Hey, I’m sober and I can see all obstacles in my way …

Everything always makes more sense in retrospect. I know that as much as the next person. Even so, I cringe thinking about how much trouble and heartache I could have saved myself when I got sober if I had known then, what I know now.
Then again, part of the disease is lacking that rationale and slowly finding your way back. I had no desire to realize certain things right away, so I didn’t. Instead, I made my life a living hell for the first few months. Only as I started to slowly acknowledge these things did I find an inner peace of sorts.
1. It won’t always be easy. Even after nearly 2 years of sobriety I still have “poor me” days. In fact, I started sobbing in front of my boyfriend a few days ago simply because I hate that I can’t handle alcohol like a normal person. In my experience, nothing even provokes these episodes. They just happen because every day cannot be simple. If every day was simple, then sobriety wouldn’t be so damn hard. But I’ve found that for every “poor me” day, there are 99 “lucky me” days.
2. Not everyone will approve or understand. I’ve been lucky in that most everyone in my life has been supportive. But still, there is always the occasional person who just doesn’t comprehend that I can’t have “just one.” Maybe they didn’t know me when I drank, or maybe they just don’t care. Either way, learning to say “no” in a sometimes-aggressive manner has been necessary. I’ve learned that people need to know where I stand, and it’s not up to them to pass judgment.
3. It always gets better. I was pretty convinced that life as I knew it was ending when I got sober. I didn’t think that I would ever be as happy as I was when I was using, or that life would ever seem as bright. But guess what? I still do everything I did pre-sobriety, minus the drinking. I even have fun while sober. (*gasp*)
4. Not everyone you lose is a loss. As with any lifestyle change, sobriety will affect friendships. While not everyone necessarily loses people, relationships will likely shift. I do wish I had known this, but I don’t think it would have mattered. If my new life choices don’t appeal to someone, then they likely weren’t in my life for the right reasons and their presence probably wasn’t beneficial. That doesn’t mean losing people can’t hurt, though. It certainly can.
5. It’s not weak to let people help you. I’ve always prided myself on being independent and able to solve most of what life throws at me on my own. I had an extremely negative view of admitting weaknesses and asking for help, so I rarely did so. This sums up the first month of recovery for me. I refused to let anyone in and chose to shut down when they tried. This became exhausting, and I realized it was a battle I wasn’t going to win on my own. I still struggle to ask for help, but it’s gotten easier. It’s a process.
6. Denial is powerful, but acceptance is more powerful. I occasionally return to speak at the treatment center where I got sober. Once my counselor told me that I was the last person she ever expected to come back willingly based on my first month there, and definitely the last person she expected to want to stay sober. Since I was initially forced into treatment, I was in denial about having a problem. It would have been many more months, even years, before I came to that conclusion on my own. Even though deep down I knew that I did not drink like a normal person, I denied having any real problem, and that was a driving force in my inability to make any progress. It sounds cliché, but it was only once I accepted that I had a problem that I was able to move forward.
7. Sobriety leads to crossing paths with some incredible (and some not so incredible) people. I’ve met my share of both. There’s always an inexplicable bond present when I meet someone young who is also sober. While others may try to understand, they never really will. People who are sober understand on another level because they’ve been through similar struggles. While most people are kind and understanding, there are some people in sobriety who don’t want to be there and make that known. In that case, I steer clear unless I think I can say something that will click for them.
8. Complacency is dangerous. Sometimes I get lazy, and I don’t go to a meeting or write for a few weeks. I start to notice this itch creeping in, this desire to do something, anything impulsive—the same feeling I would get before a night of drinking. Staying ahead of my addiction is vital, if I want to maintain sobriety. I love the saying, “The first thing you put ahead of your sobriety will be the second thing you lose.” It’s true. Complacency is a very dangerous place to reside.
9. There’s no better high than a life you’re proud of. In my first week of sobriety, someone told me, “You won’t believe how fulfilling your life can be when you’re sober.” I doubted it. I loved getting drunk because the high allowed me to forget about everything else pressing or shameful in my life. I don’t have that problem today. It is refreshing to have nothing to hide from in my life. I’m proud of where I am and who I am, because I put a hell of a lot of work into becoming that person.
10. Sobriety will never be a regret.  I regret so many things I did while drinking. So many. But I do not regret one day of sobriety, and that’s a pretty damn good feeling.

Addiction is real …. here’s how to beat it!

Ask anyone in the final stages of addiction how much fun they’re having and the answer will always be the same. It is a living hell from which they feel trapped. They feel trapped because they are trapped. Chemical dependency has two faces that play hell with the mind and body… There’s the physical addiction… with alcohol or Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium) you could easily die attempting to quit on your own … other drugs such as pain killers only make you wish you were dead! You’ll survive… but it will be misery!

The psychological addiction is vicious! Long after you’ve detoxed and the physical cravings have ended … the mind takes over. An addict’s mind is a terrible place to be!

The reality of addiction is this … relapse is part of recovery! As an addict and recovering alcoholic I’m not happy about it but that’s a fact.

Ask anyone that has ever tried to quit smoking or lose weight. Did they relapse? Did they bum a cigarette from someone? Did they get off the diet while on vacation? I believe the answer is always yes!  I smoked for 25 years and loved every Marlboro ever made … I have never smoked a bad cigarette! I was a smoking addict. It took me years to successfully walk away from a 2 pack a day habit… but I did! Along the way … I failed miserably! But I didn’t accept the failure as the way it was gonna be…  I couldn’t accept it!

As with cigarettes … my addiction to pain pills and alcohol nearly killed me. I tried to quit over and over with no success. By the time I entered the Betty Ford Center in California … I could have written a program of recovery from all the treatment centers I’d been in previously. If I were to add up all the money spent on drugs and alcohol, trips to rehab and economic losses from opportunities I destroyed … I could be living in Malibu! Addictions suck on every level.

