Story

111. HOW I STARTED IN A.A. – PART FOUR

When I turned twenty-nine my self-worth was non-existent. I really had forgotten, even for an instant, what happiness was. I occasionally had moments of pleasure and amusement, but these fleeting experiences were poor substitutes for what I wanted most. I attempted to manifest what I lacked by serving the hedonistic urges of my body, but I really had no idea how to feed my spirit. The soul needs only one nutrient to live, and I was starving it to death.

I loathed mirrors. All I ever saw looking back was someone not worthy of living. Rosacea covered my face. Massive amounts of straining from vomiting every day further enhanced the look of my existing splintered redness, especially in my eyes. Sometimes my heart would race wildly, so much so I thought a heart attack was imminent. I felt as if my absence from this Earth would improve the lives of everyone I knew, and the sad truth was, I was probably right. To be honest it was only after a year of recovery I could finally face my reflection and say out loud “I am a man!” Thirty-one years into my life before this would resonate as a warm truth instead of an outright lie.

For six months into of my last year of drinking I had sporadic contact with what would eventually become my home group in Alcoholics Anonymous. The man on the other end of the phone (when I’d called in January) was also a part of this circle. That night I was working at an Office Depot doing a monthly scrub, wax, and polish. I walked in, stuck my left hand that wouldn’t stop shaking in my pocket, put on a smile, and kept my distance until everyone left and locked me in. Once I was sure I was alone I immediately collapsed on the floor. No kidding. It was then I said a prayer, though at the time I had no idea it WAS a prayer. Before I made my call to destiny I said out loud in total desperation “I don’t care if I die broke and naked tomorrow as long as I die sober.” This was my bottom. It was also the beginning of my rise (it did NOT feel that way however) because I had, at that moment, resolved to pay any price the universe asked of me. I had painted myself into a corner where my only option was to start screaming for help.

As I said in part three my worst days were yet to come, and since I felt my health had no chance of a return to anything resembling normalcy, I went full-bore towards what I honestly hoped would be a quick death. The pain of D.T.s, my blackouts, and so on escalated. Still, there remained a steadfast flame inside, one that sprang to life the night I said my fateful prayer, it was the candle of willingness. Willpower it seems (also known as ego) had little to do with what I wanted to accomplish and everything to do with my self-destruction. Einstein said it best, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” 

These days I realize being open-minded equates with the ability to admit I’m wrong, and I’d indeed become open-minded, even if the door was cracked ever so slightly, although I’ll admit it seems like it came about by accident, albeit a stupendously fortunate one. Before I quit for good, and during the time I was wavering between sobriety and oblivion, I found myself once more on the phone with the same gentleman whose voice greeted me on the A.A. hotline a few months prior. I was working overnight in yet another location. The previous week had been one of the worst.

“You know Jeff, I just don’t know if anyone can really help me.”

“I actually agree with you, Daniel. I don’t think there’s a single person on Earth who can help you.”

That pushed me back on my heels. I was pitching the victim, and Jeff hit a home run with it, though it wasn’t until many weeks later I recognized the true dynamics of this particular conversation. After a few moments of stunned silence on my part I managed to get out another question.

“So,” I said in a shaky voice, “I’m never going to quit?”

“I never said that, don’t worry, you’ll quit eventually, trust me.”

Well, THAT knocked me down for the count. I felt my lips and face go numb at the truth of it. This moment was the turning point for me. I was both deeply frightened and massively inspired. Here was my “why not?” moment. Soon after this I took my last drink, and on August 28th, nineteen ninety-five I had my first thirty days of recovery in over ten years.

One thing’s rock solid, I had nothing to lose by going full tilt into the program. Two belief systems I owned ahead of time saved my life. First, I’ve never had a problem with accepting a higher power exists. I’ll admit my definition of a “higher power” is somewhat different from most who hold the same conviction, but in the long run it doesn’t matter anyway. No need to explain myself further on this point, at least for now. Second, I had a knowing I was going to express anger toward those people and ideas I was soon to surround myself with, and honestly, that helped with both expectations and tolerability.

I went to meetings the first year about three times a week. Many were in clubs and other fairly public venues like church basements or rented spaces, but it was my once a week home group on Thursday nights (which was in an actual home, my sponsor’s) where the REAL healing took place. I allowed myself to become deconstructed and reassembled here. This is where my spirit became greater than my body. This is where I FINALLY shed the layers of armor, masks, and secrets I’d buried myself under all my life, not just the past ten years. For the first time ever I felt…

human.

