Back to the Grind

As mentioned back in a March post, MPE Time Out, I left my job. Not the best decision I’ve made in years but it has given me time to get my mental, physical and emotional states back to normal. There was one person who kept tabs on my welfare which I’m grateful. Now I’ve made the decision to go back with a different perspective.

At the beginning of March 2022, I was absolutely drained. I was simply tired of fighting working in a toxic environment. I wasn’t willing to put up a concrete wall. Instead my ego got the best of me. I had to take a step back to say, “Hey, what a minute. What the hell are you doing?”

There was one person, a co-worker, who helped through that process. She and I had conversations on my welfare because she knew I was at my breaking point. At one point, I asked her, “How do you manage to get by day to day (or night by night, in our case)?” Once again she pointed to the fact nothing is going to change – ever. Whether I agree or disagree with anything, it doesn’t matter. Selfish people are only concerned about one thing – themselves. They are going to do things which only make themselves look good to everyone else no matter what the cost – they simply don’t care. Her suggestion was to simply ignore everyone else around you, do what you do, simply say ‘okay’ and do it without question. Clock in for the night, do your thing, clock out. We’re not responsible for the decision made nor are we responsible for the consequences of those decisions. We may not like what happens but its going to happen and we just have to accept it leaving it at the door when we leave for the night. It took time to digest and convince myself it was the best plan if I decided to go back.

At the beginning of May, I decided it was time and to go back to something I’m familiar with. I just have to ‘change my tune’. I have confidence I can do it. If I have to act like a robot ignoring everything around me letting it slide off me like raindrops, it isn’t going to be easy but I think I can get to a comfortable normality, if that makes sense.

After a week of reapplying, I called to check on the status of my application. After a short conversation I was told my application would be considered again. Some people are apparently leaving the overnight shift. However, before I can be rehired, those Associates records have to be properly handled. In summary, she will call me back but can’t put any specific date when it will happen. It’s my understanding, four people left or were terminated in the last two weeks. In addition, three new hires started but only one returned after the first day of work (which is typical). The person I spoke to has been out for a couple of days herself and is known not to be expedient. So I have to wait and I’m good with it.

I’m also going to actively see what other employers are offering. There isn’t much, due to my own limitations, either transportation or skills, available to me but it won’t hurt to apply, have an interview if they are interested and see what happens. Based on past experience, I can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen – things aren’t going to mysteriously fall in my lap!

Gratitude for a Second Chance

At fifteen months of sobriety, I didn’t imagine I would be still living in a chemical dependency residential program. One would think by now, I would have moved on. But this just isn’t the case. Matter for fact, I will be here for a couple more months as I continue to take care of some dental issues.

Living one day at a time and practicing patience with the process can be difficult at times. Yet, I continue to believe I am here for a reason. Therefore I’m grateful for the continued support I receive while I go through this process, as frustrating and difficult as it may be at times.

Back in August, I finally stepped in a dental office to take care of some plaguing dental issues. I went through two surgeries, ten teeth extractions to remove “problem” teeth. I thought I was in the clear to move on with a partial denture and the rest of my life. Again, this wasn’t so. After going back to my regular dentist, they decided it would be best just to have the rest of my upper teeth all removed and a full denture placed. Back to the oral surgeon I went to schedule two more surgeries.

Monday, the first surgery was completed. Yesterday, I went for a follow up. I was surprised I was in no pain and cleared for the last surgery to be scheduled on November 20th or sooner (I’m on the cancellation list). Immediately after my appointment I got a call from the dentist to schedule the impression for my full upper denture in early January. There is a four to six week healing period after the last surgery. It’s my understanding after the impression is taken, again there is another lengthy period of time before the actual placement of the upper full denture. So, reality sets in as I may not be moving on until February or March of 2020. Despite this, I’m okay with it.

During this whole time I have seen a lot of people come and go for various reasons. Many leave on their own accord, only to relapse because they thought they were ready. They did what they wanted to do and they failed. I don’t want to be that person – again. As someone reminds me in meetings, “[this program] is the last house on the block for me. Either I stick with this time around or I may not be back and probably end up dead”.

I am not squandering this second change of changing my life, as this may be the last chance. I am grateful I developed “a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty”. I have learned, “Living on Life’s Terms” can be difficult at times. I don’t want to be here, I want to move on. Yet, I have to remember I’m here for a reason. Perhaps there are life lessons I’m getting a chance to refine before moving on. So, every day as I review my day I ask, “What lesson(s) did I learn today?”

The point I am trying to make is, no matter what life may throw at me, I have the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, a Higher Power, a Sponsor and a network of sober people to help me stay sober every day. Without these things in place, I know I would be dead or living a miserable existence. Instead, today I’m grateful to be alive and sober.