What I’ve come to realize is that I will be addicted to drugs and alcohol and cigarettes for the rest of my life! Once I accepted that and realized I was not a bad person simply screwing up my life … but a person living with a disease things got easier… I look at it like diabetes … if you have it … you learn to live with it or it kills you.

Nothing I have ever tried has worked to keep me sober. My mind knows what’s best for me and if tells me to just have “one” … everything will be OK …. My mind is so full of shit!

My life is wonderful and I have everything I need to be happy. What I don’t need is a relapse to screw everything up! I have a check list that helps me maintain this happy life … I want to share it with you….

The 9 signs of relapse below are indicators that something might be wrong and should propel you to get support for yourself or your loved one right away.

Sign 1: Longing for the old days.

It can be easy to remember only the good times when you were using, since when you first started you might have been partying a lot and having fun. But remember, you got sober for a reason – there came a point when drug or alcohol use was no longer fun. In fact, it probably created a lot of harm to your health, personal life, professional life, and financials…

Sign 2: Believing you can use again without falling back into addiction.

While recovering, you may be compelled to have use recreationally, for example by having “just one drink,” thinking you’ve beaten your addiction. Those strong in recovery understand that just one time is bound to become many more times and back to the place you worked so hard to leave.

Sign 3: Starting to reconnect with old friends from your addiction days.

It’s normal to miss your friends but putting yourself back into an environment in which you used regularly is too tempting for most people struggling with a substance use disorder to ignore. Relapse prevention relies on new healthy environments that promote sobriety.

Sign 4: Becoming defensive and beginning the pattern of denial you had while using.

If you are sliding back into your old patterns, you probably recognize it to some degree but take a defensive stance in denial of it to yourself and your friends. An extremely defensive attitude should sound an alarm to you and those close to you that you may be damaging your own recovery efforts.

Sign 5: Changes in attitude or behavior.

Sudden behavioral and attitude changes are clear signals that something is wrong. If you are abandoning your recovery efforts and noticing changes in your attitude and/or sudden feelings of depression and loneliness, a drug relapse may be close at hand.

Sign 6: Breaking down of social relationships.

A network of support is a crucial element in maintaining sobriety. A lack of continued focus on maintaining personal connections can mean something is wrong – especially if you find you’re:

  • Arguing more with friends.

  • Lying to your loved ones.

  • Spending less time with family.

  • Resenting those who are trying to help

Sign 7. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities.

Positive activities can be key in preventing a relapse. Loss of interest in the hobbies that you love is a red flag that your focus is in danger of shifting from your recovery to negative feelings, thought patterns, and the desire to use.

Sign 8. Sudden appearance of withdrawal symptoms.

If you notice someone is suddenly exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, be concerned. This is one of the most telling relapse symptoms.

Sign 9: Loss of belief in addiction recovery program.

A sudden shift in the way you think about your recovery program can lead you quickly down the path to using again. Belief in and dedication to your program is an essential part of staying sober.

Relapse Does Not Equal Failure

One of the most important things for recovering addicts and those around them to realize is that presence of the warning signs listed above or even a full-blown relapse doesn’t equal failure.

The truth is that relapses are common for people attempting to recover from drug or alcohol addictions. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 60 percent of all recovering addicts experience a relapse at some point in their lives.

If you or a loved one has fallen back into addiction, try not to assign blame or say that recovery failed. You can always get back on the road to recovery. You might have one more party in you … but there is no guarantee you will live to talk about it!

I do not have the answers to anyone’s problems. All I know is what is working for me… I hope it helps you!

This is my journey … this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Your cheating heart will tell on you!

I hear people say … “Men are dogs!” Men are not dogs… dogs are loyal! Dogs do not bring herpes home and they can lick their own butts!

I have been married 5 times … no this is not a typo! All of my wives are intelligent, attractive, well adjusted women. I was lucky any of them agreed to marry me… and they were lucky they made the decision to leave. I was a terrible husband and their lives improved without me in it. Marrying a drug addict/alcoholic should not be on your bucket list.

Four of my marriages ended as a result of cheating. I know it is hard to believe that any woman would hate coming home to a man passed out drunk on the couch or ranting incoherently for hours… but I found four that just didn’t like living with “Hurricane Rob” … 365 days of the years. Sucks to be them! (said no woman ever!).

This is how I feel about faithfulness…

In my eyes, the definition of maturity is the ability to defer self-gratification in favor of more important long-term goals.

You don’t masturbate at work because that would get you fired. You don’t eat chocolate cake for breakfast every morning because that would give you a heart attack by the age of 32. You don’t mainline heroin straight into your eyeballs before picking your kids up from school because, well, Jesus, do I really have to explain that one?

Sure, these things feel nice, but you have larger and more important concerns and you’re able to defer your own gratification to meet those concerns.

This is called “maturity.” It’s called “being an adult.” It’s called “not being a screw up.”

Cheating falls under the same umbrella here. Sure, it may feel good to rub your genitals all over a stranger, but a mature person is capable of stepping back and deferring their gratification in favor of a more important life-long commitment.

Self-gratifying cheaters come in two flavors: miserable over-compensators and people in power.

The miserable over-compensators are constantly focused on their own gratification because they feel so miserable about themselves that they need to make themselves feel good to cover it up all the time. Chances are that if your cheating deadbeat of an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend is a miserable over-compensator, cheating isn’t the only destructive self-gratifying behavior they pursue. They may be a heavy drinker, a hard partier, a drug user, or a social climber.

Or they may just try to take over the world.

The people in power are just that, people in high positions of power. They’re Genghis Khan. Or more recently, Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They are people who don’t have anyone to say “no” to them or those who don’t face any real tangible repercussions for their actions. Or in the case of Khan, a man who just slaughtered an entire province of innocent people and wanted to spend the next week having a blood orgy with all the local virgins. Knock yourself out, dude!

But these don’t just need to be people with social power. These can be people who are given complete power over the relationship, people who are shown no repercussions for their actions by their partners. Yes, you can unwittingly enable your partner to cheat on you. Which brings us to the second reason.