Happiness, purpose, prosperity, Love, a career, a real home, and many other facets of my life came rushing in. What I never realized was these things were there all the time, waiting for me to do nothing but step beyond my walls.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

110. HOW I STARTED IN A.A. – PART THREE

big book 3

Before I get on with the history on how I immersed myself in A.A. I need to clarify something. I was NEVER a mean drunk nor was I destructive. As far as I know, other than being completely unreliable, I never hurt or abused anyone; astonishing considering how much I drove under the influence. The biggest change in behavior, prior to the inevitable crash on the other side of my binges, was I’d talk more, and for those that know me that seems like an unachievable task, but it was sadly true. When I lived in Des Moines long distance was still a costly endeavor, one that carried heavy charges if abused, and boy did I abuse it. All too often my phone bill rang up to three-hundred dollars or more a month leaving very little for me to spend on frivolous things like laundry and food. It was during these calls I ended up randomly pleading for a fresh start.

In nineteen ninety-three I asked if I could moved in with my friend, his wife, and two children in Aurora, Colorado. It was understood the arrangement was to be temporary until I could get re-situated into my own place. To my delight they obliged and I headed back to Denver after leaving my job to a fellow by the name of James who was sober (as far as I know) and much more responsible than me. I took off with high hopes and a false sense of new horizons.  Upon arrival I had little more than a closet to stay in, but it was very private, had a window, and there was just enough room for a twin bed and a chair. Whoever designed it to begin with probably intended it to be a small office because there were built-in bookshelves at one end of the room. From here I could come and go as I pleased through the garage without disturbing the family, and that too was nice for both of us.

Once more I stayed sober for some time before the impulse to drink fogged my self-centered resolve. By this time I was disposing of at least two pints of eighty proof rot gut a day, no particular brand or type mattered, as long as it was cheap. I cleverly hid the empty bottles in my dirty laundry figuring no one would go through my soiled underwear to look for evidence. I spent a few weeks at my friend’s home and when I’d saved up enough money I contacted another friend who thought it was a pleasant idea to get a place together. In all honesty the apartment we ended up sharing WAS a nice one, at least compared to where I’d been almost all my life. We each had a bathroom, so “duties” here would not cross paths. There was a sliding glass door, a small deck on the bottom floor, and a dishwasher, high amenities for those deprived of such luxuries up until that point.

Here is where my final days of drinking came to fruition. I worked nights and my roommate worked days. We saw each other on occasion and we were casually friendly (still are, by the way) but Ron really had no idea just how much I was pounding away. I quickly worked my way up from two pints to two fifths of vodka a day. My typical routine was to buy a Tombstone pizza, sour cream,  one can of soda, and a bottle of the cheapest crap I could find. I’d refused to get drunk unless it was on an empty stomach because I loved what I called the sledge-hammer effect, so I’d wait to eat until afterwards. I could make a bottle disappear in twenty minutes using the soda I bought to wash the taste a little. All too often I be finished with my booze and still have half my pop left. I’d then eat my pizza with the sour cream (hey, I considered it just a huge, fancy, potato chip thingy) and proceed to play video games until I passed out, that way I could waste my time twice as poorly.

The last two years of my drinking saw a lot of deterioration in every aspect of my life. Whenever I awoke from passing out I’d usually purge. Got so good at it I learned to throw-up silently so I wouldn’t bother my roommate if he was home. I’d even drive while tossing my cookies into a Big Gulp cup; nasty and insane. If it came out of me it was tainted with blood. First time I saw the toilet full of bright red water I almost had a heart attack at the sight of it. I’d spit pink, piss pink. Nosebleeds were common as well. Saw it  every day and I figured my time was short for this Earth. I started getting delirium tremens (more commonly known as the DT’s) several times a month. There were periods where I’d force myself to stay sober for a week or two, white-knuckling it so to speak, only to become repossessed with an uncontrollable urge to drink again. It really felt as if another spirit entered my body and took over. I went through boxes and boxes of Altoids doing what I could to cover my breath to those I’d encounter.

Six months before I finally stopped I had an incident while driving. It’s detailed more in my upcoming book but, in a nutshell I almost died. I called A.A. that night and this was the first real step towards my eventual life of recovery, though it was another six months before it stuck for good. One may ask why I didn’t quit that night. In all honesty I was much more afraid of living than dying so I figured I may as well get it the f@#$ over with. During the last weeks of my march of suicide I started blacking out. It was surprising I hadn’t before, at least not that I could recall. (Feel free to laugh here.) Here’s the REALLY weird thing. I’d apparently know when I was entering a blackout but not when I was exiting one. I could see the “storm” coming as it were, so as a precaution I started taking notes. I’d answer the phone the next day and my boss would talk about what we had planned, all the while going through my almost incoherent scribblings from the day before, having no idea whatsoever I’d talked to him a few hours prior. Remember, my M.O. from the day I started drinking was to see if I could act completely sober while being totally hammered. There’s no doubt I got WAY too good at that. People to this day don’t believe I did this, but I swear it’s the truth, should have kept some of those reminders around, but my sponsor eventually made me throw all those things away, too many “bad vibes” attached I suppose. 

I met the man from A.A. who was on the other end of the phone that weekend and he invited me to his home-group where my eventual sponsor sat in waiting. For the next few months I’d talk to him, usually after a bad binge, and he finally said something that scared the hell out of me. This was the turning point.

