A Public Apology To Anyone Hurt By An Alcoholic Like Me

If there is one thing, I’ve perfected it would have to be my ability to single handily destroy every holiday memory with my alcoholism and drug addiction. My kids didn’t deserve that or my parents or anyone I ever loved… but to say I’m sorry seems so inadequate… so dismissive of someone else’s life.

John McMahon is a man in recovery who posted his apology to the people he’s harmed as a sort of amends and by doing so, put actions to two meaningless words… “I’m sorry”.

I want to do the same using his wisdom as a guide…. So to my kids, parents, friends, lovers and casual acquaintances.

I’m sorry to those I’ve hurt the most

… for the things I did, for the hurt I caused, for the love I killed and for the hope I crushed.

It would be easy to say that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone—I didn’t. It would be easy to say that I wasn’t a bad man, or a violent man or a wicked man or so many other things. The problem is that I did all of this stuff when I was drunk or when I needed a drink.

Maybe I wasn’t a violent man, but that didn’t stop me from shouting, threatening and terrifying my family. For that, I am deeply ashamed, and I make no excuses. Maybe I wasn’t an unfaithful man, but that didn’t stop me from choosing drugs and alcohol over anyone or anything else. Again I have to say that I am deeply ashamed.

 I’m sorry to those I’ve betrayed, every day…

There are the big betrayals that damage a relationship to its core, but the things that crush the life out of the relationship are the smaller things, the everyday deceptions; the continual lies that destroy any sense of trust — that essential commodity for a successful relationship. Looking back now I lied, often, very often. I considered myself an honest man but I lied to protect my drinking, I lied to avoid arguments, I lied to get out the house to go for a drink, I lied about whether I had been drinking, about how much I had been drinking.

And I lied to protect my lies. I didn’t lie about everything, but I did lie about drinking, and I’m ashamed.

I would promise to be home at a particular time, but I wouldn’t arrive till much later, sometimes days later. I pledged to clean up the house, that I had messed up in my drunkenness, but I found some money in my pocket and went off drinking.

I promised to go to the store and come straight back but didn’t return until the following day. I promised to get home without drinking and staggered in drunk.

And during all these betrayals I would ask my wife, “Don’t you trust me?” Looking back on these incidents now, I find it hard to believe that I was the one who did all these things — but I was, and I did.

I’m sorry to those I burdened financially…

I stole money from our household budget. In my need for alcohol, I used the checkbook as a license to print money. I bounced checks all over town and in many bars to get booze.

In the middle of a bender I had no regard for anyone but myself and how I felt at that moment. The inevitable result was that we were always short of money and ultimately deeply in debt. I wish that I could return to that time and change it all but obviously, I can’t. However, I do offer my unreserved apologies to everyone who was hurt by my drinking and for all that I did during that time.

I’m sorry on behalf of all alcoholics …

… to all the people out there who are being and have been hurt by the behavior of an alcoholic. I am so sorry that we hurt you — no buts, no excuses!

I hope that some part of this helps to heal some of the hurts that we have caused, or contributes to repair some of the trust and love that we have destroyed.

It would be easy for you to dismiss this article as “just words.” After all, who could blame you, you have probably heard all the promises and apologies that I indeed made, plenty of times.

However, it doesn’t just end with words. This is part of me trying to make amends. Another part of my amends is helping alcoholics to change, and they can and do. There is hope.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

God… I wish I was beautiful or at least good enough…

c3d72fd973c23a7018df5610f19eab09I’ve never been “that guy”… the one with the striking face or gorgeous butt or any other physical attribute I feel will make me Hollywood sexy. I have great legs and amazing teeth… but I bought the teeth in Beverly Hills so they might not count. Too often, I glance in a mirror, and nothing good comes from it. I’m too fat… I’m too old… I’m too short… I’m too ethnic… I’m just “too”…

The truth is I’m a blessed man. I’m recovering from a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse; I have someone who loves me as much as I do him and a couple of dogs that adore us both. My family, especially my parents have never turned their backs on me, even in the darkest of days. I’ve traveled around the world and have more education than nearly everyone I’ve ever known. But with all the things I’ve overcome and accomplished and enjoyed…. I’m still Rob. The guy who never felt good enough or smart enough or validated.

