When Mom stopped the enabling

I don't know if anyone felt the brunt of my addiction as much as my mother did. My mother taught me unconditional love. It may not have felt like that all the time in my addiction, but I now that know that she always showed up for me regardless of how I treated her or myself. I know today that she did her best with the resources she had at her disposal. I couldn't even put a number on how many times she sat me down about my drug use and attempted to talk sense into me. I love my mom and was taught to respect her opinion but drug addiction has no space for reason, even from the ones that we love. Emotional appeal and the pleas of my mother was not sufficient. I kept on with my drug use and things would gradually get worse. Every time I would get in trouble, she would be the first person I called. Every single arrest I called her first and she was there. I can remember the  time I got expelled from school, she went out of her way to try to enroll me in other schools. She was always trying to save me from myself. My disease manipulated her and held her emotionally hostage in a regular basis. Towards the end of my addiction, she ended up enabling me in my disease. She honestly thought she was helping me, or at the very least just keeping me alive. My mother and sister drove me to the hospital when I overdosed on xanax. She bailed me out of jail, she paid all my attorney fees and got me me out of all my citations. She was just trying to keep her son out of prison and out of trouble. At the end of my addiction, I manipulated her to think that I needed to come off of cocaine like someone needed to ween off of heroin and she would drive me to get my fix because I was too paranoid to do so myself.  I went so far as to give her a bag of salt and she thought she was helping me by giving me a little at a time (yes really). The entire time I would be using in my bedroom. Every time I would go to treatment, I would talk her to stopping at the dope house on the way so I could use one last time on the way to rehab. And she would do it! She would literally do anything just to get me into a safe place. 

Finally, she got fed up with my bullshit and stopped all of the enabling. She started by  calling my probation officer and "snitched" me out!  I can't even imagine how difficult that was for her. Today, i know that she loved me enough to call the cops which possibly saved my life. Towards the end of my addiction I was over dosing almost once a week, and I was very well on the verge of dying. I was having pains on the left side of my body from the IV cocaine use and was blacking out from xanax and ecstasy every day. She finally called the cops and I was arrested for the last time at my house. Cops literally came into my room and removed me from a loaded rig I was about to shoot. My sister and mother cried as the cops put me in the backseat. I was sent to Angelina County Jail for thirty days while I awaited for a bed to open up at a state funded treatment center. Today, I am grateful that my mother called the cops on me and had me arrested, I don't know if id be sober or alive if it wasn't for her. 

Today I get to make amends to my mother by being the son I stole from her. When I made the amends approach to her 9 years ago, she didn't want the money or pawned jewelry back, she just wanted her son back. For the last nine years almost every morning I get to call her to ask her how SHE IS DOING. Im not calling her for bail money and I'm not calling her because I messed up again. The ability to do this is one of the blessings of me getting sober. Thanks to my gift of recovery I get to honor the amends I made years ago and be the son she always deserved.  After all she did give birth to me and then saved me from myself. Thank you mom, I will forever be grateful for the sacrifice you made and the life we have now. Happy Mothers Day!

Handling post surgery pain as a person in recovery

Surgery Update: One day post-op after having my wisdom teeth removed

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my pre-surgery consult and my experience with the doctor handling my surgery. My doctor did a great job of keeping in the mind the issues we had spoken about and my lifestyle as a man in recovery. He did a great job with the surgery and it was quite painless. At one point, I woke up for 30 seconds or so, but quickly passed back out. My friend in recovery, Cindy, did an incredible job taking care of me after the surgery. She was there for me step by step following the procedure, making sure I got to her guest bedroom safely. I am grateful to have friends like this in my life today, people that are always there for me no matter what the circumstances. The doctor gave me a script for ibuprofen, antibiotics, and Tylenol 3, which is an opiate. Cindy and I agreed that the narcotic would not be filled and she got rid of it immediately. I can’t tell you how great it felt to have love and support in making that decision. I felt so empowered and cared for. 

