5 Reasons Why I Love My Life Sober
by Natalie Mosqueda
When I get sober at 16, I thought my life was over. I thought I would be doomed to a life of bad coffee and old people, there would be no more friends and no more fun. I was taught the complete opposite. My life was just beginning.
Here’s is a few things I’ve learned on my journey…
The friends I make in sobriety become the strongest relationships I’ve ever had
The friends and relationships I have today are built on trust, respect, and mutual understandings. I can be open and honest about myself and what I am feeling and I am only greeted with love. My old relationships were based off who had what substance, today my friends don’t care about what I have or have not done or what I do and do not have. Being sober has shown me what true friendship and compassion looks like.
I remember what happened the night before
A common phrase of the black-out drunk variety is “What did I even do last night?!” Today, I get to wake up every morning with no fear or shame of what could have possibly happened the night before. I get to be proud of the decisions I have made and be able to own up to my mistakes. Sobriety gives me a sense of comfort and ease in my life.
I have tools to handle stress in my life
Just because I got sober doesn’t mean my life is now peaches and cream. Life still happens, but today I have the tools, skills, and my recovery community to carry me through tough times. Sobriety has taught me that I am strong enough to get through the bad days.
I save money
I never knew how much of my (parent’s) money was truly spending until I get sober. Today, I get to save money for my future, buy what I want, and have my parents trust me with money again. Being sober allows people to trust me again.
I get to do what I love
Today, I have the best job possible. I get to help others and have fun doing it. My using and drinking would have never allowed me to accomplish my goals. Sobriety has taught me to find my dreams and follow them.
There are many more reasons why I love being sober, these are just a few. For me, sobriety is totally worth it.
A Poem by Natalie Hope Mosqueda
Age 1 – The world is my oyster and I am here to eat it.
3 – I want to be a pumpkin cleaner, but only the insides, because the outsides are gross.
6 – I have all the art I made that year and I am so proud. I am an artist. But it is raining and mommy doesn’t come to pick me up. By the time I make it home to find her passed out on the couch, my art is ruined. And I am nothing.
7 – The car broke down before we even made it out of Oregon. Even the car knows leaving is a bad idea.
8 – The teachers tell me I am special. But, the other kids tell me it’s not the special I think it means. I twirl my ABC’s in a plate of sugar. It is so sweet. Yet, I am in the 3rd grade and still get lost by the time I make it to the letter E.
10 – I feel sad. And not the kind of sad where your best friend doesn’t text you back. I am the kind of sad where getting out of bed feels like you are jumping out of plane knowing you do not have your parachute.
12 – I get a suitcase. This suitcase is not for happy family vacations. This suitcase is to lug my life from one side of the planet to another. But in reality, we are going five minutes down the road. I love you mom, I will see you next week.
13 – The drugs are not working, the alcohols not working, nothing is working. I will see you next time you come to visit me in these sterile white walls.
15 – They say a closet drinker is someone who drinks alone, but I am literally drinking in a closet.
16 – I am greeted by an empty room. Where is my bed? Where are my clothes? Where is my life going? The bathtub fills with blood. And instead of seeing the face of God, I see the back seat of a cop car.
16 – I have a breakdown in front of the school. I will see you next time you come to visit me in these sterile white walls.
16 – I begin to pick up pieces of my life from the rubble and put them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
16 – I want to be a pumpkin cleaner. But only the insides, because the outsides can be primped and pressed and the inside is where the real work happens.
My story doesn’t end at 16. At 16 I was broken, alone, and afraid. And my parents were also broken, alone, and afraid. I was shipped off to rehab for 4 months, and when I came home it became a game of what will Natalie do next. I was going to 12-step meetings with people double my age, and couldn’t relate. Everyone was getting married, and I was just trying to finish high school. A girl told me about Rise Recovery, so I went and checked it out. The first thing I noticed was kids my age full of hope, full of love, and full of recovery. I took this program and ran with it. I quickly became a volunteer, a college student, and a productive member of society. Thanks to Rise Recovery, I am 21 years old and celebrating 5 years of sobriety.
By Evita Morin
Rise Recovery joined Mayor Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Wolff at the first meeting of Bexar County/San Antonio’s Opioid Task Force. The task force brings together public health experts, medical and pharmaceutical professionals, first responders, policymakers, educators and social service agencies. Texas is currently in the top 5 states for the total number of opioid related deaths. Texas has the 2nd highest opioid abuse related health care costs totally over $1.9 billion. Opioid-related overdose deaths in Bexar County exceed the national average. Texas heroin use is 2 to 4 times the national rate in teens. Texas has seen a 60% increase over 5 years of newborns dependent on opioids experiencing withdrawal symptoms. 1/3 of Texas newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal are in Bexar County. As a member of the task force, Rise Recovery is committed to helping develop strategic actions that address the national rise in opioid overdose and newborns dependent on opioids locally.