Look… I know all the happy crap that is supposed to make me feel better about me. I’ve read, written, preached and sometimes believed the messages about being “good enough”, but when the room goes dark, and it’s just me at the end of the day… Rob is still the insecure guy he’s always been facing life on life’s terms…

Sometimes, I get stuck in my head and allow my inner critic to tear completely apart my self-esteem until I hate myself too much to do anything except play Joni Mitchell songs and seek the next educational degree that’s gonna fix me. The other day, while I was beating myself up over something I can’t even recall at the moment, I read a comment from someone on Facebook who mentioned my honesty about addiction was helpful to them…. those few words from a stranger helped me more than they will ever know. For a fleeting moment, I felt validated.

Lately, I’ve been trying harder to catch myself when I feel a non-serving, self-depreciating thought coming on… While my self-acceptance journey is on-going, I spend a lot of time attempting to learn from others on how not to be so mean to myself… Madison Sonnier is a writer who seems to look at life clearly, so I want to share what I’ve learned from something she wrote:

The people you compare yourself to compare themselves to other people too.

We all compare ourselves to other people, and I can assure you that the people who seem to have it all do not. When you look at other people through a lens of compassion and understanding rather than judgment and jealousy, you are better able to see them for what they are—human beings. They are beautifully imperfect human beings going through the same universal challenges that we all go through.

Your mind can be a very convincing liar.

I saw a quote once that said, “Don’t believe everything you think.” That quote completely altered the way I react when a painful or discouraging thought goes through my mind. Thoughts are just thoughts, and it’s unhealthy and exhausting to give so much power to the negative ones.

There is more right with you than wrong with you.

Until you stop breathing, there’s more right with you than wrong with you.

As someone who sometimes tends to zoom in on all my perceived flaws, it helps to remember that there are lots of things I like about myself too—like the fact that I’m alive and breathing and able to pave new paths whenever I choose.

You need to love the most when you feel you deserve it the least.

This was a recent epiphany of mine, although I’m sure it’s been said many times before. I find that it is most difficult to accept love and understanding from others when I’m in a state of anger, shame, anxiety, or depression.

You have to accept fully and make peace with the “now” before you can reach and feel satisfied with the “later.”

One thing I’ve learned about making changes and reaching for the next rung on the ladder is that you cannot fully feel satisfied with where you’re going until you can accept, acknowledge, and appreciate where you are. Embrace and make peace with where you are, and your journey toward something new will feel much more peaceful, rewarding, and satisfying.

Focus on progress rather than perfection and on how far you’ve come rather than on how far you have left to go.

One of the biggest causes of self-loathing is the hell-bent need to “get it right.” We strive for perfection and success, and when we fall short, we feel less than and worthless. What we don’t seem to realize is that striving for success and being willing to put ourselves out there is an accomplishment in itself, regardless of how many times we fail. Instead of berating yourself for messing up and stumbling backward, give yourself a pat on the back for trying, making progress, and coming as far as you have.

You can’t hate your way into loving yourself.

Telling yourself what a failure you are won’t make you any more successful. Telling yourself, you’re not living up to your full potential won’t help you reach a higher potential. Telling yourself, you’re worthless and unlovable won’t make you feel any more worthy or lovable. I know it sounds almost annoyingly simple, but the only way to achieve self-love is to love yourself—regardless of who you are and where you stand and even if you know you want to change.

Look, I have five decades of experience in self-loathing and imperfections. It’s time to let things go I can’t change and change what I can… this is me… this is now, and this is all I have to work with today. I’m going to make this work.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell5ee1406998cf1da789f5f8595c51df49

This is how I found God …

One day, I sat down and wrote everything I’d learned about God. The list was honest and complete. It started with “God is love” … “God will take me to heaven” … “God hears my prayers” … all of the things  I’d been taught to believe. Once I’d written the superfluous checklist… I got honest and wrote what I felt from all those sermons about God.