Next up, my final chapter to how I started in A.A.  

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

109. HOW I STARTED IN A.A.- PART TWO

big book 3

For part two it feels appropriate to backtrack somewhat. It should help the arc of the story to see where my disposition for self-destruction has its roots.

I first got drunk when I was barely seventeen. A friend of mine and I paid some other drunk twenty dollars to buy us booze. We then proceeded to slam down a fifth of Jack Daniels in about an hour, chasing it with whatever soda we had on hand. We were smart enough to stay home and decided to play UNO in my bedroom with a strobe light on. For someone who had NEVER drank before it hit me like a piano. My friend didn’t make it to the bathroom but I did. My father came home from his own partying around midnight and found me lying on the bathroom floor, holding onto the base of the toilet trying to keep the room from spinning. He stood there staring at me.

“Looks like you’ve been drinking, son.”

“Oh yes, yes sir, we have.”

He stared a bit longer, looking back and forth at both me and my inebriated friend on his couch and finally said “Well, looks like I don’t need to punish you.”

“Oh God no.”

I had a hangover for two days and as a result I swore off booze for the next four years. Time rolled on through my late teens and eventually a lifestyle of minimum responsibility changed. I had to quit high school because Dad was laid off and they contested his unemployment. I was working at the local Target full-time nights during the summer to help with bills and also so I could buy my own clothing and school supplies; I figured it was the adult thing to do. I had planned on quitting once school started; unfortunately I had to keep working. With my measly three dollars and eighty cents an hour we lived on the barest of necessities for nearly a year. Once his mess was straightened out I felt like it was too late to reboot my schooling. I’d been held back in kindergarten for having a big mouth (go figure) and now I was two years behind everyone else. This was a massive lie I convinced myself of and it spawned a lot of shame.

Dad took off to live elsewhere and several months later after hopping roommates, I was in my own boring little apartment. A few months after that Dad moved back in with me after breaking up with his girlfriend and we stayed together once again (after moving into a larger apartment) splitting the bills for the next two years.

Eventually my father got the itch to change his environment once more and I ended up moving in with a friend of his from work he knew and had lived with at one point. By this time I was pushing twenty-one. Here was first real step of my descent into darkness. Jon liked to party and he ALWAYS had booze, not to mention he was the apartment manager where we lived and had a lot of similarly minded friends around, so he controlled the environment lock, stock, and barrel. Weekends were just another day, no need to wait when Tuesday would do just fine. I figured It was time to try drinking again and this time I found I liked it. The tingling in the fingers, the dropping of tension, the false sense of emotional detachment all were alluring, and honestly, extremely effective. At first four of five drinks were plenty, and it was just enough to allow me to continue my other responsibilities and activities without inebriation interfering. There WAS one thought I had prior to diving back in, I wanted to see if I could hide my behavior from the effects of alcohol. This early resolve was almost certainly the subconscious catalyst that drove me to insanity. Indeed I became quite good at it, even my father nor anyone else couldn’t tell when I was drunk right up until the very end. When I mentioned I was, they were always in disbelief, perhaps they figured telling me the truth wouldn’t matter or in denial themselves. More than likely the best explanation was I acted drunk all the time, so one couldn’t tell what sobriety looked like on me. Some of the evidence I was actually accomplishing my goal was that I drank and drove EVERY DAY FOR ALMOST A DECADE and was never even pulled over.  Such is the mind of madness.

Then it came when I finally said “Why not?” Why not just drink all the time? I was home during the day and worked the graveyard shift. I had the house to myself (we had moved by this time from the apartments and my father had moved back in, so now it was the three of us under one roof) and no one was around to witness my behavior. Sleeping wouldn’t have been a problem except our neighbor had dogs that would bark all day. All damn day. This was my excuse. This was the line I stepped over most never return from. Alcohol allowed me to literally pass out and ignore the never-ending noise coming from the yard next to my window. This was in nineteen eighty-eight, two years away from moving to Seattle.

Jon started his own business and I ended up under his employ. I worked nights in an Albertson’s grocery store and he was doing maintenance for Payless Shoes. When I’d come home Jon would be getting ready for the day and I would offer to go do his itinerary, which he loved. It allowed him to get more business and also brought me more money. Ultimately I got way too busy with the day work and he hired a replacement to take over the duties at the grocery store. My plan was working, I was off nights and motivated to better my life despite my drinking. When one of the district managers from Payless in Denver moved to Seattle, and in turn wanted to continue Jon’s services in the upper North-West, I saw my opportunity. I talked him into allowing me to take over three districts in the Puget Sound area, almost eighty stores all total. In late nineteen ninety I packed up the company van, rented a trailer, and set off to Kent, Washington.