By Michelli Ramon
Self-care is a good thing, there’s no arguing that. But like many good things, the spirit of its intent is sometimes warped by unrealistic expectations and our tendencies to perfect and compare. In my own life, self-care began to feel like one more thing I couldn’t get to and anytime anyone asked me about my self-care regiment I would shrink from fear of judgment. Recently, a new perspective has occurred to me – a way of thinking about self-care that is radically different from the way I’d been thinking about it. The truth for me has become this – self-care is not something I must do every day, it’s something I can believe in. It is a state of mind and faith in a Higher Power that is set up to support me whether I have time for it or now. I offer you these 10 tips for deepening your everyday self-care frame of mind.
10. Stop beating yourself up about not doing self-care.
9. Think of self-care as a mindset, rather than something you have to do.
8. Make a decision to believe in a Universe that is set up to support you.
7. Accept small moments as self-care gifts from your Higher Power.
6. Smile at a stranger.
5. Take a longer than normal shower.
4. Get a car wash.
3. Have dessert.
2. Ask someone to pray for you.
1. Rock out to your favorite song in the car.
The holiday season is full of celebrations – and in many cases indulgences of food and alcohol – especially on New Year’s Eve. But, for many people in early recovery, those occasions present temptations that can derail progress.
While avoiding parties with alcohol and drugs is a smart choice for those in early recovery, it is not good for them to spend the evening alone. The holiday season brings on depression for many people and staying home alone on New Year’s Eve can make it even worse or lead to a relapse.
If you want to help those in recovery, reach out to provide support and companionship during the holiday week. Many teen girls and young women would enjoy going out to a coffee shop where you could talk about what they are grateful for and their hopes and dreams for the future. Young men might prefer doing something active like going on a hike or to a skate board park.
For families in recovery, set aside some time to talk about creating new substance-free traditions and come up with a plan to do something fun on New Year’s Eve and meaningful on New Year’s Day like a service work. Many charities need volunteers on the holidays. Homeless people need to eat, dog kennels need to be cleaned and babies need to be rocked so you can take this on as a new tradition. Doing so will help everyone gain a stronger sense of purpose.
If you are the one in recovery and are alone, don’t wait for someone to invite you somewhere. Do some research and develop a plan for how you are going to spend the evening substance free.
Whether you are in recovery or want to support your loved ones, here are four substance-free ideas for all ages to make New Year’s celebrations positive and encouraging.
- Host a substance-free event for those in recovery or just for your family. Talk with your family about what would make it a fun evening. Some may like playing games. Others might prefer to watch a movie with popcorn and their favorite candy. Top the evening off by toasting with non-alcoholic beverages such as grape juice and ginger ale or Cranberry Sprite.
- Attend a fireworks show. Amusement parks such as Seaworld and Fiesta Texas host fireworks shows to bring in the new year.
- Go to a midnight mass or prayer vigil. For those who are serious about starting the year out on a good foot, attending a church service can be very grounding and meaningful.
- Last and probably the most fun in our opinion, hang out at your local recovery center. Many recovery centers offer daily meetings and a special party on New Year’s Eve. The Rise Recovery New Year’s Eve Hoopla is open to the entire family and guarantees lots of laughter without the hangover.
We hope these ideas help you and your loved ones start the new year with no regret and a victorious high that lasts all year long.
By George Block
Every coach who wants to build a winning culture knows that getting life lessons right is the foundation for getting the next thing in practice right. In sports – and in business, science, politics, you name it – culture eats strategy for lunch. Some of the best coaching tools for building team culture and teaching life lessons are the 12 Steps of Recovery.
The life lessons coaches teach go far beyond these steps, but the wisdom in these steps are wonderful tools that every young person should have in their life’s tool box. They may also be especially applicable to adolescence. A coach’s interpretation might look like this.
Step 1: I admitted that I am powerless and my life has become unmanageable. This is the situation when many adolescents come in to your office or ask to talk after practice. They feel out of control. They are overwhelmed by the multiple demands and pressures put on them.
Simply admitting that is both painful and powerful for a young person. They are so busy fighting for power and independence that admitting they are powerless and out of control names the problem and frees them to look at it dispassionately.
Step 2: I came to believe that a Power greater than me could restore me to sanity. Every coach plays Copernicus at some point. Copernicus challenged the theory that the universe revolved around the earth and showed that the earth (and her sister planets) revolved around the sun.
One of the definitions of adolescence is that their entire world revolves around them. It falls upon coaches to disabuse them of this notion. We point out that the universe does not in fact revolve around them.