  1. God is scary

  2. God is going to send me to hell

  3. God is going to punish me

  4. God expects me to follow a list of rules or pay the consequences

  5. God thinks I’m unworthy

  6. God is making a list, and I’ll have to answer for everything I’ve ever done

  7. God wants complete and total adoration

  8. God expects me to apologize for everything I’ve done every day until I die and then there is going to be a meeting in his office

  9. God expects me to believe every word ever written in the Bible because he inspires it

My interpretation of God sounded more like a terrorist than a loving creator. “Do what I say or I’m going to torture you for all eternity” This was a “damned if I do … damned if I don’t” proposition.

For some reason, I grabbed another piece of paper and made a list of what I needed from a creator or higher power or a God… the following is what I came up with…

  1. I wanted a friend

  2. I wanted something I could lean on in times of troubles

  3. I wanted to feel loved

  4. I wanted a “father-like” figure

  5. I wanted to live without fear

  6. I wanted help in this life

  7. I wanted to feel peace at the time I die

  8. I wanted to know it’s o.k. to be Rob…..

Then it dawned on me… what I learned about God as a kid was someone else’s list. It was no more inspired by God than my list. That list was someone else’s interpretation of God. It isn’t wrong … it isn’t right… it is simply their list. I wouldn’t go to the grocery store with someone else’s shopping list for my house, why was I trying to retrofit my life with someone else’s beliefs? No wonder I couldn’t find God… I was looking for someone else’s.

Good people are so quick to tell me what’s in this portion of the Bible or the Quran or that section of the Torah, and they use the books to justify their beliefs… I think it is wonderful that holy books are written and inspire people to follow a life path. These texts are guides, just like the GPS in your car. Follow the message spoken and you’ll get where you’re going or set out to find your way, and the books will still help when help is needed. That is why they were created… not to harm you … but to guide you. If the GPS says, “Warning accident ahead,” I can interpret that to mean “ I will be destroyed if I don’t flash my lights to warn others of imminent death and run in another direction… or I can proceed with caution. The choice is mine.

I have found the God of my understanding, and he is not expecting me to do anything other than to be the best “Rob” I can be while I’m here. He (because I think God is a guy) wants me to work on me… not MJ or you or the blonde hoochie woman who lives upstairs. I’ve got a full-time job navigating through life without using what time I have left like an Uber driver picking up converts along the way. My God created the world and me, he doesn’t need me to promote him like Mary Kaye Cosmetics or Amway. I don’t need to tell five people… so they can tell five people… so they can tell five people… he doesn’t need my help.

To be honest with you… God is not preparing a mansion for me on a hill, next to a river on a street paved with gold for my next life… he’s also not issuing pink Cadillacs for those who recruited the largest number of people in this life. I don’t want it, and he knows it. What he is doing is helping me here and now and one day when this life is over… he will reunite me with my grandmother and everyone I’ve ever loved… that is my definition of heaven created by the God of my understanding. Believe in whatever brings peace into your life and if you haven’t found it from the God of your childhood…. Grab a piece of paper and start over.

You are smart enough to think for yourself and figure this one out …. Do it now!

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

When a child sees domestic violence… he is changed forever!

As a child, I spent the summers with my grandparents; their home was a safe and loving place that I dearly loved. My grandfather “took the cure”, which is a southern expression for someone who stopped drinking alcohol and replaced it with religion, so there was never any liquor in their Chattanooga, Tennessee home.

When I was about 7 years old, I remember awakening one night to a woman screaming and beating on the front door. My grandparents opened the door to a woman covered in blood begging for help. She said her husband had beaten her in a drunken rage and “this time” she knew he was going to kill her. I remember the puddling blood dripping from her face onto my grandparents doorway and the terrorized woman. It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen. Where was all the blood coming from?

I remember my grandmother telling me to get a towel from the bathroom and her handing it to the woman. I don’t remember my grandparents calling the police, but I do remember a policeman arriving and the woman begging for help. I also remember the very drunk man stumbling and swaying in the yard.

What I remember most is the police officer doing nothing to help that woman. He told her to stop provoking her husband to anger and to apologize to him and my grandparents for disturbing them. He also told her to clean the blood off “the nice lady’s” steps and go home. I remember the woman on her knees crying trying to clean her blood off the painted doorway of my grandmother’s home and I remember my grandmother stopping her.

