I don’t have a clue as to how anything in life is supposed to work. I have no answers to any problems and I don’t know the path anyone should be walking. I only know what I’m doing now is bringing me happiness .
I have no glamour shot to share of my life in Jacksonville, Florida. It completely sucked. Some people have the ability to fall apart quietly and fly under the radar long enough to get their life together … then they return fresh and new. Not me … I was going out like a rock star…. a sad, washed up, old rock star that hadn’t had a hit in forever.
I want to share two examples, I was living in a very nice oceanfront condo development with 16 other successful “40 something” professionals… (so my behavior was not well hidden). One day, I was walking home from a beachfront Irish pub when a new white Range Rover pulled up and a blonde woman instructed me to get in… so I did… man… did I have an awakening! For 6 long oceanfront blocks “the blonde upstairs” told me off… she said I was destroying everything I’d loved and worked to accomplish. She let me know how I looked and how I sounded…. she told the truth.
I hated that bitch for it! I wasn’t out of control… I was creative and expressive. If she didn’t want to bring the entire bar back to the Jacuzzi at 3:00 a.m. to get naked don’t blame me!
I was so offended by this woman’s words that I decided I would make her a character in my dog’s life and post her on social media… I turned her into “that blonde slut upstairs that Shmuli hates!” Have you ever heard of her?
The reality is that she was 100% correct.
The second example occurred during my last year on the skids … I knew a couple that I considered the lowest form of human life. They were friendly and always polite… but lived like the king and queen of a trailer park! There was nothing these two people wouldn’t do or openly discuss… often with photos … do you understand what I’m saying here?
As I fell apart and my social circle shrank … I found myself in their company more and more… I became them! Eventually, even they didn’t want anything to do with me… Dear God! I had been rejected by the scummiest people in North Florida! Something had to change! Fortunately, it did!
Anytime I reminisce about enjoying a margarita on my oceanfront balcony… I remember these less than lovely memories and know I can’t do it …
We all constantly live in the present and make many choices about our futures because of the past. This is unavoidable. You can only read these words now because your mind relates to past experience with these words. All learning and knowledge rely on continually referencing the past, and many wise decisions about the future are created through recalling what has or hasn’t worked before. You only recognize a friend in the street because you reference a past connection with them. In this way, you use the past well.
But doing things because ‘it’s always been that way’ might be a mistake. Tradition may be useful or it may prevent progress, depending on how useful it is. Personally, you have an emotional relationship to past events that steers you helpfully or unhelpfully in the present.
I talk about ‘having baggage’ or ‘needing to move on’, having to ‘put the past behind me’ or ‘find closure’ when talking about my past… But what do these metaphors actually mean and how can I really ‘let go’ and ‘move on’?
Reviewing past happy times is a great thing to do. I highly recommend it; but with a caveat. It’s less healthy if:
The past is always used as a way of highlighting how terrible the present is by contrast.
We live in the past to such an extent that the opportunities in the present are missed. For instance, when we don’t even give a potential new partner a chance because how could they ever match up to our perfect former lover!
What does it mean to live fully in the present moment? It means that your awareness is completely centered on the here and now. You are not worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening. The past and future are illusions, they don’t exist. As the saying goes “tomorrow never comes”. Tomorrow is only a concept, tomorrow is always waiting to come around the corner, but around that corner are shadows, never to have light shed upon, because time is always now.
If you’re not living in the present, you’re living in illusion. That seems to a be a pretty good reason to live in the present, doesn’t it? But how often are we worrying about things that have yet to come, how often do we beat ourselves up for mistakes that we’ve made, no matter how much time has passed? The answer is too much.
Not only will living in the present have a dramatic effect on your emotional well-being, but it can also impact your physical health. It’s long been known that the amount of mental stress you carry can have a detrimental impact on your health. If you’re living in the present, you’re living in acceptance. You’re accepting life as it is now, not as how you wish it would have been. When you’re living in acceptance, you realize everything is complete as it is. You can forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and you can have peace in your heart knowing that everything that should happen will.
This is my journey … this is my life!