As soon as I got to the guest bedroom I took a nap, collapsing into the bed as I was still feeling loopy from the surgery. When I woke up I was feeling sore, but the pain wasn't that bad. I quickly thought of my recovery friends who had this procedure and shared their experiences with me. In my opinion, the opiate prescription was not necessary as it would have been used as a “comfort med” in this situation. At no time was I in so much pain that I could not function as a result.  I did not think it was worth risking my recovery to feel "comfortable". There was also a sense of satisfaction I felt in facing and feeling the post-surgery soreness. Symbolically, I feel like that’s how I choose to handle life these days. As a person in recovery who is connected to something greater than me, I get to be experience the high’s and the low’s without fear of relapse. I get move through these times with grace and dignity. I got a sense of gratitude for being able to feel at all, without relying on a substance to get me through it. In my addiction, I did not feel anything (probably because of the massive amounts of cocaine and speed I was using) and I remember having moments where I feared I was a sociopath. Today, I am in gratitude for the love, support, kindness, and even the pain I get from my recovery. It lets me know that I am human and that I'm alive. I have found a have inner resource that allows me to tap into infinite power that is literally beyond my comprehension (power greater than myself, not a power equal to myself.). Thank you to everyone who was there to support me in my journey and those that prayed for a speedy recovery, I could not have done it without you guys.

Grateful for my disease

On April 28th, 2008, I was released from a four-week jail stay and the State of Texas offered me the opportunity to go to a state funded rehab center. My parents picked me up from jail to begin the painful journey from Lufkin, TX to Austin, TX (the longest four hours of my entire life). I conned my parents into letting me stop at Walmart “to pick up necessities for treatment.” This was of course, a lie. I had every intention of using this as my final way to get high. In jail, I saved my commissary (money system in jail) to get high the second I got out and my plan was finally coming together. I cashed the commissary check at Walmart, bought some syringes, and had my buddy meet me in the parking lot. My parents could tell that I was up to something, and threatened to call the cops on me once again. This did nothing to deter me, as consequences have never stopped me from getting high. I quickly got my stuff from my friend and jumped into the SUV. We started the journey to my third treatment center in several years. The next moments are quite hazy for me. I don't remember this drive because I was high on benzos and attempting to shoot cocaine the whole drive there. By the time, I got to treatment, my shirt was covered with blood and I was higher than I had been in months. The very next day became my sobriety date. I reached my bottom. I must stress to the reader that my bottom was an internal/emotional bottom as I believe everyone's must be to stop for good and for all. My desperation for seeking a higher power had never reached the point that it needed until this stay in treatment. I realized that I was done, and that unless something was done quickly, I would be dead soon. My journey to seek this unknown power started at that moment, when the internal desire to change flickered alive. I was introduced to my spiritual advisor and my recovery journey started April 29, 2008.

My story to hell and back is filled with all sorts of crazy awful stories of near death experiences. I can recall having a shot gun in my face at least twice, driving around incredibly intoxicated and hurting countless people. I'm grateful for my disease and these experiences today. There is no rational explanation for the breath I get to take today, I was set on a path of self-destruction and I could not kill myself no matter how much I tried via various methods. Looking back at my past, I'm seeing that these experiences have molded me to be of maximum service to my fellow recovery family. I get to have lifelong friends and I get to be a family member. I get to be a father and I get to be a productive member of society. I get to honor, cherish and love my body by practicing asanas (yoga). If I had not experienced the darkest depths of my disease I don't know if any of this would be possible. I get to live a spiritual life that is beyond words, beyond sight and it penetrates every aspect of my life. And for that I am eternally grateful. Special thanks to those that guided me along the journey. Without you walking the path before me I would not be here today.


But my Doctor prescribed it!?

But what if my doctor prescribes me narcotics and I'm a person in recovery?!