The Lack of Real Intimacy

It’s not rocket science to say that the likelihood of infidelity in a relationship is directly proportional to how miserable the relationship is.

The problem is that many people don’t recognize the misery in their own relationships. They come from a family of bad relationships and/or have a long history of miserable relationships, so to them, it’s not even miserable, it’s just normal.

Then they get surprised when our wife is nailing the neighbor. Everything was so good, what happened?

No, it wasn’t so good…. Let me explain why.

Look, there are two relationship patterns that usually end up with somebody cheating. Both involve poor boundaries. And both create an illusion that “everything is great,” when really it’s a festering pile of horse shit with big red hearts painted on it.

The first situation is when one partner feels as though they “do everything” for the other partner. They take care of them, give them everything they want, and in some cases support them. The person feels like a saint and then what happens? They get cheated on.

The reason this is actually a toxic situation is that when you do everything for your partner, when you take care of all of their problems and show them that no matter what happens you will always make it better for them, you show them that there are essentially no repercussions for their actions. They lose their job because they were masturbating at the office again and you decide to support them. Then they spend the next six months loafing around on your couch while you tirelessly send out their resume for them. What makes you think they’re going to change? What makes you think they will ever stop and question their own behavior?

If you had a dog that continuously pissed on your rug and every time you just cleaned up the rug because OH MY GOD… I LOVE HER!! , why would the dog ever stop pissing on it?

That’s what happens when these people cheat on you. You’re actually surprised when you’ve been tolerating and enabling the exact behavior that led them to cheat all along. No, it’s not your “fault,” but you sure weren’t helping the matter.

The other situation where cheating always ends up happening is when one partner is insanely possessive and jealous.

Let me ask you this, if you were dating somebody who regularly looked through your phone without permission, demanded to know where you were at all times, got pissed off every time you went out with your friends without him/her and screamed at you until blood vessels popped in their face if you go a single day without calling or texting, why wouldn’t you cheat?

I mean, this person is essentially treating you like you already cheated, even though you did nothing wrong. So why not cheat? It won’t get any worse.

And that’s exactly what happens. “Well, my husband yells at me every day anyway, and now that I’m with my friends and we’ve have had a few apple-tinis, I realize I haven’t been happy with him in about a year, so yeah, why don’t I kiss this cute guy hitting on me right now? He’s actually nice to me. And I’m going to get yelled at when I go home anyway. So why not?”

Score for the other guy …

Possessive/jealous behavior communicates extreme insecurity and a lack of self-respect. How can your partner respect you if you are incapable of tolerating any sort of discomfort in the relationship whatsoever?

True sexy confidence comes not from fighting for self-gratification, but rather from being comfortable with deferring gratification. Which brings us too…

How to Prevent Your Ass From Getting Cheated On

Do not date somebody who cannot defer self-gratification well

This goes without saying, but don’t fall in love with the first person who looks at you without grimacing.

Look, dating a self-gratifier can be awesome, as long as you continue to gratify them. But you need to learn to look past the feel-goods and look at how this person actually lives their life. Are they capable of making sacrifices for those around them? Are they impulsive? Does their life appear to be filled with unnecessary drama? Do they take responsibility for their actions?

The problem with people who base their lives around their own gratification is that they often appear confident to people who are anxious or insecure. I remember when I met my first girlfriend, one of the things I loved about her was that if she wanted something she just went and did it. I was so insecure and inhibited at the time that I thought this was an amazing display of confidence.

Enforce healthy boundaries

That means standing up for yourself. That means declaring what is and is not acceptable in the relationship both for yourself and your partner. That means sticking by those declarations and following through on them.

That means you recognize that you are not responsible for your partner’s happiness nor are they responsible for yours. That you do not have a right to demand certain actions from them nor do they have a right to demand certain actions from you.

That means that they are responsible for their own struggles just as you are responsible for yours.

Always be willing to leave

But a relationship is only as strong as each person’s willingness to leave. Note that I didn’t say desire to leave, but the willingness to leave. Every healthy relationship requires the occasional loving but stern “no.” Otherwise nothing will ever change because there’s no reason for it to change.

A relationship is not an obligation. It is a choice. Made every day. It is a choice that says, “The intimacy we share is better for me than my own self-gratification.” It is a choice that recognizes the short-term costs are worth the long-term benefits. It is a choice to appreciate what brought you two together in the first place. And then to let that keep you there.

These are my opinions ….

This is my journey … this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

This loneliness is killing me…

Tell me lies and hold me tight… I don’t want to be lonely tonight!

Loneliness is the worst emotion I have ever known. I can be lonely in a room of 100 people or at a quiet dinner with friends. It represents my downfall and I will do anything for just a few moments of relief. That saying “everyone looks good at closing time” is actually pretty accurate. How many times did I end up with a stranger just for company. It never provided anything more than the walk of shame the next morning.

I follow a pattern, I will begin to isolate from people and things that I normally enjoy and from the isolation develops loneliness. Unless you have felt the emptiness of being lonely none of this will resonant. For so many years, I silenced the loneliness with pills and alcohol. I turned to them as a friend at my lowest times and they turned on me with a vengeance. Loneliness is tough… being a lonely alcoholic is lethal. How many people do you know that have died from suicide or accidental overdoses trying to quiet the loneliness? Probably all of them.

It doesn’t matter how many people we’re around  at the end of the day, we are all alone. It’s impossible for anyone to ever truly understand what it is to be you, to experience all the things you have experienced, to understand your joys and happiness, your pains and sorrows? We can talk to other people about how we feel, we can draw pictures, we can play music, but with all these attempts to communicate we cannot always get our feelings, across exactly as we wish we could. Hoping for them to understand… yet, you find no relief and that’s where the painful reality comes that ultimately we are alone… by ourselves in this world. Unfortunately, loneliness is a universal phenomenon, that will visit every human soul at some point in their life.