How I started in A.A. – Part Three next.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

108. HOW I STARTED IN A.A. – PART ONE

big book 3

Long before the first time I walked into an A.A. meeting I was well aware I had a problem. Embracing the idea I was a drunk and letting others know gave me wonderful excuses to avoid anything approaching a life of responsibility. Often I would be called to do something on a whim or at odd hours only to be more than ready to tell my supervisor I was too hammered to drive. So be it. They knew, and as a result I could keep pounding away at my lifestyle. In the early nineties I maneuvered myself into a way to live on the upper west coast where all my bills were paid including everything but food. Rent, gas, electricity, phone, and even vehicle maintenance were covered by my supervisor. I thought I was being crafty and clever, but in reality I was putting a noose around my neck. Those gentle winds of change marked a coming hurricane of chaos I never saw coming.

I won’t lie, it was intoxicating at first. I was living in a new city, alone, traveling, and often making my own work schedule, but, I was poor in the truest sense of the word. I had nothing to come home other than a ten inch TV and of course, alcohol. My actual paycheck, past all those prepaid bills I mentioned, was only about one-hundred and twenty dollars a week. The cash I did have was spent on alcohol and food, in that order. I also dropped about twenty dollars a week into pinball machines, so my wasteful spending had more than one outlet.  I spent about two years in Seattle from mid ’90 to  late ’91 and through a huge mistake on my part I was eventually shipped off to Des Moines to do the same work under the much worse conditions. Upon arrival I was actually sober for almost a month, white-knuckling it as it were. All too soon I found the availability of booze was much easier here than on the west coast. Grocery stores handled it, whereas in Seattle all liquor outlets were state-owned. At the time this was part of their “sin tax” program that was a substitute for most state tax programs. This has since vanished as far as I know.

By this time my days of blissful incoherence were a distant memory, one I still blindly chased, totally unaware I was even doing it. I was always sick and it showed. My diet, as unwholesome as it was, almost matched my skills of self-destruction with the bottle. When I did eat it was only after drinking a pint or two of very cheap vodka (usually taking less than twenty minutes) and never unless it was on an empty stomach; I wanted what I called “the sledge-hammer effect.” Frozen pizza with sour cream was my favorite meal after getting blitzed. The best way I could describe my existence was as if I were becoming a copy of a copy of a copy and so on. Each day my resolution faded a little. The structure was still there, but the details were slowly disappearing. Nothing that interested my only a few years prior held any appeal. Reading, writing, and art were collecting dust as reminders of a time when simpler, and honestly more productive and creative endeavors, held value.

I began to spend more and more time on the road. Half-star motels fueled a made-up need to drink more away from my lovely piece of crap apartment. The one I had in Seattle was actually somewhat nice compared to where I ended up. It was wasn’t modern or fancy, but at least it wasn’t built around the turn of the century. The building I was living in at this time was so old the storage bins underneath used to be horse stalls. Wooden floors, metal cabinets, radiators, and a refrigerator that only came up to the middle of my chest had replaced what I taken for granted in my previous residence. I used to describe it as living in Sam Spade’s apartment.

Once I arrived in Des Moines whatever sense of responsibility I still clung to started deteriorating rapidly. I began blowing off more and more duties in favor staying home and getting sloshed. All too often I would get out on the road and show up late just so I could go to a motel and lose myself in the bottle. The area I covered was from the Quad Cities to Lincoln Nebraska and down to Kansas City; quite a large triangle. I’d call who I was supposed to show up for that night and reschedule for the following evening. I continually talked myself into believing I wasn’t inconveniencing anyone since I was being locked into the store and no one else had to be there anyway. It was a wonder I was able to keep my job let alone drive. The people I pissed off were too numerous to count, and that included my then supervisor back in Denver.

I had never been to Alcoholics Anonymous before, but one day, when my shame was really getting on me, (and I WAS sober, by the way) I finally made a phone call. Turned out there was a meeting within walking distance of where I lived. I set off on foot not knowing what to expect. The memory of that first meeting is burned into my memory. I recall walking into a rustic looking room, which was in the basement of a building, sitting down in the corner and saying nothing. I looked around at the various faces; happy, angry, peaceful, in pain, confused, determined. My first order of business was to silently judge everyone, at least that’s what I was wired for. The initial inclination I came to was actually correct, I was surrounded by criminals, and I was one of them. The place scared the hell out of me, but I sat through the entire meeting. People were talking about things I had no connection to. I knew nothing of the structure of this organization, let alone the Big Book. For the next year I went sporadically in between my binges. Occasionally I would be able to stay sober for a week or so, but I would always find myself with a bottle in my hand, sitting alone, full of regret and hopelessness.