                This is a question that I recently had to ask myself (and my sponsor of course). In a couple of weeks, I will be visiting the dentist to get my wisdom teeth extracted. During the consult, I was transparent with the doctor about being a person in recovery. This is my perception and opinion of the interaction. I explained to the doctor I am approximately 9 years sober.  I did my best to get him to understand where I was coming from and how much my sobriety meant to me. I told him that my drug of choice was stimulants and, while I had dabbled with opiates, I had never been strung out on them enough to experience any sort of withdraw symptoms. I told him I would only use opiates as a method to come down off the speed or coke I had binged on for days. I found this quite funny (I’m still a little messed up guys) and he did not.  I'm not sure if he was just trying to cover his ass or if he has a liability issue of some sort, but he kept trying to stress to me that I may not go all the way under and may feel some discomfort during the procedure. I was thinking "MY god, Doc! I have been sober for a really long time!" Either he did not believe I’ve been sober for as long as I was claiming, or I am just ignorant to how opiates affect me (which is very possible). After that we discussed what he may prescribe for me to take after the procedure, I told him that I would like to not take narcotics if possible. We began to discuss what the post-surgery pain might be like. We discussed different opiates that he would prescribe for these pain levels (hydrocodone, Percocet, Vicodin, etc.) and he stated, "Maybe we can just give you Tylenol 3's because they’re not that addictive.” I must be transparent about this part of the story because my recovery depends upon it.  Deep inside my addict brain, I was like "FUCK YES! Total freebie from the doc." I believe my inner spirit was awake enough (due to many years of awareness built up through service work, prayer, and meditation) to explain to my brain "You better run this by some of your trusted people in your support group and your spiritual advisor." I called my spiritual advisor and told him the whole story. He stated that he had the same procedure not too long ago and that he did just fine without narcotics. All he really needed for the pain was 800mg of ibuprofen and he could handle the recovery. I took this into my prayer and meditation life and my spirit drew me to the decision of not taking up the doc on the freebie. I also reached out to my friend Cindy Wylie to take me to and from the doctor’s office for my procedure. She would take me to and from the doctor’s office and she even offered me her guest bedroom to stay the night so he could watch me for 24hrs. It felt so good to have this kind of support from my recovery family. I told her about that I would not be taking narcotics post-surgery and she empowered me and supported me in this decision. Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks to find out how this procedure goes! Prayers my way are much appreciated!

But whats up with all the yoga??

"Isn't yoga just stretching?" I feel like I have had this conversation with people repeatedly. I get asked how long I've been practicing, and why I choose yoga as a workout, or if I do anything else besides yoga. I feel as if yoga presented itself to me as an option for healing many years before I began fully engaging in the practice. Often, I feel as if yoga found me, not the other way around. You see, three years ago, I was seeing a girl who was really into yoga. Naturally, I wanted to be a good boyfriend and become involved in her interests. I also felt a little "stale" in my recovery.  I was approximately 6 years sober living a life better than the one I had left behind, but I was feeling tapped out with my spiritual growth. There was also a lot of ego starting to enter my sobriety. I had been around the twelve step fellowship groups for a while and had the opportunity to sponsor/mentor plenty of guys (which has been to most powerful way to stay grateful for the life I have been given), but there came a time where I was making a name for myself in an anonymous program without trying to. People knew about me because I was being of service so often and many people relied on me for help. I would introduce myself to a new person and they would say "So glad to finally meet you, I’ve heard so much about you." This was super flattering, but I must be honest, this was starting to go to my head. I realized that this is the reason that I felt disconnected from my peers, my fellowship and hindered my spiritual growth. I noticed that at the yoga classes I would attend, no one really knew me and that I felt more anonymous there then I had in a long time. I discovered a new level of spirituality and peace within my yoga practice. Not only was it a good workout for the body, but it became a workout for my mind and soul. I can’t tell you how many times I would come across life lessons on my yoga mat. Symbolically practicing letting go or pushing through a pose, would line up with what I was going through in life. I found synchronicity in it, and it reignited my spiritual journey all over again. I feel that this may have prevented me from a possible relapse. That is how powerful the experience was. Yoga continues to be "new" for me. There is always new challenges and difficult poses to discover. My practice is continual and daily which means that sometimes I go to two classes a day. However, sometimes it means I’ll do five minutes of sun salutations in my living room. I realize that I have so much more to learn. Just last year I discovered that the "asana"/yoga pose is only one eighth of the eight limbed path that yoga teaches. Yoga for me has become a way of living. I learn to practice patience, kindness, love, integrity, love, service and other spiritual principles that I previously learned from twelve step fellowships. I have nothing against twelve step fellowships, they saved my life and I still attend to "those meetings" because it will always feel like home for me. If anything, I have found what the eleventh step of the program talks about (enhancing spiritual growth) in yoga. For me yoga did not take the place of my recovery, it revolutionized it. Namaste.

