Today’s blog entry is from Adam Whitman. Adam has been a member of Café RE since September 2022. Adam has been alcohol free since January 1, 2023 and is very active within his Café RE OG community.
From Heartache to Healing
By: Adam Whitman (Café RE OG)
February 1st, 2023
My first month of sobriety is written in the books.
The pink cloud is in full view and you better believe I’m right up in it. I take that back. I’m above it. Look at me soar. I’ve actually done it. I quit drinking. And you know, it isn’t that hard. Might I dare say it’s easy? I don’t even want to drink. It’s gross. I actually think it’s gross now.
I can’t hold back. I’m going to say it.
I am a freaking badass.
August 1st, 2023
My seventh month of sobriety is written in the books.
My negative thinking is out of control. Insecurities are running rampant. I no longer relate to my circle of friends. “I don’t like the new Adam” they say as I watch them slowly slip away.
And I’ve gotten fatter. What? Fatter? How the f**k did that happen?
I’m in the midst of the worst people pleasing flareup of my life. My marriage is hanging on by a thread. The woman who I’ve shared 22 years of my life with, who I’ve raised two beautiful children with, is tired. We’re both tired. And I’m not sure we can hold on much longer.
I can’t hold back. I’m going to say it.
I am a freaking mess.
August 5th, 2023
Today I set sail to the RE Bozeman Retreat. I’m driving. Yes, you heard me right. This Texas boy is driving to Montana–3,200 miles round trip. Let’s do this.
But wait a second. Was I really talking about splitting assets with my wife yesterday? Were we really talking about how we would manage custody of our children? What the hell is going on?
Maybe I shouldn’t go. But right now, Bozeman seems to be the only answer. As to what the question is, I have no idea. One thing remains certain.
My life is a wreck.
Trinidad Lake State Park
Eight hours to Trinidad, Colorado complete.
The tent is up and I’m resting easy in my hammock. Look at me go. I can do this alone. I don’t need anyone. In fact, being alone is better. I am one strong dude. Back and forth my hammock swings between two trees until the sun goes down and the darkness sets in.
Did she really say she would leave me?
Quitting drinking uncovered some shit, didn’t it? I can’t get these thoughts out of my head. Who imagined it would be a good idea to venture out into the world alone in a tent for three days? Why am I such a mess? Will I ever get better? Will I be able to stop thinking about her? About me? About all of the shame and regret?
Sun, you can come up now.
August 6th, 2023
Glendo State Park
Six hours to Glendo, Wyoming complete.
My tent is pitched. It appears as if I’m the only person in this park. Rain starts to fall.
The negative thoughts continue to flood my mind. In addition, the solitude is proving that I really annoy myself. What does that even mean? I annoy myself? Is this what it’s like for others to be around me?
The thoughts continue to relentlessly take over. But within the constant bombardment of negative thinking a new softly spoken response starts to emerge.
Tell the thoughts to stop.
But I can’t.
Yes, you can. Quiet them. Just try it.
Adam, you’ve hurt people. Shh… Adam, you’re not doing enough. Shh… Adam, you’re worthless. Shh… Adam, you’re a failure. Shh… Over and over, like a broken record. Shh…. Enough.
Did drinking cause this madness? No. It hid it though, buried it deep. And now it’s here crawling out of the dark threatening me, whispering lies. I keep telling it to shut the hell up. But will it listen?
Time will tell.
August 7th, 2023
Grandview RV Park
Five hours to Hardin, Montana complete.
I chose an RV park this time, laundry and a hot shower, and people too. It’s been awhile. They distract me. This is good. The sunset is beautiful. I order a pizza and rest.
Tomorrow I will be in Bozeman. There I will finally be in the physical presence of my Recovery Elevator friend Jim. We initially met at the REstore Dry January course, the course where my journey towards enlightenment started, where the ups and downs of sobriety began. And Jim held onto me throughout.
If you know Jim that shouldn’t surprise you.
August 8th, 2023
Days Inn Bozeman
Four hours to Bozeman Montana complete.
It’s my first night out of a tent and in a motel. Jim is staying here too. I’m nervous.
After a couple of hours, we meet for dinner. During our introduction a firm handshake occurs followed by an awkward jump as if we both stuck our fingers in a light socket. It’s the ‘should I go in for a hug but then suddenly decide against it’ jump. Solid handshake though Mr. Jim.
I’m glad to finally meet you.
You’ve been a dear friend.
August 9th, 2023
Thirty minutes to Big Sky, Montana complete.
No turning back now.
Jim and I arrive at the retreat. I unpack my gear and set up my home for the next four days. It’s beautiful out here. Once my tent is ready I walk to the registration area. It quickly becomes apparent that many of these retreat goers already know each other.
What if they don’t like me? I am just a middle-aged dude with issues who somehow made his way far from home. Ain’t nothing special about me. Heck, I don’t even know if I like me.
The voices persist.
Maybe I’ll just stand here and pretend I’m feeling confident. Keep your hands out of your pockets Adam. Be cool man. Be cool.
But It didn’t take long before it happened. One, after another, after another approached me. “Where are you from?” they would ask. “You drove here?” “That’s so cool!” “Do you have a family?” “What are their names?”
My God they are so kind. Are all of them like this? Soon I realized that yes, they are. I wondered why. By the end of our time together I found the answer.
It’s because we all share in each other’s unavoidable suffering.
I used to think I could drown that suffering with booze, repress it somehow, maybe even eliminate it, alone. But as you might have guessed it never worked. It only made it worse.
Instead, in the presence of others working their recovery in the stunning landscape of Big Sky Montana, I dared to expose my suffering. I didn’t fight it, I didn’t hide it, I didn’t drown it, I shared it. And they shared theirs with me. And it was beautiful.
Connection is the opposite of addiction and I get it now.
I am here.
I am whole.
August 23rd, 2023
My reentry home was purposely slow. I took my
new-found freedom into the Utah desert first, then back up
into western Colorado to meet my Recovery Elevator
accountability partner, and finally back to the unbearable
I missed her.
And come to find out, she missed me.
Today was our first day of marriage counseling.
The negative voices, they’re still there. But they’re quieting, fading. Why? Because I have recovery tools to work with now.
And I have friends.