Came to Believe . . .

In the various 12-Step meetings, they all have adapted the same for Step 2: “Came to believe in a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” For many, we rejected the idea of God or a Higher Power because “what did He/She/They/Them do for me when I was drinking”? Many nights all those fox hole prayers were never answered. This Step is another stumbling block for many newcomers, even myself.

Throughout the early years of my life, I rejected the Christian God and Christianity in general. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. Specifically, getting me out of the hell hole I was living with an abusive (physical, mental and emotionally) mother and enabling, codependent father. However, I did acknowledge an existence of what I called “a presence” which I found through Nature, Herself. Eventually those beliefs brought me in believing in Those I choose to today, which out of respect for all religions, I simply call my Higher Power.

At the beginning of my sobriety, AA asked me to stop drinking – one day at a time. What? Me? Are you serious? My friend, my lover, my companion, the “thing” that kept me insane from all the insanity in my life? It happened.

As I grew in days and months of my sobriety, now AA asked me to “come to believe in a Power greater than myself to restore me to sanity.” Whoa..wait a minute…put the breaks on! I had my own beliefs and it didn’t include “God”. However, I was reminded of three things from my Sponsor, “If there is anything in this program I ask of you, it is to be honest with yourself and others, an open-mind to experience new ideas and a willingness to try new things.” With much reluctance my response was, “Fine.”

I heard in meetings and was reminded by my Sponsor, which I passed on to those I sponsored later, “Step 2 only says, ‘Came to believe'”. Therefore, with an open mind and my willingness I began to connect with my Higher Power as I knew Them. My trust in Them grew exponentially as time passed. Now, I explain two things to people about this Step to help them out. This didn’t happen over night, it took months, if not years to develop the relationship I have with my Higher Power I have today.

For me, if my gut tells me something is right or wrong; go left, not right; choose the blue box not the red box; I have a choice. Yet, in early sobriety I didn’t choose because I knew no better. However, later on after some experience, I did have a choice. It’s called taking responsibility for my actions and trusting in my Higher Power. For me, my gut is my Higher Power speaking through me. Therefore, if I choose against what my “guy” is telling me, I must accept those consequences.

At a men’s meeting I use to attend to years ago, I will never forget how a friend of mine explained how he practices this Step. “When I don’t know what to do, when I’m in a bad situation, when I think about using, I simply look up and say, ‘Can you help me out?'” Simple, yet revolutionary!

We as alcoholics, addicts, codependents, etc., tend to complicate matters, hence the saying, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Whether you have a religious background or not, it doesn’t matter. Most 12-step programs are spiritual programs. I explain ‘spiritual’ as ‘finding your true Self’. Who do you want to be in recovery – the same piece of shit with two legs meandering through life aimlessly when drinking like I did?

If you haven’t recognized another important part of recovery, it is you can’t do it alone! We have all suffered enough so let others help you, especially in a Higher Power. With the help of a Higher Power, your life will change.

It may be difficult at first to digest this concept. We were all in your shoes. But try one of the two methods I describe above. Don’t think about it, just do it. My Sponsor use to say, “Don’t expect anything. If you expect something and it doesn’t happen, you are only going to disappoint yourself. If you think about it, our addiction will convince us to do otherwise.

Do it just once a day? Do it when you need some help, there is no meeting, you don’t have a Sponsor yet or you just want to practice it. Did it work for you? What happened? Keep working on it.

Eventually connecting with your Higher Power will become second nature. Sometimes in my own life, especially now in my own early sobriety, I use the methods described above. They work. You have to trust and “come to believe in a Higher Power greater than yourself. The second part of the step, “…could restore us to sanity” just comes with time with the practice of the rest of the 12 Steps.

Good luck and remember – Today, don’t drink!

Change Is Never Easy

Change has never been easy for me; it wouldn’t surprise me to learn changes for anyone aren’t easy. After a certain period of time, we develop a habit tending to stick to the ritual day in and out. However, when you through a wrench in your circadian rhythm (“body clock” or “24-hour cycle”, it makes harder. Now your battle is on two fronts – mentally and physically.

Everything is turned around lately. I can’t focus. However, I tend to wander off in various directions when presented anyway. Lately, it’s really bad. Coupled with forgetfulness, it makes it especially frustrating. I thought my reversing my day (i.e. 7 a.m. = 7 p.m. for me), it would help my physical body adjust. It just ain’t happening.

I’ve learned through sobriety, you must be patient (not with only change but with everything). Things don’t happen overnight no matter how much we want them (selfishness). I’ve found one must challenge oneself to these new changes.