I'm just an addict, not an alcoholic?

I often have been asked what is the difference between being an addict and being an alcoholic, or if there is even a difference. I believe that it is important to get down to the truth in solving any problem. I am a person in recovery, not a doctor, and this is my opinion based on my experiences. My drug use started around 15 years old with pot and a few Vicodin. Over the years I became strung out on methamphetamine and cocaine. I could not feel "normal" without these things. If I went to long with out drugs, I would feel depressed, suicidal (which resulted in several attempts at my own life) and emotionally distraught. This was all going on before I had reached the age of 21. I would drink every once in a while, especially if i was taking Xanax, as it made the high much better. It was rare for me for me to indulge in JUST alcohol. In all honesty, alcohol was just harder to get a hold of at that time. Therefore, I believed I am only an addict and not an alcoholic. I was operating under the assumption that I just needed to get cocaine/methamphetamine out of my system and out of my life in order for me to be happy. The first time I was removed from all substances (first trip to rehab) at 19 years old, I was completely clean from everything for a few months. I got out of treatment and proceeded to get drunk right away, but did not use any drugs! Therefore, I believed I could drink successfully and without consequence. This went on for about two weeks and before I knew it I was smoking crack in Galveston, getting tattooed by a shady character who was surrounded strippers. I had no place to live and the probation officer hot on my trail again. This was not part of my plan. I had no intention of using any drugs. I was only going to drink like a normal person. Needless to say, this happened two more times before I came to grips with the idea that I may not ever be able to drink "successfully". I had people in my life that would tell me that I suffer from a disease only a spiritual experience will conquer and that I would have a physical reaction to any and all mind altering substances. They called this "the phenomenon of craving" stemming from a "physical allergy". I was intrigued by what these people were telling me, I had to because my life was in jeopardy and I was out of options. I started to realize that the disease of addiction had a lot more to do with my spiritual/emotional condition rather than biological factors. I started to realize what these people had been trying to tell me all along. Drugs/alcohol is NOT my problem. It was that I couldn’t seem to be alone with myself/my thoughts/my life while sober. As a result of this, I felt that I immediately had to change the way I feel in order to handle life. I came to the realization that in order to recover I would have work on loving myself sober. This was the true solution to my problem.  In the beginning, it was learning to hang out with myself sober. I was introduced to a spiritual program of action that lead me to love my fellow man and myself. It showed me how to practice principles like honor, integrity, love, respect, trust etc. In conclusion, this whole idea of "am I only an alcoholic/addict and not the other" is obsolete. A good comparison for my philosophy would be this: stating that "I am an alcoholic AND an addict" to someone is like saying "this is my dog, he's a Labrador and a K-9." I will close with this statement. This is only my opinion based on my experience. I realize that these topics can be controversial; especially to a lot of friends and professionals I'm close to. My writing may offend some people, but I have found it important to speak my truth on topics that are very important to me. 

Addiction from a Nephews Perspective

I asked my nephew (Orlando) to write on my disease from his perspective. I didn't think much of it, I just figured it would make great reading material for my new blog. But as I read this I couldn't help but tear up, as all my old relapse memories came back. Today I'm grateful that the universe put some amazing mentors in my life early in my recovery, and I'm grateful for a recovery program of action that promised me that I could recover. Here's what Orlando wrote.