So, what is loneliness? Loneliness is not the same as being alone, it’s a feeling that causes people to feel empty, alone and unwanted. You can be living alone and live happily without much contact with other people… but when the feeling of loneliness comes to someone it doesn’t matter how much social contact they have, whether they are in a relationship or part of a huge family they will still feel lonely.

Loneliness is not feeling part of the world. You might be surrounded by loads of people but… you’re lonely. Some people experience deep and constant feelings of loneliness that come from within and do not disappear, regardless of their social situation or how many friends they have.

There are many reasons people experience this kind of loneliness. You might feel unable to like yourself or to be liked by others, or you may lack self-confidence. This may come from having been unloved as a child so that, as an adult, you continue to feel unlovable in all relationships. Sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, people isolate themselves within their relationships because they are afraid of being hurt.

Remember, I have spent years in therapy trying to figure out why I was so lonely… once I got sober I could see the problems and how to work to improvement them …

So much loneliness can be alleviated by simply taking an action to get better…

1. Get Sober…. nothing is going to improve in your life as long as alcohol and drugs are in your body. It simply can’t happen. You have to be free of the chains that are keeping you enslaved. In your heart you know what I’m talking about ….

2. Take initiative. If you’re isolated find something you like to do outside your home…  this is a good ways to meet people. In addition, try going through your phone and email address books as well as your Facebook and other social media contacts and make a list of people you haven’t seen or spoken to for a while. Don’t psych yourself out and tell yourself they’re not interested.

3. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Once you’ve compiled your list of friends and acquaintances, reach out to one of them each day…. Those of us in AA call our friends and sponsors daily… Yes, they might not have been in touch for a while or returned your phone call from two months earlier but give them the benefit of the doubt. Invite them to have coffee, or even a catch-up on the phone and you’ll be surprised by how many of them will happily make plans.

4. Approach people with optimism. It’s perfectly normal to fear rejection, but you have to get yourself in the right frame of mind when you contact people so the vibe you put out is positive and inviting (rather than overly cautious and uninviting). Getting into a positive head-space is also important when you contact people on-line. Emoticons can be very useful. “How have you been? :)” is much more appealing than “Haven’t heard from you in two months, wanna get together?”

Loneliness controlled my life for far too long. Don’t let it control yours…

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Dear God …. I’m thankful!

Thanks for a second chance…

I have everything to be thankful for today. I’m thankful I’m alive and not dying from advanced liver disease. I’m thankful for my friend Anita who stood by me through thick or thin the last year of my destruction… I’m thankful for my parents for getting me to Betty Ford and for their continued support. I’m thankful for two pugs that bring me life everyday…

God must really love alcoholics and drug addicts because he allows us to not realize how pathetic we look when we are wasted. Black outs take care of any memories of the night before …

My mornings went like this: “No way! I can’t believe I said that.” Or, “I did what with who in a public restroom? Is that even physically possible?”  It’s like waking up and having an argument with another person, and that person is you. A different version of you that you can’t get rid of, like a mild form of schizophrenia. The voice in my head would only produce the meanest most hopeless words, sort of like Darth Vader , but with a more nasally tone. My hangovers turned into living nightmares. Sometimes, I’d spend two days in bed before I was ready to leave the house again, and I’m just remembering this now.

My behavior after a night of drinking was sometimes worse than when I was drunk. Grumpy, distant, resentful, scared, paranoid, empty and completely self obsessed. I want to remember how bad hangovers are so I can be grateful for the person I am when I’m not hung over: aware, willing to change, and genuinely wanting to help others.

The old hung over me would want to stab the sober me in the face.

2. Looking Good 

Why not add a little vanity to a gratitude list? I’m grateful my face is no longer bloated, I used to look like I had a blind trigger-happy Botox doctor. My face was huge and my skin was stretched to maximum capacity trying to contain the bloat and excess fluid from exploding out of my skin. I no longer have mystery bruises all over my body. I used to wake up wondering if I got in a fight but then a friend informed me that I threw myself down the stairs because I was pretending to be a stuntman. I’m sure it was hilarious and worth it. The bags under my eyes have decreased by at least 75% and the red blotches I used to get all over my neck and chest are no longer there. I don’t sweat like a pig when I walk down the street and the color of my skin has returned to normal. My eye makeup is on my eyes and not on my forehead, and my hair only sometimes has crumbs in it.

3. Relationships With Other Sober People 

It has taken me a long time to want to be friends with other sober people, not that I ever thought anything was wrong with it, I just didn’t think I needed them as real friends. I knew they could help me, but I didn’t want to build a relationship with them. I already had friends, mostly normal people and active alcoholics. I work in an industry where you can create an image out of being a drunk and get paid lots of money for it! I like that idea! And honestly, alcoholics are very interesting people who keep other people in their lives on their toes.

But, after a few years of drunks doing to me what I did to others when I was drunk, I was like, “Oh, right. I know this game. I used to play it and it’s never going to end.”  The highs, the lows, the drama, the fun, the nightmare, the delusional thinking and the confusion. Are they crazy, or am I crazy?

I started hanging out with sober people and it’s really  incredible. To be able to say your horrible truths to someone and they laugh and then tell you theirs is beautiful—it feels like you’re putting all the inspiration you need to stay sober in your heart. Sitting and talking with another sober person sometimes reminds me what it was like when I connected with someone at a bar after a few drinks. The jokes flow, maybe a little over sharing happens, and this cheesy feeling of “you get me” washes over you. Except you don’t blackout and have sex with that person then never talk to them again.

Before I quit drinking, and even in early sobriety—I used to think of sober people as self-righteous and judgmental—but it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Most of them have done really disgusting things and have the most insane stories so they won’t judge you for all the bad stuff you’ve done. And they have a pretty good idea of how alcoholism works, so they’re more understanding of someone else’s drinking because they’ve experienced the insidiousness of the disease themselves. I’m grateful I’ve opened up to having closer relationships with them.