My most vivid memory was the horror on the woman’s face as her drunk husband pulled her back to their house by the arm, as the policeman and my grandparents watched in disgust. I never saw those people again, yet I have never forgotten that night.

Domestic Violence and Battered Wife Syndrome

The number of incidents of domestic violence is staggering. It is estimated that physical violence occurs in about four to six million relationships each year in the U. S. A full quarter of American women will experience abuse in their lifetimes. Worldwide, at least one-third of women have been beaten, raped, or abused, and the perpetrator is often a member of her own family.

Domestic violence affects families from affluent communities and those from poor ones, the educated and non-educated, varying ethnicities, and those who are heterosexual and homosexual. In short, this is a problem that affects families just like yours. The chances are great that you know someone who has been abused by a spouse, partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend, or that you have known this violence.

One of the reasons why domestic violence is so devastating is that it affects the entire family. When there are children involved, they are also victims. Even when they are not physically harmed, they are damaged by the abuse. This is referred to as “secondary domestic violence,” which is extremely detrimental to children’s development. When one parent is being abused, she/he is typically not able to give her/his children the help and support they need. The children, then, are left to handle the emotions and pain on their own. An abusive parent tends to be much less affectionate, available, and supportive than parents in non-abusive households. Also, studies suggest that parents who are abused are more punitive and aggressive towards their children. Not only do children witness abuse, but they have no one to help them.

There are four characteristics of battered women’s syndrome:

  1. The woman believes she is at fault

  2. She is afraid for her life or those of her children

  3. She does not place blame on the abuser

  4. She believes the abuser is both “omnipresent” and “omniscient”

The American Psychological Association classifies battered women’s syndrome as a subgroup of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Women can recover from situations like this and get out of unsafe relationships. It is vitally important for the health and safety of entire families to get out to a safe place and turn to local services for help in recovery. Be assured that you can recover, you can save your children from a similar fate, and you can go on to live a happy and healthy life.

Healing from Abuse

How do you heal from abuse? How do you put your body, heart, and soul back together? First, you need to be out of the situation that has hurt you. It is not possible to heal when you are still being harmed, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually. For instance, if you are in a relationship in which your partner is abusing you, you will not be able to move on if the conditions remain the same. Nor is it possible for children to recover when they regularly see their father beating their mother or their mother berating their father. Leaving a relationship is difficult; perhaps harder, in many ways, than staying. But it is essential to your well-being.

Likewise, if you are an adult survivor of child abuse, you need to be in the right mental space to confront your past. You need to look at what happened and process it in a healthy way. This does not mean, however, that you need to relive any traumatic incidents; the residue of the trauma can be cleared from you with the help of a practitioner without recalling any trauma. Many times, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and physical ailments get in the way, and you may need to deal with these immediate problems and get help to get them under control before you confront the deeper issues that caused these problems. Once you are in the right frame of mind, then your journey can begin.

If you are currently in an abusive situation, or if you know someone who is, please get help immediately. Your body’s safety is at stake, and your spirit is in danger. You deserve to live a life free of fear and shame. You deserve a life of truth and healing.

I hope that woman survived. I’ll never know.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

The Real Reason Your Relationship is Falling Apart

6233e49004a06b4ad578cd8842a03dffYears ago, I married someone who speaks nine languages, fluently. I, on the other hand, speak “American,” I’m not exactly stupid… I have two master degrees, a PhD. in abnormal psychology underway, I’m writing my third thesis and a couple of people, other than my parents, feel I might have something to say worth hearing. Regardless of my accomplishments, I was no match for this woman. She’s in the top 1% for intelligence on the planet. In reality, I could not compete, nor could I bring anything to the table she didn’t already know… it was like living with “Google”. As long as the sex was great we were great, but eventually, we grew bored with one another and wasted years we’ll never get back.

In the throes of a hot romance, we eloped to the Bahamas and married at sunset on a sandy beach…. Just the two of us. It could have been perfect, but it wasn’t.  My mother never cared for the woman, because she saw her as an opportunist, and to be truthful, the woman never liked my mom, so there was no love lost.

