News Coming Soon!

Hello all!

Well, it’s been a while since I have posted! Apologies. I know you were all sitting and waiting with baited breaths.

There have been many substantial life changes for me since my last post in September. Where has the time gone?

Most notably, I am back in school studying geomatics, the technical term for surveying technology. Thus, a large chunk of my time has been dedicated to getting back into the swing of school and, you know, making the grade and all!

All that to be said, stand by for some new additions to Stoic Sobriety. I’m staring down the barrel of one year of sobriety. I have learned so much about myself and my place and purpose in life. Stoic philosophy remains tantamount to my understanding of life’s little curveballs and how to deal with them (which often means relegating them to the “out of my control” subheading!)

Make sure and add me to your RSS feed. I’m really excited about the future of this site!

A Little Help From My Friends

Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to do thy duty like a soldier in an assault on a town. How then, if being lame thou canst not mount up on the battlements alone, but with the help of another is it possible?

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VII.7

Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I began this conversation a couple of days ago via a live stream on Instagram. It was prompted by a discussion topic at an AA meetings concerning what part of the program stands out to me or what aspect has been really helpful in my recovery. It’s true that the program has to work holistically, all parts being a conduit to the whole recovery. Consequently, each part helps me through different stages of growth and development. Continue reading “A Little Help From My Friends”

Toby Keith: A Philosopher For Our Generation

I’ll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with a good saying.

Seneca, On Tranquility Of Mind, 11.8

I’m starting to question my reality. I was forced to endure a country song I’ve heard a 27garbage_600thousand times and actually took something from it. Toby Keith’s song “Ain’t Much Fun” has imparted some wisdom on me. Mr. Keith (because I know you are reading), I respect you as an artist, being one myself. I like country music, but I am a purist. While I can’t say I particularly enjoy your lexicon of work, I will say thank you for this song.

The premise of the song is of a man getting sober and returning to real life. Chores, the “honey-do” list, the everyday routine of life. It’s very tongue in cheek, but the reality of it is, well, my reality. I don’t get to go out an party all the time, drinking away my problems for another day and time. I can’t go to work and drink the whole time (I’m a musician) and then come home and do it again scot-free. At this point, why would I? Things creak and cramp hard enough in the morning without a hangover.

I know that a fear that many people in recovery have is how to cope with being sober. One question is whether they will get boring, whether they can have fun sober. Continue reading “Toby Keith: A Philosopher For Our Generation”

Feel Free To Remove The Kid Gloves

Kid drawingWhen kids do something wrong, often you have to handle them or the situation gingerly and delicately. As an adult, I expect someone to call me out if I do something wrong. But not with kids. They don’t process like adults. Drawing a picture of the house and the family on the living room wall with markers is technically wrong, but the child did it with the best of intentions. They love their family and want to create, sometimes for posterity thanks to the Sharpie company, a visual representation of that love. There is a subtle art to balancing discipline with toleration. Consequently, my former alcoholic brain didn’t process things like an adult either. The problem encountered by our peers is that most of the time, kid gloves nor iron gauntlets can show us the error of our ways.

I know that all recovering alcoholics and addicts have experience that awkward situation where a friend or family member tries to protect you from yourself. Continue reading “Feel Free To Remove The Kid Gloves”

Sobriety Without Sanctimony

If you have assumed a character above your strength, you have both acted in this matter in an unbecoming way, and you have neglected that which you might have fulfilled.

Epictetus, Encheiridion, XXXVII

soapboxThis may be the last time I get sober, but it surely wasn’t the first. I would be interested in viewing statistics on the number of people that truly quit on their first attempt. I am currently trying to quit chewing tobacco as well, for the umpteenth time. I gave myself a grace period after I quit drinking alcohol. Nicotine is a real hard demon to get off your back. And from an earlier experience, quitting both at the same time is nightmarish.

A couple of years ago, I achieved a successful and fairly long-lived quit. One day, I woke up and decided I had had enough. I put down the alcohol and cigarettes on the same day and walked away. The next week was one of the most physically painful weeks of my life. It made my body hurt so bad. My brain felt as if it was barely functioning, wrapped in a fog of incoherence. I found myself constantly looking at online “quit timelines”, making sure that the sensations I was feeling were normal and trying to calculate when they would end.

One side effect that was not described anywhere in the medical information I found was an increased sense of sanctimony and self-righteousness. I had developed this “holier-than-thou” attitude over time towards anyone who drank. I seriously thought that I was stronger than them, better than them, cleaner than them. In retrospect, I was probably a deplorable drag to be around for a period of time.

Soapboxes are portable platforms that public speakers use to elevate themselves above the crowd. Before the advent of corrugated cardboard, many trade products like vegetables or fruits were packed into wooden boxes for the shipment of wholesale merchandise to retail establishments. These wooden boxes were chosen as mobile platforms for impromptu speeches, oftentimes for a political or spiritual purpose. In America, the period after World War I was considered the heyday of soapboxing. There was very little money in circulation for a majority of the population so these “soapbox preachers” served as cheap entertainment. Often, unrest would result between these amassed crowds and local authorities because the crowds would block walkaways or disturb vehicular traffic. There were cases of local law enforcement attempting to disband “street meetings” out of fear of social unrest and the possibility of an outbreak of violent protesting.