4. Having the Guts To Make Hard Decisions 

One of the hardest, and most beautiful things, about sobriety is awareness, mostly about yourself. I’ve learned some harsh truths about myself that I used to drown with booze because it was too painful to admit. I’ve realized I’m manipulative, jealous, and make myself small for others so they feel good about themselves. I also blame others for my problems and am always looking for ways to cut corners in work situations. Pretty gross and not fun. But, the magic is the shift that begins to happen when you recognize bad patterns, and make choices that move you out of your defects and closer to a better self. I’ve SLOWLY experienced this throughout my sobriety and I sometimes forget how far I’ve come as a person. This may sound like bragging, but I think it’s good to give yourself a pat on the back, because it’s too easy to think you’re a piece of crap, even in sobriety. 

To go against the bad behaviors that you’re used to, whether they are survival skills you developed as a kid, or from another time when they used to work for you, to be willing to change them for the sole fact that you want to be a better person is courageous. It might not be cool and edgy, but I’ll take a changed destructive behavior over a drunken night any day of the week.

5. Not Wanting or Needing To Drink

The fact that I don’t want or need a drink or pills is a  special miracle. Wanting and needing a drink ruled my life for about a three decades, and that obsession has been lifted. I don’t know where it went. I like to think that it’s buried in a “Bad Obsession Cemetery,” and I’ll still visit it and put flowers on the grave because I respect it. I know it can rise from the dead and take over my brain again if I’m not careful.

I need to create a wall of awareness and gratitude around me so if the demon comes a knockin’ I’ll be like, “Hi Demon, it’s nice to hear from you again, but I’m feeling pretty good right now so please fuck off really hard.”

OK. That’s it. I hope this helps other people if they are feeling a little antsy in sobriety, and I also hope it helps anyone who wants to get sober.

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Wow… you are so rude!!

I want to speak to the manager… now!!

98aac7d163585ae59fabd3a87fdf45bcI eat in restaurants daily… if you saw my waistline you would realize I’m telling the truth. Some of the rudest people on earth eat out… and they wait until I’m hungry to hit my favorite places. At any given restaurant on any given day at any given table you will find them. The people who carry on loud conversations on cellphones. People that blow their noses in cloth napkins at the table. Kids that run around screaming. Angry jerks that yell at the waitress because the food isn’t right. People that don’t flush the toilet or better yet … pee all over it. See where I’m going with this? They really suck! Rude is rude…

Most of us are normal and sure, we have been rude on occasion. Fact is, I have a rude thought every 40 seconds, along with a snack idea. The difference is, I have learned through experience to keep my mouth shut! We encounter rude people every day of our life and even more so if you live in a tourist destination like Hollywood. On any given day, you’re forced to witness their rudeness and squeals as they race down my street 6f7e88d156263618e176b6f5925dc84dwith a cellphone camera snapping shots of anything and everything. But, my neighborhood is only a minor slice of life and in the real world they’re everywhere like sharks waiting to attack the next toddler that wanders to far from mom…… their rudeness is nothing more than an angry and weak substitution for strength.

Many of them, as kids, enjoyed entitled and spoiled lives. You’ve all seen them in stores sitting in their mom’s shopping cart screaming at the top of their lungs about how mean and stupid mom is because she won’t buy them a candy bar. Many moms will reluctantly give in, which then causes the child to feel justified in their actions and thus make the behavior a part of their character. A chocolate covered Ritalin bar would have been a better choice.

8ccc2c72570a1f7e9049ab420ae560e9This is the gospel according to Rob …. Rude people are seldom, if ever, sorry for their actions to them it would be a sign of weakness. They’re attitude is, “If I hurt your feelings, in any way, I just want you to know from the bottom of my heart that I don’t give a shit.” It breaks my heart to see a hard-working waitress being abused by rude and coarse customers who are trying to look all cool and superior to those around them. Fact is, their bloated narcissus attitude fails to make them appear intelligent, but look more like the losers that they are….

The greatest weapon a rude person has is their sarcasm. But if you ignore their sarcasm, or even chuckle at it….it may cause them to have a cerebral hernia resulting in ego paralysis. Remember….no matter how rudely anyone ever treats you, NEVER ever degrade yourself and squat to their level by treating them in the very same manner.

The best defense against the ignorant repertoire of a rude Nimrod, is to keep the exchange simple and to use short sentences. Always remember; they are the ones who feel you are being rude for talking while they are interrupting. So, remember to say…. “Oh, I’m sorry, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the start of yours?”

Finally, never accept rudeness from anyone. I have been rich and I have been poor … and I have seen rudeness in both socioeconomic levels. But I never tolerated it. Believe me … the only things in life that will ever continue are the things that you allow…. rudeness is not one I’m willing to accept. By saying nothing, you’re letting the rude jerk win…

This is my Journey … this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Why can’t you love me as much as you love yourself?

I’ll be happy next year…

I spent years in a relationship that provided every luxury money could buy… remember the financial collapse that rocked America a few years ago? I don’t because it didn’t effect me. I continued driving expensive European cars, living in luxury homes and traveling around the world. In fact, I was able to take my son to 42 countries before he was in high school. Many would say I hit the lottery. I didn’t. I sold my soul for things I no longer have… if anyone has ever lived in a controlling narcissistic relationship they ask themselves some important questions. Namely, you wonder how the hell you got into this mess.  Why didn’t you see this coming?  What are you doing so wrong?  No matter how hard you try, it is never good enough.  Your life feels out of control.  Overwhelming.  Confusing.  Good at times and at others just dreadful.  You feel rejected, belittled, trapped, isolated.

You are married to a narcissist.  Life is all about their agenda, not yours.  He/she is wonderful in public, smiling, outgoing and congenial to everyone that comes near..  But with you at home the behavior is very different.

Their grandiose sense of entitlement causes big blowouts in your life.  There are debts.  Whatever you provide, it is not enough.  They cannot understand why there has to be restraint.  They are forever pushing you to make the impossible happen, because the impossible is what they deserves.