When I came home and announced what we’d done, my mother looked me in the eyes and said, “this woman will outgrow you!” Those were the most insulting words ever spoken to me. They were also completely right! She did outgrow me, and I was totally bored with her. It was like a tea leaf prophecy; the future is seen before it’s lived. It was what it was…. nothing would change it.

This is normal, expected and makes complete sense. If you continue to grow, you’ll continue to outgrow things. However, as we get older and especially after we’ve been working for a while, growing stops being the norm. We fall into a routine and so do the same activities over and over again. We watch the same type of shows. See the same group of friends.

Growth stops.

Think back to your past year. How much of it was similar to the year before? If everything around you remains constant, it is a clear sign that you’re not growing. And in the words of an American journalist, Gail Sheehy, “If we don’t grow, we aren’t living.”

Now, we all grow in different ways. Just because I outgrew eating out every meal doesn’t mean eating out is a bad thing. It just means that for me and in the direction I’m growing, sitting in 730 restaurants a year just don’t fit anymore.  It’s like size 3 shoes, middle school and partying until 6 am. There is nothing wrong with these things; I  just outgrew them.

Growth, if you think back to your adolescent years, is not always easy or fun. Unfortunately, this still holds true even in adulthood. When I hear everyone talk about the Oscars or the big game, I feel like I missed out. When I see people partying or dancing in the Hollywood world I call home; I  want to jump in. In these moments, I find it helpful to remember my reasons for stopping these activities and the exciting things that have filled its place (like MJ).

One of the hardest things to accept is that if you continue to grow, you will outgrow people close to you… your friends… your family… even your spouse.

The only way for you to authentically stay close to these people is to:

  1. Shrink when you are with them,

  2. Help them grow with you or

  3. Fully accept who they are and understand their influence on you.

By shrinking, I refer to behaving in a way that no longer works for you. . Unfortunately, as you get older, you’ll find fewer people who continue to grow, and you’ll find that you are shrinking more often to fit in. The danger of situationally shrinking is that it will stunt your growth especially if you need to do it often. Find ways to balance this and refuel your energy by seeking out and spending time with people who value growth.

Another way to maintain your relationships while still growing is to help proactively those around you to grow. You can do this at work or home. The drawback is change only happens when the other person wants to change not when you want them to change. If they’re not open to growing, they are entitled to that decision. Don’t let your good intentions fall short and resist becoming a snob.

A third way to stay with the great people you love even if you’re growing at various rates is to accept them fully for who they are while keeping in mind the consequences of growing at different speeds.

When you outgrow someone else, your interests begin to differ and your personal outlook and philosophy on life and views on how to live it starts to change. Since life strategies influence behavior, you may find that you’ll gravitate towards different and sometimes opposing activities. Most of your fringe or weak relationships end here because you and the other person won’t be willing to put in the effort to keep the relationship.

In your stronger relationships, compromise tends to happen. You may shrink, or the other person may grow or both. Typically, if the commitment is one-sided for too long, that could strain and eventually end the relationship. Now if both sides stop to grow, the relationship might stay intact, but other areas in your life might begin to suffer. No one said life would be easy.

Look at your life… have you been growing, shrinking or staying the same? If you’re growing but feeling guilty because you’re leaving things you once treasured behind, don’t feel bad about it. It’s part of living a fulfilled life and a natural consequence of growth. If you’re not growing, what are you going to do about it?

Don’t waste another moment… we’re only dancing here for a short while.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Manny’s message of recovery worked for me!

12764371_10153921666874709_8854675858008419689_oI am the poster child for substance use disorders. That is the new and improved name for “alcoholic and drug addict” (DSM-5). For years, I’d battled an addiction to prescription drugs and couldn’t find a path to freedom. I was physically dependent on drugs and psychologically addicted to the effects drugs created. It was hell… Addiction is the worst job on earth! You are on call 24/7, never get a day off, there are no vacations… no holidays. Addiction does not care if you are sick or if you have plans… none of these are in your “employment contract.” Ask anyone who’s been there!

