It was a simple and joyous time that I spent with my family. These are fond memories. But, somewhere along the line, my camping experiences diminished, the joy of spending time in nature was replaced with Hot Dogs, Booze and Passing Out.
Last weekend, I was camping with Ben (my partner in crime, my four-footed friend), we had called it a night and crawled into the back of my truck in the woods of Montana. Now, these are real woods, mountain lions, grizzlies, etc. Nature is not to be taken for granted around here. Suddenly, around 2am, I awoke to Ben’s perked ears and sounds of snapping branches. The sounds grew louder as whatever was roaming the woods got closer… I reached for my headlamp… And...
GOATS! Rocky Mountain Goats, a herd of them… Now, if I had been camping with Hot Dogs and Booze I would have been PASSED OUT (probably face down in a pile of biting red ants at that!) and would never have experienced this beauty, this joy. The Goats brought me out of the truck where I was then able to see the expansiveness of the sky and the stars and experience the cooling sensations of the pine trees. Nothing needed to change. I didn’t need to drink a Keystone Light or 50 of them…
I am now getting back my memories and creating new memories that are more than just a party. Memories such as this that fill me up with satisfaction, connection, and awe.
AND NOW… onto the podcast!
Paul Introduces Westin
Westin is from Indianapolis, Indiana. He is 33, has been married for 7 years, and has an amazing little girl who is turning 4 in September. “She is the most important thing in my life alongside my sobriety.” Westin works at an addiction treatment center as a “Recovery Coach.”
How long have you been sober?
Westin has been sober for 2 years and 363 days, he is 2 days away from 3 years of sobriety! “Right now I’m in a place where I have to count days again. I’m in a weird place where I just have to count.” says Westin on his sobriety.
When did you realize it was time to quit drinking?
“My bottom was 3 years ago almost to the date. I woke up face down on my Mom’s couch, not knowing how I got there, and not knowing what happened over the past 24 hours. I was highly addicted to Klonopin and drinking on top of them. I looked up from the couch and just saw this look of utter disappointment on my Mom’s face. It was different. I had unknowingly gone through her medicine cabinet the night before, and found all sorts of pills in my pockets.”
What were your drinking habits?
“I was a blackout drinker from the age of 17. I was never trying to control it, I thought it was normal. I was proud of the amount of alcohol I could consume…” “But, I was physically addicted to it… Always struggling with anxiety and shaking. I couldn’t function without that first drink, and then the pills took over.”
What does it mean, when you’re back to counting the days?
In the early days of sobriety Westin was counting: 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 1-year sober… Getting those next tokens, proving to himself that he could do this. “I needed the external motivation. From 2-years sober to just now I didn’t count, I didn’t need to, but now, I’m back to counting the individual days. I’ve been referencing my sobriety tracker, and just trying to get through each day. It’s not a comfortable feeling.”
The whole ‘God’ word in AA. That one word kept you from getting sober… Expand on that.
Westin discusses his “religious” philosophy and how he made AA work as an agnostic. Westin had been agnostic (without knowledge, an individual who does not claim to say whether God exists or does not exist) most of his life. AA taught Westin to own his agnosticism, his belief system. “I’m now more comfortable being honest and open with who I am, and AA taught me this. I found a way to make my beliefs, or lack thereof, work within the framework of AA.” The gift of desperation allowed Westin to take what works and leave the rest…
How did you do it? (on getting sober)
Westin went to a treatment center, Fairbanks Hospital in Indianapolis. “I looked at my wife and said, I think I need some help with this.”… “We tried to do a walk in, but like a good addict I had just finished the rest of my klonopin refill (half of the prescription), so I had to wait. I went through a 7-day long detox and then a 6-week intensive outpatient treatment.”
What emotions did you feel?
“I had anxiety through the roof. Drinking brought about terrible, terrible anxiety… But now, I didn’t have my self medicating procedures in place. I had to face it. My anxiety was peaked out for 6 months. Drinking was not an option.” “That was my first time going into treatment, I had been looking for a solution, and I just kept doing all the things that were recommended to me. I still struggle with social anxiety. I still can’t attend a basketball game or a big social event…”
What is your recovery portfolio like today?
“My recovery is inspired by my work, surrounded by people who are on this same journey. I don’t want to be that guy who is physically in shambles and I get to see that every day. I attend a minimum of 2-3 meetings a week. If I’m struggling, I hit the meetings hard.” Westin takes a holistic approach that includes: AA and the 12 steps, eating better, daily physical exercise, and alone time…
“I need to get plugged-in, connected back to my recovery network.” - Paul (on being in a recovery rut)
“Take what works, and leave the rest.” - Westin
You might be an alcoholic if…
“You continue to drink once everybody else has been asleep for hours.”
“If you are still thirsty at 2am in the morning.”
Promo Code: Elevator
“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”
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