You cannot argue with them.  Whatever the issue is, you will be seen as spoiling their day. Everything going wrong is your fault.  You are familiar with verbal abuse and the low self-esteem that goes with it.

Narcissists can be horribly frustrating. Everyone probably knows one… people who are so wrapped up in themselves, so demanding and demeaning, that they leave no room for anyone else. Sounds like a horrible person.

Yet, there’s something enticing about narcissists that pulls you in. Perhaps it’s his or her self-entitlement or know-it-all, does-no-wrong outlook. You’ve always been one to subjugate your desires, anyway. So, though you hate to admit it, your narcissist’s confidence and cockiness may be (or used to be) a turn-on for you.  It’s amazing that your favorite narcissist can be both appealing and appalling.

If you’re not ready to toss your narcissist out of your life, you’d better learn how to deal with such a personality.

There are three distinctive phases to the relationship. 

1.  Pursuit:  At this stage he is doing everything in his power to wow you into his world.  He wants to impress you and impress you he does.  Nothing is too much trouble.  He can be spectacular in his attentions to you.  No wonder you got taken in!  Who wouldn’t?  But it is not because of what he sees in you, what he loves about you, the work you do or the values you have.  No; it is about him – how good you make him look, how you add to his prestige, how you make things happen for him, how he imagines he looks when he is with you.  The impress the socks off you stage ends abruptly once he feels he owns you.

2.  Transition:  This happens once you move in with him, or marry him, or have children.  All of a sudden, he perceives that he no longer needs to make an effort.  You have now crossed over into his world, his bubble.  You are now just an extension of himself.  And that all works just fine until you express any individuality, an original idea, or feelings of your own, not his.  This is enormously threatening to him. For him, it feels like abandonment and he must do everything in his power to get you back into his bubble.  The belittling, verbal abuse, angry assaults or silent treatment that follow leave you feeling shunned, negated, unseen, unheard, trivialized, confused, sad, lonely, trapped and desperate.

3.  Victimization:  Your behavior has changed.  You avoid sharing personal feelings and thoughts because you know your partner cannot handle it.  Intimacy is not happening in your relationship. There is no sex.  You are walking on eggshells.  As long as you manage to express approval and adulation, all is sweet.  But when you fail to do this, you are devalued and regarded with extreme suspicion.  You have become aware that your perception of reality is very different from his.  No matter how or to what length you spell out the reality of the situation, he ignores it if it does not accord with his sense of superiority.  He denies his problems.  He might deny his illnesses. He denies the mess he is creating in your life.  Subconsciously he is aware of what he is doing, but he projects it onto you.   So, his inability to create intimacy becomes a suspicion that you are flirting or having affairs with other people.  He is extremely jealous.  He is pitching his survival against yours. You have at this stage become a co-dependent, a willing carrier of all the blame he needs to cast upon you.

Being married to a narcissist is a rough ride.  The biggest problem is probably that you remember how wonderful it was in pursuit and keep wishing it could go back to that stage.  But it never will, not with you, anyway.  But, you can survive it and make it work for you.

Is it worth it?  We are talking about being married to people with a serious personality defect.  It is a life of self-denial to a large degree. Is it worth it?

The way I see it is, every person is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Every person is a masterpiece, a mystery, a beauty to explore.  Every person, in my opinion, is loveable and capable of loving. But it is a grace to love and live with a narcissist.

One of the key survival skills is recognizing the problem for what it is and not expecting the impossible from your partner.  You do need to express approval and adulation of him in every way you possibly can.  But you also need to express your belief in your own value and teach him to respect it.

Intimacy can be terrifying to him so you must undertake the responsibility of initiating it.  You have to know that he is not wanting to reject you; he is incapable of initiating something so utterly threatening to himself.  But he can be taught to please you.
It is not that he wants to hurt you or wants to belittle you.  He really does love you in his own way.  But you have to teach him to love you more. You have to stand up for yourself, insist that your interests and privacy are respected.
You have to love and value yourself enough to have meaningful friendships in which you can express and share your personal thoughts and feelings, hopes and longings.  Because you will never be able to do that with him.

The question is how much abuse are willing to take? If you can’t save the relationship … save yourself! I did and I have never regretted starting over with me as my top priority! Don’t waste your life on what will never change.

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Some people are just mean and give you a reason to hate them …

If you have nothing good to say … sit by me!

We all know what mean people are like… they gossip about you to others, ignore you, say hurtful things, break or steal your stuff, belittle you, set you up to get into trouble for something you didn’t say or do, call you names, imply you’re not as clever, good-looking, well connected, valuable or nice as they are, intimidate you, leave unfriendly or unkind messages about you on social media sites, and break promises they swore they’d keep.

I spent 23 years with the meanest person on earth … I have a PhD in recognizing meanness!

When someone is vicious towards me… I want to rationalize it by saying… “All I can tell you is some people are just evil.”  The truth is they are not evil … they are simply mean assholes!

I honestly believe evil does not exist for a lot of people.  Evil is just something that needs fixing.  But I’m here to tell you evil is NOT a psychiatric illness.  People who put other people in ovens and gas showers, shoot or burn their fellow man, or throw babies up in the air for target practice are evil!

A person that has a campaign of destruction or belittlement against you is as I have said earlier …. simply mean assholes!

face4If you’ve been dealing with a mean person at work, in your neighborhood, in your club, or in your family, the best way of handling that person is to not go up against him or her.  You can’t win.  You’re unequipped to deal with a mean person unless you’re equally bad.  Mean people have no rules and no limits.  You do.  Try to avoid contact with the person.  If you’ve tried to sort things out and he or she decides to keep being mean, there isn’t much you can do to influence or change his or her mind.

If this person actually hates you or feels like he or she can’t lose face by dawning a different attitude, you don’t have to put up with it.  Remove yourself.  Don’t listen to his or her taunts, don’t read the crap he or she writes about you, and don’t have any connection to his or her spiteful attitude.  Let this person know you’re not going to tolerate it and make a clean cut.  Even the meanest person may get bored when his or her target stops responding.