In nineteen-ninety-three, out of desperation, I called my best friend in Colorado and asked him if I could move in temporarily while trying to sober up. Amazingly he and his wife obliged. I separated what I wanted to keep, left everything else neatly stacked in the middle of my apartment, and set off back to Denver without telling the building management I was leaving. I convinced myself the furniture I left behind  and other items were not going to be much of a burden to the owners of the apartments since they already offered furnished units stocked with whatever have been left behind by previous tenants. I ended up throwing away thirty paper grocery bags full of empty bottles that were lying around my place. It added up to close to four-hundred pints, and that was only about six months worth since I had cleaned up several months prior. Keep in mind I spent more time on the road  than I did in my own place, so the number was actually quite a bit higher as to what I had consumed.  After everything I owned was packed into the back of my van, I could see out the rear window from the driver’s seat. What I still considered valuable, the stuff I both needed and wanted, was truly quite sparse. I was 28 years old and had nothing to show for my life. Once I got back to Denver that’s when things started  getting REALLY bad.

Part two coming soon.

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With Love and Compassion,

Daniel Andrew Lockwood

100. POSTS FIFTY THROUGH ONE-HUNDRED SUMMARY

Well, I finally made it to one-hundred posts. The past two years have slowed me down a bit since my back surgery, but I’m feeling much more normal and motivated these days. That being said, I expect future entries will be a little more forthcoming. My book is almost finished and I should be able to see it in hardback fairly soon, so that’s more than enough motivation to keep writing here as well. Been working on it for a decade now and it’s almost reality; kind of exciting. In the meantime here is a rundown to my blog from fifty up. I’ll get to categorizing each entry into the appropriate slot at the top of the blog fairly soon.

Thank all of you for reading my entries.

50. Fifty Post Summary – Just what you think it is.

51. Ghost Story – A paranormal experience worth sharing. All about my A.A. sponsor.

52. Building Confidence –  The recipe for inviting confidence into one’s life.

53. I Was Ashamed…….9/11 – How I reacted to 9/11. I hope I’m the only one.

54. Another Observation –  Just a random thought.

55. The Disease of Addiction – This is the most important post here so far in my opinion. Anyone who is addicted or knows someone who is will walk away with a better understanding after reading this. Please read the comments under the entry.

56. Radio Show #1 – BlogTalkRadio –  My only radio interview, so far…

57. A Question – What the world needs more of; what I need to generate more of…

58. Surefire Self-Destruction – How to ruin your life.

59. Inspirational Music – Personal page, just music that inspires me when I need it. I’ll add to the list from time to time.

60. The Greatest Gifts – Those things in life that I’ve found true value in.

61. Poetry for the Soul – My favorite poem I’ve written.

62. An Open Mind – Think you have an open mind? This definition might upset you.

63. Fire and Water – Clearing those paths in life that seem impassable.

64. Genie – Third example of my art – Self explanatory.

65. The Top 10 Reasons Life is Worth Living …. or Why Life Doesn’t Suck – So you think life sucks? Sorry, but times have never been better in the history of mankind.

66. Seeking Dreams – Finding the path is easier than you think.

67. A.A, Birthday……19 Years, July 28, 1995- Seems like yesterday.

68. Finding Love – It starts inside and nowhere else.

69. Spiritual of Religious? – A great definition of whom I’m attracted to and why.

70. Leadership – How generating and positioning out solutions is fundamental to being a leader.

71. What do Women Want? –At the risk of sounding esoteric, I do indeed know a little here.

72. What do Men Want? – Oh, yea. I know what men want, and most women get it wrong.

73. A Letter to Myself – Advice to my younger self.

74. Welcome to Hell – Do you believe in Heaven or Hell? I do, but it’s not what you think.

75. A Mad-Lib for Addicts – This is both fun and disturbing.

76. So Close to Giving Up … – Written a day before my back surgery.

77. The Writing’s on the Wall – My interpretation of some of the sayings one hears at 12 step meetings.

78. A New Blog for a Better World – Introducing my new, second blog.

79. False Words – Some words I just don’t believe in.

80. Eliminating Evil – Want to rid the world of evil?  Here’s how you do it.

81. Words of Power – Why not? A powerful tool for manifesting.

82. Gratitude Means… –Why I believe in, and practice, gratitude.

83. A Minor Miracle – A cool story about a friend who needed help.

84. Twenty Years in Recovery – July 28th, 2015 – Twenty years, hard to believe.

85. Truth – Yes, it is.

86. Wayne Dyer – I wrote this the day after finding out Wayne Dyer had passed. It’s how I got to know him and how he influenced me.

87. A Dying Wish – How a poor decision almost killed me.

88. You Are Loved –Yes you are, even  if you don’t know it.

89. The Power of Honesty – One of the funniest stories I know.

90. The Lonely King – Another piece of artwork.

91. My Depression – How I got past my own bout of depression and how I keep it from coming back.

92. My Most Embarrassing Moment – Hysterical and cringe-worthy all at the same time. Lesson kind of learned.

93. 21 Years in Recovery –  I’m finally legal now?

