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From the Bottom of the Bottle to the Top of the World: How Two Recovering Addicts Took Their Lives Back
“Stop thinking about it and just do it. … Don’t walk away. Don’t say, ‘maybe later.’ Don’t think about it.” – Lewis, Recovery Warrior
If you ask these two recovering addicts about their drug of choice, you might be surprised by their answers. Although beer isn’t often thought of as addictive, for those who can’t stop, it is the exact same thing as a drug. For them, an empty bottle is met when an intense need for more. We talked with two recovering addicts about how they hit the bottom of the bottle before choosing a sober, happy life.
Kip’s tale starts at the young age of 18. He was at the peak of his high school career, enjoying teenage freedom.
“I was a senior quarterback in high school, dating the head cheerleader, and driving a new Mustang. Life was good. However, I started drinking more and more,” Kip said.
Kip looked much older than the kids his age, so it became his summer job to sell alcohol to local, underage teens. However, Kip didn’t stick to just the entrepreneurial side of alcohol. He began sneaking alcohol to school in a Nyquil bottle.
“I kept that bottle in my locker, and I’d hit it between classes. I was drinking every day at school, Friday nights after football games, and every weekend,” Kip said.
Kip’s drinking followed him into college, becoming a daily habit.
“My DOC [drug of choice] was beer. No drugs, and besides my year of vodka with Nyquil, no hard liquor. I thought beer was the healthiest way to go: it was 78% water. I loved the taste — in fact, I still do,” Kip said.
Kip drank every single day for 30 years, until his wife took his daughter to a therapist for depression. When his daughter revealed that her father drank too much, DHS got involved, requesting that Kip seek treatment. In the blink of an eye, Kip set out for the Treehouse – http://www.treehouserehab.org/ in Texas.
“I had my last two beers at the airport before flying down to Texas. From that day, my life changed forever,” Kip said.
Kip quickly realized that alcohol doesn’t define who he is.
“Beer was my security blanket. I was afraid I wouldn’t be fun at parties, or that I wouldn’t be funny or sexy. People always laughed at my jokes at parties, or told me how good I looked. And I was drinking when those things happened — so it had to be the beer, right?” Kip explained. “It was all a lie. I’m much more confident now, and I feel better now than I ever did with a beer.”
Kip credits getting treatment for not only saving his life, but saving the relationship with his wife and kids.
“My wife… there hasn’t been a day that has gone by she hasn’t told me how proud she is of me. And it melts me every time,” Kip said, adding, “And to hear my daughter say she’s proud of me is incredible.”
If you decide to seek treatment, Kip suggests embracing the new journey wholeheartedly.
“You can either do it, or you don’t. I never missed a class. I was there for my own benefit. What did I have to lose? If you go there, you have to embrace it. You have a better chance if you embrace it,” Kip said.
Lewis’ childhood was a lot tougher than Kip’s. When he was 5 years old, his parents got divorced and he was sexually assaulted. Constantly moving, zero stability and friendships, two remarriages, and an abusive stepmother led Lewis to block out most of his younger childhood. As a teenager, however, he got involved with the wrong crowd.
“I started hanging out with the wrong kids — smoking weed, drinking and partying mostly on the weekends. But as I started smoking weed more regularly, it caused strife with my father. I was bitter, acting out, and frustrated,” Lewis said. “I felt like no one [cared] about me. When I was 16, my father kicked me out because he told me he wasn’t going to be the dad of a bum.”
Wanting to build a life for himself, Lewis got his GED and earned a bachelor’s degree. He met his wife shortly after and moved back home.
“I straightened out for a little while when we moved back to Texas in 2001, but it didn’t last long. For almost 15 years straight, my drinking slowly became worse and worse,” Lewis explained.
He continued, “I mostly drank beer, but in mid-October of 2014, I started drinking whiskey. I remember buying 2 bottles of whiskey and polishing them off in about 2-3 days, picking fights with my wife. That’s when she grabbed the kids and left.”