“When the heartache is over… I know I won’t be missing you” – Tina Turner
I have been in more relationships than should be admissible by law in any country. I seem to follow a pattern that has worked with a 100% failure rate. The practice includes several steps that I have mastered and hopefully, will never use again. To begin with… I enter every relationship as damaged goods. I am always just ending my last one and am carrying so much emotional and mental baggage that I can hardly function.
If the person I’m “courting” is equally damaged … that’s a home run. Together, we can feed off the lies, betrayals, injustices and abuses caused by our last loves. It’s perfect! Together… we can wallow in the belief that we’re… “just people that love too much”. “This time, it’s gonna last… this time, it’s forever”. Please!
To be honest, I could never love anyone as much as I loved drugs and alcohol. They had been part of my life for 30 years… I wasn’t about to let romance break us up! Besides these people didn’t seem to mind staying out all night at clubs or getting naked in a Jacuzzi just before dawn. I was exciting and nothing like their last significant other. I presented myself as a bad boy, and damaged people always want to “fix” the bad boy. Unfortunately, you can’t “fix” a bad boy and if he does comply with your demands … the challenge is gone. There’s nothing exciting in that… time to move on!
It’s easy to develop a connection with a co-worker or a schoolmate or someone who’s always there…even when they’re not adding any real value to our lives. And it’s even easier to stay in those relationships. That’s because old relationships are convenient, and starting new relationships is difficult… it requires work. But so does anything worth holding on to.
We’ve all held on to someone who didn’t deserve to be there. Most of us still have someone in our lives who continually drains us: Someone who doesn’t add value. Someone who isn’t supportive. Someone who takes and takes and takes without giving back to the relationship. Someone who contributes very little and prevents us from growing. Someone who constantly plays the victim. Dear God! I’m exhausted just writing about them …
But victims become victimizers. And these people are dangerous. They keep us from feeling fulfilled. They keep us from living meaningful lives. Over time, these negative relationships become part of our identity—they define us, they become who we are.
Fortunately, this needn’t be the case. Several actions can be taken to rid ourselves of negative relationships.
First, you can attempt to fix the relationship. This is obviously the preferable solution (albeit not always possible or worthwhile). People change over time, and so do relationships. You can change how your relationship works… be it marriage, friendship, or family… without completely ditching the relationship.
Listen to Rob… just sit down with the person who’s draining the vitality from your life and explain to them what must change for your relationship to work. Explain that you need them to be more supportive, that you need them to participate in your growth, that they are important to you, but the relationship in its current state does not make you happy. Explain that you’re not attempting to change them as a person; you only want to change how your relationship works.This sounds great on paper … but by the time you’ve reached this point, you’ve emotionally detached from the entire situation… (am I right?). But try it anyway.
Finally, ask them what they’d like to change about the relationship. Ask them how you can add more value. Listen attentively, act accordingly.
Most importantly, always have an escape clause… if you’re unable to change the relationship, you can end it altogether. This is incredibly difficult, but it applies to any relationship: family, friends, lovers, coworkers, acquaintances. If someone is doing nothing but draining your life, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them “This relationship is no longer right for me, so I must end it… I must move on.”
It’s OK to move on. You owe it to yourself to move on. You owe it to yourself to be happy with the relationships you have. You are in control. Moving on is sometimes the only way to develop new, empowering relationships.
When I released the past, I was able to accept a love that is perfect for me now. I am so thankful I took an action to start living my life with someone for the right reasons…
This is my journey… this is my life!
Fear can be stronger than glue in keeping you stuck in many ways. Fear also allows you to become a “Door Mat” for everyone to walk on… I was a Door Mat for most of my life. Most Door Mats please everyone because they’re scared of not getting approval. Fear of loneliness also motivates staying a Door Mat. Fear kept me stuck in DoorMatville for many years on many levels. Often I didn’t even know what scared me but I was afraid to rock the boat and risk losing people I thought I needed.
A few years ago, I bought a Range Rover that I didn’t want and couldn’t afford from a friend because he needed to sell it in order to buy a new one. I hated that enormous box of a vehicle… it drank too much gas… cost too much to repair and broke down continuously. But I couldn’t say no … so I bought it and as I knew would happen … it used too much gas… cost too much to repair and broke down continuously. Who’s fault was it that I own a car I didn’t want … mine.