94. A Friend Has Died – You know, I didn’t think I’ll ever stop being mad about this.

95. The Gift of Giving – The secret of abundance.

96. In Search of Perfection –It’s not what you may think.

97. Being Right –  A life free from a huge cause of emotional pain is a wonderful thing.

98. What’s  your House Built On? – Three rock solid foundation principles.

99. Twenty-Two Years Sober – Seems a little like yesterday, and that’s a good thing.

 

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

94. A FRIEND HAS DIED

Spock

I wasn’t expecting to be so angry about this. I’m overwhelmingly upset, but honestly, I’m more pissed than anything. What the hell, you know? We weren’t that close but there was common ground and respect. We’d gone to the movies together, worked together, and laughed together. We’d even exchanged a few gifts. He was a good man; not a jerk nor anything unkind or abrasive. He was quick to laugh and in fact I don’t remember him ever being in a bad mood.

What sucks is I hadn’t spoken to him for a while. When he left our company we drifted apart but on occasion we’d still talk. He was a terrific handyman, and I know what I’m saying being in construction myself. He had gotten hired with us just so he could get his Masters license. His real skill wasn’t as a plumber though, it was foremost with wood and secondly with tile. Some of his artistic talents were channeled into making Celtic shields. They were magnificent pieces and they sold quickly for high prices. I had the pleasure of seeing his mountain home some years back and it was filled with beauty from his hand. I was quite envious of his talent and I had planned on hiring him to do some work at our house at some point in the future. It didn’t seem all too long ago when I called and recommend him to a potential customer. I remember going off topic and discussing just how horrifically bad the first Hobbit film was compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That was the last time we spoke.  He was the same age as me.

I found out about his death through another close friend who called him up to see how he was doing. He had left a message and his widow called back saying he died last February. I’d love to say I can empathize with her, but I find I’m being selfish and preoccupied. My heart breaks for her, that’s for sure, but my thoughts keep drifting to examining my mortality; my own unrealized dreams. If I were to die tomorrow, what will I have left on my plate? What potential will have vanished? What potential did my friend leave unmanifested? I don’t know, but I’m positive the world would be a better place with him still in it.

The picture of Spock was one of his gifts to me; a rather thoughtful (and rare) one. When the action figures were released in the early seventies, coinciding with the premiere of the animated version of Star Trek, I had made it all too plain to my parents that I wanted Spock.  They got me Scotty instead saying Spock was sold out. I was grateful, but as an eight year old kid I was nonetheless deeply disappointed. We were both fans of Star Trek and this story came up one day as we talked about the show. He must have REALLY understood my feelings on the incident because when I showed up to my job the next day I got a call from him to look under a bucket in the corner. Behold, there was Spock! He sits in a place of honor in my home now, a fitting reminder of my friend.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

92. MY MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT

Secret

Okay……. before you read this entry you HAVE to watch the commercial I’m going to reference, don’t worry, it’s only 33 seconds long.

In the late seventies and early eighties TV was a repetitious monster. With only three networks, (PBS doesn’t count here) programming was ridiculously limited and choice of entertainment was quite literally never much of a choice. It had been that way for years, decades at the time, and so too were the inescapable commercials sandwiched between shows. Many were relentlessly ran ad nauseam. By the time some were finally pulled from circulation the child actors had most likely become college graduates.

One of the tricks then, and still today, was to (hopefully) insert contagious catch phrases into our daily lives. Once repeated they’ll anchor themselves back to the item being pitched. It doesn’t matter if the connection is negative or positive because the manufacturer figures we still have their product (instead of someone else’s) in our heads.

One such ad was for “Calgon” which is, for those who don’t know, a powdered additive not normally found in regular laundry detergents. The still above is shows a white customer in a cleaners run by people from an Asian decent. No one thought it was wrong or out-of-place then, but it sticks out now with a somewhat slimy racial feel, at least in my opinion. At any rate the ad ran for close to six or seven years from the seventies to the eighties. Everyone made fun of it and for good reason.

I know I did one too many times…..

Sometime around nineteen eighty-five I was working nights as the lead of the janitorial crew at a local Target store here in the Denver-metro area. The duties were physically demanding and often tedious. When the larger areas were clean and perfect, management had a tendency to (justifiably) look for smaller flaws in harder to clean areas. So did we; and not just out of a sense of duty, but pride as well. Thus it came to be one night when the doors were locked and the customers had left, and while the evening closing crews were facing the shelving and putting things away, that I was approached with a nice complement from one of the store’s employees.

I happened to be on my hands and knees digging some gunk out of  one of the corners up front. My back was turned when I heard a voice behind me.

“You know, your floors always look so clean and shiny. How do you do it?”

Instantly the “Calgon” commercial jumped to mind and in a moment of complete un-inspiration, I opened my big mouth.

As I was standing up and turning around to face my admirer I uttered those words tattooed in my brain.

“It’s an ancient Chinese secret!”

As luck would have it turned out he was an Asian gentleman. Not only that he was REALLY pissed. My mind went instantly to another racial stereotype while I envisioned my ass getting kicked Bruce Lee Style.