Some people simply need to be mean to feel better about themselves.  Those people are all over the world…. watch the morning news for more than 5 minutes… you’ll see.

My advice?  Just get out of their way.  Don’t take it personally.  Unfortunately, karma won’t always kick in and nothing bad necessarily will happen to them.  In fact, sometimes they lead long and financially successful lives.  That may be hard to swallow, but the quality of your life is more important.

So laugh.  Throw your head back and laugh… let every small success you enjoy be known to the world and eventually like the Wicked Witch of the West … their actions will cause their demise… and on some level we all look forward to that! The universe is a magical place… it knows which butt to kick and which to leave alone. Get out of the way and let it handle the details. There’s no harm in taking a selfie when it happens.

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

When the heartache is over … I know I won’t be missing you!

Stop dragging my heart around …

Love hurts …

My fear of being alone has been a pivotal factor in every disastrous relationship I’ve ever had. No matter what … I had to have someone I could claim as my other half. So sad… such a waste of time. I have heard a million times that “all relationships are hard and take work” … please, finding a cure for a disease is hard and takes a lot of work … sharing my life should be a fun task.

Love is supposed to be this ultra-great emotion that leads to throbbing feelings of happiness, moments of unforgettable togetherness, and maybe flowers and jewelry, too. Unfortunately, the reality is that love often sucks. You fall in love with people who don’t love you back, you get rejected by your idealized romantic partner, or you find yourself pining for somebody who treats you like crap. But there is hope. Though there is no quick fix for a broken heart, there are things I did to make it easier to fall out of love with someone.

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to stop loving somebody, but the two main ones are that they don’t return your feelings or they treat you badly. Love may feel like it’s something beyond your control, but studies show that there are actually ways to tame the wild feelings. What’s interesting is love activates the parts of our brains that are also activated in the brains of cocaine and cigarette addicts when they anticipate getting high. As a recovering addict, I can tell you how that feels!

I think love has to be treated like an addiction…  throw out their cards and letters, or hide them in a closet. Don’t call or look for them online. If you’re trying to give up alcohol, you don’t leave scotch on your desk. Ideally, you want to stop thinking about the person entirely, so getting rid of objects that remind you of them will help.

There’s always a lesson in everything … I believe surviving love teaches us these:

Lesson #1: Losing a part of who you are is NOT worth being in love

When you are with someone who doesn’t have a similar vision or similar values for their life, you may begin to wonder about your own or even start adopting some of his/her values or beliefs. My ex did not possess a similar value system as mine, nor did she value the freedom that comes from being your own boss. Because our values and visions didn’t align, I began to question if my dream of paying off my commercial real estate and enjoying a less stressful life was too lofty. As a result, I began to lose some of my drive for my business, which I ultimately see as an extension of who I am and what I’m meant to do in this world. In the end, I realized compromising who I was, my dreams, and my purpose was too great a price to pay for love.

Lesson #2: Fear drives many of the irrational decisions we make

I was scared that I would never find the “one” (I’m still deciding if there is such a thing!). I was scared that I had unrealistic or unreasonable expectations, that maybe the person didn’t exist. Deep down, I also feared that I just wasn’t deserving or “good enough” to be with someone.

Fear will spin crazy tales in your head and drive you to act against what your heart tells you. I know now that my fears are irrational and were a result of my being “jaded” after all the disappointments in my love life.

Lesson #3: The Universe always has your back

Sometimes when you experience setbacks, challenges, or emotional turmoil, you may start questioning whether or not the Universe is truly on your side! Even though it doesn’t feel like it, these situations are always for your higher good. They serve to help you heal a broken part of yourself so you can get to the next level in your life.

Lesson #4: Sometimes it’s necessary to allow the “wrong” situation to run its course.

I think 90% of my body was screaming “NOOOO!!!” when the idea of getting married came to mind. But that 10% of my mind that still retained hope needed some convincing, and the only way to do that was to let things play out. Allowing the situation to run its course proved to that 10% of me that I could finally let go and move on with my life.

Lesson #5: Stand up loud and proud!

There’s this unspoken assumption that if you’re single, there must be something wrong with you! Like maybe you’re somehow not good enough or you have some attachment disorder. Really?!

That’s a load of bullshit.

Being single also means that you’re secure and happy enough to be on your own instead of settling for a relationship just because it’s “comfortable”. Don’t allow what others think impact how you feel about your decision to be single. Wear that badge loud and proud!

Lesson #6: You get what you accept

Wanna attract the “right” people into your life? The right relationships, friends, or even job and career opportunities? Then STOP accepting people and circumstances that are NOT 100% fully aligned with what you want. And that means having the courage and integrity to say NO to people and opportunities that are only 90% of what you want.

There is no reason you need to settle for anything less than what you want, in all areas of your life! Don’t compromise and have the courage instead to SAY NO to those people and opportunities that are sub par!

Taking my own advice didn’t work because I couldn’t find the way out of the “relationship cycle”. It took years of therapy and countless dollars spent to finally learn how to love and not crash and burn.

This is my journey … this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

God must be the boogy man! …. This is how I found him

As a child, I was exposed to some very fine religious people. Each in some way shared their knowledge of God with me. Those dear souls left a lasting impression on my life, not because of any remarkable accomplishments, but by an enduring faith that connected them to a High Power. That power was able to sustain them in dark times and good times. I believe my Higher Power put them in my life for a reason.   As wonderful as these people were to me, the message I received from them about God altered my belief system for life. The message of people burning in an eternal lake of fire if they did or didn’t do things caused me a lot of confusion. Why was there so much concentration on how angry God was … if he created us, I was sure he knew exactly how we would behave?