 An estimated $780,000 was invested in my recovery. I’ve been detoxed, prayed over, rehabbed, saved, baptized, exorcised, new aged and given up on. Finally, something clicked, and I want to share it with you. I’d like to take credit for my recovery, but I’m not that smart of a guy. Fortunately, I met a guy who has it together, and I learned from him. His name is Manny Rodriguez, founder of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center.

A recent article I read reminded me of Manny and the key to my recovery.  There are only four things needed to regain your life … Manny said it… I believed it and today, I’m clean and sober.

This is my summation of Manny Rodriguez’s message of hope and the Mayo article that supports it.

I hope it helps you ….

The prognosis of substance use disorders is the same for everyone… you will live with it, or you will die from it. There are no exceptions. Think of addiction the same way you see Type II diabetes. You can live a very long life with diabetes, you can be productive, successful, and enjoy everything life has to offer, or you can lose your vision, kidney functions, limbs and eventually lapse into a coma and die. It’s your decision… live with it or die from it. Understanding the disease and how to live with it is the key to a longer life.

The most common approach to recovery is natural recovery. Natural recovery is a recovery that occurs without treatment or support groups (NIAAA, 2012). When people recognize the cost of their addiction exceeds the benefits, and correct this, they become the “heroes” of addiction recovery. We don’t hear about these folks too often… because doing it without help doesn’t always work However, we can learn a great deal from them. Specifically, the four key ingredients in any successful recovery process. These are humility, motivation, sustained effort and the restoration of meaning and purpose.

Four key ingredients to recovery from addiction

  1. Humility

At the most basic level, recovery is about humility. Some people independently solve their addiction problem (natural recovery). Others ask for help. In both cases, it is a humbling experience to face the reality of dependency. This humility extends to treatment professionals as well. To quote the famous French surgeon, Ambroise Pare (c. 1510-1590), “I bandaged him, and God healed him.” Treatment professionals can point the way. However, each person’s recovery is ultimately a personal triumph and victory.

Professional treatment for addiction is the path of last resort. Think about it for a moment. At its most basic level, treatment involves asking for help. Ordinarily, we don’t ask for help until faced with the realization we need some! An analogy might make this more sensible. Suppose you want to drive your car to an unfamiliar location. Perhaps you never visited this destination before. Do you immediately drive to a gas station and ask for directions? Or, do you first attempt to navigate there on your own?

Until we realize we are lost, we do not consider pulling over and asking for directions. Of course, different people will arrive at this conclusion more quickly than others. Some people are fiercely independent. The notion of asking for help is akin to admitting defeat. Other people are more prone to pull over and ask for directions at the first hint of trouble. The same is true with recovery from addiction. By the time people come in for treatment, they have usually attempted to recover on their own. They’ve reached their individual tolerance level for “being lost” and decided they could use some “navigational” help.

Treatment is a type of navigational help. Let’s continue with the previous example. When we pull over and ask for directions, we don’t expect someone to jump into our car and drive us to our destination! Sure, we’ve asked for help. Hopefully, we received some helpful directions. Nonetheless, we still have to drive ourselves to the desired location. This is true of addictions recovery. Ultimately, everyone must drive themselves down the road to recovery. Therefore, even with “navigational help,” recovery still involves natural recovery.

But wait, you say. Does natural recovery mean that people addicted to heroin or alcohol stopped on their own? Is there more of these “natural recovery” folks than people who complete addictions treatment? Yes and Yes. Heroin use is a classic example. Many Vietnam veterans were addicted to heroin when they returned home. Public health officials were concerned about this. What if they didn’t seek treatment? Would there be a devastating surge in heroin use? None of these outcomes occurred. Most heroin-using veterans simply quit on their own. How did they do it? The short answer is natural recovery. Of course, not all veterans fully recovered. Some developed other addictions when they gave up heroin. Others only partially gave up heroin.

Smoking is a more familiar example. If you have been around since the 1960s or 1970s, your experience will confirm the following facts. Tens of millions of Americans have quit smoking. Very few of them sought treatment or attended a support group. How many rehabs are you aware of for quitting smoking? If quitting smoking were easy, these results would not surprise us. Most people recognize that quitting smoking is quite difficult. Almost everyone who quits smoking does this without specialized help or treatment. It may take a handful of serious attempts to succeed finally.