Even irrational fear can make sense to an insecure person.
Looking back, I realize that fear controlled me, as it does for many people. When you make your decisions based on avoiding things that scare you, you aren’t in control of your life. Fear is. As I considered leaving DoorMatville, I realized how little control I gave myself. Stepping out made me face my fears and gave me back control. It was scary. But, I realized that sacrificing my joy in life by letting fear control my decisions was scarier.
When you do something that scares you, you take the reins of your life.
I took those reins when I began to say “no” to people. Once I did it the fear turned into feeling empowered. When I saw that terrible things didn’t happen, it became easier to turn down requests. The more things I did that scared me, the less fear kept me stuck. I was still afraid and still get scared about doing certain things. But my courage is stronger and fear controls me less.
The best example of this was when I landed in Los Angeles with nothing but a suitcase and a few dollars in the bank.
Courage doesn’t mean you’re never scared. But it helps you control your response to what scares you.
I no longer get irrational about the outcome of something I’m scared of and know that in most cases I can handle the results, even if I don’t like that. Knowing that makes it worth taking risks and pushing through fear instead of letting it paralyze me from going after what I want or slowing me down too much. I can keep it all in perspective now since I’m in control!
Rationally, I know that failure is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s an inevitable part of life and even a necessary step toward success and innovation.
Irrationally, I still fear failure. And I know I’m not alone.
At some point or another, almost all of us have experienced nagging self-doubt, made negative comparisons between ourselves and those around us, or felt like we’re not talented, smart, or disciplined enough to reach our goals.
The irony is that these fears tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Research has shown a connection between the fear of failure and procrastination. That means that the more anxiety we feel about failing the reach our goals, the less likely we are to take action toward achieving them. It’s a completely irrational reaction, but – as anyone who has experienced this kind of paralysis can tell you – it’s a hard one to resist.
What can we do overcome fear of failure?
There are a lot of articles out there on the subject, but most end up being variations of the same cliches we’ve heard all our lives. For the record, it is not at all helpful to tell someone who fears failure to “think positively” or “be more assertive”. If it were that easy we wouldn’t be googling “how to overcome fear of failure” in the first place!
Today, I tried to keep fear in it’s proper perspective. I’m learning to face it by externalizing it. Keeping it deep within Rob is a dangerous place to be. No matter what it is … I’m writing a “pros” & “cons” list with the fear on the top of the page. If the “pros” outweigh the “cons” I realize the fear has no place in my head or my life and I ignore it and move on.
As I mentioned, I was horrified about moving to Los Angeles. The “cons” told me that I would fail… I would be laughed at and homeless on the street unable to support myself. The “pros” said I could find an apartment, finish a degree, make friends, find love again …. be happy. Fortunately, I let the fear of failure go and I am so happy I did!
This is my journey … this is my life!
I think of regrets like this…
Let’s pretend on the day we’re born we’re issued a Hefty trash bag … into it we put every regret, hurt, disappointment, embarrassment and guilt. Before we know it … the bag is full and heavy and a misery to carry. Yet every minute of every day… we’re walking around with this bag of crap that is breaking us. It would be so easy to put it down and walk away… but we don’t… we hold on tightly to something that is holding us back… a bunch of crap. If we put it down we may have to open the bag and exam what’s in it… that might be difficult…. so we keep the crap neatly bundled in the bag and never enjoy being totally free. Wow … what a sad ending.
My example is silly but does make a point.,,, nothing in our past has to control us.
Do you have regrets? Do you wish you could go back in time and change things that happened? Do you need to learn how to forgive yourself?
If there’s a moment in your mind … something that you remember that you wish you could erase… you’re not alone. None of us are perfect and although we have the power to recognize our flaws, it’s not often that we can actually let them go. Instead, we tend to hold on to the burdens we create for ourselves through our actions, struggling to carry them as we go through life. As regret settles in, the past becomes attached to our existence in the present and without the power to go back and change our behavior for the better we can be left feeling truly powerless.