"I grew up in a small town in East Texas.  There was never a lot to do, but I always found joy in spending time with my family.  I was especially close with my uncle, Peter.  We would spend a lot of time together and I looked up to him in a lot of ways.  Everything changed when I found out he failed a drug test at school.  I was shocked.  I never thought my uncle would be involved with anything illegal such as doing drugs.  It only got worse from there.  I slowly noticed his demeanor change.  He started to be more introverted and would shy away from spending time with the family.  It got to the point where every time we would meet up he would only try to sell me things for spare cash or ask us for money.  We all knew what the money was for.  

I started to see the person I called my favorite Uncle Peter change into someone I could not even recognize.  He started losing a lot of weight, became angry and distant, and tried to cut himself off from the rest of the world (literally).  I wanted to help him but I honestly did not know how, and I was just a kid back then, I didn’t feel like I had any influence to make a difference in his life.  It was one of the first times in my life I can recall being scared that I was going to lose a family member.

Peter eventually got arrested one day and was forced to go to rehab.  I was so relieved.  I would never wish imprisonment on my family, but I knew this was for his own good.  Shortly after, I went to visit him in rehab.  I could tell he was doing better and, according to him, he was on the right path to getting his life back in order.  Peter eventually got out, but almost immediately fell back into his old ways.  I felt betrayed.  I was for sure I had my favorite uncle back, but the whole time it was a lie.  This went on to happen several times.  Peter would get in trouble, say he was going to get better, and then just fall back into his own ways.  After the second or third time I did not even believe him anymore.  I recall one day he called my house from prison but I refused to talk to him.  Instead, I sat in my room and cried while telling myself to give it up, that I had lost my uncle forever.

By this time I was in high school, and started to experience a lot of new things.  It felt like I had a hole in my heart because I really wanted Peter to be around.  My life was moving fast, and I tried to avoid hearing updates on Peter because I did not want to get tricked into believing he was okay again.  All I knew was that he was in another rehab in Austin.  I started looking into colleges and the University of Texas at Austin was on the top of my list.  I kept being told by my grandparents to visit the city and to spend time with Peter while I was there.  I was hesitant at first.  I had not seen my uncle in YEARS, when before I would see him 2-3 times a week.  I planned a trip to Austin to see the University and decided to spend time with Peter while I was there.

My expectations were very low.  I did not want to get my hopes up only to be let down again.  I was surprised to see that Peter was actually doing better.  He had consistently held a job, was going to meetings, and had been drug free and out of trouble.  I started making more trips to Austin and would spend time with him during each visit.  I slowly began to feel like I was getting my uncle back.  I eventually moved to Austin, and having Peter there was a huge blessing.  It was my first time living away from my family, but I knew I had him close which made things easier.  

It’s been almost 10 years since my uncle has been completely sober.  The man I had thought I lost, is now one of the biggest positive influences in my life.  He is a loving uncle, brother, son, and now father.  I can say once again that I look up to him in a lot of ways.  He uses his story to spread awareness and help others who are in similar situations.  Peter was able to take all the negativity in his life and turn that into positive energy for himself and everyone he meets.  I am now proud to call Peter my uncle and wish to have him close to me for the rest of my life."

My name is Peter and I am an addict

My name is Peter Maldonado and I am a person in recovery. My sobriety date is April 29th, 2008. From the ages of 15 to 21, I struggled with an addiction to cocaine, methamphetamine, Benzodiazepines, alcohol, and all sorts of other "party drugs." Recently, I woke up to the fact that I could help more people by utilizing a blog. I'm excited to share my journey and interact with as many yogis and people in recovery as possible. My hopes in sharing my story on a public forum is to help break the stigma around addiction and answer as many questions as I can on topics  that most people shy away from. This is my first blog, so I wanted to give everyone a fair warning that anything and everything I will be discussing is my opinion based on my experience (I have LOTS of topics I want to touch on). For example, I'd love to get away from the term "my name is Peter and I am an addict/alcoholic." I personally like the term "my name is Peter and I am a person in recovery." If you're interested in discussions around spirituality, recovery, and yoga please join me. I welcome anyone that will allow me to grow in my usefulness to my fellows.