Between 1907 and 1916, street oratory was widely practiced amongst members of the International Workers of the World, a union and labor movement based on socialist and communist policies. Many members of the socialist movement used the soapbox method to hone and sharpen their political acumen, in many cases to spearhead the cause of free speech brought on by attempted censure by local governments.

I have been guilty of soapboxing my sobriety. My attitude about being sober was to the point of irritating zealotry. One of the goals of the AA program is to help and give back, to turn from selfish behaviors and attempt to help those that need it. By looking down my nose at those who drank alcohol, the only thing I accomplished was disenfranchizing everyone around me. I had become just as irritating sober as I had been when I was drunk.

This time, with the help of AA and the true and heartfelt willingness to better myself and change, I have kept my teetotalling attitude in check, or at least internal. I can not look you in the eye and admit that I haven’t had moments where the old attitude has crawled into my head. Fortunately, I am honing my ability to examine my sentiments and dissect why I am having those feelings and thoughts in the first place. Admittedly, it is often because I am jealous of those who can moderate. I find those thoughts happening less and less, but they still exist on occasion.

I have consciously and actively reframed how and if I even speak about my sobriety. First of all, I don’t go around and talk about my sobriety to just anyone who will listen or has a pair of ears; they don’t hear it whether they want to or not. If people ask about it, my goal is not to tell them that quitting is best and they should because of reasons x,y, and z. Rather, I describe how it has enriched my life, made me a better person, more cognizant of my actions and how I have really begun to find the real me through self-realization. I want to be the person that is here to help and listen to someone who believes that they have had a problem, not the person who preaches to those who may not have a problem in the first place. I have come to see that there is a vast difference between drinking alcohol and being a true alcoholic. It is not my job to regulate those who can moderate. My job is to regulate myself and live my best life so I can be of the best use for those who need help.

I have placed my soapbox in the darkest corner of my closet to collect dust. My object is to be the best me I can, to lead by example and lend a helping hand. As classic Roman philosopher Cicero stated, “men were brought into existence for the sake of men that they might do one another good”.

When Moderation Leads to Excess: The Alcoholic’s Dilemma, Or, The Bee Sting

It has been said that one of the keys to life is moderation. Don’t sleep too much or little, watch what and how much you eat. Have a job but don’t be a workaholic. Take time to play but don’t play too hard. Find that middle ground. Psychologists call this the “Goldilocks effect”, that point where it’s just right. Graphically, that point would be the apex of an upside down letter U. Anything after that will possibly lead to a point of diminishing returns.

However, American culture values extremes and excess. You can never have too much money, be too skinny, have too many social media followers, never have a house too big or too small. We also live in a world that alcohol has become more acceptable amongst the masses. Continue reading “When Moderation Leads to Excess: The Alcoholic’s Dilemma, Or, The Bee Sting”

The Honeymoon is Over

A dear friend of mine who attends my home group sagely advised me that if I was starting to feel worse, I was getting better. I was told this about 30 days into sobriety. I had just achieved my first chip and I was on cloud nine. (Many AA groups use a colored chip system for varying lengths of sobriety). I didn’t get his gist at all. I felt better in mind, body, and spirit than I had in a very long time. Sure, it’s a daily uphill battle, but to this point, I was flying up that hill.

His experienced prediction was right, though. I started to feel the end of the honeymoon period very recently, right around my 90-day celebration. A little context: Continue reading “The Honeymoon is Over”

Why I Quit: The Long and Short Of It

I have to be honest with myself and you, dear reader. I didn’t quit for me, at first. It took a few weeks of self-examination and experience to reach the point of quitting for me.

I have quit drinking many times, as I think all addicts have. I had an inkling that I had a problem, but I would never truly admit it to myself. It was always in the back of my mind. But, I was too busy lying to myself and to others to truly hear that tiny voice of reason. It was like trying to hear the buzz of a mosquito over the roar of a jet engine. “I can put it down anytime, I don’t have a problem, I’m not drinking liquor, such-and-such drinks more than I do, they can’t tell I’ve been drinking, I’m fine”. The string of self-justifying lies never ended. Continue reading “Why I Quit: The Long and Short Of It”

Welcome!

I have attempted to maintain a few blogs/websites over the years. And in all honesty, they often were for vanity. My younger self yearned for others to care about my opinion on this book or that film, just whatever attention I thought I deserved.

This is the least of my concerns now. At 32 years old, I hit a wall concerning my vices. I had become a drunk. Not just a “binge drink on occasion” kind of person. I had become an” overindulging on a daily basis” alcoholic. I have known for a while that I had a problem but would never face it. I went through the typical internal dialogue daily: I can quit whenever I want, I don’t have a problem, I drink less than (fill in the blank), I’m not hurting anything or anyone, why won’t people just leave me alone?!

Enough. I had to make a change. The truth is, I started by quitting for someone else. But as time elapsed, I saw why I should be quitting for me.

This isn’t directly an advice column. If you take something from it, good on you. This is about my struggles, which I try as often as possible to view through a lens of classical Stoic philosophy (more on that to come). Thank you for showing interest in this. It’s a work in progress, just like me.