A similar result has been found for alcohol. There are individuals who stopped or reduced their alcohol use have done so on their own. Unless you are a student of addictions research, you might not know there are so many of these successful quitters and moderators. Indeed, it would be quite unusual to hear someone say, “I used to have a really bad drinking problem. You might have even called me an alcoholic. But you know, I just cleaned up my act on my own.  Now I don’t think about it much anymore.” It’s quite sensible that someone wouldn’t advertise these facts about themselves. Unfortunately, this silence means most people are unaware of the ways people recover from addiction without help.

  1. Motivation

A second crucial ingredient is motivation. During interviews with others in recovering, a common theme was found. The need to change finally became important enough. In other words, the benefits of change outweighed the costs of remaining addicted. This realization provided sufficient motivation to make needed changes. People who succeeded in natural recovery were able to evaluate the costs and benefits of their addiction accurately. Not all individuals appear to be able to do so. This is where treatment can be very helpful. Treatment can help people take an honest, hard look at their situation. This helps them to evaluate the costs and benefits more accurately. This will then provide the motivation to make needed changes.

  1. Sustained effort

The third key ingredient to successful recovery is a sustained effort. Whether you recover on your own or with treatment, recovery requires a sustained effort. Sustained effort is needed to persevere through the initial periods of discomfort. This lesson is clear from smokers who quit. People who successfully quit smoking spend a substantial amount of time preparing to change. They experience varying degrees of discomfort getting through the transitional period from smoker to smoke-free. Many people who do not succeed in their first recovery effort under-estimated how much effort it would involve.

  1. Restore meaning and purpose to life

Finally, it is necessary to restore meaning and purpose to your life. At some point, it will become evident that your world revolved around your addiction. To succeed in recovery, something else must fill that void. At the onset, build your recovery around things that give your life meaning and purpose. This might mean spending more time with your kids. Whatever it is, begin to recognize and enjoy the benefits of your freedom from addiction.

We know these four ingredients are common ingredients of successful recovery. However, we also know there is no single, correct path to recovery. Expect to find your road to recovery. Seek information and input. Then consider carefully what makes the most sense for you. Go ahead, try it. If it doesn’t work, try something different. A common expression is very fitting. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” Realize that very few people are successful with just one attempt. Assume that there are many different roads to recovery just as there are many different people. Never give up. This is your life… your chance… find what works and hold on for an amazing adventure!

Manny Rodriguez is a very insightful man… he’s taken his message to those still suffering in addiction, and it works!

Thank you, Manny!

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell, MBA, MA, LAADC, ICAADC, PhD Candidate

You’re a pig and totally screwed me over… why did I let you go?

029c0ffc8113d51fd7bf0a4f36bafc84I’ve never done anything in moderation… I don’t understand how it works and don’t care to find out. That goes for everything… do it to the extreme or just stay on the porch. My romances are at the front of the line when it comes to all or nothing moments. Most have started and ended with such intensity they seemed destined for the history books. As bad as the break – up periods were I usually got sucked back into them because I didn’t want to be alone… or I thought I could make it work next time. I was wrong 100% of the time…

Recently, I was listening to Sade and felt the need to get sucked onto memory lane over someone who totally screwed me to the wall and left me to rot ( due to a court order, I am no longer mentioning names!!). But I will mention, Paul Hudson, a writer who seems smarter than me when it comes to realizing good lovin’ gone bad is really just lovin’ gone. Let it go and get on with it. I’m going to sum up what I’ve learned from him… because I’ve had a hard time making love work!

So what is it with romance? The sex is never that great… or it isn’t worth putting up with so much unhappiness to have it! Do we miss the person when they’re gone or what we remember about life with them? Are people capable of missing anything or anyone? Or are we only missing our interpretation and memory of that thing or person? It sounds like the same thing, but it’s not. In essence, we aren’t capable of missing or loving anyone for the exact person he or she is. Instead, we are only capable of loving and appreciating people and things for who or what we understand them to be.