Often, it seems as though the hardest person to forgive is you. Think about it… how many people do you forgive on a daily basis? You’re probably ready to forgive your children when they misbehave or your spouse when you have a quarrel. I have a pug named Kooli that pees on everything I own… and I forgive him!
Most of us can even forgive strangers, like the driver who cuts in front of you on your way to work, or the person who takes the machine you have signed out at the gym. These people get the best of us, even when we can’t wipe our own slates clean.
If you’re stuck in the past reliving your mistakes, you aren’t really living. We must overcome our mistakes by learning from them. But that learning can’t happen when you’ve got a quarrel, a breakup, an episode, or a mistake on replay in your mind. Even if you’re able to look back on the incident with 20/20 vision, you can’t actually move forward until you learn how to forgive yourself.
Everyone messes up. Me, you, the neighbors, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, King David, the Buddha, everybody.
We can’t change the past and it doesn’t really matter because we don’t live there anymore. What we can do is trace the things from the past that are causing us stress … face them as best we can and erase them.
It’s like the contents of that Hefty trash bag… once you know what’s in it you can do something with it or set it at the curb where it belongs….
This is my journey… this is my life.
Walk down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood on any given night and you will be instantly drawn to its energy. Clubs are packed beyond capacity and beautiful patrons wait in lines on the sidewalks. Perfectly proportioned young men dance in thongs on table tops or go go stations while spectators force dollar bills in their crotches. This is the nightlife baby…
This is daily life in the party communities across America. Regardless of whether gay, straight or mixed clubs are always energized by sex, drugs and music. Young and old, gay and straight some escape the allure of the night and don’t fall prey to the addictions found there… others are not so lucky.
There is no evidence that sexual orientation affects an individual’s mental health or physical chances of developing addiction. However, gay, lesbian and transgenders are more likely to experience certain risk factors worth noting…
Family history – If addiction runs in your family, you are more likely to develop a substance abuse problem. This is a risk factor that impacts both gay and straight individuals.
Environment – A person’s home environment plays a large factor in motivating or not motivating a person to try drugs or alcohol. Job stress, money struggles or an unstable family life can all contribute to substance abuse. A homophobic community or a family that doesn’t accept an alternative sexual identity can cause low self-image and long-lasting guilt. Many adult LGBT individuals outwardly reject the “values” of these conservative communities, embracing an alternative lifestyle that may include heavy drinking and drug use.
Mental health- Co-occurring mental health issues can contribute to a person’s chances of developing addiction. While anti-gay propaganda portrays homosexuality as a curable mental illness, there is no evidence to back this up. Attempts at conversion therapy or the suppression of homosexuality do not increase in heterosexual feelings but rather increase feelings of shame and anxiety about an individual’s natural sexual identity. These feelings can cause depression and other psychological issues that can cause a person to turn to drugs to cope.
Social life- How a person interacts with their peers can influence his or her susceptibility to addiction. Being harassed at a young age can lead to isolation, depression and low self-esteem. When politicians, religious leaders and popular media portray LGBT individuals as less than worthy of basic human rights, it affects how they see themselves. This added stress influences the likelihood of turning to drugs as a method of coping.
The reality is this … the gay community centers around bars or clubs. Older LGBT individuals and couples often drink more and use more drugs than their straight counterparts to fit in with the community. Statistics show that crystal meth is used by 40% of club goers across the country. That percentage is higher in gay men.
Know what you need when you need it ……
LGBT individuals often face judgment at hospitals and doctor’s offices making them less likely to seek treatment for drug addiction.
Because of their unique place in American society, gay men always benefit from drug addiction treatment programs that are geared specifically for them. Unfortunately, with exception of facilities located in large cities with considerable GLBT communities, few such treatment facilities currently exist. Instead, gay men seeking drug rehab are best served by addiction treatment facilities that understand their special needs and often “programs within the program” that are designed to address gay-specific issues.
Think of it this way … If I am going to move across country, a truck will be my best option for a successful move. A Buick is an option and it may get me there… but the probability of success is certainly less. Why take the chance on failure?