As I stood there, feeling the blood draining from my face and my I.Q, dropping sharply, I stammered trying to redeem myself with zero effect. I’m sure he knew where my reference had originated, but that made little difference. After staring a hole through my skull, he eventually just turned and walked away.

Have you ever locked your keys in the car and realized what you were doing as you were swinging the door shut? You want to stop the momentum, but it isn’t going to happen and you become witness to your own stupidity.

Noooooo!

SLAM!

crap………

Such was my experience in this event. I spent the good part of the following week sick to my stomach. After that I was a lot more careful to curb my knee jerk reactions. Those who know me these days might say I’m still over spontaneous with my mouth, and yes, I do taste my foot more often than I’d like, but there was a time where no aforethought existed at all. I eventually found a way to soften those moments of potential rudeness.

I try to ask myself “What’s the kindest thing I can respond with here?”

I try……

My cringe-worthy moments are rare these days but I will say this; most of them are bred from an effort to expel humor, not really as an attempt to impress my audience, but instead to amuse myself. In the end, my ego gleefully puts my neck in the noose while I commit social suicide.

Thank God I can laugh at my past now. I’ve learned to forgive those events I used to hold on to that others have let fade from memory, but I really do think the man I insulted over thirty years ago never forgot that night.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

89. THE POWER OF HONESTY

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One of my first jobs in the early nineteen-eighties was working at a Target store here in Littleton, Colorado. The night shift and nature of our duties was anything but glamorous. Being good at pushing a broom, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming are not strong points on anyone’s resume’ and bragging rights to the speed at which one can walk every aisle seven times in eight hours will empress very few. Because of this it was difficult to find anyone willing to do the work, let alone keep them for any length of time. Many came and went, in fact when I eventually became supervisor the rate of turnover was revealed to be on average at least once a week. It was a hard, continuously moving job with lousy hours and I do not miss it in the slightest.

One of my supervisors who lasted a little longer than some was a fella I’ll call Frank. He was best described as a “cool jerk”. He had a big mouth just like me but his delivery was somewhat louder and defiantly more caustic. Insults rolled out of his pie hole more than any situation warranted. He thought he was being goofy and humorous in nature, but in reality he was just constantly annoying. Such crude indignities as “Eat a rock, Kiss my whatever, and Up yours!” were bland and fairly easy to ignore, but they were nonetheless delivered with disrespect and ignorance. Frank was obviously the playground bully who hadn’t outgrown the need to shove others around in order to elevate himself to a false sense of superiority. All of us put up with his incessant blithering for months until one guy showed up as part of our crew.

I instantly liked David. He was kind, hard working, focused and fun to be around. He was also the first Mormon I’d ever worked with. His faith showed in his actions and there was never any reason to mistrust or belittle him. This, however, did not stop Frank from directing his barrage of mindless chatter elsewhere. In fact, because David’s manners were humble and peaceful, he focused even more energy towards him in an effort to get a reaction. For weeks David turned his cheek, mostly because Frank was our boss, but more because he didn’t want to be the type who would let pointless opinions affect his demeanor.

Then one night EVERYTHING changed……

David had been with us for probably two months now. As usual, at the allotted time, we made our way to the breakroom and sat down to our perspective tables to eat lunch.  This particular night Frank was going out of his way to be excessively obnoxious and all of his energy was directed towards David. He was doing his best to block the verbal abuse with a newspaper when I saw from his perspective that he’d finally had enough. David casually flipped down the edge of what he was reading and stared at his abuser. Frank had this huge dopey grin on his face thinking he had finally gotten under the skin of his victim. He was waiting anxiously to see what kind of reaction was coming. What happened next was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. David slowly folded and placed the paper on the table in front of him and calmly said one sentence to Frank while staring directly into his eyes.

“Well……..at least I’m not fat.”

That was the hardest moment of my life I ever had keeping a straight face. Frank was stunned. He sat straight up and seemed to turn to stone. David, on the other hand, picked up his paper and continued to read while finishing his lunch.  Frank was self-conscious about his weight to begin with, and while I never considered his girth to be out of the ordinary, he did. Frank didn’t speak to him for the rest of the night, in fact I don’t think he EVER spoke to David much after that incident except to ask him to do something as a manager.

Eventually David went on to a different job and a better future, but I never forgot the lesson in honesty he presented so perfectly.  In his absence he left us with a quieter less aggressive supervisor. There’s no doubt in my mind his gentle resolve still to this day serves all who came in contact with him.

Should we always turn away from meaningless insults for the rest of our lives? Yes, I believe we should when they come from strangers and temporary associates, but when they are constantly delivered from those we are bound to, then absolutely not. Why? Because if nothing else when bullies receive no resistance, their behavior inevitably becomes magnified and that behavior can lead to hurting others even if it REALLY doesn’t bother you.

