or wrong then my own and that if I truly believe something, then I have to follow it.
The back of our medallions say, “To thine own self be true” and even though Shakespeare used this quote in an ironic way, essentially saying don’t be yourself, the fact of the matter remains that to my own self I must be true, and doing so means following my own truths.

The back of our medallions say, “To thine own self be true” and even though Shakespeare used this quote in an ironic way, essentially saying don’t be yourself, the fact of the matter remains that to my own self I must be true, and doing so means following my own truths.

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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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gods Grace in The Smallest Place

      
It doesn't take much to change your perception on personal selfishness and what is truly important. Three years ago a woman down loaded a video of her daughter crying tears of joy. The mother had surprised her daughter by letting her know that they finally got the house they have all been waiting for. Under the video she had posted that as a family they decided to sacrifice their Christmas as a family in order to be able to move into their new house. Immediately I thought about all the Christmas's that I have had where receiving was just never enough. No matter what I got I had so much lack of gratitude and could not figure out why. To this point in my life I hadn't understood who or what Christ really is or represented. So to say quickly that I did it because Jesus gave back or had would be a lie. Even though my faith lies in Christianity now, at that time my faith lied in a little child who sacrificed more then I ever had until that point and I was almost twice her age. She gave up Christmas for the betterment of her family. I started to cry with the video. That is a sacrifice made from the heart. They say and the child shall lead us.  There is so much truth to that. She led me into my next move just before Christmas. To give back.
       I reached out to her and asked if it would be ok to help them out for Christmas. She was probably shocked by my gesture. I was just eager and grateful. I finally found the miracle on Christmas that we hear about. I can't remember what the gifts were or what gifts I had been given by friends or loved ones. The memory of Joy was the first long lasting gift that no one could take away from me. If you are looking for something to do in your life, recovery, venture, etc. Give back to others. Give your time to those who need it. Make a phone call that you usually wont. Spend time with those that matter. You have been giving an opportunity in this world to make something long lasting. To leave the right type of legacy does not take genius or ingenuity it takes desire and imagination. The memories on Christmas will forever outweigh the presents on Christmas, to give is the greatest gift of all. I believe God places people into your life to change you suddenly or subtly . For me the impact was instant and long lasting. I am not perfect and can still be selfish but every time Christmas comes around I have my mission and for that I am thankful.