It is important to ask the admission personnel at any drug rehab facility a few simple questions:
Are there any members of the treatment staff who are gay, or have experience treating homosexuals in recovery?
Does the facility see a considerable number of gay men and women come through the program?
Are there counseling sessions designed to meet the needs of the gay addicts?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then this facility is likely to be an appropriate choice for treatment. It is important to find a facility that is accepting of everyone’s sexuality – and more importantly will be able to knowledgeably address the root causes of addiction in gay men during counseling.
If you or someone you love is suffering with addiction… there is hope.
This is my journey… this is my life.
Only one relationship matters to an addict: the relationship with their drug. All of their decisions are based on their need for the drug; they see nothing but the drug and don’t even realize that that’s all they see. Even as their lives are caving in around them, they continue to believe they’re in control and that they don’t have a problem.
As much as “choosing” drugs isn’t really a choice, it also isn’t personal. Drugs don’t matter more than you, they matter more than everything – career, reputation, financial stability, religion, even food, water and the basics needed for survival. The addict isn’t trying to hurt you; they are trying to fill a need, just as if your breathing was offensive to someone else you’d be powerless to stop.
Ask anyone whose wallet has been emptied, credit cards maxed out or jewelry stolen… and they’ll tell you nothing they tried worked in keeping an active addict or alcoholic away from the fix they needed.
In reality, you can’t solve an addicts problems for them. Lecturing, blaming and criticizing will only push them closer to their drug. But you can’t stand to hear the lies and empty promises or worry about their future (and yours) any longer, either. So what can you do?
First, you must understand, you don’t have control over the addict, but you do have influence. What you do have control over is your life. You did not cause their addiction… you can not cure it and as painful as it is… you can not save them. What you must do is save yourself. Your life and those of your family members have value and must be protected.
Alcoholics and addicts lie. Firstly, they lie to themselves. They are in denial and their minds refuse to see what they are doing to themselves. Maybe one part of them knows that they are addicts, but the drug has such a powerful grip on their minds and bodies, they continue to destroy themselves and others.
Alcoholics and addicts can’t control themselves. The drugs they are using (alcohol is a drug) have taken over their lives. Addictions are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They are all-consuming. Addicts are lost in their own private hell; a swirling mass of dark energy — thick and heavy and always fatal. Addiction is a terminal disease.
People who have never had problems with addictions can’t comprehend this. They say things like: “Why don’t they just quit?” Well, if it were that easy, many of the world’s problems would be solved. But it isn’t.
It takes great strength and courage to overcome addictions to powerful drugs like alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Usually, the addict has to hit rock bottom before taking action to stop. Many addicts never stop. They just die.
The sad thing is that an addict does not see that they do have a choice. At all times, we all have choices, even when we think that we don’t. We may not like our choices, but we have them. The addict can always choose not to use. That is not an attractive option for the addict because their body, mind and emotions are screaming for the drug.
Good intentions will kill an addict every time. By enabling a person to use… you are killing them. Enabling can work in different ways, but basically it’s when a person or a group shields another from the consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Silence can be enabling. If someone is doing something wrong, and you know it is wrong and you say nothing, you are enabling the other person’s behavior. You are part of the problem.
Be aware, the enabler may also be in denial, which means they are lying to themselves and others. There is a dysfunctional dance going on between the addict and the enabler. As always, the first step in making lasting life change is awareness. Ask yourself this: Am I enabling this person’s behavior?
Many people suffering with addiction are rescued through an intervention, an ultimatum or a refusal to enable that leads addicts to take the first step into recovery. Whether the addict takes the opportunity to get better or not, you must take control of your life. Do the things you love and go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings to get educated about the disease. A loved one in active addiction damages every facet of family life. No one escapes unaffected.
Addicts can get better and they need your support to do so – but it’s the kind of support that involves clear boundaries to protect yourself and to avoid enabling, honest communication of love and concern, and assistance from professionals trained in treating addiction.
If someone you know is suffering with addiction there is help. Don’t let your good intentions put them in an early grave.
I have been this drug addict … This is my journey … this is my life.