By my teens, I had decided that the God of my childhood was not on my side. I had already learned to drink, curse, smoke and steal ashtrays from hotel rooms where I’d committed adultery…

So, I lived in fear and shame of a God that created me because I liked weed and Miller Beer. Even as a teen… I was not gonna give up on God… maybe I’d just heard the wrong version. That began a long quest to find him/her. My first stop was with the Unification Church …. also known as The Moonies. This was the late 1970s and I followed a girl to several “services”. There was way too much chanting going on for me and far too little deodorant used by the Moonies. After the sex got old with her, I moved onto an evangelical group that would lay hands on you and cast out all of your problems. I tried that for quite a while and nothing that was cast out ever left.

From there I dappled in Buddhism and the Baha’i faith… then I simply gave up and accepted the fact that if I had been placed on earth for God to destroy like a cockroach on a kitchen floor there was nothing I could do to stop it. I’d like to think that made me feel better… but it didn’t. I simply gave up hope.

I found God the same way I found an apartment in L.A. … on an “as needed basis”. When I got my place in Hollywood, I listed everything people warned me about living in the City of the Fallen Angels . From them, I learned the expense, crime rate, lack of conveniences, hipster hang outs, drug problems, trashy bars and police brutality. I reviewed and listed what I wanted from an apartment, a great view, walking distance to the subway, urban life, LGBT Center, Reformed Jewish Temple and plenty of restaurants. I reviewed both lists and threw their list away… I knew what would work for me. Hello Hollywood … this is home!

This is exactly how I found God. I wrote down everything I was taught about him as a kid. God was angry, damning, waiting to pass judgement, scary, not interested in me. Then I wrote down what I need in God; I needed a friend, a father figure, someone with whom I could turn, a source of love and hope. I needed to not feel judged. I needed to not feel afraid. I needed to be accepted for who I was and not be ashamed.

That day I destroyed the paper that had the God of my childhood on it. I was free. That was someone else’s interpretation of God based on information they had learned along the way. It was perfect for them… it brought them happiness and fulfillment and peace. It just wasn’t the message for me. My God didn’t intend for me to follow the path of those people… it wasn’t my path.

Is there a difference between God and Religion?

There is definitely a difference between God and religion.  God is someone I have a relationship with.  My view on God can be altered by many factors in my life.  It can be affected by my relationship with my own father or even by my culture and the people I spend time with.

I see religion as a set of beliefs that have guidelines for behavior associated with them.    There are many religions with many differing beliefs and rules.   I don’t  think God needs religion.  He wants to have a relationship with me.   It is so easy for me to get confused and think that my relationship with him has rules of engagement.    I love knowing that God cares about me and that my relationship with him does not need a lot of order and structure.  I want to participate in religion or activities at my temple to celebrate his holiness, but it’s not a condition of knowing God.

God knows I’ve smoked, drank, cursed and stolen ashtrays from hotel rooms where I’ve committed adultery … so what? The world didn’t stop spinning and my dogs didn’t die. I believe he understands  as people we face life on life’s terms. It isn’t always pretty… no one said it would be.

Sometimes I’ve succeeded … other times not so well. But I know the God of my understanding is real and I don’t have to live my life afraid anymore.

This is my journey…. this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Child please! Stop keeping track of the mistakes you’ve made… it’s time to forgive yourself.

“I wish I’d been a doctor … maybe I could have saved some lives that’d been lost… maybe I could have done some good in the world … instead of burning every bridge I’ve crossed!” – Bob Dylan

I have no idea how people plan these perfect little lives… with perfect families and perfect life choices. I could never do it. Maybe I’m not wired that way… There’s been a sense of excitement and adventure in the life I’ve lived. But in addition to the thrill of an unpredictable life comes guilt and regret.

My life has been a tragedy of errors… each time things became too comfortable, I’d throw a match on it and watch it burn. A life of alcoholism and drug addiction will do that to you…It wasn’t until I completely detoxed and went into counseling that I learned some life affirming facts about all the baggage I was carrying . I had to let go if I was ever going to get my life truly together… this is what I was taught … I hope it will help you…

1. Learn to Forgive

Regret happens when you don’t forgive yourself. When your mistake feels final, like going too fast on a highway, it is too easy to feel regret. However, forgiveness is a powerful catalyst, and is one of the most loving actions you can take for yourself. While regret holds you back in the past, forgiveness helps you to move forward.

Tell yourself, “That was part of who I was then. I didn’t know any better or I would have made a different choice. That mistake helped me to grow into who I am today. I forgive myself and resolve to move forward.” Believe what you tell yourself.

2. Let Go of Negative Feelings

Send negative feelings about your actions into the past, where the action occurred. They don’t do you any good now. Visualize moving those pent-up feelings from your body back to the moment they occurred, with the more innocent version of yourself. (Here, you can forgive both yourself and those feelings.)

3. Find the Lessons

Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” When you make a mistake, there is ALWAYS something to learn…

Learning equals growth. It is more difficult to feel loss when your focus is on gain, and on bettering yourself.

My main lesson from my destructive life wasn’t simply to slow down; it was to listen to my intuition. It told me to slow down before I lost everything, but in my rush, I didn’t listen. I learned my lesson.

4. Letting Go of Old & Creating New

That person or thing you lost – what did it symbolize for you? What feeling did you enjoy (or wish to enjoy)?

Did your ex-spouse provide comfort and personal connection? Did a foreclosed house symbolize accomplishment and success for you?

Move feelings of comfort or success away from something in the past, and connect them to something new. Focus on new accomplishments and connections so you can move forward, away from memories, which no longer serve you.

Parting Words on Regret

The common thread in each of these lessons is to let go of the past and create a better future. When you do this, there is no longer room for regret, for it serves no active purpose. Concentrate on now. Put your passion into a new relationship, a new skill or a new adventure. Forgive yourself… learn from your mistakes, and move forward with a clear conscience.

This sounds like another “self help” menu being spit out for you to ignore … but I swear to you it worked for me! The past is gone and there is nothing there I need to carry into tomorrow … This is here… this is now… this is how I’m going to live my life!

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

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