Instead of that being a wakeup call, Lewis drank even more, sometimes drinking 14 beers at a time. The final straw came when Lewis somehow managed to go out and buy more beer when he was completely intoxicated, leading him to realize how dangerous he was to himself and others. At his treatment center, Lewis was able to refocus on what matters to him most — his family.
“I now have the opportunity and the blessing and the privilege to be a father to my amazing kids, and to be a husband to my amazing wife,” Lewis said.
For those on the fence about seeking help, Lewis has the following piece of advice.
“Stop thinking about it and just do it. If you’re reading this, you’ve already realized that you need help. Don’t walk away. Don’t say, ‘maybe later.’ Don’t think about it. Don’t take that extra time. You’ll talk yourself out of it,” Lewis said.
No matter what your “drug of choice” is, it doesn’t have to rule your life. Like Kip and Lewis, you can beat whatever demon you are currently fighting. Remember, you are never alone. Help is never more than a phone call away.
What does it mean to be a “bad ass”? My perception of someone who is a ‘bad ass’ is someone who knows who they are. Their behavior and appearance are as unique and indescribable as they are. They’re not part of a group or class, and way too cool for words. They’re a bad ass.
Despite the term, this is something I’ve always aspired to be. I can honestly say that being trained as a coach by the International Coach Academy, Australia and being coached has made me the bad ass I am today. Let me explain.
Most of us are too scared to be bad ass. Hence, being called one is a compliment. It takes guts, confidence and presence. It takes being real and vulnerable and out there. Because you know that when you are …you own the world.
Genuinely intriguing and intrigued by others, you radiate confidence in everything you do. You fear nobody. You’ve taken a few more punches in your life and lived to tell the tale. So you treat people with respect but when they cross your boundaries you make it crystal clear what is and is NOT acceptable to you.
Above all you keep your cool. You’re ultra cool. You know what you’re feeling and you know that to give in to an emotional reaction is to undermine your cool. You can manage your emotions – NOT by denying them but by owning them. And then you determine the best (i.e. cool) way to handle them in the situation. You do not justify insecurities by bringing others down.
It’s a lot easier to do what you want, when you want, where you want. Here are 5 easy ways to be a good (maybe great) bad ass:
1. Give up people pleasing.
Stop trying to be who others want you to be. Stop agreeing with them to fit in. You may not be consciously aware that you are doing this, but there is a part of your psyche that wants to please others in order to avoid reactions that you are afraid of. There is nothing to fear. Conflict will not kill you. You are bad ass.
2. Stop running with the bulls.
A stampede is an act of mass impulse. It is rarely advantageous and hell if you get caught in one of them. Stop running with those who have no clear direction or purpose. Pick your bad ass tribe and quietly lead them.
3. Don’t let them fence you in.
Think of boundaries as a fence in your bad ass backyard. You are the gatekeeper; you get to decide whom you let in and who you keep out, who you let into the whole back yard, or who you let just inside the gate. Healthy boundaries protect and take good care of you.
4. Stop believing your feelings are fact.
It requires a cool pause to check in before responding, rather than sloppily venting emotions in a reactive way. This is something most non-bad ass people may not realize. Cool people not only have feelings but they roll around in them and then let go. They understand that if you lock them up you become a victim of them. They will haunt you, trigger you, and overall leave you vulnerable (and very uncool) to the emotional weaponry of others – anger, guilt, and whining.
5. Be real.
You can call it authentic (but a bad ass might not use that word). Either way it involves effort. A real bad ass knows who they are and plays to their strengths. They don’t fain humility or bravado. They just are. Fully human. They stand in the understanding that being vulnerable is simply a part of being human. And no one is stronger or cooler than when they can embrace their humanity.
How do you rate yourself?
Sociopath is a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviour. A sociopath is often well liked because of their charm and high charisma, but they do not usually care about other people. They think mainly of themselves and often blame others for the things that they do. They have a complete disregard for rules and lie constantly. They seldom feel guilt or learn from punishments.
Narcissists who are fun, good at things, and appear in public to be compassionate and generous often look like they would be desirable friends and life partners. They can be very enjoyable to hang out with, even if they seem a bit self-preoccupied, as if they are always taking mental selfies. Then can come the rub. Are they also good partners when it comes to talking through differences of opinion? Or is there something about how they communicate in a relationship that makes a narcissist provocative?
Ever tried to be friends or a love partner with someone who is all about me? Someone who only listens to him or herself?
Who changes the topic, gets defensive or gets mad at you when you try to talk about difficulties you’ve been experiencing?
Narcissistic functioning at core is a disorder of listening. Think of it as one-sided listening, with multiple features that emerge as a result. The desire to sustain a friendship, never mind a love relationship, can quickly fade with someone who does not seem to see or hear you, who pushes away what you say with dismissiveness and deprecation, and who is quick to anger when you attempt nonetheless to express your viewpoint.
Are you in a “love bombing” relationship and not aware of it. What is love bombing?
Love Bombing is a seductive tactic that is used when someone who is manipulative and tries to control the relationship with bombs brimming with “love” from day one.
This type of seductive tactic generally takes place during early days of courting and is usually engaged in by sociopaths or narcissists also known as the “bomber”. How do you recognize “love bombing” whether you are a target or victim of such a tactic? There are 3 stages to the game: Idealization, Devaluation and then Discard.
During and after the courting, the target, male or female, will be bombarded with actions that may appear very similar to “love” which can be extremely overwhelming. The bombing can be so calculatingly executed that it can sweep the target off their feet and create high levels of passion with the target not having a clue, that it is a controlling move by the sociopath or narcissist to gain attention. The tactic does not give the target time to think straight or to evaluate whether the bomber is genuine or not, as the relationship develops.
To recognize whether you are in a love bombing relationship or in the early stages of one, look for the following actions that are considered excessive:
• phone/video calls; text messages; emails
• chat you up; take you out; flatter and flirt non-stop
• the constant appeal to be in close contact whether virtual or physical
• wanting to be connected every moment of every day
Their intensity towards the target continues or lightens, depending on the love bombing sociopath’s success during the first few days. Love bombing sociopaths aren’t “loving” — they are hunting.
They will pry on targets who may be at a vulnerable stage in their life and will exploit their weaknesses, insecurities while telling their targets everything that they want to hear and will express overdramatic displays of affection, thereby making their target’s co-dependent on them. Once dependency has been achieved and the bomber has received a vital energy feed that fuels their ego, they tend to lose interest and will no longer find the relationship fulfilling. Once the victim’s self-worth is being determined by the bomber words and actions and because they know which buttons to press to trigger emotions to take advantage of emotional wounds, the devaluation process will begin especially if the victim starts to question the sincerity of the relationship or to stand up for themselves when they are being devalued. The bomber then becomes outraged that the victim should dare to question their commitment, respect, honesty, authenticity or intimacy.
Signs to look for when the bomber is outraged:
• becomes emotionally distant
• withholds affection
• blames their partner for the breakdown of the relationship
• silent treatment
• displays moods or even tantrums to cause emotional distress
• disappears for days or even month at a time
The victim has to recognize the signs and has to be strong enough to walk away from the relationship else, they will be locked in the drama of the narcissists or sociopaths who will not go away easily, as it will be damaging to their ego, if their victim dares to walk away from them before they have declared – game over.
How to disarm a bomber:
• Control the amount and time spent on flirty texting or late nights phone calls
• Limit dates to once a week – Don’t be fooled that “you’re just hanging out”. A sociopath is never just hanging out. They’re working on pulling in a victim
• Date in groups – as sociopaths prefer privacy. Ask your friends their opinion
• Online research – who is this gal/guy? Talk to people that know them.
For targets – Set your own dating and courting standards. The sociopath will not stick around if they can’t get their way with you.
For victims – Build courage and RUN!!