When honesty is used as a defense (NOT as an offence, huge difference) there are few countermeasures capable of blocking it. David was not mean or nasty with his delivery, just forthright. And Frank, when confronted with the truth, had nothing to say against it because any kind of resistance would look like he was unaware of the obvious, which no one wants to admit to.

I must confess, I’ve used this tactic on an extremely limited basis. Not because I don’t think it will work, obviously it will, it’s just that in my opinion I feel it’s a last-resort technique. If done properly the likelihood it will sever all ties between you and your perceived aggressor is quite high. Just because someone is thoughtless or annoying a few times doesn’t mean this person has no value in life. Remember this, people only treat us the way we allow them to treat us, and that’s a fact.

Yes, the truth may indeed set you (and those who suffer with you ) free………..

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

86. WAYNE DYER

Dyer first audio

I love thrift stores. I rarely hesitate when the chance to discover and rummage through a newly found one pops up. There was a time when my work had me earning a living in a wide range of destinations from Seattle to Des Moines to Omaha and Kansas city including a plethora of towns and destinations in between. Each place meant new opportunities to explore; new treasures to find, especially in the way of books. It also meant a LOT of driving, sometimes hundreds of miles a day. When I grew tired of the content on the radio (and my own thoughts in the lonely silence waned) I eventually turned to audiobooks. Second hand shops certainly had no shortage of these. Before I went into recovery my choices were of the fictional nature, but as my life turned around so did my taste in what was not only entertaining, but educational.

My sponsor encouraged me to investigate new teachers and subjects beyond what A.A. offers. Naturally I began to seek facts and philosophies that would align with a life of continued self-improvement. I had regular print books in my library he had recommended, but nothing as of yet sought on my own. It was at this time I came across Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny” at a local Goodwill. Well, the title had me intrigued and I knew, very superficially, who Dyer was so he wasn’t a complete unknown. After reading the back I thought I’d give it a try. This was about one year into my recovery, perhaps around the summer of nineteen ninety-six.

After playing and enjoying it once, I put it away thinking this was going to be the last and only time I would listen to it. I was wrong. About a year later I was bored, and again, it caught my eye. Upon giving it a second audience I was surprised to hear a lot I’d missed the first time. Dyer, as well as all great teachers, can be like this; either that or I’m simply a poor listener. At any rate, the pump had been officially primed for new teachings from the same source. More of his seminars were forthcoming from where I’d originally found the first one, thrift stores. Rather quickly I had attained a large library of his works along with such orators as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and titles including “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  Other subjects accumulated as well, addressing such diverse topics as language skills, memory skills, math skills, business and leadership skills, and time management skills. Some were dull and quickly forgotten but Dyer remained my favorite.

As time went along I began to adopt his suggestions of encouragement. I was intrigued by his presentation of the “self-actuated person” as first put forth by Abraham Maslow. Dyer felt this state of being could be achieved by anyone, as opposed to Maslow’s argument that it was confined to a limited number of gifted people. Years later I was approached by someone with whom I’d had a little contact but nothing close. They handed a complement saying I was the most self-actuated person they ever met. I do my best to remain “independent of the good opinion of others” but this was a special treat and I was moved by their gift. I’ve had “peak spiritual experiences” and actively defend the absent, playing the “devil’s advocate” quite often. At the end of this article I’ll place some links to other earlier stories on this blog that fall in line with how Dyer has influenced and touched my life.

When Dyer released “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” his book tour come through Denver Colorado. As a birthday gift my wife got us tickets to the event and I was quite excited. I wrote him and to my surprise he wrote back saying he was looking forward to meeting me. I couldn’t stop smiling through the entire talk. He signed the books we had brought and I had my first chance to talk to him directly. As the next few years rolled on I took any chance to see him I could, seven in all. Three at “Mile Hi Church” here in town, once at the Budweiser Event Center, once at a two-day Hay House seminar for publishing called “Writing for your Soul” held at the Brown Palace in 2013, and lastly at the 2014 “I Can Do It!” retreat at the Denver convention center. At his last Mile Hi appearance before the writer’s seminar I gave him a portrait of Deepak Chopra I had done as a gift. At the writer’s seminar he told me he had sent it to Chopra. I had done an earlier portrait of his daughter Skye and in return he sent me her CD and a copy of his movie. Here is a link (from this blog) to a photo of my picture of Dr. Chopra.

I suppose my favorite title of his is “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem.” The point in the audio book at which he speaks of the little boy being befriended by his teacher tears me up every time. If you’ve heard it I’m sure you empathize. While I don’t have every book he put out, both in print and audio, it’s dang close. I even own a textbook he co-wrote before “Erroneous Zones.”  I haven’t read THAT one; yet.

While I will miss him, just like the rest of us, I know he finished his work and has moved on to a greater purpose.

Here are the older links from this blog that mention his influence on my life.

Just like the rest of us I feel an urge to share following Dyer’s passing. I hope this entry does not come across as self-serving in any way.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

76. SO CLOSE TO GIVING UP…….

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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 – WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS! 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