Step 3: I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him. Teens can be incredibly willful – much like 2-year olds. It is a part of their drive to control what can’t be controlled. The 12 Steps ask its adherents to turn their lives over to God, but before a young person can do that, they may have to experience giving up control in small parts of their lives.
Surrender is a scary and powerful experience. It is the foundational risk of falling in love. It is also the foundational risk of real mastery in any discipline – sports, music, the arts, the martial arts, dance, the sciences, spirituality. We must surrender ourselves to a trusted master. We must give that master control over that part of our lives. Once a child learns the daring free-fall of surrender to mastery, the adult can experience the much greater surrenders of real love and spirituality.
Step 4: I made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. There is a saying among swimming coaches that the swimmer swims the way they live. When their young lives are a mess, their training and competitions are a mess. When their lives are well ordered, so is their training and competition.
The great Olympic coach, Mark Schubert, once told me that he never coached an Olympic Gold Medalist who didn’t have a great training partner. Even the ultimate individual sport requires a great teammate and you can’t have a great teammate without being one.
Step 5: I admitted to God, myself and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. These were some of the most powerful, draining and often surprising days in my coaching career. An athlete would come in to my office, shut the door and “unburden” him or herself.
I was never ready for this “confessional” role, but I realized the strength and courage that athlete was demonstrating and the incredible trust that was being placed in me. I was that other human being.
Often kids think that they have to be perfect in order to be good. As coaches, our role is to explain the power of “Oops, I’m sorry,” because none of us is perfect or even close. The best we can hope for is to become excellent apologizers.
Steps 6 & 7: I was ready to have God remove these defects of character and I humbly asked Him to remove these shortcomings. Humility is one of the greatest gifts a young person can receive. It transforms that person in to a magnet for those around him or her and allows that young person to become a leader.
The flaws we see when we look deeply in to ourselves are just as important as the talents (gifts) that the young athlete is nurturing. Our gifts can make us great, but our flaws can keep us humble and there can be no greatness without humility.
Coaches teach young athletes that they have the tools they need to nurture their (God-given) garden, constantly pruning the weeds and fertilizing their gifts. Both have to be done constantly. Strengths and humility have to be cultivated side-by-side.
Steps 8 & 9: I made a list of all the people I had harmed and made direct amends to them all, if possible. Fortunately, at this age the damages done can also be undone relatively simply. One of the most common forms of adolescent damage is gossip – “badmouthing” my swimmers used to call it.
Gossip – locker room talk – is one of the most damaging things that can take place inside ANY organization: a business, a family, or a team. Gossip can kill a team.
Since the gossip was usually done in a group, the amends must be made in a group. All the teammates who heard the gossip must hear both the truth and the apology. I can’t remember a time when a teammate publicly apologized for “badmouthing” that another teammate didn’t join him or her in an additional, unsolicited, apology. Confession – and forgiveness – became contagious.
Teammates learned that it is a good thing to talk TO people, just never ABOUT them.
Step 10: I developed the discipline of continual personal inventory and when I was wrong, I quickly apologized. This was perhaps the most interesting and difficult step for most adolescents. Where they (and I) were most frequently “wrong” was when our teammates were trying to redirect us to the better path.
Learning to say “Thank you” when being redirected was difficult. Defensiveness and confrontation were often the first instincts. Our egos needed protection. We had to learn to say “I’m sorry,” before we could learn to say “Thank you.”
Step 11: I sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, as I understood Him, praying only for understanding and the strength to act on that understanding. The faith traditions of the kids I coached mirrored San Antonio: nearly every Christian denomination, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists. What they all seemed to have in common was a belief in some creative power. They shared a sense of “createdness.”
This allowed them to see their athletic, academic and artistic talents as gifts that they had an obligation to nurture. They weren’t given great intellects just to sit in front of a TV. They weren’t given physical gifts to waste them with skipped practices or minimal efforts. They all sensed a sacred obligation to maximize their gifts. That was often a difficult burden. They frequently wished they hadn’t been so “blessed.”
Step 12: Having had this awakening as a result of these steps, I tried to carry this message to my teammates and to use these principles in everything I do. Leadership. Isn’t that what we are all trying to teach our kids? No team (or business, or nation) can be better than its leaders. Our teams live and die on locker room leadership. Step 12 is taking leadership and turning it in to culture.
As soon as your team leaders take their leadership outside the pool, field or court, in to their daily lives, your team culture is being built and strengthened. Every independent action that team members take, outside the athletic environment, builds culture.
The 12 Step process is the most demanding and successful addiction recovery process in history, but it could be so much more. It’s time to free the 12 Steps from the confines of addiction recovery and teach kids how to use these powerful principles in their daily lives.