Then there is sabotage (selfishness and greediness), as I do very often.  Down in my subconscious, I believe if asked to pick up extra shifts at work I’ll be in the spotlight, thus not be touched by anything perhaps I’m doing wrong. In reality, I know this is delusional thinking. This type of thinking, for me, is the hardest to change.

Right now I need to be selfish in another way; taking care of myself is the most important. What comes to mind is the “Just Say No [to drugs]” campaign. I found when I’m able to separate my employment from my personal life (and for me, that is extremely difficult at times), I’m better equipped to take care of myself. Knowing this, I simply need to say “No” when it comes to opportunities at work.

It’s this reoccurring theme in my life sitting on my “defects of character” list. It has so many names, perhaps I need to revisit it (which eventually I will) in due time.

The Foot Dropped

Another work related post.  In reality, a circle of events.  The point here is there is always positive with the negative.

My gut, which I tell people is my Higher Power, was telling me, “Mike, careful, something is just not right.” After the last couple of days events at work, I decided the best alternative was to keep to myself.  During dinner, my supervisor and the Director of Nursing (DON) paid me a visit on the floor.  They wanted to talk. “F**k. What now?”, I was thinking.

In a nutshell, I was given a verbal warning for my time management skills. Apparently my co-workers feel that I’m to slow at doing my job.  The DON also threw out I had mentioned I said, “I have until 11 p.m. to get all care done, so I’m not going to rush.” Oh, it gets better.  Another incident happened the other day which was brought up (which due to confidentiality, I can’t disclose here).  However, it ties into everything.

I completely shut down – mumbling, then not saying anything during the meeting.

Basically my employer is covering their own arse.  While the employer attempted to ask my side, I refused to say anything because I already knew they had made up their mind pointing the blame at me.  I was right.

Later in the evening, I switched floors to do care on some other residents.  There is a another CNA I’ve been talking to which I have connected with.  Her and I are on the same page.  She recognizes my fellow co-workers, “out to get you”.  I had disclosed to her I’m a recovering addict and my frustrations of the other day “driving me to drink”.  She in turn talked to my supervisor, apparently after their meeting with me, about her concerns not only how staff is treating me but the truth of what is really going on in the facility.  As we worked together, she was willing to help me with new time management skills she learned  over her 12 years of experience.  At the end of the day we chatted for about 45 minutes.  It was a great relief to know that she too was a recovering addict knowing exactly what I was going through.

I also had a talk with my supervisor expressing my concerns.  She reached out to me because “I saw that you shut down during the meeting, so I wanted to talk to you.” She is willing to address my concerns and try to change things.  She is beginning to recognize the problems (sexism, lack of communication, no teamwork, etc.).  After our discussion she asked that I don’t put in my letter of resignation (because that was exactly why I was talking to her in the first place).  So I’m giving her a chance.

Despite the bad news at the beginning, I was relieved at the end of the day.  I had felt completely alone.  Now I know that I’m not.  I have to be patient, willing to give it time for the wind to change in a positive direction.

A Mouse In a Running Wheel

In the past, I’ve been complimented on my tolerance of other’s behavior. Lately, I find that I have less tolerance each day. The behaviors of everyone, including myself. It has been months since I searched the Big Book or the 12 & 12 for some advice.

Some days it is so hard to just bite my tongue. It feels like the fuse is lit to an atomic bomb. It starts with one, then another until I’m boiling with frustration and anger. Through my own personal experiences I learned to do something quickly. However, some days are better than others.

Here are a few passages that put things in perspective while also giving me a solution. The Big Book reminds Us, “We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look at them as sick people (70) . . . Love and tolerance of others is our code (84)”. The 12 & 12, reminds Us, “Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellow actually means” (92).

For example, before I even leave town just driving to work gets me unsettled. Pedestrian traffic is typically non-existent. But I always find that ONE pedestrian who just pisses me off. They want to use the cross walk at the wrong time; they think it’s clear to cross, my side turns green, yet I wait for them to cross while people are honking their horns in frustration. Other times they cross the street instead of walking to the corner stopping the flow of traffic like it’s New York City. But these feelings are reduced when I drive through the countryside on my way to work.

We all work in environments where some people just get on our nerves. My tolerance of my fellow co-workers is another issue. Every day, I start work with a clean slate. Yet it only takes a few minutes before I’m back where I was yesterday. No matter how hard I try to leave it at the door when I leave work each night, it’s just not easy. Unfortunately, talking to anyone is a waste of my time. A change of job was suggested, however no matter where I go in the medical field or another profession, this type of environment is not going to change.

This is what exhausts me each day. I see how it wears me down during the day. My forgetfulness of what needs to be done at work rises because my frustration/anger side tracks me. I feel guilty because I broke yet another promise made earlier in the day. There really is no way out. It’s like being a mouse in a running wheel for the entirety of my day.

Same shit. Different day.