People judge — we all do. It’s the way we were built, and it will never, ever change. By judging, we create a set of beliefs that we have about an individual. As the relationship grows, we tweak.

Sometimes, however, our interpretations of that person are way off the mark — which is one reason people fall out of love. They fall out of love with the person they thought they knew because they’ve grown to understand the person who exists — and it’s not the same person.

People interpret, then recollect and slightly alter their memory of that person before again interpreting that memory of that particular individual. People are fricking complicated. Sometimes the way we remember someone is very similar to the person he or she is — or, at the very least, once was.

But we like to romanticize. We like to focus in on the way someone made us feel rather than the way he or she acted and treated us. By doing so, we focus in on those strong, pleasant emotions and allow them to cloud our entire memory of an individual.

Again, sometimes this memory is right on the mark. Sometimes we have every reason to miss someone. Unfortunately, the opposite is just as likely to be true. Sometimes you don’t miss the person but instead, miss the idea of him or her. This person treated you like shit, but you can only remember the good times.

You miss having someone in your life — it’s completely understandable. People don’t like to be alone. Yes, some of us manage much better than others, but it’s just about always due to necessity. No one chooses to be entirely alone unless he or she has some psychological issues. Sure, we all like to be alone from time to time, but only from time to time. Inevitably, we’ll get lonely and want to have someone in our lives to share our lives. It’s completely natural and nothing at all to be ashamed of.

What you should be ashamed of is allowing yourself to miss people who treated you like garbage. They may have been incredibly nice to you on special occasions, but life isn’t full of special occasions. If it were, then there would cease to be a need for the term. If you’re missing someone who would constantly hurt you because he or she simply did not care, then you need to take a step back, take some time to get reacquainted with your reality.

You cannot allow yourself to be all right with being used and mistreated. You simply can’t allow it. You only miss this person when you feel alone. There’s a very easy way to differentiate between true love and everything else we confuse to be love. People miss someone from their past when they are lonely or sad.

The same people look into their past for someone to lean on when they need someone to lean on but have no one to turn to. That’s not love — that’s you grasping at straws. When life is difficult, we never want to be alone because having someone in our lives would make things easier.

As human beings, we’re always interested in making things easier. This isn’t real love. It’s loneliness stretching our imaginations and allowing us to dwell on memories that are more interpretation and less actual reality. If you seem to only miss someone during the hard times, then try not to be fooled into believing you miss him or her.

On the other hand, if you can miss someone even during your happiest moments, then you have a true reason for missing that individual. If you look at your life and all the happiness you feel, and the first thing that comes to mind is, “If only she (or he) were here to experience this with me…” then there can be no argument; you love this person.

You don’t miss the person you were with; you miss the person you were when you were with him or her. When we reach back into our past and remember past lovers, the experiences we had together, the feelings we felt, the memories we created… we aren’t so much thinking about the person we were with but rather a person we were when we were with him or her.

People are self-absorbed. It’s our nature. It shouldn’t be shunned but should be embraced, better understood and a bit better controlled. We don’t remember the person we once loved because it isn’t possible. We never directly interact with people; we interact with our interpretations of them.

And our interpretations are very malleable. We reach back and make changes to the way we understand people and things, as well as how we feel about them. Regardless of all of this, the fact remains that the things and people we believe matter most are the things and people who affected us in the biggest way.

This is something many people overlook: We remember the way people affected us and not the people themselves. Sure, we remember the things they did that made us feel the way we felt, but in reality, we are honing in on the resulting emotions, not the causal actions.

With that being said, what we are missing isn’t so much the individual as it is the reality that having that individual in our lives allowed for. We miss the way we felt and the people we became when we were with him or her. We miss the people we were because they were better versions of the people we are now.

This may be almost entirely the result of nostalgia, but nevertheless, it is the reality we live in — regardless of whether or not we realize it or accept it. People are capable of loving the same individual forever. We are capable of missing him or her and capable of understanding what we managed to lose or give up on. This is rarely the case.

More often than not, we are exhausting ourselves emotionally on individuals who don’t deserve our attention. Learn the difference, and your life will lead you in a much brighter direction.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell