Hope

99. TWENTY-TWO YEARS SOBER

22 years

Here I am at the twenty-two year mark and honestly sometimes it feels like last week. In reality this is a wonderful phenomenon. Indeed I still occasionally have dreams I’ve broken my recovery, ones so real I have to get up and shake them off, yet I’m grateful at the same time for these episodes that remind me the horror I was going through more than two decades ago. The closeness of my addiction cunningly leverages fear, which was once my enemy into what is now my most valuable ally. I’m eternally grateful I’m still horrified of alcohol; complacency is nowhere in my future, I won’t allow it.

For those who are in a deep hole, one filled with paranoia and crushing shame, I know a way out. I will say my way isn’t the only way, that’s for sure. The advantage I see to walking a similar path as mine is that no one who gave me what I needed had an agenda of material profit, it was strictly one of spirit. There was a time where everything I had was in shambles. my credit, my future, my health, my outlook, my belongings, and even my faith. I was crawling the path of inevitability towards what I was convinced was a world better off without me. Apparently the universe has other plans because I’m still here.

The future, once a dreadful prospect, the past, once a regrettable ball and chain, and the present, once a reason for oblivion, are now fully recognized, accepted and forgiven by yours truly. I now live free of shame, regret, and unproductive fear.

I talk a lot on this blog about how I’ve gotten past my demons. Please feel free to browse the topics and entries. If you want to talk or ask a question one can do so on any entry or by clicking at the top of the screen on the “Contact Me” page. I do my best to share rather than preach which means I’ll do my best to empathize rather than judge. My apologies if anything comes across as otherwise.

The journey of my gratitude and subsequent recovery began with doing nothing more than asking for, and accepting without conditions, help.

Please let me help. I ask for nothing in return.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

91. MY DEPRESSION

depression

I’m not in a position to give professional advice to those in the grip of depression. I’m not a doctor nor am I a counselor. That being said, what I can do is share the details of my journey beyond desolation. Perhaps shedding some light on where I was compared to where I am will help, perhaps not. In any case I certainly know what it feels like to be immobilized and lost.

Thoughts of doom and suicide dominated my life for a long time, years in fact. I had love, no spark, no peace, and no purpose. Surviving was my only motivation, and even that began to deteriorate. Chasing pleasure quickly became a substitute for manufacturing happiness. This mental prison I’d built started in the mid eighties and finally began to erode in the mid nineties. Going over a decade without hope, self-respect, or direction sounds like an impossible journey, one destined to end in disaster, yet here I am.

They say the further you fall, the higher you rise. Considering just how high I’ve risen in the past twenty years, my low must have been exceptionally deep, especially since even now I continue progressing with great strides. So, what exactly was the moment I started to ascend? When did my life finally stop spiraling towards oblivion?  There were three major shifts in my life that allowed the floodgates of redemption to swing wide open.

SHIFT NUMBER ONE……

The first began with letting go of a belief I had drilled into my skull since I was a small boy. It’s one many are programmed with, and have wrongly reinforced through our peers and mentors. This belief was that somewhere buried inside me I had the tools and desire to fix who I was all by myself. Most people call this elusive, superhuman skill ……willpower.

What garbage.

In my playbook, if I want to become a better person, then I must step past my ego. This maneuver is called “Letting go”. Letting go involves zero willpower. It DID require me to take an action once previously thought of as demeaning and painful. I had to open my arms and mind to criticism. Keep in mind there are two very specific types of criticism, one is a form of abuse, and the other is pure Love, and there’s a big difference.  Most will criticize with the intent of cloning themselves; that is they want you to be more like them. Those who do it with Love in their hearts will only be interested in you becoming a better person. Trust me; you’ll know the difference with this definition in mind.

Some equate letting go with giving up; nothing could be further from the truth. Here is the equation. Giving up is the equivalent of steering your boat to the most remote point of the ocean, lowering your sails, and dumping all your provisions overboard. Not a good scenario. Letting go, on the other hand, is akin to deciding you’re lost on the water, pulling into a port, and asking someone else who is obviously skilled and wise to pilot you and your ship to somewhere you’ve never even heard of. This requires a massive step out of one’s own feeling of self-control.

If I’m to embrace my full potential I must allow those to lead me who are already somewhere I want to be. Keep in mind the boat is still mine, I’m ultimately in charge, but for the moment I’ve decided to allow forces that align with faith to guide me. I’m relaxed and am open to outside direction. If this is the case, then what I was attempting before was fighting against the tides. I was closed to suggestion and focused on using only my own energy to guide me. Here lies the difference between being problem aligned rather than solution oriented. It never feels good going forward, it’s a vulnerable and uncertain maneuver, but this choice always reaps massive rewards. So, this action illustrates the first step I took towards serenity.

SHIFT NUMBER TWO……

This second step is a bit more personal so you may not have any common ground with what I’m going to share. In any case, this exercise defiantly helped me, and to this day it still continues to do so. In a nutshell I was told by a professional in the field of mental health that depression is basically rooted in unexpressed anger.

Unexpressed anger?

Yes, unexpressed anger. This does not, however, mean un-generated anger. It means I’d felt hostility, bitterness, angst, and rage but they were never fully expressed in a mentally healthy manner. My mind had reactions to events I’d kept muted or even completely bottled up. In my experience (and all too often in my observations of others, especially men) ALL emotions we hold back on eventually find their way to the surface both unexpectedly and mutated.  The road to mental health is paved with the stones of proper expression and use of emotion. Depression, in my case, was created from the inability to let out and deal with those events I found undesirable.

One may ask, why anger? Couldn’t other emotions poorly expressed and downright withheld be the cause of depression? Yes, but consider this; if Love is not revealed when it’s deeply and desperately felt, would this not eventually cause anger towards oneself? How about sadness, celebration, shame, or satisfaction? The truth is, at least for me, holding back on any emotion no matter the source, will eventually cause the feeling to go from regret to anger.

It helps me tremendously to ask “what am I mad about?” rather than “what’s depressing me?”  In other entries of this blog I write about the quality of our questions equaling the quality of our answers and thus in doing so improve the quality of life. This question is a terrific example.

SHIFT NUMBER THREE……

Nothing transforms my emotional state like movement, just plain old moving around can initiate massive changes in my outlook and attitudes. The good news, nothing has to be all that focused on what I feel needs “fixing”.  Examples may include doing the laundry, going for a walk, cooking, and especially……cleaning. I have a feeling that last one, cleaning, has psychological benefits that can have other, subconscious healing effects. It should be clarified I’m not going to the point of becoming a germophobe. Simple elimination of junk and clutter in the course of reorganizing my environment has always reverberated to other tasks and neglected responsibilities. If this is true, then surely the opposite is just as obvious.  When I’ve been depressed, and have decided to do nothing but sit, sleep, and remain as motionless as possible, it waters the seeds of my hopelessness. To be very clear here I’m NOT talking about meditation, that’s a completely different (spiritual) dynamic designed to center and focus myself. I guess the more I concentrate on anything outside of me, removing my focus from my perceived “problems,” the further I get away from the fear-based voice of my ego, which seems to be the very root of every problem I’ve ever faced.

Honestly this last suggestion has been extremely easy for me to observe in the lives of others. Those who are depressed usually seem to do very little physically. Likewise I’ve never met a depressed person who was one to get out of bed and exercise first thing in the morning. I’m sure this is a generalization, and like I said at the beginning, I’m no doctor. All I want to do here is share what has worked so far in my life. Take it as you will. I truly hope no one ever visits those places I’ve been, but if you have I’m here to tell you I found a way out.

I would like to acknowledge the help of a Facebook friend who helped me iron out and make a few suggestions that help clarify what I’m attempting to share here in this entry. She is a professional in the field of mental health and my gratitude is eternal, thank you Alma!

May the breadcrumbs of my life nourish those who are lost.

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With Love and Compassion,  Daniel Andrew Lockwood

80. ELIMINATING EVIL

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

78. A NEW BLOG FOR A BETTER WORLD

earth-from-the-moon

Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening!

I have started a new blog to discuss what it might take to make the world a better place. Job creation and world peace are two of the topics. Three entries so far and more on the way. Please stop by and let me know what you think!

LET’S MOVE OUR WORLD

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

76. SO CLOSE TO GIVING UP…….

agony-invert

I’ve been in a horrible place since December 10, 2014. I’ve done my best to keep up a positive attitude and honestly I know all will turn out wonderful in some weird, unexpected way. What I originally thought was a minor back injury (I thought it was a kidney stone) turned out to be something much more severe. As diagnosis came in and possibilities were eliminated it became clear I was being pushed to a place I’d never anticipated. Apparently between my fourth and fifth lumbar in my back there is a bulge in the disc that is cutting off the nerve endings to my left side. Wasn’t that bad at first. Along with not being able to lift anything (other than pizza…) it disturbed my sleep and kept me from normal chores. I had a lot of vacation built up anyway, so even though I was reluctant to use it, at least I had something to fall back on.

As Christmas came and went so did my rosy outlook for January. The pain was getting worse and my vacation was running out. I don’t want to sound too graphic here, but it felt like I was constantly being violently kicked in the groin while a knife was sticking out of my back just to the left of the initial injury. I reluctantly asked my wife to buy me a cane so I could at least walk to the bathroom and bedroom. I’m in recovery from alcoholism. For anyone new to this blog that’s what the whole damn thing is about anyway, recovery and self-help. (Here is a link to my blog introduction https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/02/self-help-for-beginners-welcome-to-my-blog/) I’ve been through a lot of crap; a lot of it life threatening,  but I’ve never been through like what was to come.

I applied for my short-term disability if this scenario were to prolong itself. After going in for a CAT scan at the behest of my Doctor, the determination was made to give me a steroid injection in my spine. Unfortunately this was about two weeks away and the pain was becoming unbearable. It became very difficult to shower and even maintain some sort of hygienic dignity. Migraines set in for a constant ride and are still here. Most of the time I have a bag of ice on my head. The nights offer a slight comfort for an hour or two then into the living room where I proceed to scream my ass off for at least ninety minutes. The meds prescribed to me I DO NOT WANT, but what can I do? Oxy and Valium. Ugh. Can’t take anything with Tylenol in it, that pushes my migraines int to the upper stratosphere. Won’t allow anything with alcohol either. So what do I do? Suffer, and suffer, and suffer.

Two weeks later I went in for my injection and for about three hours I felt completely normal. That was the “Novocaine” shot they gave me prior to the primary shot. Three hours later back to square one, but, the Doctors informed me it would take 3-4 days to work. Didn’t happen, in fact it started getting much worse. I started falling, even with the cane. My wife works during the day and sometimes she spends her lunch hour at home. Most of the time all I want is plain old unconsciousness. Imagine having a hangover that never, ever stops. This is what I’ve been going through.

We went to a specialist next and they recommended surgery. They spelled it out what was going to happen. We both agreed on their recommendations and tomorrow at three thirty in the afternoon we will see if the procedure will have any impact. It’s been another LONG two weeks.

Last Thursday was the worst. Yelling at the top of my lungs for three hours in the middle of the night while I’m flopping around in my recliner; willing to do ANYTHING to induce some sort state of comfort as my wife stands over me weeping and not knowing what to do is never a future I would have imagined. She feels so helpless and yet she has no idea how much she actually helps. I could not have gotten through this without her. She is my friend, my lover, and my angel.

This has been difficult in more ways than I’ve expected. I’ve worked since I was very young, never having been away from some sort of paid responsibilities for more than perhaps two weeks in a row. I’m very active, such is the life of a construction worker. A few short weeks ago I was on twelve-foot ladders with 24″ pipe wrenches cranking on twenty-one foot long steel pipes. I was in crawl spaces flicking off cock roaches while installing 4″ cast iron waste pipe. Now I can’t get out of bed and to top it all off I’ve gained forty pounds since this put me down. IF all goes well, I am to have an eight week recovery before I can even go back to work. It is a humbling experience but I wish the better man this is going to make me didn’t have such a high price.

At some level I MUST give up. Not on life, mind you, but on my power over what’s happening to me. “Let Go, Let God” is ingrained into my mind through both my program and experience; and yet still I fight it. To drop all and trust in the universe to hand me what I need the most sometimes takes leaps of faith into my own mirages of the worst  futures that can be imagined. Tomorrow; written by me and acted be me, has never happened, and it never will.

Am I close to throwing in the towel? Yes. Let’s just go ahead and do it and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

Enough Is Enough

73. A LETTER TO MYSELF

message_in_a_bottle

In July of 1995 I was a desperate mess. The future offered no comfort or promise, the past supplied only pain and excuses. It had been many years since even a moment of happiness had flickered. In its absence my pursuits were narrowed to chasing pleasure, and even that road was turning into a nightmarish, twisted path where my demons urged me to continue a life of madness from the sidelines. I felt doomed to die in waves of searing agony, leaving behind a life that, once extinguished, would make the world a better place for everyone.

I was wrong.

If you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say? Would you reveal things better discovered through experience? Would you try to avoid any of the pain you have felt? Would you attempt to speed up the future so better things could be done faster? It’s what I would have wanted at the time, and if those wishes had come true I guarantee I would have pissed the gift of foresight away in a matter of days.

Here is my letter………..

July 27th, 1995

Dear Daniel,

I know you are in pain, angry and scared. I promise there are wonderful times and teachers ahead. Shut your mouth, open your ears, and don’t lie. The universe will place in your path all that you need and want. Love, purpose, and health will return. The road will be challenging but you will have guidance, motivation, and peace. I will NOT tell you anything about who, what, where, or when. Here is where faith must be employed.

There are really only a few pieces of advice I can offer. Above all remember this, if you walk through life backwards you will never see the signs leading you to a better place. Let go of your history. There is nothing that happened yesterday that can be used to justify this moment; the past does not equal the future. Stop insisting on doing things your way and give in to their way. This doesn’t mean you’ll become a slave to the will of others, it means you become willing to serve something greater than yourself. Drop the need to be right. It’s a waste of time. Eventually the right thing always happens anyway. Stop judging yourself, this is the biggest breeding ground of excuses one can tend. Focus on the moment, don’t regret the past, don’t worry about the future. And this last one will not make sense for a long time, just keep it in your head. “Never give up but ALWAYS let go.” It sounds like a dichotomy; it’s not. Remember that I love you and believe in you.

Daniel

This letter is really for anyone who was in, and is in, the same place I was.  I love and believe in you too.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

67. AA BIRTHDAY……19 years, JULY 28TH, 1995

19 years

When I went to my first meeting I was living in Des Moines; alone with no future and a lot of past. It must have been a bad weekend or night because something prompted me to make a call to find the nearest group. Upon walking through those doors for the first time I definitely became a little weak-kneed. Even though I was uncomfortable with the environment, the urge to bolt never occurred to me. I was unwilling to put myself in the spotlight, so I sat tight-lipped and did my best to listen while I silently judged those surrounding me. I came to the conclusion I was in a room full of criminals, me included. That was three and a half years before I finally stopped drinking. I’d been living a life of constant desperation, and that’s just about as close to death one can get before breathing stops. We see movies and TV shows about the living dead, zombies if you will; and I’m here to tell you, they are real. I was one of them. So are a great many more. I fed upon death and produced nothing. I didn’t care who I had hurt, I didn’t care about tomorrow, and I didn’t even care for the moment. The only thing that kept me going was fear.

Occasionally I would go to meetings when my shame weighed heavy and my life seemed lost, but I never did what was asked so simply of me until  drank my last drink; I HAD to hand my life over to a higher power. The humor of the situation (so easy to see now) was that almost everyone had a better life than I did, in other words I didn’t have to search very far for my “higher power.”

If you are looking for your “higher power” please keep in mind all this has to mean is asking for help from someone who is in a better place. In the end, this is all it should be anyway. God is omniscient to begin with, which means the presence we seek is everywhere and in everybody. I’ve said it for years, “the cosmic radio has never moved from the station, we just turned down the volume.” Turning up the volume will effectively drown out  our own misgivings and insecurities. Keeping it down will amplify our doubts and fears that in turn will be the seeds of self-destruction.

IF you are thinking about going to a meeting; if you are considering trying to change your path, here are a few pointers. These are the first flames in the darkness, may they guide you to a place of peace and prosperity.

  • Ask for help from those who have made it beyond the same place you now stand.
  • Do not question what comes next, do what you are told. For the moment whoever “they” are, they are the higher power.
  • Know that you will probably be angry about what is asked of you, this is normal and unavoidable, do it anyway.
  • You must be willing to pay any price. This is better known as a leap if faith.
  • Breath. Do not worry about the future, do not regret the past, focus on the moment. This is called “one day at a time.”
  • This is a program designed to strip the ego. Selfishness and self-centeredness must be eliminated or you will die. Period.
  • This program has never failed those who live by its words.

The BEST people I know are members of this organization. I’m totally serious. If it weren’t for them I would most surely be long dead. Those who take it to heart and practice and share the steps I would trust my life to; actually I do. Do not let your fear stop you from a future that might never happen. Know that I and many others Love YOU, really. Give us the chance to prove it.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

66. SEEKING DREAMS

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

44. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

guarantee

“I always get everything I want, all I have to do is change my mind.”

The ego holds us back from so much in life. Why do so many stick to old paths when they can see they will eventually lead nowhere? Change your mind, and change your life. Don’t concern yourself with being right, concern yourself with admitting fault so a new directions can  become optional. Strength is the reward of  humility while weakness is the penalty of inflexibility.  

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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43. ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES

infinity

“Where understanding is present, fear is absent. Where fear is absent, love exists. Where love exists, life persists. Where life persists, the possibilities are endless.”

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood